When I was on vacation last week I mentioned that I put my weight on the blog on Wednesdays because public humiliation works for me. That led to a discussion about the point of blogs. Strangely I mostly stayed out of the discussion and it ended up mostly between the husband and my mother – neither of whom know much about blogs.

The husband defined blogs as an online diary that you let anyone read (except people who know you in my case) and then let them comment on. My mother could understand why anyone in their right minds would want to do that. She also didn’t think that anyone really read them. The husband said they were popular. I said that my blog was really small but I average around 100 readers a day. That shocked my mother. She must not find me that interesting. I said that there was a much smaller group of people who read it fairly regularly. I didn’t even get into RSS feeds and subscriptions because it seemed to be so far past her point of reference.

It got me to thinking though. Why do we blog? For me it was a way to express myself. I’m very reserved about telling my feelings to people I know. I just can’t do it. So if I want to talk personally about something it was easiest to write it. My glib answer to why I let total strangers read the blog and not people I know is that I can’t write about them if I know they will be reading. But it really means that I won’t self-censor. I don’t worry about how people will react to my religious choices or political opinions or anything else.

I also live with a very expressive husband. The man talks nonstop about everything that comes into his head. I can’t get a word in edgewise. He wants me to discuss things like political opinions with him. But if I disagree with him (and we both know I will) he will attempt to change my mind and that will just make me mad. Better not to go there. That sounds really stupid written down but it is how my brain works.

What have I gotten out of blogging? A religion for one thing. When I started in 2004 I was searching for what I really believed. I was using TBlog. It had a browse feature that let you see what other TBlog users had written recently in each category. I was writing about religious searching and saw in the religion section that another person was writing about paganism. I thought, “Isn’t that cute? She thinks she’s a pagan.” But I started reading her blog daily and realized that her beliefs mirrored mine. That led to following her links and learning more and more.

Blogging has exposed me to lots of new ideas and new people that I would have never met elsewhere. When Israel and Hizbollah were fighting I watched the news thinking of bloggers I read with friends and relatives in Lebanon.

Blogging can make conversation a bit awkward. I hope I’m not the only person to every say things like, “I know this person, well, I don’t really KNOW her…” I’ve been in stores and seen things that make me think, “Oh, so-and-so would just love that! Too bad I can’t email to her.”

So why do other people blog?