I've been thinking about blogging and bloggers, the real world versus the virtual world, and life in general lately. Several of my favorite bloggers have recently changed direction, suffered burnout, or rediscovered there's an actual world away from the keyboard. Ranger Bob decided to take a break, and, much as I have days when I feel like Brandon de Wilde running after Alan Ladd ("Shane! Shane! Come back Shane!"), I can understand why.
Blogging's an odd hobby -- it's both intensely personal and incredibly exhibitionistic (not to mention egoistic). A person is simultaneously venting, using the space for therapy, and playing to an audience. No doubt there are bloggers who maintain totally private blogs, no readers other than invited ones allowed, but the ones I'm most familiar with are all public. And there's nothing quite like playing to an audience to start shaping what and how a person writes.
Maybe you started off thinking, well, I'll just do this as a way for friends and family to keep up with what's happening with me and the S.O., or I'm going to just vent because I'm the only liberal in an office full of conservatives (or vice versa) . . . but then someone comments. And it's someone you don't know. Holy shit! Someone's actually reading what I wrote!! And the comment was complimentary!! I wonder what I can do to attract more readers. . . and so it goes. Sometimes you get lucky (I think I have) and end up being read by (and reading in turn) smart, funny people with similar interests or ideologies (the principle of homophily applies in cyberspace as much as it does in the meat world); sometimes you're cursed with trolls.
And sometimes it hits you that an activity you meant to do occasionally on the side as a hobby is suddenly taking up way too much of your time -- and you take a break. Because one other thing you eventually figure out is that you're being influenced by stuff you never thought you'd be influenced by -- and that's not always a happy thought.
Does that mean I'm taking a break? No. But that doesn't mean I never will.
(A better question might be "Is there anybody out there who has managed to watch The Wall without being stoned at the time?")