Why do you blog? What made you decide one day that your thoughts were important enough to share with someone else? What exactly are we trying to achieve? Is it to gain something personally or are we patrons serving our respective communities? Can it be both? What makes communicating with groups of (initially) complete strangers so compelling and interesting? Are you able to establish relationships with the people you meet online easier than those who you meet in ‘real’ life? Why is that? Is there a clear disconnect between our lives on the web and outside of it?
I see a clear disconnect (for better or for worse) between the online world and the real one. This is because we are able to connect (easily) with like-minded individuals on the web in a ways that ‘real life’ does not allow us to do. The Internet allows us to actively seek out people we connect with. With the click of a mouse, I can find a person interested in living green, a group who shares in my man-crush of Trent Reznor, or who loves the Chicago Bears as much as I do. We’re able to form immediate bonds, the ‘getting to know you’ process is instantaneous – no awkward first dates – someone can come to my blog and hop right into bed with me and my thoughts without ever taking me out for a nice dinner. Blogging allows us to become more transparent and open in our thoughts and beliefs, and gives the masses a portal into our own psyche.
The internet is truly an amazing networking tool – it allows us to meet people we never would otherwise, it gives us access to an infinite amount of information. But, while the web can be an invaluable tool, it can also backfire. As bloggers, we form social networking ‘bubbles’ – we connect with a group of people that we respect, who’s opinions we value, and who interest and excite us. That’s what blogging is all about, building a community, but it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t stop there. Getting too caught up in our tight-knit communities means we’re not reaching out – we’re not meeting our full potential. While it’s great to have the support and interest of your online friends and peers – blogging isn’t only about writing for yourself, it isn’t about writing for a few others, it’s about writing for the world at large!
It’s when you step outside your ‘bubble’ and reach new people and inspire change outside of your ‘community’ when the power of blogging is realized. A good example of this is my recent ‘White Whale‘ post written earlier this week. That post was sort of a tipping point for me – a moment of self actualization and realization. I have been in and out of the blogging game for years now, never really getting very far because I focused to much on the ‘me’ and not the ‘we’. The ‘White Whale’ post, which started as a simple discussion about work-life balance, turned into a conversation about love, life, faith, equal rights – you name it. People I never knew existed came and poured out their emotions to myself and the entire community. I think this post was one of those defining ‘blogger moments’ that really make you realize and appreciate the reach and impact one person can have on a community.
Maybe you’re still waiting for that ‘moment’ to happen for you – if you are, fear not. Have faith that as you write, someone is out there listening. Life Without Pants was conceived less than three months ago, and look around at the community that’s been established here. I couldn’t be happier with the environment that’s already developed – but I’m not going to settle in my content. I want to keep growing, in fact – I never want to stop growing, learning, and bringing new people and ideas into the mix.
I challenge myself – and in turn, all of you, to think about the community you’ve already established for your blog – whether it be 5 people or 500, think about how you can reach out and impact someone new today. Whether you’re writing about entrepreneurship, politics, or video games – there is always an opportunity to expand your market, increase your reach and influence. With all of this recent talk on doing something new and living without regrets, look within yourself today and ask yourself ‘Why am I blogging? What is my return on investment’? Try something different and be innovative. The most rewarding thing about blogging (in my opinion) is that through enlightening and inspiring others, you end up learning a lot about yourself.
Don’t settle on the community you have already, focus on the people that are sitting out there waiting for you to blow their mind.
What community are you trying to reach? How can you increase your influence and have an impact on someone new today?