Blog Psych- / Soci- ology?

It occurs to me that there is a master’s thesis just waiting to be written on blogger psychology. It’s a new enough phenomenon that it’s just begging to be studied by some idealistic and energetic grad student. And it’s probably important, since now it seems that blogs are the wave of the present in the area of how people get their information on world events/politics/religion/who’s pissed at whom/et cetera/ad nauseum.

So who are the bloggers? What makes them tick? What makes them post? What makes them so sure that people want to read what they have to write? And to all of the above, Why?

I find these to be fair questions–in fact, fair enough that I have asked myself these questions on numerous occasions. And to be sure, most of them get asked each time I look at the Blogger TM Dashboard. In part these questions keep me from posting more often.

And I know how few people actually stop by to read. I’m likewise ok with that.

My own observations over the past several years of blog reading and the last eight months or so of active blogging lead me to some observations that beg the question, “Why?” Below are some, in no particular order.

  • Bloggers tend to be temperamental. They don’t have a lot of patience with others, at least with others with whom they disagree.
  • Bloggers tend to be rather egocentric. This, I’d argue, is intrinsically related to the above observation. Blogging feeds egocentrism. Bloggers may develop followings of loyal readers who in turn fulfill a need on the part of the blogger.
  • Bloggers are by and large anonymous. I’d submit that this is part of the attraction to this particular communication vehicle. Even when actual names are used, the distance enjoyed by the internet connection produces a synthetic anonymity, if you will.
  • Blogger anonymity (real or synthetic) tends to limit inhibitions, thus fueling temperamental and egocentric behavior.
  • Bloggers may show some signs of addiction when it comes to the act of blogging (e.g., feeling a compulsive need to check comments, leave comments, write about something else that peeved them, etc.)
  • Bloggers seem to revel in their identity as a subculture, and in fact, in their many identities as micro-cultures within the blogger subculture.

I’m making observations. My questions are based largely on these broad observations. I’m also intrigued by the interactions between bloggers and commenters. Many of the same obsrvations may be made of commenters. Yet I’m still curious as to the why‘s of it all.

In part I would further argue that the medium of the blog allows people to act according to the reptilian brain. And, as always, I could be partly or entirely wrong. Should you stumble upon this scribble I invite your comments.

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4 Responses to Blog Psych- / Soci- ology?

  1. Anonymous says:

    OSC,

    You’re full of crap! How dare you call us bloggers egocentric and impatient jerks who say things on their blogs they would never say in real life?
    Signed,
    Bloggy McGee

  2. Anonymous says:

    OSC,

    Been meaning to call you for some time. Feel free to give me a buzz whenever… if I’m busy I just won’t pick up đŸ˜‰ Seriously, hope all is well man.
    DK

  3. Anonymous says:

    Confessional of the Older School,

    You points are interesting. I’ve been using the internet since the early ’90s, where I mostly played MUDs (multi-user dungeons, the precursor of Massively Multiplayer Online [MMO] games). I think if you followed the news about such uses of the internet, you would find similar activities going on. The clan system in computer games (the MMO’s) where people also attract a following, tempermental behavior is, while not necessarily encouraged, rarely directly discouraged. Egocentrism filters down to the choice of weapon/power/spell/outfit that you’re wearing in game. It is entirely (unless otherwise chosen) anonymous behavior except between your account and the managers of the servers. A man named gR0g can swear / act abusively / etc or whatever as long as the End User License Agreement [behavioral covenant of the MMO] is not violated too blatantly. The addictive angle has also been pursued – EverCrack, etc. The subculture of online gaming (and gaming in general) is also highly prized and micro-cultures (the clans or something like Penny Arcade) evolve from it.

    The “why” of it is a fascinating question – I tend to lay it on the very real sense of disatisfaction with the reality that exists beyond us. We see wars and rumors of war, carnage and chaos and fight with bills and families and so the escapist sense of power in being someone in a world when we are often little in the rest of the world is compelling. Also, the sense of belonging to an actual community (for instance, Fark.com and the challenge that Farkers have with TotalFarkers [the people who pay to post first / get their news first]) The internet creates a community that is in many ways more helpful than the ones we really live in. An negative idea will get flamed but at least get attention. A powerful Orc gets respect. There is control to what we are doing/not doing (to the point where people pay hundreds of dollars to have someone else make them a powerful Orc, for example). If that’s reptile brain, I agree then. It is something that I have thought about with my own desire for behavior and the increasing difficulty I have in finding “local” community.

    I’ll post anonymously to give myself an inflated sense of power.

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