The narcissism of blogging

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Shortly after I publish a new post on my blog, I put a link to it on Facebook. One of my friends linked to my latest post, the one in which I expressed my opinion on an article by Angela Jamenen in the Huffington Post. She wrote about why people ask you to go to church with them.

He apparently took exception to my post. His succinct comment was simply, “My God! Don’t you sound a bit narcissistic?”

The good news is that someone actually read my post. The bad news is that I found this comment from a person I respect and hold in high regard disconcerting.

Narcissistic? Me?
Narcissistic? Me?

Just to make sure I understood what my friend was saying (he’s Danish and lives in Copenhagen, so sometimes he is challenged by the nuances of the English language), I looked up the word “narcissism.”

It is defined as “a generalized personality trait characterized by egotism, vanity, pride, or selfishness.”

Hey, that’s not me, goddammit! Well, maybe some of it is. But I’m not a total narcissist.

Okay, yeah, I can see that perhaps I may come across that way in my blog. After giving this possibility some thought, I replied, perhaps somewhat defensively, to his comment:

Well, this was posted in my blog, and if you read my “About” page, you’ll see that my blog is “about things that occur to me, that happen to and around me, and that I find interesting, fascinating, provocative, or just plain crazy.” Notice how many times the word “me” is in there. So, yes, perhaps I may sound a bit narcissistic in my blog posts. But it’s my personal blog, right? So, by definition, it’s all about MY perceptions, MY opinions, MY experiences, and MY observations.

My friend’s response was “Well, it was posted on MY wall, so I comment it as I see it.”

I actually didn’t intend to post the link to my blog on HIS wall. I’m pretty sure it showed up on his news feed, not on his wall. Although I have to admit that I don’t really understand where things end up once posted on Facebook. I’m not sure I even understand the difference between one’s “news feed” and one’s “wall.”

Rather than letting it rest, though, I decided to respond to his last comment. I wrote:

And you have every right to comment as you see it, just as I have every right to comment on your comment, which, by the way, was agreeing with you that my blog post may have sounded a bit narcissistic. But the same thing can be said about virtually any personal blog post, right? Even about most Facebook posts, as well. After all, isn’t the point of Facebook to tell their world, “Hey, look at me, see what I’m doing, see where I am, see who I’m with. Aren’t I special?” I posit that everyone who posts to Facebook sounds a bit narcissistic.

My friend was right, though. Blogging, by its very nature, is narcissistic. Many blogs are personal journals or online diaries. It used to be that people kept their diaries or journals under lock and key hidden in a desk drawer lest anyone see their innermost thoughts or secrets.

Today, though, people post their personal journals on the internet for the whole world to marvel at. Isn’t blogging, then, the epitome of narcissism?

Harsh but true

In a post on a site called Psych Central, psychologist John M. Grohol wrote:

Most blogs are drivel, banal shit written by angst-ridden teenagers and adults sharing feelings, thoughts, and mind-numbing details about their daily lives that provide little insight into anything or anyone.

Whoa, John. That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? True, but harsh nonetheless. Grohol went on to say,

The best online journals and blogs keep moving, growing, and changing directions, mirroring the author’s own life. They are constantly there, being added to, but if a day or two goes by without an entry, the reader doesn’t feel disappointed. The reader knows and understands that a person can’t perform every single day of their lives. That, in fact, such breaks remind us of our offline lives and responsibilities, and how they’re not always that interesting or need to be shared. In fact, this is what often separates a good journal from a horrible one.

Grohol’s comments are slightly dated, as they predated Facebook and Twitter. With Facebook and Twitter, nothing is too uninteresting not to be shared, it seems.

Many blogs, including my own, were created for no other reason than to allow the blogger to have fun. Like many bloggers, I simply enjoy writing, and I mostly write for myself. I’m not that concerned about how much traffic my blog gets or how many comments people post. It’s a creative process and I enjoy doing it. It’s a hobby.

If someone does comment on one of my posts, whether directly on my blog or on my Facebook page after linking to my blog from there, I consider it a bonus, even if the comment is a negative one. Someone read my blog and was stimulated enough to take the time to post a comment.

This, essentially, is what blogging is all about. It’s a selfie, but with words instead of a picture. It’s more than just “a bit narcissistic.” It’s the embodiment of narcissism.

44 thoughts on “The narcissism of blogging

  1. I see what your getting at, but blogging isn’t narcissistic. Blogging is a persons way of reaching out to the world. Its what makes us human.

    Narcissism is having people focus on you, for no reason other than its you. Most people write blogs that provide some sort of entertainment value to people who read them.

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  2. I think most people, myself included, write blogs because they believe that they are so interesting, so intelligent, so witty, so unique, and so articulate that others will be entertained and informed by what they have to say. Here’s MY perspective, here’s MY opinion, this is MY observation. Read what I have to say. Isn’t it great?

    And isn’t that the definition of narcissism?

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  3. Narcissist or not, it’s a good way to connect with people. And depending on the blogs a person follows, one finds those that are very informative and it’s only personal to the extent that it has a person’s footprint on it but the information contributes to our common pool of knowledge

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  4. Blogging can be a way to share perspectives and ideas. It can also be an open forum for discussions and conversations, which lead to further knowledge and deeper understanding. In this way, the voyeurism of writing journal entries traditionally written and read by oneself facilitates knowledge acquisition and the search for Truth. Descartes advocated for the merits of traveling the world as a means of learning these differing perspectives to uncover Truth. Blogging, in this sense, can be akin to traveling, but from the comfort of one’s armchair. Not the same as traveling, sure, but certainly a healthy alternative for those unable to do so. Thus, in that regard, blog on, share your thoughts – blogging in the open could change you and others for the better, and that is an important virtue of open communication that the internet has afforded.

    However, on the same token, inherent “social media” may also be indulging and encouraging the narcissist who would normally only use a journal as an outlet – now we have Facebook, Twitter, blogging, et cetera. If I recall, there are studies examining these things, since the phenomenon is a fairly new one and we are just starting to scientifically examine the impact of social media and the open web, so for now, I speak conjecture.

    As far as open blogging, though, it’s up to the writer to be willing to accept that others will disagree, and possibly use persuasion to change the writer’s perspective. And therein, while not a responsibility per se, might be a pseudo-responsibility to be wise to tricks of manipulation and persuasion and logical fallacy, not only to be wise to them, but also to not use them oneself. Lots of drivel and misinformation is spread across the internet like it’s fact, so if a blogger is to contribute to the conversation, be prepared to be critical of what one reads and what one espouses on the internet. This critical thinking is even more paramount with the age of the internet than ever. Don’t be afraid to have opinions, but be even more willing to change the opinion given new, sound information.

    Overall, however, despite the inherently self-centred nature of online journals (they are simply a more open medium for a journal, which few would suggest is a narcissistic thing, and would often encourage one to write as people like Anne Frank did), they can open dialogue and broaden perspectives, and even if it turns out they feed narcissism, in my opinion the more important thing is that they invite dialogue. Some of the best parts, I’ve found, in “articles” or “blogs,” is the comment section, where people are invited to offer their perspectives on the authors’ and others words. If one commentor says something stupid or incorrect or illogical, they are often called out on it (though other times not, which is why critical thinking is an important skill). Blogs – encouraging narcissism, perhaps. Conversation starter? Definitely.

    So please, blog on. You might have some blog posts that say little to the world, and you might have a blog post that changes the world. I want to see THAT. :)

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  5. I really appreciate this article, as I have had a lot of qualms about blogging for this very reason: who am I to think that others would find my thoughts interesting? Nonetheless, I am fascinated by the blogs of others. Also, I read a lot of comments that argued that blogging/facebook is a way of connecting with others. I actually think that for a lot of people, simply getting attention form people through the internet can like a replacement for more intimate connections that people really want- relationships that ultimately aren’t narcissistic.

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    • If you have something interesting to say, offer a unique perspective, or a well-thought through opinion, and express yourself effectively, people will be interested in reading your thoughts. Bloggers do enjoy the community that exists among us, and for some it might serve as a substitute for real world connections. But I think for most, it’s just an outlet for self-expression, perhaps a more thoughtful, longer form outlet than Facebook or Twitter.

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  6. This is so great! I struggle with the narcissistic aspect of blogging, but that’s sure not gonna stop me. I found your blog through insanity bytes, I always enjoy the banter between you two after her posts :)

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  7. That was really a cute and well written post, Doobster. I’m glad you linked to it.

    Writing in general has some narcissistic elements to it. Even if you eliminate all the “I statements,” all the me’s in there, it still becomes a self portrait that eventually reveals to the world who you really are.

    Naturally I have to disagree with you, of course. It’s not quite narcissism, because a big part of writing is really about writing for readers, trying to give them something they can relate to, enjoy, be entertained by. LOL, it’s also really hard! Taking a selfie and expecting to be praised simply for existing is a whole other matter.

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    • Naturally you have to disagree with me. I would expect no less, IB. But you have to admit that if you believe that you can write for readers, give them something that they can relate to, enjoy, and be entertained by, you think pretty highly of yourself and your writing skills, which is a form of narcissism, given that one of the definitions of narcissism is having a grandiose view of one’s own talents.

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        • Well, narcissism is an inordinate fascination with oneself, right? And arrogance is an attitude of superiority, a display of superiority or self-importance. So wouldn’t that make arrogance, if not a synonym for narcissism, a subset of narcissism, or perhaps a less all-consuming form of it? Maybe narcissism is merely a more extreme or intense manifestation of plain old arrogance.

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    • I don’t follow that many either, but I guess that depends upon what “that many” means to you. Right now I have 53 on my follow list, which is the most I think I’ve ever been following. If I discover a new blogger that looks interesting, I may follow that blogger initially to see what they’re all about, but for every one I end up continuing to follow, I probably stop following 2 or 3. I’m pretty particular about the blogs I follow.

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        • Well, I’ll be duhrned. I checked, and I’ve got you beat at 67. I would have guessed way less than that. I think that’s because there’s quite a few on my list that so rarely post anymore, if at all, that I’d forgotten about them.

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          • I tend to go through my list of followers every couple of months and if someone hasn’t posted within the last two months, I figure they’ve abandoned their blog or just have nothing to say, so I remove them from the list of bloggers I follower. And if there’s anyone on my list who hasn’t commented on a post of mine over the past couple of months, I remove them as well. That’s how I keep it to around 50 or so.

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    • Yeah, maybe one in a millions. I just haven’t found that needle in a haystack yet. This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of really great, funny, entertaining, informative, and provocative blogs out there. But even the best of them are, to one degree or another, narcissistic.

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  8. Blogging is not being narcissistic. It’s a way of expressing and sharing your thoughts towards something. In fact it’s a smart way of reaching out to other people through posts and pictures. After all, it isn’t SELFIE. Selfies are just too unprofessional. They’re a big NO to professional profiles.

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  9. i wouldnt say that blogging is narcissistic, if you use your blog to expand the world view of yourself and your audience through factual reporting, opinion pieces or just TIL-type stuff. with twitter, on the other hand, you can only do the latter two of those. facebook is about the same, only with the added narcissim of photos. youtube is a little better, as you have a much wider audience and you can do whatever the f**k you want. but don’t get me started on instagram. it is a cesspool of narcissism and bad photographs that the entire western hemisphere contributes to.

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