Sunday, April 6, 2008

Keeping the Blogging Demon at Bay

My wife and I were discussing starting blogs as a means of income. She has the writing credentials -- I have the... Heck, I don't know what I have. Anyway, we've been exploring blogging and how some people are making a living or adding to their income (or wasting their time) over the past year or so.

Then this story explodes across the blogosphere:

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

Back in December I took the test and was found to be only 52% addicted. It may be time for another opinion -- hey, life and death may be at stake!

Hey, Ben... How's that problem working out for you?

But this is a serious thing. The good news for most of the blogosphere is that circumstances alleged to have created this deadly malady seems relegated to tech bloggers.
One of the most competitive categories is blogs about technology developments and news. They are in a vicious 24-hour competition to break company news, reveal new products and expose corporate gaffes.

To the victor go the ego points, and, potentially, the advertising. Bloggers for such sites are often paid for each post, though some are paid based on how many people read their material. They build that audience through scoops or volume or both.

I've pretty much limited my blogging to what I find interesting; Politics, the Redskins, and Chess. This blog started as a Correspondence Chess blog. I don't blog about tech stuff (Oh, Really?). I also don't do it for income.

So the question is this: Has blogging affected your lifestyle? Is that effect positive or negative? Four years ago people were not only noticing blog addiction as a problem, it had been studied extensively. The New York Times reported on this disorder at that time:
Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don't keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road. They blog openly or sometimes, like Mr. Wiggins, quietly so as not to call attention to their habit.

The article relates anecdotes from several bloggers to illustrate their addiction and the symptoms that result:
Tony Pierce started his blog three years ago while in search of a distraction after breaking up with a girlfriend. ''In three years, I don't think I've missed a day,'' he said. Now Mr. Pierce's blog (, a chatty diary of Hollywood, writing and women in which truth sometimes mingles with fiction, averages 1,000 visitors a day.
''The pleasure response is twofold,'' he said. ''You can have instant gratification...''
''like most addictions, those feelings go away quickly. So I have to do it again and again.''

Where some frequent bloggers might label themselves merely ardent, Mr. Pierce is more realistic. ''I wouldn't call it dedicated, I would call it a problem,'' he said. ''If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic.''
Mr. Pierce described the rush he gets from what he called ''the fix'' provided by his blog. ''The pleasure response is twofold,'' he said. ''You can have instant gratification; you're going to hear about something really good or bad instantly. And if I feel like I've written something good, it's enjoyable to go back and read it.''

And, he said, ''like most addictions, those feelings go away quickly. So I have to do it again and again.''

There is hope for those who notice the symptoms:
Suffering from a similar form of ''blog fatigue,'' Bill Barol, a freelance writer in Santa Monica, Calif., simply stopped altogether after four years of nearly constant blogging.

''It was starting to feel like work, and it was never supposed to be a job,'' Mr. Barol said. ''It was supposed to be an anti-job.''

Even with some 200 visitors to his blog each day, he has not posted to his blog since returning from a month of travel.
''It was supposed to be an anti-job.'' ''And the absence of posting feels like -- I don't know, laziness or something.''

Still, Mr. Barol said, he does not rule out a return to blogging someday.

''There is this seductive thing that happens, this kind of snowball-rolling-down-a-hill thing, where the sheer momentum of several years' posting becomes very keenly felt,'' he said. ''And the absence of posting feels like -- I don't know, laziness or something.''

Whoo, Boy. If I hear of any blogger intervention encounters I'm barricading the doors... Consider that fair warning!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve,

    I thik you should explore the opportunity of writing for income.

    Everybody has some kind of a talent, so why not try it? I wish you and your wife all the best.



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