The quote at the top of this post is a great Groucho Marx line that, in a way, begins to sum up what many of us feel about blogging. Despite all of our talk about the wonderful community that we've found in the blog world - which I don't doubt for a second is sincere - it seems we generally view the identity of "blogger" quite ambivalently.
I have to admit I'm comforted to not be the only one who feels this way. When I asked you what it meant to identify as a blogger, the same themes were repeated throughout your answers. Most touched on certain financial and/or professional gains of blogging as a prerequisite for using "blogger" as a title; Paige noted that "when somebody says they're a Blogger with a capital B, I think 'small business owner.'" However, Alyssa came at it from a different angle, suggesting, "I can see how people whose main job is to write blog posts would call themselves a blogger, but even then I don't think that's accurate. If you run a site and your job is writing blog posts, you are a writer. And even then depending on what you're blogging about, you're probably more than that. For example, if you're an interior designer and you blog about how to decorate a home, your main identity (career/talent wise) is probably an interior designer. You write on that topic to share your knowledge, but you're more than that." To be totally honest, if someone introduced herself to me as a blogger, with that descriptor coming before all others, I'd assume that she was making decent money and deriving professional fulfillment from her blog - and I'd think she was selling herself a bit short by using that job title.
That's ironic because I think many of you would describe me as a blogger. But I don't identify as one. Over half of you who filled out my form don't, either, even though you blog, too, and I read more than a dozen variations on comments like these:
I don't normally identify myself as a blogger. I more often say, "I have a blog" which feels a bit more removed, I suppose. - Emily
I don't call myself a blogger. Instead, I'll say that I write a blog. I'm not sure why there's such a distinction between those two phrases, but for me, it's a large enough distinction that I make sure people don't think I refer to myself as a blogger. "Blogger," to me, means that people should know you, be aware of you and your blog. Saying "I write a blog" allows me to call my blog what it is to me - a hobby. - Erin
Even though I HAVE a blog, I don't identify as a blogger. I'm not even sure if I can accurately explain myself as to why I don't... I just write when I want to write, and I honestly just like to connect with new people. But I don't feel obligated to post. - Kate
I don't really identify myself as a blogger, even though I do. I suppose it's because I don't take myself very seriously about what I post and do so when I feel like I have something to say. - Kristen
I don't really identify as a "blogger" in the sense that it is something I do even full or part time. I started a blog recently only because I have a lot of thoughts and ideas I want to share with whomever might be willing to read them, but I'm not always consistent with that. - Jess
To me, a blogger is somebody who seems more committed to blogging than I am. - EricaThose last ones came up a lot, actually. Many of us seem to feel that we shouldn't identify as bloggers because we don't spend enough time on our blogs, we don't have a strategy for our blogging, and we don't consistently direct energy towards our blogs. The thing I'm wondering, though, is if we need to do all those things to have fulfilling blogging relationships not just as readers of other blogs but as bloggers ourselves? I don't think so - and, based on a study of my favorite blogs and your answers to these questions, you don't necessarily either.
Many of you admitted that you felt you were being judgmental when answering my first question, which I totally understand. But I was so encouraged to read qualifiers like this one from Emily: "I think the assumption is that bloggers are unapproachable, better-than and narcissistic... but I love blogging and I love that I have connected with some people who seem like real, authentic, "we could actually be friends" kind of people."
My personal definition includes community-builder, because that's critical to my own enjoyment of other blogs and spaces - Alicia
I would probably imagine the blogger to be someone who enjoys writing and is motivated to find a creative outlet in which to share their thoughts, work and/or engage others. - Anonymous
It's looking at your world with a critical eye and communicating your perspective on a topic or variety of topics, depending on your blog. I feel that a true blogger gives their opinion on a subject however unpopular it might be. - Kendall
It also means that I am a member of a community of like-minded people online (and off). - RachelAlong those lines, the determined optimism in your responses was amazing. It seems like even though "blogger" doesn't always have positive connotations - and there were some totally valid comments about the frustrating trends that sweep through and the cliques that we bump up against - we agree that we don't have to let the way others blog and the community that they create define our blogs and our blogging worlds. In fact, I get the feeling that most of us don't, at an essential level. From your responses, I get the feeling that we talk a lot about our frustrations with blogging but, if push came to shove, we'd pretty easily explain why we blog and what we love about blogging even if we still wouldn't identify as bloggers.
I'm nearing the end of this post and I want to leave you with some earthshattering revelation, but, like I said when I recorded my vlog the other weekend, a lot of my conclusions aren't fundamentally new. I even wrote a post six months ago that has a similar thesis! But I guess it really does bear repeating: blogging - and being a blogger - is whatever we want it to be for ourselves. I think we make blogging - and what it means to be a blogger - more complicated than it has it be. Sure, there are trends and attitudes and, yes, specific bloggers or blogging communities that make us doubt ourselves and what we're doing. But at the end of the day, what we get out of any venture is made up of two things: what we put into it and the people with whom we surround ourselves. If my month away and your responses to my form have taught me anything, it's that the rest is background noise.
According to the magic of random.org, Ginna is our giveaway winner! Ginna, I don't have any of your contact information so please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll sort out the details.