The longer I’ve been blogging, the more I can’t help but think that it’s essentially a narcissistic pursuit. Which is not to say that’s the case with all blogging: in fact, it seems to me that well-defined blog projects can be the opposite. My sister-in-law posts entries about her kids so that those of us at a distance can watch them grow up. A number of blogs have evolved into online magazines with huge readerships that then become full-time employment for their founders. Mrs. Blandings had a recent post on blogging (and moving) that described her interesting trajectory.
I don’t have much of a readership (sorry Alex), and I do next to nothing to drive traffic to my blog (it’s even buried in my FB, for example). This is in contrast to the sorts of people who are out there making bland non-comments on, say, The Sartorialist, for the sole purpose of linking to their sure-to-be-mind-numbing blogs. I’m allowing myself to occupy the moral high ground here, but honestly, if the purpose of putting content out there is for that content to be consumed, then why not promote your activities?
A new study about Facebook and narcissism has been getting a lot of press. It concludes that “individuals higher in narcissism and lower in self-esteem were related to greater online activity as well as some self-promotional content.” An example of self-promotional content on FB was the celebrity look-alike quiz that circulated for a while. But what’s really interesting to me about this study is that it’s looking at the idea of a curated online identity. Wouldn’t you think this would be the polar opposite of the online community-building ideal, authenticity?
I’d guess yes. Which is why, I suppose, that despite how active so many people are online, there’s a comparative few that have astronomical success, a large contingent with middling success, and then the rest of us.
Earlier this week, I watched this A.S. Byatt interview on the Guardian, in which she suggests that people are drawn to these online mediums in our increasingly secular world as a way to defend or assert their existences. Interesting stuff, though I’m not sure what to do with it just yet.