I am a blogger at the same time as I am an Internet researcher and I reflect on my own blogging often. I started blogging (and facebooking) because I decided I needed to actively take part in the online environment, which I was studying. But since I also like writing and express my opinions and is a visual person and photographer I have found that I like this room – space – online which I have appropriated and made my own. The community building aspect of blogging is an important aspect as well. My blog has (since February 2012) been read in 26 countries – 5 continents. The World Wide Web has really connected me with the world – with you. This could be described as an imagines community but for me this community is real and means a lot in the same way as my community of friends all over the world who I seldom see IRL mean a lot to me, I know they are there – or here – in the world with me.
The blog certainly is a self-presentation and self-expression project (I have most of my life written letters to the editor). Less I see my blog as a self-construction project. But that is easier for an outsider to notice and analyze. It has been interesting to ponder about these aspects of blogging and read internet researchers conclusions. Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd (2004) note: “When bloggers talk about blogging, two themes […] are ubiquitous: self-expression and community development”. Viviane Serfaty (2004) who is studying blogging in America suggests that bloggers on their blogs process self-presentation and self-construction – a doubled self-reflexivity.
Comments, likes and replies are an important part of blogs and I have noticed that pingbacks (someone puts a link to my blog on their blog) and likes are more common when people who I don’t know personally read my blog. Serfaty suggests that the reactions – when a reader comments on an entry – could be seen as a recognition and a validation and ”lends meaning to one’s actions”. The comments, likes and pingbacks build reciprocal relationships and often lead to a continued interaction and a relationship.
Internet researcher Nicholas Hookway argues that (anonymous) blogger possibly dare to be more honest and more sincere because they don’t have to face their audience IRL. The anonymity of the online context changes the “impression management” and “face-work” processes, says Hookway. “Face-work” theories (Ervin Goffman’s) are based on face-to-face interaction, in a performance online “the stage is there and the audience are in their seats but the social actor is masked” (Hookway 2008). Bloggers are perhaps not as self-conscious as a person standing face-to-face with someone, an anonymous blogger is thus visible yet invisible and can express a less polished and more ugly self than she would IRL.
I am blogging behind a screen when writing this post, not face-to-face with you my readers but I do meet some of you IRL and I am certain this influences me a great deal. The whole set-up is paradoxical and a twofold metaphor, writes Serefaty “that of the veil and that of the mirror”. The screen is there to conceal and offers a protection against other’s gaze and thus establishes a dialectical relationship between disclosure and secrecy, between transparency and opacity.
As blogger we are on a stage. Serefaty refers to Lacan’s concept of the ”mirror stage” – a way to understand the development of human subjectivity not only in childhood but also later in life. When bloggers initiate a discussion and give feedback they encourage others to act as a mirror to the writer at the same time they establish one another as subjects and build community.
Thanks for being my mirror and community! I am Linked – therefore I am!
How do you relate to your blog and blogging?
- The Launch Point: Now Just Shut Up and Write! (justshutupandwrite.wordpress.com)