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Bloggers: Typing their way to self-medication

Posted by on May 25, 2008

Though my blog is a rookie in the blogosphere major leagues, slowly my friends are starting to read my rants, opinions, and quasi secular sermons regularly. So with that comes dinners, sports outings, and nights at the pub where I get the…”You should blog about that”, on a number of different topics. I guess its similar to how comedians get bits thrown at them from anyone that’s ever been told their knock knock jokes are hilarious. I’m really sure Chris Rock is dying for new material from Byron the Bus Driver.

But beggars can’t be choosers, so I typically entertain and research most suggestions that come my way, and if it grabs me then I’ll let my fingers do the talking.

The other day a friend sent over an article called, “Blogging: its good for you” and this one really hit home. Apparently scientists are now formally studying the therapeutic effects blogging has on the human brain. Writing out your experiences and feelings has long been known as a successful stress-coping mechanism, so in my opinion this study is chasing after the wrong end of the horse.

Since blogging and journaling/expressive writing are similar in MANY ways, the priority of these studies should be centered around what the primary differences between the two outlets are and a study on those differences would exploit their likely therapeutic variances.

Expressive writing is in nature never meant to be read. Its primary goal is ideally to pass any frustrations, challenges, and mental blocks onto an empty page in the hopes of increased clarity and reduction of anxiety or stress. One of the most therapeutic expressive writing tasks I’ve found is Timed Writing.

Timed Writing is when you take a paper and pen (I know, that’s sooooo 1995), and write NONSTOP for 10-15 minutes. I like to refer to this exercise as a brain dump. No matter how much your hand starts to cramp you just keep writing. Its amazing some of the leaps in thought and ideas that end up pouring out, not to mention the feeling of release at the end of a great dump. (Insert bowel movement joke here)

Blogs however, I see as therapeutic in a different manner than typical expressive writing. Having an audience changes everything. When you’re journaling you’re pouring out and storing your inner most thoughts, as you symbolically lock them away so to review them in 10 years and laugh at how ridiculously dramatic you were being.

But blogging is a different beast. The vast majority of bloggers refrain from writing about anything too personal besides their favourite bagel spread, and the bloggers that really let you into their lives make me wonder what it is they’re holding back. Everyone holds something back. EVERYONE has something chained up in the Alcatraz of their minds they wish not to share. This is where I see a grand canyon of difference between the benefits of blogging vs. expressive writing.

Where blogging misses the bus on personal release of expression it could be said it tries to make up for in personal accomplishment; Not to mention blogging serves as an outlet for all of us that have far too much going on in our heads everyday and NEED someplace to dump the stuff we find interesting.

Inside a generation that is feeling increasingly disenfranchised by their role in things like their corporate jobs, their place in the world, and the drawn out talking head marathon that IS the political process; blogs are a way for Generation X to say HEY!!! No matter if its, “I hate this…”, or “I love that…”, its the point that we’re getting people talking about things we enjoy discussing.

I once had a debate with a close friend who believes the individual on their own is irrelevant and that I personally cannot affect change. I strongly disagreed. Its not about the uberman or uberwoman vigilante running out in the streets putting out fires, saving babies, and defeating criminals and dictators head-to-head ala Iron Man, its all about the fusion of individuals.

Nothing is possible without you. With Web 2.0, information is viral, which means ideas become viral, all stemming from growth established in the foundation of the individual.  Everything must begin somewhere and evolve from its origin; and to say that each person is helpless is not only an amazing buzz killer at parties, but its also dead wrong.

Blogs allow us as individuals to start fires under the issues we see as important and self-publish our thoughts into a world of computer monitors for review. Some will agree with us, some will not, but its the evoking of thoughts and idea sharing between people the world over that makes blogging the lofty pursuit that adds personal fulfillment where expressive writing tends to fall short.

So though I’m clearly a fan of the blogosphere and the additional power it passes onto the common man, I see journaling and personal expressive writing as a much more effective way of unclogging the information traffic jams that at times can be our minds. But either outlet is far and away more constructive than adding to Alcatraz, you only have so many cells. 😉

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