Thursday, February 11, 2016

What Kind of Blog is This?

The previous ten blog posts before this one consisted of 2 recipes, 2 media reviews (an album and a TV series), 2 political blogs, and 4 personal blogs (self-reflection, anecdotes, updates, etc).

Sometimes I ruminate on philosophical and economic matters, sometimes I research history, discuss current events, or simply attempt to give advice. I even posted fanfiction every once in a while a couple of years ago. In short, this blog isn't consistent except that sometimes I post something new every day.

I don't want to make this blog "about" something. It works for me as a general outlet, and if I had to stick to a single topic I'm pretty sure I'd run out of things to say pretty quickly. I suppose I could build a readership more effectively if I branded myself better, but I'm not much for branding and I have little interest in building a readership. (Unless said readership will spread the world when I start running for president in a few years, anyway. Gonna need that ground game.)

That said, I'm curious about what sorts of posts my readership enjoys most. I don't plan on changing my eclectic approach, but I am curious about what's connecting with people. So by all means, let me know.

While you guys think about what you enjoy reading, I'll discuss what I enjoy writing.

There isn't a single topic I enjoy writing about most, really. However, there's a wonderful feeling I get when I get to write down something I've been thinking about for a while, and the thoughts spill out into something readable without a lot of effort on my part. I think it's a mixture of relief to finally record my thoughts before I forget them and the simple joy of communicating in an articulate manner. Feeling clever afterwards isn't the goal, but it's lovely when it comes about naturally.

Some recent examples of these effortless, enjoyable posts are "IRL" and "The Death of Subtext," both of which are things I'd been thinking about for a long time before I wrote them.

On the opposite end of the effort spectrum are the research-heavy posts, which are also a joy, if for a different reason. These take way longer to write, of course, but they involve activities I enjoy independent of blog writing: Wikipedia rabbit-holes and historical research, for instance. Sometimes I do research on a topic specifically to write a blog post, and other times I happened to already be researching something before I decide to write about it. For these posts, the joy is mostly in the learning and research itself, with a secondary joy of sharing what I've learned.

Some recent examples of these research posts include "Reinhold Niebuhr" and "Let's Talk Final Fantasy," the latter of which involved a spreadsheet to help me compare and contrast the directors, writers, and composers for each game in the series.

The reflection on Bernie Sanders also involved a spreadsheet in which I tracked every U.S. President by age and time in office, all so I could point out that if Sanders were to become president he'd be the oldest person ever elected president by a wide margin (though Reagan left office when he was older than Sanders is now). The data was just generally fascinating, though, and now I'm kind of sad I deleted that spreadsheet.

Media reviews are mostly just cathartic for me. I don't imagine other people get much out of those posts unless they've also experienced whatever I'm reviewing and have opinions to share. Finishing a really good movie, book, or TV series always leaves me with a lot to think about, though, so I'm glad I can use this blog to record my thoughts.

I don't like to talk about current events too much, partly because I don't like to give my opinion on matters until I've had the time to think about things and get my facts straight. Current events tend to ride high on emotions that cloud judgment, forcing the truth to take a back seat as the media pursues the story. Often you discover that the big story of the previous week got several key details wrong, but by that time everybody has moved on so nobody cares. In general, I'd prefer not to give my thoughts on events that will be at best irrelevant and at worst practically fictional within a couple of weeks.

The exception lately is politics. Politics are complicated and difficult to explain, and they definitely feed on emotions and clouded judgment like any other current event. However, politics are also the forum through which we, as a country, decide what sort of society we want to be. I'm interested in being a part of that conversation, even if it can be frustrating to talk about sometimes.

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