8/2/10

Is Blogging Good for the Soul?

I've been called away by a family emergency, so blogging will be light to non-existent for a while. For the moment, something from the archives--

Summa Technologiae
Question 8. On the Blogosphere
Article 19. Is Blogging Good for the Soul?
It seems that it is.
1. Blogging gives everyone a chance to write and publish, without having to pass muster with editors and publishers. Self-expression is good for the soul.
2. Blogging brings together people from all over the globe for debate and conversation. Global communication is good for the soul.
3. Blogging stimulates people to spend more time thinking, arguing, learning—all of which is good for the soul.
ON THE CONTRARY:
The Philosopher says, in the Posterior Blogolytics—“Blogging distracts the soul from its higher calling—it destroys the calm that is needed for true contemplation. It is only seemingly sociable, but not actually. It draws human beings away from real friends and family toward connection with virtual people. It fosters clever, barbed speech instead of thoughtfulness or tact.” Leviticus 4.91—“You shall not enter the blogosphere, for it is unclean.”
RESPONSE:
Oh lighten up! Some blogging really is good for the soul. But blogging tends to be addictive. So “some” tends to become “a lot”, and then The Philosopher starts to have a point. It is the danger of excess to which the bible passage refers.
Ad 1. Whether you’ve got a blog or you comment on blogs, it’s great to “think-write-publish,” just like that. But maybe it’s a little too easy. It easily distracts from other endeavors—whether planting vegetables or writing things that get out there in other forms.
Ad 2. Now that’s cool. I love the multiple perspectives you get from conversing with people who live all over the world. And really, how else could that be accomplished except through the internet?
Ad 3. Well, yes, but it’s some of this, some of that. Instead of pursuing your own personal obsession with naked mole rats, as it might be, blogging makes you write/react on different issues all the time.
Do you have doubts about the blogosphere? Are you considering a 12-step program? Or are blogs the best thing since sliced bread?
Yours,
Thomas Aquinas

6 comments:

amos said...

First of all, I don't buy sliced bread.

As to blogs, yes, they are entertaining and distracting. What is distracting distracts one from something, generally something which one considers is more important or which matters more to one, one's obsession with naked rats as you say.

However, maybe it's good to see what others are obsessed about, say, Mooney's unpardonable sins and heresies, and then again maybe it's better to pursuit one's own quest without distraction.

I do enjoy being distracted by blogs more than I enjoy reading the books that I think that I should read and which I really want to read or at least to have read: sometimes having read a book is great, but reading it isn't much fun.

J. J. Ramsey said...

I find that the amount of attention that I pay to bloggers goes in spurts. I pretty regularly visit blogs and read posts, and maybe throw in a comment or two, but it's only when there's a flare-up, like the last one about YNH and Tom Johnson, where it really gets distracting. It's especially distracting when I'm, say, pointing out exaggerations and distortions and getting slimed for doing so. Ah, SIWOTI syndrome, eater of time and soul. Sigh.

Wayne said...

Hope everything is okay Jean.

The great thing about blogging is that anyone can put their ideas up for others to scrutinize. The bad thing about blogging is that anyone can put their ideas up for others to accept because they read it on the internet. Sometimes people just want someone else to verify that they're right, and with google, they'll find them.

Gareth Chan said...

Are any of these goods or evils peculiar to blogging? Most of these points could apply to the internet in general: the opportunities for discovery and connection, the lack of any real quality control, etc.
 
I'm reminded of Esther Dyson's observation that the internet just magnifies what people would have done anyway. Mole rat aficionados could have been distracted by books, TV or music; it's just easier with the internet.
Whoever said "the internet is the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is a bit distracting" was 100% on the money (alas)!
 

Gurdur said...

Best of luck with the family emergency, Jean Kazez.

As for blogging; had Aquinas been able to blog, he would have, and fiercely.

QED.

Jean Kazez said...

Thanks for the comments. I wrote this a couple of years ago when I first started blogging, over at Talking Philosophy. I think I'm in the class of people who both engage in some of the new ways of "connecting" and also worry a lot about it. Peggy Orenstein had a great essay about Twitter in the NYT last sunday and Gary Shteyngart was worrying about too much connecting the week before.

Thanks for good wishes about the emergency.