Saturday, October 04, 2008

World-Wide Study: Blogging Good for Heart, Brain and Bank Account

Blue Eiffel Night

Recently I decided to share how blogging has changed my life (perhaps most profoundly by meeting many marvelous people like Scot McKnight, Marcus Goodyear, Christine Scheller, Ann Voskamp... the list goes on!) Along with that, I launched an informal survey. Call it a meme if you must; that's how it passed 'round the blogosphere.

Now, I've done studies before— the kind that hire $100-an-hour statisticians to tell what the final scoop is. Or the kind that require hours upon hours of literature research in fusty journals. But the real fun has been doing this kind of study: ask people from around the world to self-report on how blogging has changed their lives. Then sit back and enjoy the view. Oh, and get some free philosophy too.

By now, I've read a lot of 5-ways-blogging-has-changed-my-life blog posts (not to mention one that declared Blogging Hasn't Changed My Life.) And I've linked to the responses I found through Technorati, Google Alerts or comments here on Seedlings (that's only fair, since I asked participants to link back to me).

Sure it was work. But it was fun work. At this point, the responses are finally slowing down, so I'm ready to to give the report (not to worry, new participants: I'll keep giving links as last responses keep coming). I hope you like the grandiose but semi-accurate title, World-Wide Study: Blogging Good for Heart, Brain and Bank Account.

In the spirit of the original meme,, let me report the top five ways blogging has changed our lives. Some of these are top because they came up over and over again. Others are top 'cause I just want them here. Also, I'll include a little philosophy at the end. I like philosophy.

1. Blogging is good for the heart. I'm no statistician and I didn't bother counting, but almost every post I read involved the issue of real, valid, happiness-inducing social connection. People meet each other through blogging. They end up having coffee together. Or parking their RV's in each other's driveways. They cross the nation to take walks arm in arm. All this social connection is cheaper than therapy. (And blogging may just BE good therapy too, as Scientific American reports.) Yes, blogging is good for the heart.

2. Blogging is good for the brain. I remember reading Alan Jacobs' scathing estimation of blogging in Books and Culture. Said he, in marvelously academic style, blogging is the enemy of thought. I've also heard various pundits complain that computers are stealing our love of reading right out from under our feet (our fingers? our eyes?). Maybe these things are true for some, but over all, it appears that blogging encourages us to write and write and read more, watch less TV, think more, be creative, communicate better, even try out new personas. (By the way, two physician/learning specialists concur that blogging is good for the brain.)

3. Blogging is good for the backside. In other words, some of us have put on a few pleasing pounds for the sake of happiness-inducing social connection.

4. Blogging produces insomnia, sleep deprivation and messy houses things which are potentially bad for the brain (here's where we need our statistician to help balance things out with some kind of numerical acrobatics that compare blogging's brain influence pluses and minues... but I'll leave that to the good women and men who decide to conduct a similar study for their phd's)

5. Blogging is good for the bank account, even if only in a small way or through the opportunity to get free stuff. (Also, check out this post for a podcast about making money through blogging)

Of course blogging has changed us in other ways too. But I only promised the top 5. And I kept my promise. I did not break the rules. Which brings us to our philosophical moment...

When I first posted the meme, I thought about how I'm always breaking meme rules. Why is that? (You can email me privately if you've got deep spiritual answers or L.L.-psychological-evaluation answers to that question.) Accordingly, when faced with crafting my own rules, I decided to make them simple, flexible and possibly fun.

Anyway, it came to my attention through a private email and this post that rules may just be followed more if they appear to ask less. Said one blogger, Indeed, the permission to break the rules is the main reason I responded, as I generally dislike memes and getting tagged, and all that goes with it. It reminds me a little of the Garden of Eden, the Fall, Jesus, and how all this constitutes a move from 'thou shalt not' to 'grace'.

So that's it. Blogging changes lives... and invites us to inhabit philosophical space.

Eiffel Tower in Blue photo, by Sara B. Used with permission.


LL's Stress Causes Brain Damage

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Blogger RumorsOfGlory said...

I began blogging about 9 months ago - after my agent told me I had to build a platform for my writing. Before that I thought blogging was for people who had too much time on their hands; people who wanted to boast about their grandkids. Wow, was I wrong! Blogging has opened doors I never even knew were out there. Like you said, I have made friends, gotten free stuff, learned about people from all this planet. My exposure to memes has made my life rich indeed. I even got transported to France this month.
Many blessings,

8:26 AM  
Blogger Jenn Jilks said...

Thoughtful post. I find that blogging helps my writing practice. Also, helps me clarify my thinking on issues that affect me and my peers and my family. We use it to debate local, regional, national, and world issues.
What like about blogging is that I know they are editorials, not 'articles', and can read a bio of a blogger and understand where s/he is coming from. I am tired of journalists interpreting the news and telling me what to think!

11:03 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

ah, so good to see the collective response! before i started blogging i thought too that it was mostly for the self-absorbed or self-important. and again, i was so, so wrong about that (says the girl with, ahem ... how many blogs she's involved in?).

i, for one, am willing to take a pound or two, or go another day with a dirty sink for the connection and lively discussion that happens in these spaces. thanks for sharing the results!

11:52 AM  
Blogger GratefulinGA said...

L.L. How appropriate! this would be why your blog is one of my early favorites. Well...just wondering if you all would have a look over here and see what YOU can DO.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Jennifer @ said...

I'm very new to blogging, L.L., having just started about two months ago. I can relate to your post here -- right down to the messy house. ... For me, the thing I like about blogging is that it makes me view everything in life differently. My blog attempts to describe how I'm finding God in the ordinary-ness of life. As a result of blogging, I'm now looking for Him more frequently there -- in the ordinary stuff of life. Where I'd missed Him before, I'm seeing Him now. What a blessing. One more thing L.L.: thanks for sharing your beautiful writing ... and also for your encouragement. (I hope my HighCallingBlogs post wasn't too "out there." Yikes...)

9:55 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Rumors... did you like France? :)

Jenny... yes, I like that too. That we can get to know someone over time through their blogging and decide whether or not to take them seriously. It's a bit more like a real community than what happens in the reader/mass media arena.

Kirsten... I guess many of us had misconceptions about blogging before we started? (I did too.) Now, I'm guessing that some of us have also lost weight because of blogging. You know, because we forget to eat [she says, realizing that it's WAY past breakfast time and she still hasn't....]

Tammy... How sweet to be one of your favorites. If I get time later, I'll hop over.

Jennifer... there is hope! Blogging takes a lot of time at the outset, to build audience and make connections that feel just right. My house is finally looking cleaner after two years of blogging. :) Your observation about how blogging makes us pay attention is another thing I read in various posts. That can only be a good thing, yes? As for your HCB post, I loved it. Really.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This was an interesting set of survey results. I didn't respond to the original meme because I didn't feel that I'd been blogging long enough to really know its effects, but I can see much of my experience in the answers I read here. Thanks for doing this.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi LL! Just a quick note-I was part of your meme, but am a little too dense to be sure if I linked back to you or not...

10:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi LL, just thought I'd let ya know that I'm "back in town". It's been a while since we dug out the PB and redecorated blogs ;)

5:41 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I finally got to this. Interesting and encouraging to me, overall, L.L. Like any good thing, one just has to try to find what place it's to have in a day.

I have enjoyed so much meeting people like you through blogging (and it was nice to meet you in GR when you came to the writer's event at Calvin!). So much we can learn from each other, and words can be quite underrated. And I think the Spirit of God helps us connect even when we don't see each other or meet in person.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I kinda feel bad for people who don't blog... those who don't get it or have misconceptions like I used to have. Then, people do other things like "Facebook" or "Myspace" and think it's the same thing. It delights me every time one of these non-bloggers comes up to me at church or work and says, "Hey, I read what you said about that thing..." or "I saw that picture you posted..."

10:08 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

Nothing meaningful to add - love the photo of the Eiffel, though. I hear there's one in Vegas where I am right now - on a business trip.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Lavonda Pflug said...

Blogging has shown me that I have very few friends. It has also shown me who my friends really are.
Blogging has taught me that I don't know enough about blogging.

3:00 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Ruth... glad you stopped by to see the results, even though you were quietly standing by. :)

Nora... you linked just fine. Thanks!

Eve... wow, it's been a while! Happy to see you back in these parts. :)

Ted... yes, the Spirit certainly provides a bit of sweet glue. And it's nice when we can end up meeting too, as you and Deb and I did.

Craver... I guess they don't know what they're missing!

Every... the Eiffel was so amazing at night, all blue like that. And around 9:00 pm, they'd set it to sparkling, which was entirely stunning. So, there's an Eiffel in Vegas? Wow. I look forward to hearing about your trip!

Talkin' Texan... do you mean on-line friends, or in person friends? Makes me sad to hear you say that. Now, as for blogging, we all learn as we go. And it'll be fun to watch you grow into it.

5:11 PM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

I heartily agree! Blogging has changed me in some ways I didn't expect. First, it's gotten me writing again! Which is good for the soul. It helps me settle my own (all too flighty) thoughts and gives me moment to turn inward, which is rare for a homeschooler of 3. At the same time, it gives me a moment to turn *outward*, and get to know people I would never have encountered otherwise...I have learned so much from fellow bloggers! Thanks for the thoughts and the survey, and for your kind remarks about my canned peaches (which admittedly had become something of an obsession...but the kitchen is finally back to normal)!

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like blogging, as an act of sharing. There's a great satisfaction when I find out I can help others.

You just gave me an encouragement for my next post.

1:24 PM  

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