Why Do You Blog?

After reading Ziff’s posts on bloggernacle sites activity levels, I’ve been thinking about what kind of niche Exponent II has in the bloggernacle, and more personally, about why I blog.

When I found the bloggernacle, through Feminist Mormon Housewives, I was elated to find a community who shared some of my questions about the church. At first I was looking for answers, but as time went on, all I found were more questions. It felt like I had opened Pandora’s box and nothing would ever be neatly wrapped in a tidy doctrinal package anymore. At times I was overwhelmed with anguish, grief, and despair. Then I realized I needed this online community for support and understanding, not for answers.
Acknowledging the difference has been very powerful for me.
So, here I am, 16 months later, welcomed warmly by the women here at ExII and happy to have such a wonderful home on the bloggernacle. Now, in addition to seeking for support and understanding, I can offer these things to fellow bloggers who are going through similar challenges.
Although it varies from day to day, I have more peace with my place in the church and in the world as I continue to blog regularly. Part of that has been meeting some of my bloggernacle friends face to face, and developing Real Life friendships. Two of these fabulous women are EmilyCC and MRaynes who have shown me how to strike the difficult balance between holding on to feminism and holding on to the church. The other part has been recognizing that difficult questions will always be there, and life wouldn’t be the great learning experience that it is without them. Blogging is my way of accepting this and connecting to others in a meaningful way.

So, I’m asking those of you who comment regularly, or who read regularly and rarely comment, or even those who are here for the first time. (and here I refer to blogging as any kind of writing on LDS blogs, be it posts or comments)

Why do you blog?
Have your reasons for blogging evolved over time?
How has blogging helped or hurt you?
What kind of posts do you most like to read?
How does blogging relate to your church/religious experience?

Jessawhy

Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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  1. Zenaida says:

    It is so funny that you should ask that question, as I was just asking myself that same question today! : ) I came into the blog world not knowing what to expect having found nothing but questions elsewhere.

    However, I find great comfort in the blog community. It’s comforting to know that people have the same questions that I do, and seeing the various approaches to those questions helps me in shaping my own responses.

    Finding this community has allowed me to avoid immediately jumping ship and to find new ways to stay within the church. Who knows what the future holds one way or the other, but it’s nice to know that there are people out there trying to do the same.

  2. Caroline says:

    I think my primary reason for blogging is community. Sometimes it can feel lonely in your ward when you might be the only person that tends to think a certain way. So finding an online community of people who ask similar questions is exhilarating.

    The kinds of posts I often really like are the ones that offer a new way to look at a religious idea or that deal with contemporary social issues within the Church. I also enjoy personal experiences that lead to new insights. These stories often rejuvenate and enhance my own spirituality.

  3. jana says:

    I think about this all the time! My most thorough answer can be found in this post from my soloblog.

    But the short answer is that I blog because I love the community! 🙂

  4. mraynes says:

    I blog for validation. I don’t feel the need to comment frequently because often I just want to see other people express similar feelings and opinions to mine. Blogging helps me feel a lot less isolated from the community I choose to be a part of.

    Reading posts and comments around the bloggernacle has given me courage to say, “I don’t believe in that” to the parts of our doctrine or culture that make me uncomfortable. I now feel like its ok to pick and choose. This has been an incredibly healthy and healing development for me.

    Jessawhy, what a loveley thing to say, it has been so wonderful getting to know you as well. We should get together some time soon.

  5. tracy m (dandelion mama) says:

    Yes, the community. Also for creative outlet, but mostly for the people. I’m convinced I may not have lasted as a convert if I hadn’t found places and voices I could relate to online.

  6. CatherineWO says:

    I started reading blogs because three of my own children have them, but my number one reason to continue is the sense of community. Because I have chemical sensitivities, I am unable to attend church any more (too many perfumes and commercial cleaning products). Through blogs, I have found the intimacy of community that I miss. This is a community where I feel even more accepted than I ever felt in a real ward. I love the give and take, the humor and the compassion. Six months ago I was in much despair and felt very regected by my local LDS community, but because of blogs like this one, I feel like maybe there is a place for me in this church afterall.

  7. Paradox says:

    Why do you blog?
    Part introspection, part for the sake of conversation about the Church that I don’t get anywhere else.

    Have your reasons for blogging evolved over time?
    No. I knew what I was looking for when I hit the web. And it’s about meeting those needs regularly.

    How has blogging helped or hurt you?
    It has helped me to find the answers to a lot of oddly specific questions. But it has hurt me because I don’t really go to people for answers anymore.

    What kind of posts do you most like to read?
    Well-written ones… the kind that read more like poetry, or tug at my heartstrings; but not in the traditional means of Relief-Society-goo-rhetoric. As an example: I read a post about a woman who had to get her groceries from the Bishop’s storehouse for the first time, and it was really humbling to read about her experience with humility. I like to read things that aren’t just recycled church lessons. Real stories; that’s what I enjoy most about blogging.

    How does blogging relate to your church/religious experience?
    It’s just another way I deal with being the only member of my family. It also helps me to articulate my problems and questions, which helps me to speak to others about my experiences with the Church.

  8. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for so many comments.
    It is amazing what a feeling of community there is on the bloggernacle.
    Zenaida, it is funny that we’re asking the same questions at the same time. I wondered what you meant about finding nothing but questions elsewhere. For me, at church, or with my DH, there seem to be only answers, and not many real questions.
    Caroline, I love that you used the word “exhilarating” to describe the online community. I feel you sister!
    Jana, what an awesome post. I love the 10 different reasons. I especially like the last one, vulnerability. I’ve never thought of that as a desirable state of being, but I can how it can create growth.
    Mraynes,
    I agree with you that sometimes it’s nice to just read, and not comment (especially if you only have a short time) but I’m glad you got to comment here and I hope you feel validated! (That’s a big reason for my blogging, too)
    TracyM, thanks for your perspective as a convert using the bloggernacle as balance to some of the eccentricities of regular meetings.
    catherinewo,
    It is nice to have a community to replace church when you can’t attend. I’m glad to hear you feel accepted. I think the level of acceptance depends on the person, and on the blogs they choose to frequent. My personal experience has been that the bigger blogs feel less accepting which is one reason I like ExII so much.
    Paradox,
    You hit the nail on the head with “[blogging] helps me articulate my problems and questions.” That’s probably more true for me than “finding more questions.”
    Thanks for all of your comments, it’s great to have this community.
    I appreciate you all.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    I’m home with toddlers all day, so I like to blog because it stretches my brain. But, it stretches it differently than it did 2 years ago, when I first started. When I first came, I had all this stuff to say. Now, I don’t have as much to write about, but I love to “listen” and find stuff to share.

    I’m glad you mentioned the real life friendships (facilitated by our AZ snacker).

    I maintain that Jessawhy is an answer to my prayers. She came along at a time when I thought, “I don’t feel like anyone in my ward gets my feminist ideas, and I have this online community where I can be myself, but I wish I had a feminist friend in AZ.”

  10. jana says:

    Jessawhy:
    The vulnerable part is what’s facilitated my most meaningful interactions with my readers. When I discuss my own failings or fears, then the door seems to open for deeper connection. It’s dangerous, though. Because of my willingness to share I’ve also been maligned and belittled on the blogs.

    It’s hard to be so open, but usually worth it.

  11. Courtney says:

    I’m a little behind on commenting, but I blog mostly to feel like there are others out there who think like I do. Church gets a little lonely when it seems like most people in my ward only worry about what to wear. I like to read posts that make me think about things in new ways. Blogging has really opened my mind to the diversity of the church.
    I initially started blogging because I felt so lost and alone in my doubts and questions. Now I just like the intellectual process of hearing others’ thoughts.
    Blogging helped me a lot to feel like I wasn’t alone– gave me a sense of community. But I find it can hurt as well. I have been misunderstood many times in comments, which is why I don’t comment much anymore. And I also have let blogging get me riled up, where others’ doubts fuel my own. I try to filter out the things that just stoke my fires and I look for posts that get me thinking in new ways.

  12. FoxyJ says:

    I mostly started blogging because I like to talk about myself. Seriously. I had been participating in a bulletin board for LDS mothers, but I often felt ignored and misunderstood. Then someone sent me a link to dooce.com and I stayed up for four hours reading every post. I loved her honesty, her humor, and the voyeuristic feel of seeing into her life. Then a few of our circle of friends started blogging at the same time, so I jumped on the boat too. At the time most of the people I knew with blogs were writer friends of ours and their blogs were (are) well-written and interesting. I wanted to be that witty and insightful, and I don’t know yet that I’ve gotten to that point.I also wanted to start a blog in the hopes of improving my writing and my ability to talk about myself.

    That was three years ago and I feel like my blogging has evolved somewhat since then. I’ve only recently discovered group blogs and am still learning about participating in the conversation and listening instead of just forcing my point of view onto others. I think I’m also more aware of my audience now, and while I am still honest, I do have more caution. I’ve had people attack me on my own blog and on other blogs. This has been pretty painful to deal with; sometimes they’re right, and other times they are misreading or assuming things. Generally I like blogging. I still mostly read individual blogs and I like them as a way to understand other people and to build a community.

  13. D'Arcy says:

    Zenaida said it perfectly, “so I don’t jump ship!” Blogging has helped me to realize that it is completely fine when I question, sometimes answers take time, and there are other people who struggle as I do.

  14. Mairi McCloud says:

    Hi! I really don’t know the full purpose & potential of blogs. I realize this by looking at the Exponent II blog. I attended the Exponent retreat last Sept. with my sister (I live with my sister & her family in upstate NY), and I’ve always meant to look up the Exponent blog. I recently created a blog, but just for the purpose of throwing on photos & bits of information for our family in Utah (and some friends) to see.

  15. Zenaida says:

    Jessawhy: I was finding only questions outside of the church structure. I agree that within the bubble, I was finding only answers that I didn’t always agree with. I wondered why no one else was bothered by those things, and felt that there was something wrong with me for not accepting every doctrine wholeheartedly.

    I suppose I was looking for answers in the blogs, but I’ve found there are as many ways to answer or to ask those questions as there are people, and I love seeing many different viewpoints which add to my understanding. It is nice to hear answers outside of the correlated material even if I don’t always agree with those either.

  16. Jessawhy says:

    EmilyCC,
    Yes, blogging does stretch my brain. It’s amazing how interesting even the boring posts are when I’ve been reading Thomas the Tank Engine all day.
    I’m really humbled that you consider me an answer to your prayers. I think we have that in common, too.
    Jana, I’d love to write a post together with you about women and vulnerability. Let me know if you’re up for it, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now.
    Courtney,
    Some posts I read do just “stoke my fire” and I applaud you for filtering those out. I am working on that. For me, that is one way the bloggernacle has at times been hurtful.
    FoxyJ,
    Yes, talking about oneself and finding validation are very important (especially for women who are often vehicles to other’s existence, ie: mother, wife, etc.)
    I’ve also noticed that it takes a while to understand the unspoken rules about group blogs. Now that I’ve been reading for a while, it’s interesting to see newbies come on and comment multiple times on every thread for a week or two, get in an argument or two, then simmer down and find balance in commenting.
    d’arcy,
    It’s so nice to see you commenting here again. I’m glad you feel a sense of community and hope you keep coming back!
    mairi mccloud,
    That’s so cool that you’ve attended an Exponent retreat. I hope you feel welcome and free to comment or raise issues that are important to you.

  17. Dalene says:

    I blog because I like to write. I’m terrible at journaling, but I can blog. Some of my posts on my personal blog are just for fun, but it’s all good practice.

    That’s how it began anyway, but I have loved the new friends I’ve made through blogging.

    Just yesterday I got an e-mail in Portuguese from a man whom my father baptized in 1959. He lost touch with my dad ages ago (my father died in 1982) but stumbled (I’m guessing Googled) upon a post I’d written about losing my father. And he wanted to make contact with my family and get to know us.

    In my wildest dreams I never would have predicted something so sweet could come from the best excuse I’ve found so far for no doing the dishes.

  18. Ziff says:

    Jessawhy, I’m so glad that my random streams of numbers were the impetus for you to write this interesting post.

    In answer to your question, I enjoy blogging because of the community, as you and others mentioned. Whenever I read comments, which seem to appear on FMH frequently but on other blogs as well, where people say “I never knew there were other Mormons like me!” it warms my heart. With sisters who are church oddballs, I’ve probably never felt that alone, but I still find it comforting to find that there are so many Mormons like me out there. I particularly like being able to read the writing of unorthodox Mormons because it helps me feel like there is a place for me in the Church. It can be easy for me to get discouraged and think that perhaps I’m too odd to have a place. But reading posts and comments that make me exclaim, “Exactly! If only I were as thoughtful and articulate, I would have put it just that way,” is satisfying and comforting.

    Plus, bloggers can be so funny sometimes! And so touching. And unpredictably so–I wander through my favorite blogs and start reading a thread and unexpectedly find myself laughing or crying.

    Sorry–I guess this answers more why I read blogs than why I write. I guess I write to feel a small part of the community. But I much prefer that others do the work (writing) so I can read and enjoy it. 🙂

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