I went to a great presentation the other day by Journalist Jennifer Hollett about blogging. In a workshop session, I started talking with a fellow member of the audience, who said she was nervous about starting a blog.
True, blogging is very public and it can be intimidating. Still, as I talked with the woman next to me, I found that she was an elected official, who had already been publishing a column in the local news for some time. I asked what she thought would be so different about putting her thoughts out in a blog, to which she replied, “It’s just so so out there, where anyone in the world can see it.”
As we talked, she acknowledged that her column was probably posted online anyway, by the newspaper, which meant her writing was already searchable. She said the blog seemed to open her up to criticism more. Certainly, though, she must be confronted with controversy all of the time as part of her job, and given that election season had just ended, must be used to handling negative attacks.
The encounter brought up an interesting point for me. It is tough to put yourself out on the web as a blogger. The Internet is so vast, and so filled with people, who seem to really know what they are doing. The dirty little secret is that very often, those people feel just as insecure as anyone else. The difference is that they realize that the Internet is just like the world. You have a right to be here. You are one of the people who inhabit the space, and as a thinking individual with something to say, you can speak up and say it.
Before the Internet and blogging, there seemed to be more gatekeepers–publishers, committees, supervisors, etc.–who judged who might be worthy enough to publish. These days, though, everyone has access to the Web. Anyone can blog. Maybe it is that lack regulation that makes us think we are more likely to appear foolish for speaking up without some kind of permission.
I’m no therapist. I’m not really sure about why people feel the way they do about blogging or anything else. What I do know is that the Web is self regulating. You may make mistakes, but then you’ll either hear about it and correct your ways, or you’ll simply be ignored. Either way, as in real life, you have the opportunity to fix whatever might be wrong with your writing and move forward. Items may persist on the web, but people have neither time nor the inclination to inspect everything you do. They are much more likely to seek out things of value, and if you manage to create enough value, you’ll establish yourself as someone worth watching and following. Little by little, you’ll gain attention, and with such a potentially big audience, you may break through to become more well known than might have thought possible.