Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is blogging narcissistic?

Some guy on my previous Internet forum hang-out suggested that blogging is narcissistic... I think he said that because he just wanted to take a personal shot at me, after learning that I had started a blog.

So, is it narcissistic? After some thought, I'd argue it isn't, and for a number of reasons.

In my case, blogging is a connection to the 'outside world'. Although I do have two partners in our high tech startup, our company is virtualized; the three of us maintain the same independent offices that we had before incorporating, and although we meet weekly and email or phone often during the day, we spend most of our time alone. While I like this arrangement, and have worked this way for most of the past 17 years, it does have it's disadvantages: isolation and a feeling of being unconnected, not to events in the world, but to other people's reactions to them. The hope of any blogger is that he/she will draw comments and reactions. This isn't narcissism; it's the need of people to be and feel 'connected' in many senses.

Another reason for blogging is to have a voice on issues... or, at least, to feel like you have a voice. Most Internet forums, unfortunately, are not moderated.... and some percentage of participants are drunk with the anonymity of the Internet and lose all sense of proportion, grace, and plain ordinary manners. I've been doing the forum thing for nearly 6 years, and have found that it's exceptionally rare to be able to have a good, in-depth discussion of issues with anyone, including people you respect personally but disagree with, because of the ill-mannered participants.

So, blogging isn't narcissistic, at least no more so than anyone who writes a letter to an editor, engages in discussion, or even speaks from a soapbox in the town square. It's our way of being heard... even when no one is listening.


  1. Narcissistic is such an ugly word. Do people engaged in a solitary occupations—and writers certainly do—risk becoming self-absorbed? Heck yes, and that’s why putting ourselves out there can be healthy. Even the possibility that someone may read what we have to offer opens us up other viewpoints that will sharpen and refine us.

  2. While perhaps some blogging is narcissistic, I think more often it's an opportunity to have a conversation. Many of us develop our ideas best in a melee, where we figure out just what we think by having to refine and defend it. That's been one of the great gifts of the WBF to me - measured, thoughtful disagreement.

    Of course, the blogger's by definition the one with the greatest control of the agenda (and participation). Which gives it the potential to become despotic or self-aggrandizing ...

    I'd imagine at times running a blog might be a great means of revealing one's own character.

  3. Actually, Tom, I'm beginning to think that running my own (barely read) blog is actually better at constraining the view into one's character. At least, I'm likely to be far less provoked (and one banning from the WBF in 6 years there might be a testimony to restraint, considering just how provocative some folks can be over there).

    It's not a full replacement, of course. I'm highly unlikely to get much reaction or pushback from dissenting views. I cewrtainly miss the 'give and take'. But, for now, it's OK. When the ban is over, I'll be back... hopefully, changed a little. It was getting a bit TOO intense for someone like me, who is very passionate about issues.