"I think people should have more photos of themselves as children around. There's no way you can hate that version of yourself." -- Warsan Shire

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why Do We Blog?

     Whenever people find out I have a blog, they look at me as though I'm a little weird, then ask incredulously, "Why do you blog?"

     Now that I've moved and am meeting all sorts of new people, the question comes up more and more often. And I can hear them thinking -- What kind of strange person is this? Where does he come from? What's his problem?

     So I've decided it's time to revisit an article I wrote a couple of years ago, prompted by the coordinator at the community college writing center where I volunteered as a tutor. She actually thought it was interesting that I write a blog. It's a form of writing that's relatively new and different, especially for an academic setting, and maybe she thought I was setting a good example for the students -- someone who was writing for no other purpose other than it was rewarding in itself, someone who might show students that just maybe writing could be fun!

     One day she asked me if I could convey the bogging experience in 300 or 400 words for their newsletter. I decided I could, but didn't I think I had to take the assignment too seriously.

The Writing Center is in the WCC library
     I introduced myself as a volunteer in the Writing Center, but admitted that in my secret life I write a blog. It’s called Sightings Over Sixty, and it covers baby boomers, retirement, health, finance, grownup children and . . . how time flies. My pen name – my nom de Internet, if you will -- is Tom Sightings. And I’m over 60 years old. Get it?

     So why do I make the time and effort to jot down thoughts in cyberspace, a place where . . . actually, does anybody really read this stuff?

     First of all, I am not alone. A lot of people write blogs. (And I wonder -- why do you write a blog?) There are scores of blogs about retirement and baby boomers. There are blogs about stamp collecting, knitting, golden retrievers and a thousand other topics.

     But if you really want to know, here are . . . well, here are the Top Ten reasons why I blog.  To:

     10. Get something off my chest – I have a few opinions on things like health care and how people drive (in my opinion, unlike Lake Wobegon, most people are worse than average drivers!), and so I can spout off whenever I want.

     9. Make friends – I have a couple of hundred followers of my blog. Some of them I consider friends. Last winter, when I vacationed in Florida, I played golf with one of my blogging friends.

     8. Join a community – You don’t just get people to read your blog. They talk back, make comments, and usually you end up following their blog as well. It’s a party!

     7. Make people laugh – I admit it, in my younger days I was a class clown. My teachers didn't think I was very funny, but some of my classmates did. If you don't believe me, check out the Humor section of my blog, and you be the judge. But hey, gimme a break. It’s not easy to be funny!

     6. Make money – Yes, you can sign up for advertising programs though Google and Amazon, and earn money from your blog. Why, sometimes I make as much as . . . get this, $3 in one single day!

     5. Practice my writing skills – As you can see . . . I need the practice.

     4. Annoy my spouse – Since I write my blog under a different name, and I don’t identify my spouse by name, I can say anything I want!

     3. Stay out of trouble – I’m retired. Well, to be more accurate, I’m unemployed. But when you get to be a certain age, you can call yourself retired instead. Blogging gives me something to do while my long-suffering spouse goes off to work. (Okay, to be honest, B has now retired as well. But that doesn't mean I can't still annoy her!)

     2. Make a name for myself – Wait a second, I write the blog under a different name, so how am I making a name for myself? Er, I guess I’d better rethink that one.

     And the Number 1 reason why I blog? I blog, therefore I am – It’s a little known fact, but all the great philosophers had their own blogs. The first blog? "In the beginning . . . .”


DJan said...

It also gives my days some structure, which I need in retirement. I write four times a week and sometimes I struggle to find something to write about, but it doesn't need to be a masterpiece, just a web log of my days. And I like to put up pictures. I can go back to the same time last year and compare my garden, my hikes, my progress towards whatever it is that I like to do. Good post, Tom! :-)

stephen Hayes said...

As a painter I spend a lot of time alone, and I enjoy sharing my work with others and learning about other people.

Roberta Warshaw said...

I write about my art mostly. That is how I started anyway in 2008. And then as I aged it became more about my retirement and then how we had to delay retirement to raise my grandson and finally the raising of my grandson and how that affects my retirement etc. So it really morphed. I still write about my artwork of course but lately it has become more about all my stress. Hopefully once my grandson fledges my retirement nest, I can move out to AZ as planned and become less stressed. People do know me and so I am kind of careful as to how much I tell people but lately I don't seem to care who knows what! LOL

Anonymous said...

I love reading blogs, I'm an older person, and being alone is definitely a factor. Mostly I read animal blogs, cats, but all kinds, really. I learn a lot, about people, animals, other parts of the world, etc. And it surprises me that people are patronizing about blogs, I can't really understand this. I don't usually comment, or participate, for some reason I feel very cautious, but I love my blogs, and the people, and the animals.

Royce Shook said...

I love your reasons and write for all of them plus I write so my grandson who lives in Australia--I live in Canada--may one day wonder what his crazy Canuck grandfather was really like. So my hope is that one day he will read some of my thoughts and get an idea of what I believe, what I found important, funny and how I view life. We all blog for many different reasons and I enjoy reading your thoughts and many others.

Anonymous said...

I did not major in English. I majored in Sociology. But, despite the lack of training, I am a published author -- newspaper columns, 3 books, and have been a radio commentator. Plus, I blog. Just do it for enjoyment and for no other reason.

Red said...

Your ten reasons for blogging fit me just fine. I had to find out all these things by bumbling around the blog world. Lately I've been wondering how long this type of personal blogging will last. People seem to blog a few years and then drop out. After a few years one must get more serious and work harder. You have to keep reinventing yourself. Interesting post.

Anonymous said...

I share many of the reasons for blogging that you listed. I hadn't thought about irritating my husband... but that certainly would be a bonus! I have met several of my blogging friends face-to-face over the years and I hope to meet more. I think that bloggers are typically pretty interesting people (at least the ones that I follow :) ).

Jeanette Lewis said...

Blogging keeps my brain in output mode. After retirement, it's easy to let your brain revert to input mode -- theatre, movies, reading, and tv. Writing forces me to express myself so others can (hopefully) understand.

Barb said...

I agree with all of those. Add to that mental challenge and a little of the structure mentioned above. Ihave not met any blogging friends face to face but its a goal in then next year as I head to Arizon and California where a few of our bloggers live.

Tom said...

I like the reason our crazy Canuck grandfather mentions the best ... I wonder if my kids will ever be interested enough to read my blog. (Right now it's ... oh, it's about retirement? Yuck!). But I also agree it's important to go to "output mode" sometimes, as we as retirees are often too involved in our own issues. Structure in my day? I wish!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know you and B got married....congratulations!!!

retirementreflections said...

I share many of your reasons for blogging as well. Originally, I wanted an avenue to process my experiences as I transitioned into retirement. Quickly I discovered that blogging was a wonderful way to meet like-minded, inspirational people from all across the world.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Am I the last of your blogging friends to learn that your last name isn't actually "Sightings"? And I think you revealed a number of the reasons why people blog--including myself. But something you didn't mention that is important to me is how it keeps me focused on the things that I think are useful, helpful and curious our in world today. There are so many distractions that unless we take the time to focus we can end up ambling along in all sorts of directions that are not only not helpful, but down right detrimental. But yes, one of the unexpected benefits is all the other great blogger friends we make.... regardless of their real last name!!! ~Kathy

joared said...

I recall about a decade ago when I started blogging that later I signed up for a writing class at our local Sr. Center. I told the instructor I wrote a blog so wasn't sure whether or not it would be appropriate for me to be in a class such as hers. She was accepting but all she and others there thought a blog only meant ranting and raving -- probably of the uncivil variety. I explained that was not what mine and others in the age 50 years and up community were about. My primary interest focused on natural aging, ageist language, age discrimination, sexism & other isms, plus anything else that caught my fancy. I did try to interest some retirement communities in the idea of opening access to the world via the internet and blogging, especially for those living in more restricted levels -- assisted living, skilled nursing. Never got very far with that as it was several years later before they got around to upgrading to provide internet connections. Also, those employees such as Activities Directors and aides who would coordinate this weren't digitally literate and some wanted to remain that way, though I offered my time free to assist them getting started in the beginning.

J. from Iowa said...

Hi Tom,
I enjoy reading your blog. Your words are interesting and remind me about a much larger world than little ole' Iowa.
I don't remember any comments regarding validation. Just like when I tell stories of my youth, my old age and the daily grind, I feel validated.

Linda Myers said...

I started my blog over seven years ago, about six months before I quit my last job. At that time I was worried about how I'd do financially - I'd heard many professional women were concerned about becoming a bag lady, and so I was I, so I called my blog "Thoughts from a Bag Lady in Waiting." At first I blogged about my days and my concerns, but expanded as I traveled, dealt with my grown children and my ungrown grandchildren, my thoughts, becoming a snowbird and, most recently, a volunteer at a refugee camp. For me it's the discipline of writing; I try to blog once a week and sometimes spend several ldeas thinking about what I want to say. And, at this point, I feel a responsibility to show up for the people who read my blog. That would include you and many of the others we both read.

Glad you brought this up!

Laura Lee Carter said...

All of the above Tom...I started and now I can't stop! It does get your name out there and has made me some good money, mostly on my books, but now, after over ten years, it's a habit.

Jono said...

Most of the above. Mostly it's an outlet for sharing things that may have some meaning for someone somewhere, but I was a reader of blogs for about 5 years before I decided to write one. I guess I loved reading other's so much that I wanted to join in the fun. Some have come and gone, but there are many of us still here and new ones pop up now and then. It is still fun.

Still the Lucky Few said...

I started to blog almost three years ago to indulge my love of writing, but that has changed for me. Today, it's the connections I make that are important. I enjoy the comments people make on my blog, and I enjoy doing this—commenting on other peoples' blogs. I know I've gained a lot through writing for my blog. I've explored topics that I would never have given the time of day, and I've extended myself more than I thought possible. I guess you could say blogging has stretched my mind, and nourished my spirit. I can't imagine giving it up!

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Denise said...

Hi "Tom." Been awhile. I might add a little something different. I've been blogging since February of 2011, so almost (?) seven years? What does one have to say for that long? First of all, if I don't have anything to say, I don't. I started blogging to develop interest in a 40th class reunion, but I found some other topics to explore. I do organize them under "topics" so people can just go to them. But what I want to say is, I am blogging for the next generation. Stories are not being told. We don't write letters. So I have put to paper (!) family history, and I will continue that as I think of more, or a relative reminds me of something. I write MY family history, not my husband's. They don't get blogging. I don't have the visible followers that you do, because so many in my life don't "get" it, including my children. I continue though, because as time goes on, they WILL get it. Blog on!