Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blogging is a Waste of Time

Time Passes

Over a year ago, I heard Andy Crouch's public declaration: "Blogging is a waste of time."

His declaration coincided neatly with a bit of advice I received from a Simon & Schuster Director of Marketing and Promotion. "You should start a blog," she said. "We ask all our authors to start blogs."

The S&S person's enthusiasm tempted me to begin blogging post-haste. But I admit it was the nonconformist in me that provided hidden energy. I wanted to confront Andy's bald-faced statement. I wanted to become a blog scientist of sorts, to test out the veracity of his assertion.

As a 16-month-old blogger, I've decided that Andy is both right and wrong— depending on one's purpose for blogging, one's expectations, and one's boundaries. (You can read more on this in my recent article for Today's Christian. It includes a Personal Story, which is simply my answers to Ed Gilbreath's invisible interview questions.)

When considering Andy's assertion, I like to remember that blogging is a tool, just like any other tool. As such, it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Blogging is a waste of time for some people. But for others it's a chance to connect, to test and refine one's thoughts, or to simply unwind.

The real question is not whether blogging in general is a waste of time, but whether it's the best use of your time today and tomorrow.

Time Passes photo, by L.L. Barkat.


L.L. Barkat's Today's Christian article A New Kind of Body

Ted Olsen's Christianity Today article The Death of Blogs

Mark Goodyear's The Death of Blogs? Let's Not be Melodramatic

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Blogger Craver Vii said...

If I felt that blogging was not good, I would not be doing it. But even a good flower, if it blooms in the wrong place... is a weed.

4:06 PM  
Blogger duopastorale said...

I do it for fun!!!

4:29 PM  
Blogger jcubsdad said...

Where else can I put my ideas out there and let people from all over the world read them and provide stimulation and critique? If I wrote a book maybe, but then it still requires a lot of work of the reader to contact me and agree/refute what I say.

I blog for stimulation and to test my ideas and see if they float.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Good thoughts on blogging and interesting to read of your experience. So you blogged every day once?

I think it is a discipline yet it needs to simply be a natural part of who each blogger is. And for me it is to share and share alike. Most of the time on things I'm working on in my own life, or I think are important. Though it has an aspect of me of fun as well as serious.

Your blog is nice to look at and read, and always worth the visit. And you have a nice blogging community here, very faithful. Nice to read each other's blogs and kind of get to know each other in this way.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Ooh, good thoughts. As we discussed, I go back and forth on the blog thing. Mostly, I love the small community I've made by doing it. It definitely *has* changed my life, there's no doubt about that. How much, when, etc. takes some discipline. IT's a personal thing , I believe, to discover whether or not it is *good*.

9:46 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Wonderful post! Like Craver, if I felt like blogging wasn't good for me, I wouldn't do it. Like you said so well, it's a tool. How you use it is up to you. For me, it's a chance to be sharpened, challenged, and connect with members of the Body I would not otherwise have the chance to connect with. And considering what good has come from it, I would not trade it for anything.

So I will keep blogging!!

10:40 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Well, I'm hooked, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not a waste of time. I don't think it is.

But I think Andy isn't completely off. It is easy to let blogging get out of control. Ahem, for some people. Not me of course.

I like the way Ted described it as a discipline. Undisciplined blogging could be a waste of time.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

I'm, um, doing some new things with google and my picture disappeared! I'm still me, though.
Mark Goodyear. Er. Marcus. Darn multiple logins.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Blogging can be a cathartic, confessional, encouraging, creative, expressive, communicative, relational writing experience and, as I've said before, is more healthy than a visit to Krispy Kreme....

12:17 AM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

I love your thoughts, both here and in your article. And it goes without saying, but I love your blog. There is always something meaningful here.

7:41 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

interesting thoughts.... and i agree that it can be a good and bad thing. i know early on, i was on constantly, checking comments, visiting, etc....but i have noticed that waning as the 'newness' wears off. but i do have to set boundaries, b/c i have found myself on too much at times....

then i go thru phases where i hardly blog at all.... ebb and flow. but overall, it has drawn out a lot of good things in me, and been a creative outlet....

9:35 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... uh, you mean, like a lovely yellow flower with a French name?

Mike... Welcome to Seedlings. Yes, it's pretty good fun indeed.

Gyrovague... I have to agree that it's amazing to be able to communicate across the world, with good thinkers who help us refine our ideas!

Ted... when I first started, I blogged every day, because that's what the "experts" said was necessary. I now see that's not true at all. In fact, I got tired after a while, not because I can't write that many posts, but because I wanted to have a different kind of blog.... one where there was discussion. And posting every day had me busy ALL the time trying to keep up with answering comments! That got very tiring. I'm happy with the way things are now. For today. We'll see about tomorrow.

Andrea... and I think that's a key. We've got to be able to have the blog the way we need it to be. Sometimes I forget that this is MY thing, and that I needn't try to meet any particular expectations. That said, I think it seems natural that one's approach to blogging could change and change again over time.

Kirsten... what, if anything, would get you to stop blogging? (Curiosity question.)

Marcus... right. Now, I wonder what it is that makes it sometimes take over. What's the dynamic that pulls it in that direction?

Kim... oh, good! I love that line about the Krispy Kreme.

llama Mama... thanks for your encouragements. It is, likewise, good to have you here in the conversations.

Blue... indeed, you've been an example to us all, in how you took time off for some other needs, then came back in your own time. I think people need to see that it can be done. Both you and Charity have helped me remember that.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...


3:32 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... got caught half way out, eh? Go ahead, you can say it. Dandelion.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

L.L., you might as well ask what causes us to let anything move from being good to being a perversion.

I suppose it's a matter of using blogging as a tool to glorify God. When blogging controls us, then we have a problem.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, L.L. I think how we blog might be more according to a whole host of things. You certainly have a loyal following, and really yours is a daily blog in that I'm sure it's read daily and commented on most days.

I would like certain of my posts to remain on, a couple I did this week, which did get the most comments, because the thoughts in those are so important especially now for myself.

Oh well, as you say, we'll see "tomorrow".

8:45 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

I get annoyed by blanket statements like Andy Crouch's! Blogging, like many other things people make similar comments about, is such a subjective experience. And by painting all blogs and bloggers with the same brush, he makes it seem as if his experience of blogging (as a waste of time) is the right one and everyone else (those who might have a more fulfilling blogging experience) wrong.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

She stands from her cold, creaky metal folding chair... nervously twisting her fingers together...

"Hello, my name is Erin. And I'm a... a... a... Blogger."

The dimly lit room, crowded with other squeaky, cold metal chairs murmurs with the compassionate chorus, "Hi, Erin."

10:35 PM  
Blogger Betsy Lin said...

I have a secret dream of being a in many ways- blogging is an expression of the desire and dream of writing.
Blogging takes guts- if you think about it.....I don't know, its not a waste of my time. But there are many priorities above blogging thats for sure!

12:37 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Marcus... okay, I might as well. What are the dynamics that cause something to become a perversion? Are they similar across different categories? Do some things lend themselves to becoming problematic more than others?

Ted... what a great observation about it still being a daily blog. I think that's why it became complicated for me to post so much. It started to feel like a trice-daily blog!

Inihtar... yes, I understand. In fairness to Andy, I should say that he said blogging is a waste of time for authors. But I think your objections still stand.

Erin... oh, you make me laugh.

Betsy... and, ironically, something else Andy once said to me applies. "If somebody wants to be a writer, he should write for an audience. Any audience. Letters to family. The church newsletter. If a person has talent, he'll eventually be called out to write more." So, see, blogging can be that testing ground. And a place to develop a love, a dream and a skill.

10:14 AM  
Blogger SandyCarlson said...

I'm with you. Some folks might expect to make their first overnight million, others might expect millions in traffic overnight, yet others expect it to be a tool we learn to use over time as we seek to connect with others for whatever worthy purpose--fun, amusement, growth, hope. I think it's a marvelous tool for testing ideas.

12:10 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

What would get me to stop blogging?

I think if it took my attention away from the people and relationships right around me, or it became a substitute for the people and relationships right around me ... that realization would definitely get me to stop. It's definitely a question of exercising appropriate boundaries!

Part of the reason I do it now is because there is a sense of community in it. It's such a positive thing for those involved, this giving and receiving, this interacting and sharing. If it started to take something out of me (i.e., being a curse instead of a blessing), that would get me to turn & run the other direction.

What would it be for you, do you think (feel free to answer, anyone)? :o)

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anything can be a waste of time.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

As to your comment back to Marcus - "what causes something to become a perversion? Are they similar across different categories? Do some things lend themselves to becoming problematic more than others?"

I think when we cease to use whatever it is for the purpose God gave it or allowed it for. For example - sex is great - in the context God gave it, within marriage, and not if it's in any other context.

Similar across categories - absolutely, because in some way it crosses the line and becomes an idol - something that replaces a rightful place God has in our lives.

Lending themselves to being more problematic - again, absolutely. The addicitive potential of an object is directly related to the feelings we derive from the object or the action - the more it elicits changes in brain chemistry when "used" the more potential for misuse and addiction.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the link to the article--it was great. My blogging was totally overboard in those first few (4 or 5) months as I was excited-about-this-new-thing, but like you, I've found a great balance. I post at least 4 or 5 times a week, but don't feel compelled if I am too busy with real life. I love reading and commenting as well, but that is also something that I try to limit to a few sittings a week. That has helped a lot, and I didn't have to give up any of my new "friends."

Everyone has hobbies and outside interests. Yes, blogging can take over your life, but it can also be managed.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Real Live Preacher said...

My question is, "How can anyone take someone seriously who makes that kind of outrageous, simplistic statement. "Blogging is a waste of time." Reallly? Whose time? I have a friend who is a quadriplegic. He can't get out much and enjoys the level of friendship he finds in blogging.

Is blogging a waste of his time? I'm sorry to be snappy, but people who make those sort of "all or nothing" statements irritate the hell out of me.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Rudy said...

I blog because... I can? Actually, I have my thoughts about this in my own blog too. My first intention is always to blog for myself. Slowly (but surely), my readers will follow.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Scott R. Davis said...

that is break time the 10;15 on the clock. could almost see the second hand moving. blogging is definitely a way to relax after a long day to hear of others walks with Yahweh. Peace scott

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find you can say more when you are asleep with blogging than with talking.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've wrestled with this very issue, right from my first day of blogging. Your closing statement, for me at least, is the key. Is the time I spend blogging and even preparing to blog the best use of my time, or am I (in the process) neglecting other things that are vastly more important?

4:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, I blog, not to get a career in writing, but to share my thoughts, record what God has/is showing me in hopes that maybe others will encouraged or possibly relate. I also enjoy reading other's blogs because it grows me both mentally, and spriritually.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous cool geek said...

There are many things to consider Blogging differs from person to person for some Blogging is just to make few extra bucks, for some it is passion and obsession, and for few others its a way of expressing thoughts to the world,

What ever it is i think blogging do improve knowledge and do has the side effects but how it is taken is important

2:03 PM  

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