May 9, 2017

"What effect is all this blogging having on the brains of bloggers?"

I quoted a couple of doctors back in 2005. It's 12 years later, and I still do occasionally think about what this activity has done to my brain. But it was different in 2005, just one year into this mind-bending enterprise, when there were more questions about what this would do to me and what lay ahead.

The doctors had said: "1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.... 2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.... 3. Blogs promote analogical thinking.... 4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information.... 5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction...."

At the time, I said:
I feel that I came to blogging with a brain ready to do exactly this and previously severely frustrated by an inability to do this. And I am also very aware that blogging has really affected my mind, mostly in good ways. For one thing, it's gotten me past that severe frustration of not blogging.

As I write this, the little kid across the street is screaming: "A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah! A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah!" And I'm already thinking, I want to blog about that....
Ha ha. You see why I ran into that yesterday? I'd clicked on my "worms" tag after putting that tag on a post about the French election. Why did that get a "worms" tag? Because Macron had promenaded out to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," which has lyrics that include a line about worms. ("Even the worm has been granted sensuality.")

We don't talk too much these days about the effect blogging has on the brains of bloggers. Bloggers are not these unusual people doing something strange. Now, it's everybody doing all kinds of social media. It doesn't seem to have much to do with thinking — "critical and analytical... creative, intuitive, and associational...  analogical..." — and writing. It's more passing things along quickly, with pictures and very few words. More has happened to many more brains and who has the inclination to brood about it anymore?

28 comments:

David said...

Blogging encourages reading and writing on both ends of the communication. That's better for the brain than what a lot of us do far too often.

Fernandinande said...

"Don't need any data because it sounds good and therefore must be true."

Points 1,2 and 3 are probably false, depending on the meaning of the imprecise word "promote".

rhhardin said...

There's a Diet of Worms to deal with the Muslim crisis.

robother said...

"Even the worm has been granted sensuality" reminds me of the New Yorker's "on the internet, no one knows you're a dog."

The Internet empowers even lower life-forms (i.e., those who are not professsional journalists) to blog and comment, tweet, opine and notice. The worm has turned.

Bob Boyd said...

What about the brains of the bloggees? That's where the scary stuff is happening. That's what you maybe need to worry about. After all, we out number you bloggers by a huge, huge margin. If we ever turned on you...

"When the atmospherics are right, all it takes to make a herd of cattle stampede is a single fart." – Bob Wright, old cowboy

Sooner or later, somebody always cuts one. Prepare for the coming bloggee apocalypse!

Once written, twice... said...

Consider this--if someone went back twelve years in time and told you that Donald Trump would run and win the presidency and that you would write very little that was critical of him...what would you say?

Either blogging has warped your brain or watching two many hours of reality TV has.

David Begley said...

Born to blog.

robother said...

"watching two many hours of reality TV"

Are you saying one hour is OK?

Bob Boyd said...

@ Once written, twice

Althouse doesn't get much credit for it, but I believe she was the first person to predict Donald Trump would become President. It was right here on this blog.
"Of course it will be Trump who follows Obama," she said, or something close to that. Then she reused to use his name for a while... if I remember right.

Etienne said...
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Etienne said...
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Etienne said...

My wife's favorite Aunt died Monday.

The doctor came into the waiting room with a long face.

"I'm afraid Josephine is brain dead, but her heart is still beating."

My wife started bawling like a child. I tried to comfort her, but then I started getting mad. I said "Honey, the woman is 78 years old!"

She kept crying and said "I know, I know, it's just that we never had a Liberal in the family before!"

"We'll need your permission to disconnect the life-support." the doctor said.

I kind of motioned to him to unplug her quick like...

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, if you weren't blogging then (1) you would still be a substantially left of center liberal and not critically examining the drift of the American left into fascism, and (2) you wouldn't have met and married Meade. Thanks to Meade you get out of the house and bicycle and hike and ski, plus you get extraordinary gardening for free and companionship in your retirement.

You're still left of center, but not as badly so as the fascistic "Antifa." And that's good.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

I blogged regularly for a number of years, now much more sporadically. I feel sure it helped my writing ability (which is a result of how your brain is working) because posts need to be concise, on point, and not too long. It also got me over agonizing for long periods before finishing something and to just do the best I could and then post it. So it got me to think more clearly in a shorter time frame, and to realize there's a point where something is good enough to post, even though it's not timeless prose. There's some outside validation that my writing is better in that I blogged on music and now am doing the program notes for our community orchestra and I'm getting good feedback.

bagoh20 said...

I imagine it's not much different from the ancient Roman Forum. I don't know how egalitarian the discussions were back then, and they were certainly not anonymous, but I think the type of subjects covered and the tone may have been very similar. Blogging is much more of an innate characteristically human activity than the modernity of the medium causes us to believe. It looks new, modern, and different, but really is not. The accessibility and dress code are the new things about it.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bloggers are not these unusual people doing something strange.

The best of you still are.

bagoh20 said...

I, a college drop out from a lower middle class start, can discuss all kind of things with PhDs and college professors, and they are virtually forced to listen to me. That's new.

Chris N said...

I used to write my own music, and have always been interested in poetry over other forms of literature.

I'm guessing writing and writing a blog is a very similar activity.

What ain't the same: At work I'm looking at spreadsheets and dealing with developers/software engineers. Challenging and intellectually demanding for me, but in a very different way. Some math but a lot of flow charts and visual stuff.

Keep it up Althouse, though I don't know how you've done 15 years straight. It must be a very deep outlet for you.

Chris N said...

*are similar activities. Associational. Creative. Mimetic.

You're in the moment...going somewhere, lost and found in the flow.

Logic is true in a more objective way. Bernoulli's equation is still true.

Whether or not you write a great piece of music, what exactly is being communicated to the listener...what you were imagining? (and there's clearly math/logical structure in music)

JaimeRoberto said...

This is your brain.

This is your brain on blogs.

Rick Turley said...

On the other hand, I believe reading blogs really does a number on your attention span.

As far as worms and the French go, do you recall the "Chirac est un ver?" insult by the UK Sun in the lead up to the Iraq war?

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/feb/21/pressandpublishing.Iraqandthemedia

Joe said...

One thing I've observed is that the blogger slowly conforms to his/her audience. Whether that is a deep conformity or merely self-censorship is known to the blogger.

madAsHell said...

Blogging!?!? What about commenting?

I think my snark is sharper than ever......so, I've got that working for me.

Earnest Prole said...

Andrew Sullivan was sometimes profound and sometimes a clown (anyone remember Trig Trutherism?), but he did blog nonstop for fifteen years and provided some thoughts on what it did to his mind.

traditionalguy said...

See epic Bloggerama! Digitally filmed in Technicolor Flowers on Wide Screen Cinerama Rocky Mountains, complete with conservatively liberal politics.

Watching the delicate Bloggress slowly warm up to Terrible Trump reminds one of the 1844 Democrat Party Convention taking 9 ballots to finally accept the Young Hickory as Presidential candidate in place of the old New Yorker, Van Buren. And then James Knox Polk quietly added the western half of the USA all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

jaed said...

"Even the worm has been granted sensuality."

I cannot get this phrase off my mind.

"The Sensuous Worm." Calling Laslo... Laslo to the white courtesy phone...."

BudBrown said...

I remember 1979 this whiz kid mentions how using a modem, a word that I wasn't clear about, he can get to this place where he can read messages from others and leave his own messages. He thought it was cool. I was thinking that'll never catch on. I mean what's the point.

PB said...

What's the effect of blogging on the brain of the readers? The commenters?