My thanks to Todd Best for the following:
“As someone who considers himself somewhat in step with the culture of thought in society and as someone who thinks a lot about culture and human experience, I have to confess that I do not blog. Not only do I not blog, but I do not participate, in general, in the whole blogosphere. Well, ok, sometimes I guess I am an occasional visitor or lurker to an interesting blog here and there. And there are friends of mine who blog that I try to peak in on from time to time. But by and large I am simply not “into” blogging as a practice. But I have my reasons that I think are good reasons, and ones that at least need to be taken into consideration when one blogs and reads blogs.
But first, a caveat: when I speak of blogging, I have a certain kind in mind, and that is the kind whose purpose is to provide a public space on the internet for ones thoughts to be displayed on any range of topics from personal, emotional, psychological life to politics, to religion, to cultural life, to hundreds of other things. On the surface, that doesn’t sound so bad – well at least the latter half of that list. But allow me to mention my reasons for sitting on the sidelines. And one more thing to clarify: I do not think others should necessarily adopt my own views on this, and I can certainly appreciate the various ways friends of mine utilize blogging. However, I also think that some of my reasons could supply some helpful parameters.
Reason 1: It minimizes incarnational communal life. The process of blogging is too disembodied and has disembodying tendencies for its users. It is already difficult enough to get substantive in-person interaction with others these days. Add to that the various ways our culture fragments us as humans and separates us from each other. While some might argue that blogging actually creates more transparency, intimacy, and opportunity to talk about what is most important to us, I say that may be true, but at what cost? I am not anti-internet and I am not anti-technology, I just think that we are flesh and blood and our bodies need to be part of the process of communicating as much as possible. We lose something when we do not experience face to face communication. Think about the difference of how you react when you bump into a physical human being on the sidewalk, and how you react to someone cutting you off in traffic. This isn’t to say that disembodiment of blogging automatically keeps you from experiencing what I call incarnational communal life, but it does present an obstacle. And for me at least, my time is such that I need more face to face not less. I need to cultivate organic, fleshy, visual interaction. The truth is that without blogging, I do not have enough in-person communication. By adding blogging as another hobby, as it were, it would remove me one more step from the real live enfleshed human beings I need in my life and learning.
Reason 2: It lacks authority. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that many who blog do so as a primary way of “learning” about something. Yet, blogs are more often not primary sources to gain knowledge from. They seem to me to be primarily about the blog’s author offering personal thoughts, opinions, feelings, etc. (albeit they can often be very interesting and they can point to more authoritative sources). Take politics, for instance. If I want to learn about a presidential candidate, I would rather first check with primary sources of reliable information (I know, that’s another problem) before checking with opinion-based blogs. Not to say that there’s such a thing as genuine neutrality, but there are at least places that try (NPR, BBC, some newspapers, academic sites). But blogs, while they may have a place, simply are not reliable sources for me. If I have a theological question, for instance, I’m not going to primarily look to a blog. I will first look to something that is more “footnote-able”, something I could find in a journal or publication or library, then consult a blog of, say, a pastor friend of mine or a respected writer online. I guess it’s kind of like the way Wikipedia lacks authority. No one writing anything respectable would ever footnote Wikipedia as their source for information, though it can be helpful on certain things.
Reason 3: Call me a luddite, but I prefer to read lengthy and substantive things as paper and ink. I guess this is somewhat related to the disembodiment issue above, but this time it has to do with my own body interacting with whatever it is that I’m reading. I want to hold the written text in my hands. I want to mark it if I need to and have that option. I want to carry it from my chair to the front porch. I want to be able to take it on a walk with me. I want to be able to look at it and discuss it with others who have their own copy…to be able to point to a passage and put my finger on the words.
Reason 4: I don’t have time to blog. I need to spend less time online, not more. The internet is a tool for me to use as an information source and a place to do initial research and sometimes a place to make purchases when I can’t find something I want locally. So, I have too many other things that demand my attention, besides blogging.
Having said all this, there is a type of blogging that my family does participate in, but I see it as something that is quite different from what I don’t do, and it is under tight parameters, i.e. generally not public. This is a family website kind of deal that we set up with multiply.com, a social networking site. We use it for posting pics, videos, and short narratives of our family’s adventures to help our long-distance family and friends stay connected to us. And, very important, it is not available to the public. (though I guess we have a public, minimal content blog.) There are lots of sick freaks out there scanning for places where they can get off in seeing innocent children’s pictures (not to mention child pornography), and who take the next step in stalking. Call me paranoid, but I think it’s a really bad idea to do public blogs that air pictures of children and name names and locations and such. But to do something that is by invitation only or is password protected can be a really good thing. In the words of a friend of ours, it serves as an alternative for those of us who aren’t into scrap-booking, but think that its important to have a visual expression and memory of what it is that we’re building as a family.
So there you have it. I may have overstated my reasons, but those are the things that come to mind. I don’t think blogs are wrong, evil, wasteful, or useless. It’s just that for my purposes, they don’t offer enough to me to carve out a space in my life for them. However, as I’ve mentioned, I do find it interesting and helpful to look at blogs of certain writers and friends from time to time. Heck, sometimes this is my primary way of keeping up with someone. But again, it’s just not a regular practice.”