Blogging is Stupid

So here’s what happens:

I’m dreaming up my next brilliant blog post while driving into work, say, or taking a shower or what have you, and suddenly this surreptitious little voice in my head interrupts, saying: “Who do you think you are? No one cares about your stupid blog! Look at you pathetic people, pretending to be so clever with your advice and wisdom and deep thoughts. What a load of crap! Let me tell you, the only two bloggers who matter out there are Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt – that’s it! Oh, and also that guy from Stuff Christians Like who got the book deal with Zondervan. That was impressive. Wait – and the girl who got the movie deal about Julia Child. That was a pretty good movie. But the rest of you are just stupid, stupid, stupid.”

And I’ll think to myself, “My God, what if he’s right?” I’ve been blogging for three years, and you would think by now I should be enjoying a burgeoning audience of thousands. Instead, I have barely scratched together what one might call a micro-following, numbered perhaps in the dozens.

Maybe I haven’t worked at it hard enough?

There is this coy little demotivational slogan I saw once that says,

Blogging:

Never has so much been written

by so many people,

and read by so few.”

This is funny to me now – not like “ha ha” funny, but in a scarily recognizable way.

When reading and commenting on other blogs, I confess that at times it can all seem so – I want to say – desperate. Here we are, pouring out our hearts and minds to the world, desperate for acknowledgement or attention or some meager crumb of validity to our creative output.

And sometimes, well, it does feel stupid. Like this whole blogging enterprise is some ridiculous pyramid scheme, where we’re all just propping each other up on some flimsy stack of digital cards to give the illusion that we are more significant than we really are.

There is so much talk about the power of social networking, but no one really mentions the more common situation: the online ghetto existence; words fed out to almost-empty space; the virtual echo chamber.

But here’s the thing: That little voice doesn’t stop me – I’ll go and write that next brilliant blog post anyway, and I’ll hit “publish,” and say to myself, “Well. I really like that post. Good job today, J.B.”

Then I’ll go read the next person’s blog and think, “Hey, this is good. I like the way they said that.” And then someone will send me a little email asking for my advice on something. Then I’ll get all thrilled to see that 42 people clicked on my post today, even if it was only for a three-second scan of the title, and – hey look! Some even took the time to say something nice.

So what if it’s stupid. Who cares if we’re all just making this up for each other’s delusional benefit. Because even if it’s just a couple dozen of us out there propping each other up, well, that’s something.

Lovely photo by Nancy Rosback.

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  • http://gravatar.com/belovedjoy Amyy Hunt

    Ha ha ha! I’ve been thinking the exact same thing lately about writing in a big black hole and wanting to be recognized and how stupid the whole thing really is. Yet, I feel the tug, too, and I’ll push through and “keep on,” regardless.

    Cheers!

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Keep on, Amy. Join me in the stupidity.

  • http://grapplingwithgrace.blogspot.com/ Radical Believer

    Hi Bradley,

    Blogging is stupid … if the reason we do it is for the attention and approval of others. But how many of us are really motivated by that? If that was our raison detre, surely most blogs would wither and die after a few days. (Oh wait, maybe they do!)

    I started blogging when I was a small church pastor, really just to make the transcripts of my sermons available to people from my church. Then I started commenting on some world situations that I was passionate about … and then I was hooked! Now I blog because I enjoy it. It has also been useful for me to have some record of the journey of my life – I am hopeless at journalling and diary keeping (go figure!). If other people comment on what I have written then that’s nice (most of the time) and sometimes it helps me to develop my own thoughts and understanding. But I don’t expect to ‘go viral’ or anything like that, and that is not my ambition anyway.

    So yes, to many, even most, people blogging is stupid – a waste of time that could be better used for other things. But for me – and obviously for you – it’s enjoyable and hence worthwhile, even if no-one either reads or cares about what we have to say.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      I’ll confess that I would never keep blogging if I didn’t have intereaction with others, if no one read or commented or appreciated what I was writing. Sorry, but the internet is public why put it online unless you want to share with other people? I’d just keep a journal if that were the case.

      But you are right on with the point about keeping a log of life, or processing your own thoughts and personal/spiritual growth. That is one of the most interesting things about blogging. It is like a trail of crumbs dropped over the past few years that I can use to find my way back, and see how far I’ve come. That part is very cool.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://adifferentstory.net Lyla Lindquist

    Yes, Bradley! Pyramid scheme! Try as I might, the best picture I’ve been able to conjure is of inbreeding. But a house of digital cards and the pyramid scheme is such a better image, and just nails it (without all the warped questions that come from thinking we’re inbred).

    For whatever other reasons, perhaps, in the end we do it because we enjoy it, and that’s very much ok. Thanks, Bradley. Made my day.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Yes, there is the joy, for sure. The sheer pleasure of creation. And to have a few friends to share and mutually appreciate, that just magnifies the joy even further. It’s like gifts to each other, and to ourselves. Even if it’s with just a small group of friends. Like calling the family in to the living room after dinner to hear one of the kids play their latest piano piece, or recite a poem that they wrote. And everyone claps and smiles, and the kid feels great.

  • http://www.greaterseas.com Mike @GreaterSeas

    For better or worse I do believe we are all making this up for each other’s delusional benefit. That little voice in your head sounds a lot like the one in my head, and I think both of them are kind of right. There are millions of things I could be reading on the Internet or I could stop reading them altogether. But if I’m going to read something I’m glad it’s from people like you.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Mike, I love the way you charge past all the BS and cut right to the chase.

  • http://www.whatdoyouwantfromthem.com/blog anna

    “One thing people have in common is a fear of being alone.” – I think you’ll enjoy this article: Kids Don’t Read The Bible Any More http://www.fastcompany.com/1765938/kids-dont-read-the-holy-bible-any-more

    I ran an update on a self-hosted WordPress page the other day and the whole freaking thing stopped working. So I googled 500 000 different terms, read five million forum posts and blog entries, and was able to piece it back together. The authors of the blogs and forum posts will never know how much they helped me.

    How many people have you helped bridge the work-HarryPotter-spirituality gap? You’ll probably never know. I certainly wouldn’t tell you…

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Anna – This is a great article you linked here. I so relate to that thing about not wanting to feel alone, or left out. Social media plays into that in such a huge way, because now we are so much more aware of EVERYTHING that’s being chattered about, and how many followers or friends people have, and how many “likes” a post got, etc etc. What if I’m the only one who didn’t see that viral video about the kittens?! God forbid.

      And you are so hilarious – did I ever tell you that? I love the way you layer these random connections together, like the work-HarryPotter-spirituality gap. That is really great.

      • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

        There’s a “work-HarryPotter-spirituality gap”? I sense a blog post in your future.

  • http://redletterbelievers.wordpress.com RupZip

    Far too many people blog to fix some sort of internal issues they have — fear, social interaction, insecurities. Others blog because no one will listen to them any other way. Blogging is stupid if you are doing it because you have no other healthy outlet.

    For me, it’s a reflection of the rest of my life — friends, church, family

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      David, that sounds far too healthy and normal. Maybe I’m too caught up in doubting my true motivations for blogging, mostly because it is so public and kind of makes us vulnerable. I think, though, that over time my motivation has definitely migrated to one of grateful community. I can’t say exactly when that happened, but I’m probably 80% there right now, but still 20% is that little voice who thinks that it only is worthwhile if you make a huge impact.

      It’s friends like you that keep the needle moving in the right direction, though.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Ha. This post hit home for me. I’ll be honest – right now, I don’t want to stay where I’m at. I really think this is a calling for more, and I’m not exactly sure how that will happen yet. Maybe God will work through this in ways I can’t see. Perhaps the blog will grow. It’s not for me to know at this point. I just have to be faithful to do what he has called me to do right now. And that’s to blog.

    Sometimes, I get so focused on who and what I’m becoming – and want to become – that I don’t stop to enjoy what’s going on now. There’s always a bigger audience just over the hill. There’s always a larger paycheck, more influence, more health, more free time, more happiness just over the horizon. I’m trying to (note: TRYING to) enjoy the process as much as I focus on the result.

    (By the way, I think I’ll write a post about this, heh.)

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Loren – I am wired the same way. I wrote several posts to that effect, and find it has been a constant tension. There is a part that I believe is a valid creative drive, and then of course, there is an unhealthy part of never being satisfied with the current moment, as you say. But the tension itself is not necessarily a bad thing. How else would anything get done?

      Here’s one of the posts describing that frustration with my ambitions in blogging, particularly within the micro-niche of “Faith in the workplace.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/shrinkingcamel/2009/09/03/lord-wilt-thou-not-leadest-my-blog-to-reach-1000-page-views-per-day/

  • http://nancemarie.blogspot.com/ nance

    delusional benefit – creative thinking

    propping each other up – relationship

    that’s something – that’s everything

    you can call it “art”

    • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb

      what you said !

    • http://agrigirl.wordpress.com Tammy

      Nance, great thoughts!

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Nance – This comment of yours is worth a million bucks. Yes, it is the process of making art. What else could it be? And it is everything, for sure.

  • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb

    I hope you continue to blog. I think blogging as a business is quite different from blogging as art or a log of our lives and perceptions . Sometimes a space achieves both, Donald Miller for example.

    I don’t know why I blog. But I know I have a creative side that gets both fed and watered by this online world. I have never felt so centred and part of a church. A gathering of soulmates as diverse and complicated and inspirational as perhaps my neighbourhood entails, but we mostly talk about the weather at the mailbox , and I like , need, and appreciate more. Lately I’ve been feeling that it is virtually impossible to keep up, and I’m struggling/stuck there a bit. Plus lots of in real life stuff.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Deb – I think it is so interesting how you talk about the online community like a neighborhood, and better than a physical church. Is this a writer’s thing, do you think? Meaning that those who blog are creative expressive writers who intuitively find bonds with each other because we all can relate? It’s like finding all the kids in the high school cafeteria that you want to hang out with. I sometimes feel the same way, a huge surge of love and appreciation for these online friends. Your blog for instance. It just blows me away sometimes, and gives me a window to this creative spirit that wants, as you say, to be watered and fed. And then I feel so grateful that I have found that connection.

      • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb

        and I feel so grateful for this comment. really. really really. and you.

  • http://godspotting.net Sheila

    What if it’s an act of worship? Can that be?

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Whoa.

  • http://duane-scott.net/ duane scott

    Dude.

    You nailed it.

    I love this post… and no, I didn’t scan it. I read every word!

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Thanks Duane. You get five stars for reading every word. I know not everyone actually does that. I am really really trying to keep my posts under 500 words, but I don’t always make it.

      • http://www.gettingdownwithjesus.com Jennifer@GDWJ

        I read every word, too. Great post. :)

        I, too, have been trying to stick to 500 words, or fewer. Hard for me to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.lynn.stephens Julie Stephens

    I heard something the other day that changed my life… “I’m not called to be successful, I’m called to be faithful.”

    Thanks for blogging. :)

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      That’s a great quote. It does change the perspective to doing well with the task at hand, and less about the outcome.

  • http://www.charitysingleton.blogspot.com Charity Singleton

    Can I just say I LOVE this post! You have capture everything every blogger has every thought. Except maybe Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt and that girl from the Julia Child movie. But I saw the move, and even SHE thought it at some point.

    I was just writing a post myself on being heard, and I could help but link up to this post.

    You’ve been heard! And it WAS good!

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Thanks Charity. You’re right, I do remember that part in the movie where she felt frustrated that no one was reading her blog. And then it took off. What a great story that was!

      And you are being heard as well.

  • http://sandraheskaking.com sandraheskaking

    Well. I really like that post. Good job today, Brad. 😀 😀

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Aw, this one gave me a huge smile. Thanks, Sandra.

  • Bob G

    The line about the pyramid scheme is hilarious. Amen to all of it, but that line particularly caused some…mutual delusional benefit.

    I read around blogs and try to write because it’s fun and I almost always learn something. Beats the hell out of watching TV all of the time.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Yeah, Bob… I wonder if those of us blogging are also just smarter than the rest of the world? (did I really just say that?)

  • http://lauraboggess.com laura

    The online ghetto existence? Oh, my goodness that made me laugh out loud! Hey, I was talking with LLB about this tonight. Our next book club book at The High Calling talks a lot about the reasons we create. It actually makes a lot of sense. That thing about incarnation? And being made in the image? But, yeah, it’s pretty cool if we can share that stuff with others too.

    That’s why I’m glad you’re my friend. :)

  • http://agrigirl.wordpress.com Tammy

    Funny thoughts. I once heard a wordpress statistic about the number of abandoned blogs and how it equated to a giant graveyard. I worry a lot about blogging mainly because it seems so self centered. Checking stats, etc… I do really appreciate Nance’s comment however.

  • http://www.steeletheday.com Candy

    Well at least you post your blogging thoughts! Mine just ramble around in my head and then go forgotten, never to become the written word. I read you a lot more than I do either Seth or Michael, thought I like them both. And I always read Jon Acuff. It’s just that you hit a niche I like to dwell in, and it makes a difference to me. Your readers are starfish. http://muttcats.com/starfish.htm Thanks, Brad. Keep up the stupid blogging and don’t change a thing.

    • http://www.shrinkingthecamel.com shrinkingthecamel

      Candy, thanks for the starfish link. That’s a cool story, and so, so relevant to all of this discussion. To think that what we do actually makes a difference? That is such a powerful thing for any of us to be told, “… It makes a difference to me.”

  • http://susan-moment.blogspot.com/ S. Etole

    This may be a good time to let you know some of us read and appreciate what you write but seldom comment … you know, eavesdroppers sorta!!

    • http://simplydarlene.wordpress.com Simply Darlene

      Susan,

      You are officially called a “blurker.” You are a blog lurker. Uh, could you move over just a tad, please. Part of me is sticking out from behind this bush. They might see us. 😉

      Blessings.

      • http://susan-moment.blogspot.com/ S. Etole

        Darlene … why are we hiding in the bushes on such a public blog?! Maybe we need to get out more!

  • daphinas

    Hi Brad,

    I seek inspiration from Isaiah 55:10-11, and trust that God’s message will reach every single soul it was meant to reach, be it one or a million. All I have to do is send it.

    Write on Brad, for the message you send, in the light of God, will grant the blessings to whomever God wills – it is actually out of your hands. Should that not be enough? God knows whom He wills to receive the message He has given you to send. Trust Him to deliver it and give the blessing that was needed… at the right time… in God’s time.

  • http://www.koverb.blogspot.com Kathleen

    Healing. Processing. Encouragement. Entertainment. Challenge. Inspiration. Help. Community. Thank you. :)

  • http://simplydarlene.wordpress.com Simply Darlene

    Oh, I think about this each day I write something or post some images and I remember what some adult told me as a teenager, “There’s always someone faster, better, prettier, smarter, better than you. But hey, just try your best anyway.” (Boy, that person got a gold star for encouragement… not.)

    So, if you all visit me and read my rambling, great & goody gumdrops for you, if not, you just don’t know what you’re missing.

    Quite literally.

    (pssst, I don’t even know who Michael Hyatt is…)

    Blessings.

  • http://www.gettingdownwithjesus.com Jennifer@GDWJ

    P.S. — I love how you talk to yourself: “Good job today, Brad.” I do that every once in a while. Except I don’t call myself Brad. :)

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

    THAT little voice makes orphans out of a lot of good writing ideas.

    We are so immersed in a marketing, platform-building society that we run the risk daily of discounting the value of the needful thing being written and placed in its spot – to entertain, to teach, to encourage, to comfort, whatever – because we need to say it and someone may come along who needs to read it. We don’t know. Writing is an act of faith.

  • http://pgiuliav.wordpress.com/ Giulia

    this is soooo great! First, I also try to have a blog and I always end up not writing anymore after a couple of posts because I keep asking myself the same questions! Second, it is really nice to know that good bloggers like you still ask the same questions daily…

    I also love how your posts are so simple and seem to come from the heart =)

  • http://outofmyallegedmind.blogspot.com Nancy

    Brad! You are living inside my head reading my thoughts! Do you have any idea how often I don’t want to tell people I blog because I’m afraid they’ll think I’m just trying to live out that Julia child movie? I’m so glad you blog, even though it is stupid. I firmly believe that some of the best writing is happening on the internet and some of the best people I know exist in blog world. I also firmly believe far too many impossible things, so make of that what you will.

  • Susan DiMickele

    It is something, isn’t it? Hey, I am one of those dozens. I have these same thoughts all the time, but the voice doesn’t stop me either. It’s the little things that keep me writing and blogging. The joy I get from random comments, the insight from other writers. The fact that my parents read my blog and talk about it with their friends. Pretty lame, I know. But I swear people don’t know what they are missing.

  • http://annkroeker.wordpress.com/ annkroeker

    Back in 2007, I referenced (on my blog) the song by The Police, “Message in a Bottle,” wondering if we’re all like castaways, scribbling blog posts, stuffing them in a bottle, and tossing them out into the sloshing sea of the World Wide Web, hoping to find readers…searching for a kind of literary rescue.

    Here’s the climax of the song:

    Walked out this morning

    Don’t believe what I saw

    A hundred billion bottles

    Washed up on the shore

    Seems I’m not alone at being alone

    A hundred billion castaways

    Looking for a home

    I’ll send an SOS to the world

    I’ll send an SOS to the world

    I hope that someone gets my…

    Message in a bottle.

    But I don’t think that should discourage; rather, I think we just have to keep scribbling, keep writing, keep clicking “publish”; not out of desperation or loneliness, but simply out of faithfulness and the love of writing and sharing our thoughts. Maybe tossing the bottles out there is more about creating a gift–we write and share, offering our thoughts as a gift to whoever plucks that post from the sea of ideas.

  • http://www.moonboatcafe.com Cassandra Frear

    LOL

  • http://www.momsheart48.blogspot.com/ Susan Mc

    Thanks so much for the laughter and the validation. We all sort of feel this way. I’ve cancelled my FB account several times for this same reason …and put my blog on hold …but I always go back to it ….isn’t there some proverb about a “dog returning to it’s own vomit..”? I’m keeping a copy of your post for those times I feel stupid.

  • paulthinkingoutloud

    If a blogger posts in the forest, and no one is around to read it, are there words?

  • http://tmi-chef.blogspot.com/ E Stelling

    Great post, and great comments. Many times they are just as valuable as what the blogger had to say.

  • http://johnscurry.com johnstevencurry2012

    I started blogging as a form of recording my thoughts, and things I’ve learned on the road to becoming an entrepreneur. I have also ended up thousands of dollars in debt, and living in my car due to a “pyramid scheme”. I thought it’d be fun to document my journey from homelessness to a more stable existence.

    I think it’s important to have a reason. Seems like a blog can be more of a long-version of a facebook post, or a tweet. In my opinion, facebook and other social media outlets are more stupid than blogging. I hate facebook. I prefer blogging, but use facebook to get my thoughts shared to the world via a blog.

    I also want to provide value to people.

  • Peter Petrelli

    Looks like we still haven’t internalized the fact that Galileo in the 17th century found out we are not the center of the universe.

    This blogging phenomenon is just that, thinking your thoughts are too important not to get out there. Imo, we are suffering from mass narcissism, a relic from our religious “we are God’s chosen people” heritage. We just dropped the religious part, but never the narcissistic element that came along with it.

  • http://enchantedseashells.wordpress.com Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

    I’m getting sooooo tired of being asked/demanded to click on their whatever to help them make money not that I don’t want to monetize but it seems like the acquisition of likes and follows are solely for a self-serving purpose to become paid brand ambassadors. I’m very discouraged.