I started writing my first blog in June 2007, motivated primarily by curiosity. I was interested in the whole idea of blogging, without having any direct sense of what I wanted to accomplish, other than recording thoughts, impressions and experiences. Based on the blogs I had read to that point, I was reminded of being a young girl when it was all the rage among my friends to keep a pen-and-paper diary. I can’t even count how many journals I bought in earnest, only to lose interest before too long. Invariably, I would start out keeping a diligent record of my daily thoughts, activities and dreams, only to find myself writing less and less often after the first month or so, before finally stopping altogether.
Thinking back, I can identify several barriers that kept me from maintaining a diary in the past. I remember thinking that an event needed to be noteworthy and significant in order to merit a diary entry. Coming up with one of these on a daily or even weekly basis was truly daunting. Inventing something just for the sake of the diary seemed beside the point! Secondly, I had trouble maintaining the discipline and interest required to write something about my life while I was so busy living it. Finally, it occurred to me as a teen that I might not want to record the most interesting things about my life, preferring to keep them truly private rather than risking possible discovery by parents or brothers. It’s too bad, because now and then I come across an old journal and find it interesting to reflect on my experiences and how they have brought me to where I am now. But old habits die hard, and I think I brought some of these long-standing attitudes with me as I ventured into the even more public forum of blogging.
When I first heard about blogging, I considered the possibilities of using it in my work, as a tool to advance policy change in public health. I decided to test it first as an individual endeavor, to practice and to get a feel for how/whether it would fit my needs personally and professionally (you may have already guessed, dear reader, how this all turned out). My two years of blog posts focused, unsurprisingly, on my most cherished areas of personal interest. These included thoughts about raising my 3 children, including my reactions as they grew up, moved on to college and beyond. I posted photos of pets – my own and others, talked about my favorite sports team, chronicled vacations, and kept a log of accomplishments and setbacks in my weekly schedule of running for physical fitness. (This last was helped by such motivational quotes as “No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.”, found through searching other blogs like this http://www.precor.com/en-us/blog/2013/09/30/motivational-fitness-quotes/).
At the same time, I subscribed to a few blogs written by people I knew, about topics that I found much more interesting than my own. The first involved a former student, now a friend, who had taken up a one-year challenge to go completely vegan and eschew the consumption of alcohol. At the time, Terry’s voracious appetites for meat, alcohol and generally bad gustatory choices was well known among his many friends. One of these, Heather Mills (once famous for divorcing Paul McCartney) issued him the challenge after she started up a new vegan food company. I responded to his call for support by following and commenting on his daily blog posts to encourage him in what he called his “quest”. By making his endeavor public, he created accountability for himself, as well as a responsibility to his readers, which carried through the many struggles he encountered along the way. I wanted to follow him so I could cheer him on! After that, I began to follow an artists’ blog started by one of my daughters as a way to be in touch with her experiences in the theater community in New York City. I subsequently found news and health blogs created by the New York Times and other sources I found credible and interesting. Along the way, I found my own blog posts tapering off, even as I continued to expand my reading of blogs written by others.
In 2009, as chair of a statewide prevention nonprofit, I created a blog in order to get input for an annual conference that was sponsored by the organization. This was in the days before I used Facebook, or other online tools to connect with constituents or colleagues. The blog worked well for its purpose, generating comments from the field that provided the basis for policy discussions that took place during the conference. But, like my personal blog, it fell by the wayside in the hierarchy of priorities for me and for the organization. I enjoy reading the blogs of others, and follow quite a few. As for my own blogging, however, I’m afraid that has gone the way of my many diaries, collecting virtual dust as I have moved on to other methods of communication for work and play. Hopefully, this class can motivate me to re-consider the use of blogging in my work – perhaps by hiring an expert blogger with lots of passion and skill, but very little leftover baggage from unfulfilling experiences with unfilled diaries.