The Narcissist Dilemma

In the last few weeks, a few friends have made comments about my blog, asking if I was still posting, etc. The inquiries threw me off a bit, as I guess I figured most didn’t know about (or at least pay attention to) it. When I began blogging about 257 years ago, the primary purpose was to serve as a digital mind vomit repository. Although the decision wasn’t necessarily a conscious one, I have noticed that as the blogging fad has continued to grow, my desire to contribute to my own has declined. Beyond this conclusion, I hadn’t put too much thought into the “why” behind my hiatus.

Until recently.

After quite a bit of thinking/pondering/questioning, here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. I’m perpetually aware of the amount of time spent with my face buried in a screen. When I wake up. All day at work. At the grocery store. In the car, looking up directions. Texting. Shopping. Taking photos. Facebooking. Banking. It’s a vicious cycle. I needed a breather from my technology overload and wanted to figure out a “better” long-term technology/IRL balance.

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So, like any hyper-self-aware person, I performed an self-audit: What do I need to get done? What means do I need to accomplish this task? I realized that a scary high percentage of all I do requires some form of digital means. ‘Scary high percentage’ are the keywords in this last sentence. Meaning, not 100%. As in, there’s still hope.

I then asked myself : What are you doing now digitally that can be accomplished via analog means, without sacrificing quality/efficiency/etc.? Writing was one of the few things I could identify. So, in the spirit of balance, I decided to temporarily put the blogging on hold and instead, venture down the handwritten journal avenue. This was one of the reasons, anyway.

2. Blogging has exploded. Specifically, lifestyle, mommy, foodie and pictures-of-my-baby-wearing-a-fedora-and-Toms-at-a-farmers-market blogging. While I can’t say the content of said blogs is my cup of tea, my bigger-picture qualms stem from the superficiality and narcissism that frequently accompanies. Intentional or not, it happens. And I do wonder/worry about the long-term social/relational implications of such cursory, self-serving & instant gratification-based habits.

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During my “self-audit,” I questioned: Why do I have a blog? Am I inadvertently looking for a virtual pat on the back? Do I accurately depict my life/thoughts? Am I  craving that dopamine boost that results from likes/comments? Did I take a blogging hiatus to avoid being pigeon-holed into the present-day “blogger” stereotype?

At this point, I suppose a resounding “maybe” is  the best answer I can offer for the prior slew of questions. However, I do know the following. I’ve always blogged because I enjoy it. I love writing, processing, thinking, questioning and organizing thoughts on a visceral level. Over the years, it’s been an invaluable outlet for me to delve far beyond necessary into whatever it is I might be experiencing/pondering/observing.

While this all stands true, the reality is that I also get pretty jazzed upon receiving likes or positive feedback on my posts. And perhaps yes, while the feeling of exhilaration is fleeting, the complimentary feelings of motivation and support stick around. This realization was a pivotal moment for me.

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Blogging doesn’t need to be viewed as a contrived activity. And it’s perfectly acceptable to reap the benefits of positive feedback. I think perhaps what was missing for me was simply that I hadn’t really ever sat down and thought about WHY blogging made me feel good. I just knew that it did, which is why I’ve kept it up over the years. As the borderline OCD detail-oriented, consistently-asking-500 questions, psychoanalyzing type, I think I was feeling unsettled because I had never explicitly asked or answered this question.

So, I sat down and brainstormed a list. Why do I like blogging? What do I get out of it?

– Process past events.

– Record experiences. Takeaways. Life lessons. Words of wisdom.

– Identify & understand emotional reactions.

– Ask questions. Maybe provide answers, if I’ve got them.

– Clarify thoughts.

– Gain perspective.

– Review progress/growth over time.

– Connect the metaphorical dots between the items listed above.

Why does list-making feel so good? Perhaps it’s not necessarily the list-making, but the clarity that accompanies. The clarity being this: the above list doesn’t include anything driven by superficiality. My core purpose is not self-serving (on a topical level), but rather to serve as an outlet to question, analyze, process, & grow. And if others are able to benefit from what I write? Even better.

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