Since we are approaching the one year anniversary of Politics in Theory and Practice, I wanted to take the day off from politics and discuss blogging instead. Blogging is hard, but it is also rewarding. I think anyone who writes relatively frequently would agree that it is an arduous activity – you must always have something new and interesting to say, and you must say it in a way that is captivating. However, I think most people would also agree that blogging (and writing in general) is an immensely rewarding experience. First, it always feels good to complete a new post (in much the same way that you get a sense of accomplishment from finishing a book or successfully concluding a semester). Blogging is uniquely rewarding, though, because as the view count ticks up, you know that others care about what you have to say. It’s also exciting to see comments or responses, as it means that something you wrote had enough of an impact to provoke a response (even if it’s negative). In short, blogging is an extremely social activity, but it is one in which more nuanced interactions can occur simply due to the expanded space in which one can write. Because of this, the interactions and discussions are, at least in my opinion, far more fulfilling than other kinds of social media interactions (i.e., Facebook comments sections).
Blogging has positive benefits outside of social connectivity, however. For one, it forces you to be OK with mistakes. Nearly every post is going to have a few cringe-worthy typos or a sentence fragment. Given that on any given day I’m writing a blog post, I also have a graded paper to work on, I simply don’t have the time or energy to strenuously proof both pieces. The graded paper always takes priority. In many ways, though, it’s good to become more accepting of mistake. Something I have discovered from studying German is that mistakes are inevitable, but they are also good when leveraged effectively. Obviously I’m not the first to discover this, but I think it’s certainly true that it is better to experiment with new things at the risk of committing a few errors than it is to sit paralyzed by fear. The more you do anything, the fewer mistakes you will make. You have to start somewhere, though, and I have found blogging to be a relatively stress-free way to test half-baked ideas and improve my writing.
Finally, I think blogging (at least the way Evan and I do it) helps you grow intellectually. After all, writing substantively about a myriad of policy and theory-related issues necessitates some degree of research and engagement with a number of thinkers from different political and philosophical perspectives. Given that blogs are, at least generally speaking, public, it is important that the final product is rigorous and defensible. As I mentioned above, this kind of accountability and rigor is lacking in most social media, and I think that is a shame because it leads to shoddy arguments and inane and offensive comments that bring little to the table. It’s important that everyone stays engaged with political, economic, and social developments in their country. However, it is also important that that engagement is substantive and thoughtful. I really believe that blogging represents one of the best ways to merge more scholarly work with commentary that is personal and easily consumed by the general public.
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what it would be like. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about or if anyone would care. For all the reasons I mentioned, though, I am very glad that I decided to stick with it. It has been a very interesting and fulfilling experience, and I have appreciated all of the support and engagement that you all have given the blog.