Why Do Bloggers Brag?
Posted on 15. Jan, 2008 by The Gimcracker in Blogging, Theory & Philosophy
This one’s going to get me into trouble. Maybe that means it’s a good post. Or maybe it means I shouldn’t write it. Too late. I already made that collage of blog logos.
I have a question: why do some bloggers feel the need to brag about their lives? OK, now let me backpedal 20 steps for anyone who just became offended so that later I can say “I didn’t mean you.” I think it’s fine to talk about your life via your blog for the following reasons:
1) You’ve moved away from home and you want to keep your family informed of your life’s happenings.
2) You sprinkle in posts regarding your personal life amongst posts about other topics.
3) You don’t expect anyone to read it, which means you don’t tell people about it (e.g. you don’t link back to your blog when you comment on other blogs)
4) You’re famous.
…and on the following conditions:
1) You don’t aim to make people envious by boasting, gloating, showboating, vaunting, gasing, puffing, shucking, cock-a-doodle-dooing, or otherwise bragging about your life in any way.
Well actually that’s just one condition, but it packs a punch. You may be wondering what prompted me to write this. There has really been an explosion of bloggers lately, and it seems like everyone I know blogs. Naturally it follows that there has also been an explosion of useless blogs (like this one) and bloggers blogging about what their blog means and why they even began blogging in the first place, especially when they blog on the topic of blogging. Finally, we’ve seen an increase in the number of bragblogs – blogs filled with themselves and nothing else.
So, after being asked by my wife, as undoubtedly most bloggers have been at some point, why in the heck I waste my time doing it, I started thinking about what, indeed, the purpose of a blog truly is. Without going into too much detail and crossing the line from gimcrackery to shimshanklery, I believe the overall purpose of a blog is to entertain.
You can be entertained in a variety of ways. Humor is entertaining. Learning is entertaining. Current events are entertaining. Reading about your friend who is traveling abroad is entertaining. Sports are entertaining. Reading about a friend doing a DIY project is entertaining. Basically any blog I read that I enjoy is classified as an entertaining blog, which is the only reason I read it in the first place. I am just as entertained when I read a Kotaku post about Half Life as when I read a By the Narrow Gate post about film scores.
You know what’s not entertaining? Bragging. I’m sorry that I can’t give you any examples (not due to lack thereof, but out of politeness), but I’m sure you know what I mean. Time for another list to supplement my point. Here are some dead giveaways that you’ve been posting to a bragblog:
1) Every post is about your actions instead of your thoughts.
2) You give too much information about your possessions or skills.
3) Your posts don’t seem to contain references to people/events around you unless it is to point out something grand about yourself.
4) You feel the need to announce to people when you have just written a post, instead of letting them find out for themselves.
Number 4 above refers to posts about yourself. It’s different if you post an hilarious youtube vid and you tell people about your post so that they will go watch it. By the way, I’m sure I’m violating a different set of “how not to blog” guidelines somewhere by being condescending and sounding like a know-it-all idiot and not being facetious enough. I’m sorry, but I’m trying to do a service to the majority of blog readers out there. I’ll continue my point in the following paragraph since this one has hit my apparent maximum of about five or six lines.
At last count I read about 15 or so blogs on a regular basis, and that doesn’t count the hundreds of blogs I’ve stopped off at once or twice, many of which were bragblogs. So, if you’re reading this and wondering if I’m talking about you, then ask yourself if you fall into any of the categories mentioned above. If you do and you are fine with it, then I probably don’t/wouldn’t like you in RL. I’m sure me not liking you isn’t enough to sway you, but just stop and think about how many other, much more influential members of society – armed with opinions of greater consequence than my own – may not like you either. I have no idea if I’m talking about you or not and I don’t have a specific blog in mind.
You’re wasting your time if you maintain a weblog simply to boast about your accomplishments, because no one is going to read it and be entertained – they’re just going to be offended. Again, I’m not saying if you talk about yourself in your blog, you have a bragblog. After all, the whole purpose of blogs in the first place is to “chronologically journal your personal life”. The problem is, some people interprete that to mean “chronologically journal your personal accomplishments.” If you can’t think of anything else in your life besides your accomplishments, then it’s going to be tough to understand what I mean.
For instance, when I think of my personal life, I sometimes think of my accomplishments, but much more often I think of the people I love, the thoughts and ideas I have, the things I think are funny, and the mistakes I’ve made. I’m truly a humble person and also a great person with no flaws as you can tell. Seriously though, most of us think of these types of things because they are what make up our personal lives. That is, unless we are closed off to the world, in which case it’s all about our accomplishments.
Please notice that I never said you had to be a good writer or a funny person or have great grammar or awesome topics and all of that and I know that some of you out there write your blogs to an audience of only one or two specific people and I know that there are many uses for blogs besides those mentioned in this post and I’m in no way pointing out the superiority of my blog and I realize I’ve ended a post with another run-on disclaimer sentence because it’s just what I do and I’m fine with that thanks for asking.
This isn’t meant to be mean, it’s supposed to be a helpful set of guidelines for all of us. So, if this post has offended you, then it could be you that I’m talking about.
Photo credits: All images (except the first one) were taken from Despair Inc.
Nice post, Brian. Lately I’ve been wondering whether blogging is a truly a valuable thing, mainly because I think I’ve let it take up WAY too much of my time.
The more I think about this fact, the more frustrated I am because I know there are so many other more healthy things I could be doing with my time. Mostly I look at peoples’ blogs at work or write something of my own, which is a kind of distraction from the dull monotony of my job…but I’m not convinced that this is a good thing for me either.
So what is blogging good for, I ask myself? Well, I don’t really have an answer at this point, though I’m sure there may be one. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Keep in mind, I’m not writing this comment solely based on reading your post; I’ve been thinking of this already for a little while. What you wrote sort of helped bring it to the surface though. That’s good, I think.
Anyway, you don’t have to agree or disagree with me. Those are just my thoughts.
(You’ll note I have linked this comment back to my blog, thus breaking rule 3 of your criteria)
Now THAT was entertaining! Go Bri-bri!
P.S. I could totally wear that t-shirt cause no one visits my blog that I don’t talk about.. that I linked my name to in this comment.. dangit.
I’m glad you guys linked your comments to your blogs – you gotta get recognition! That’s one of the reasons I make comments on some of the blogs I read, so I can drive traffic to my blog and trade traffic. Teh blogosphere is favorite.
Now if your blog was a bragblog, you’d have violated the bragblog guidelines established heretofore, thus far, henceforth, and forevermore. But I don’t think Colts, Orthodox, or techy how-to posts are the stuff of bragblogs. It’s dang entertaining, at least to me.
So, what is blogging good for? I don’t really know. It definitely can be a distraction and time-waster. All things in moderation, right? So, am I taking the whole blogging thing in moderation? I’ll have to think about that. It’s sort of like TV – you just numb out and change the channel from blog to blog filling your mind with nonsense and, in the case of this blog, gimcrackery.
I think there is a difference though, especially depending on what blogs you read. You exercise your mind more when you read than when you watch TV, because you have to use your imagination (whereas TV does the imagining for you by presenting a constant visual). You also have more control over what content goes into your head. There is also the whole interaction element with comments and discussion, which doesn’t take place in front of the boob tube – unless you have frequent conversations with your potato chips.
Ooh, wait now. After reading Jonathan’s comment (and now Brian’s continuation), this could turn into a very interesting topic that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now.. and was part of the reason I all but killed my old Joeliver blog last summer. I don’t want to take away from the original focus of the post, but conversations go how they will, and since Jonathan initiated, I’ll continue down the rabbit hole.
We just had Fr. Joseph Honeycutt from Houston join us at a youth retreat down here over Christmas break, and he gave one interesting talk about the seven vices (PALEGAS – Pride Anger Lust Envy Greed Avarice Sloth).
One conversation in particular during the talk regarding Sloth, led into people’s habits when using the internet to avoid responsibility, or just to waste time in general. Now it perked my ears because I totally knew what he was talking about when he laid out an all-too familiar routine for himself, “yeah okay, lights turned off, doors locked, all ready for bed… OOOOH I need to check my email one more time even though it will most likely end up taking TWO HOURS.” (Fr. Joseph is a very dynamic and humorous speaker.)
My reasons were never very good for my blog, so I quit, but I got the chance to ask him why he blogged, and he said he started it to sell his books. I thought that was a pretty good reason why to have it.
I think this is a great platform to discuss some good reasons to blog! I think it’s definitely useful, but in the right way. So, now to return to this comment I started writing a few hours ago, and to echo Brian’s question, “what is blogging good for?”
I’ll start a list:
* News (any public news about life, technology, sports, and other general headlines)
* Feedback (starting a conversation about some new software or product that you want to get in touch with your customers about, keep your head out of the clouds kind of thing)
… and that’s all I can think of right now. My comment is long enough. Peace.
I like where this is going. I’ll reuse one from my post for the sake of this list (even though Joel pretty much already said it):
*Keeping your loved ones informed – specifically family if you’ve moved away, or if they’ve moved away, or if you just don’t get a chance to talk to them day in and day out. I guess it’s just a “drill-down” of Joel’s *News item above.
*Professional development – documenting your endeavors at work and journaling your professional accomplishments/milestones for future use (e.g. Chomper Stomping)
Honestly, when I read this post, I took it as a slam against a post I had made that very morning, and immediately went and took that post down and then mulled over “why am I even blogging?” for the rest of the day and into this morning.
In my musings, I remembered a great post from my favorite blog: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001020.html which culminates in the saying “Happiness is only real when shared”.
The post that I took down was a little self serving (sort of a pat on the back). When I started off to write it, it had nothing to do with me, but when it actually came to the execution of it, it ended up being completely about me. So I took it down because it wasn’t what I set out to say (and I felt I was being called a braggart). The intention of what my post evolved into was me sharing my happiness about how far I had come in my life and career. It’s like when you yell “Ding!” in WoW. People shouldn’t get mad or jealous or call you a braggart, but in life if you yell ding… well… then you’re big headed.
Here’s the difference: In WoW, the computer decides you dinged. In life, you decide you dinged. Therefor, it can be seen as bragging and people can consider you to be full of yourself.
But I digress… I think that a good reason to blog is to inform. If you know a really good way to make french toast, you could put it on your blog. However, you could just as easily go to a cooking site and post your recipe there. Therefor, the reason you put it on your blog is to get “cred”. It’s so that you can have fans. People who come to you to be informed or entertained. If you didn’t care for yourself to get credit (and a pat on the back), you would just go to wikipedia or some other website like that and just put it into the knowledge ether anonymously.
Blogging is self satisfying, and if you are doing it for any non-selfish reason, then you are probably choosing the wrong forum to be publishing your thoughts, because some greater anonymous forum is out there that would reach many many more people and do much much more good. Although it could be argued that the internet has only one website, that it might as well be called the “Googlenet” and that putting it here or somewhere else makes no difference these days because it’s just as easy to find…
I do think that the Gimcracker makes a great point though. If your blog comes across as self serving and selfish, no one is going to care or want to read it. I find that the faster I write a blog post, the more arrogant/crappy/braggadocious/whatever it becomes. The more I take time to weed out my over-sized ego, and get down to the nut of what I really wanted to say if my big head hadn’t gotten in the way, the better and more friendly (non-self-serving) my blog post is. Now let’s count how many times I used the word “I” in this hastily written, self-serving comment…
Don’t forget to click the link on my name so you can be taken to my blog… notice I used my full name to make the link even bigger and more tempting… Maybe I’ll even add a parenthetical to it to make it even bigger…
I didn’t know your name could be that long – I want to try it!
Did it work? I guess I’ll find out after I click submit.
I agree with what you said. The faster I write a blog post, comment, email, or anything really, the more I tend to be influenced by my emotions – which usually ends up being a bad thing.
I like the idea of a blog being a collection of all of your thoughts and ideas. If you simply post your recipe for french toast on wikipedia, you may forget about it in the future. Same as if you post a LOLhead image you made on some sort of LOL conglomeration site like icanhascheezburger, you might forget all about it. It’s really fun to look back on posts you made a year ago (which won’t happen for me for another 3 months).
Now, the question is, why is it fun? Is it because you want to feel proud about your accomplishments or is it because you just want to remember how you used to be and see how far you’ve come? Or a different reason? I just don’t know for sure. It’s weird to think about. I’m not gonna lie – sort of a little awkward. This is uncomfortable.
Yeah, it is a little uncomfortable, but few things worth doing are.
I think it is fun partly because of narcissism. You are looking at where you were and patting yourself on the back for how far you’ve come. Or you are reliving a good time of your life possibly (like with Art’s post about his proposal to his wife).
I think it really comes down to arrogance. By writing in your blog you are stating that what you have to say is worth the time it takes to read it. Otherwise, you would write in a journal that you tuck under your mattress.
What you have to say may be worth the time though. If you are getting good comments, that affirms that you are worth listening to. Or if you can look at your stats and see you are being read, then people are telling you you are worth their time, that they just have nothing to say.
By the mere fact of setting up a blog and putting finger to key, you are arrogantly stating for all the world to see that you think you are worth listening to (not that you are necessarily wrong).
Any blog could just as easily be a password protected private collection of personal knowledge. It would be easier to maintain, and easier to write. Most publish because they assume they have some knowledge that can serve other people that is worth reading (or is entertaining).
Note: If at this point you are saying to yourself “I’m not arrogant, I’m humble. Who’s this guy to tell me I’m arrogant”, maybe you should go sit in a quite place and really think about that assertion, and why my assertion that you are not humble makes you mad…
EDIT: Yeah, it is a little uncomfortable, but few things worth doing are comfortable.
Knowing that your work will be seen by others tends to bring out the best in us. If my blog was private, I wouldn’t write half the posts I write, and I’d like less than half of them half as much as they deserve.
I also think blogs (and commenting on blogs) is not for everyone. Some people don’t like to share their lives with the entire cosmos. I tend to be in that camp, which is why I try not to write too much about my personal life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that though.
It comes down to who your audience is. Are you writing for yourself or are you writing for other people’s enjoyment? I think once you know the answer to that question, you can start answering the other ones.
Personally, I love posting to my blog, so I guess that means I’m writing for myself. However, when I think about it even more, I realize that the only reason I love it is because of the possibility of other people reading it. So what does that mean?!?
I think it means you like to make other people happy. But really, you are the only one that can answer that…
For a blogger who typically provides thought-provoking (or educational) posts, I found this Gimcracker entry to give, me at least, particular pause. I read the entry and am now revisiting the page after 45 min of pondering. To not alter my initial comments, I haven’t read the 11 other responses yet because I don’t want them to influence my take on this very interesting subject just yet. I apologize in advance if what I say was said before.
First, I absolutely agree that blog-bragging is an internet phenomena. I’ve struggled with it a bit myself in the past. You know, when you sit down to write a post you think. Who is going to read this? Do I really have anything to say? Does my opinion matter? Do I sound arrogant or biased? Usually, I have to chock it up to an “I don’t know, but here goes.” This sort of moves into my point, which is, that bloggers are inherently a bit boastful. Sure, not a lot of folks may read the blog, but that fact that you are putting it out there for the world to do with it what it pleases is somewhat indicative, I think, of an absence of modesty. If we simply wanted to chronicle our lives for our own benefit we would pull a Doogie Houser or buy a journal. Maybe even a lock. Jot the thoughts down and be happy that we just got them out of our heads. Perhaps we would revisit them one day…perhaps not. Blogging is a different thing all together. It’s like mixing a journal with all of those emails that you send to your friends during the day that everyone replies to a hundred times. Usually moving from an interesting quote in a news story to a “quote-off” from The Office. That’s kind of what I like about blogging. It’s more risky than old-school journaling. You get to put your thoughts out there, see what other people think, read, reply, rinse, repeat, and still find time to quote The Office.
For the folks out there who do brag in their blogging…maybe they need to be called out, or see a decline in readership. I think your right, those posts are not the most fun to read. Yet, I think this point has us all dancing a dangerous line…see point two.
My second thought from reading your post is that we have come to live in a culture where we are made to feel guilty over our accomplishments. To speak out about what we have done, or share our experiences suddenly moves from a transfer of knowledge (which is good) into bragging. Often times I will find myself censoring what I write because I don’t want to sound arrogant. This can be as big as talking about the places I’ve traveled, to something as seemingly harmless as my vocabulary (big words turn some folks off). I feel like this can also be seen to some extent in political elections and entertainment. We want to have people in office who are just like us. We no longer want scripted, plotted, well conceived TV dramas or comedy’s. We would rather watch the latest version of I love New York or some other such mindless nonsense. I digress, I have left my intended track. In summation of this point, I think there are people out there who are boastful in a negative way. At the same time, I think there are people out there who have done and do some pretty incredible things. I hope the feel proud enough to share them with us. Not in a vain attempt to brag, but an honest endeavor to share knowledge.
Lastly, you mentioned in point 4 that people who were famous were exempted from the bragging list. I must humbly disagree. I think fame is often an excuse for ill informed people to spout off personal ideas ad nauseam. Personally, I would rather read what you have to say, or the other folks who I know and respect who write their ideas down and offer them up to the great bloggospghere. But then I was never one to think fame was a reason for me to bend an ear…you’ve got to earn it. Make me want to read. Make me think.
Great points. And that whole famous thing in point #4 was half a joke and half pointing out that fact that famous people actually are more entertaining than us regular people. I agree that they should have to earn it and that we shouldn’t lift them onto a pedestal just because they’re famous.
But there’s just a part of me that has to know what Tom Cruise just said about Germany, or what Dwight Schrute chronicled in his latest post, or who Bill Belichick just pissed off in his press conference, or what Steve Jobs thinks about Bill Gates. There’s something about fame, good or bad, that is entertaining.
I also want to say that you should never feel guilty about your accomplishments. If people didn’t share the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout their lives, we would still be in the stone age. But, as you put it well, do it because you want to share your knowledge with others, not because you want to make others envious.
When you think about it, your accomplishments are really only made possible because of God, so you shouldn’t get too wrapped up in the “Look what I did!” mindset. But still take credit where credit is due, I think there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ironically, this post is an example of why blogging CAN be a valuable thing. Look at all the interesting conversation it’s provoked so far. Nice job, Gimcracker!
You made a very good point, DireMirth. “We have come to live in a culture where we are made to feel guilty over our accomplishments.” It seems like on the one hand we’re either feeling guilty about our accomplishments OR we’re perhaps a bit too puffed-up and boastful about our accomplishments. Reminds me of something a wise man once told me: We either have the highest opinion of ourselves, or the lowest. (But perhaps rarely an honest opinion)
I don’t know, maybe I’m once again getting off on a different tangent.
But I’ve seen a lot of great comments so far. And I just wanted to add one more so that people would think I was smart and thoughtful, like famous people.
Do you remember where you heard that quote? That is one of the best I’ve heard.
Well, it was Fr. Joseph M. who told me. I’m not sure where he got it from though.
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