This is part one of a two-part series on the effects my blog has on me. The second part will be ‘5 ways my blog makes me a better person’, and together they form an exploration of how blogging affects my character.
The truth is my blog doesn’t make me good or bad. It is a tool. It is neutral. But what it does do is provide a window into who I am, and reveal certain things. It can shine a light on and exacerbate things that are already part of me. I am good (because I’m made in the image of God) and I am bad (because I’m fallen), and my blog – like most things – has potential to make the good better and the bad worse.
So – after a rather strange selfie – here are 5 areas in which my blog can make me worse.
1. It makes me prideful
If pride is an over-inflated view of oneself, there’s an obvious danger in a platform where I am author, editor, moderator and the guy with my face at the top of the page. Whether it is feeling as though I am the best thing ever because I won an award or feeling upset because no-one liked that post I just wrote, I can fall into the trap of assuming I’m basically the best and everyone should feel lucky to have my thoughts available on tap.
It means I put my identity in my blog’s success, instead of letting my primary identity be that I am a child of God.
2. It makes me unbalanced
This is perhaps a particular danger for me because of my day-job. I work for a church, and a key part of my role is in teaching and preaching, which means I spend a lot of time reading, reflecting, praying, studying and formulating thoughts into a format that will hopefully help others. That is also a pretty good definition of the process of writing a blog entry. So loading up the blog to write a post in an evening or on my day off can mean I never rest that part of me.
It means I can not rest properly and embrace that sinful idea that I can keep going and don’t need to take seriously God’s call to stop.
3. It makes me chase ratings
Like most bloggers, I have a programme installed that tracks the number of visitors and hits my site gets. This is useful information, but it can also lead you down a rabbit hole. Why didn’t that post get as many hits? Why was that one shared so many times? Maybe if I write more about that I’ll get more hits. Maybe if I use controversial but slightly dishonest titles more people will bother to read. Maybe if I get more hits, it means more people like me.
It means I can start seeking approval in all the wrong places.
4. It makes me disengaged
I’ve got better at combatting this one, but there’s a danger that I end up living in blog-land not the real world. In blog-land every situation, conversation and event matters only in so far as it means I can blog about it when I get home. It means I don’t care about situations because they matter, but because they might provide me with material.
It means I can get disengaged and start devaluing people, which damages relationships and ruins experiences.
5. It makes me too simplistic
I aim at 800 words max per blog post. Even now as I type I’m looking at the word count and realising I can’t type too much more. Writing in a short and concise way can aid clarity, but if I choose to write on something that is in fact very complex, I can end up forcing it to seem more simple than it is. Previously I have tackled the issue of what it means to be Christlike. How can I do that justice in 800 words?!
It means I can become simplistic in my approach to things that I really should be wrestling with at a far deeper level.
I want to point out that by becoming more aware of these things, I am in a much better position to combat them, so I assure you that I am not just a proud, burnt-out, approval-seeking, disengaged simpleton. But where I do still fall short, I must – as Bonhoeffer said – continually throw myself upon the grace of God.
Fellow bloggers – anything I’ve missed?