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Ego_2_3 The other day I had the fun of recording a podcast with Brent Schlenker, which then led to a much longer follow-up conversation. In the course of our discussion, we talked a lot about our blogs.  One thing that came up is what I call "ego-blogging." Since our Skype call,  I've been thinking more about it and can't get it out of my head.

In my mind, ego-blogging doesn't refer to writing a post about myself. Some of the best writing I've done has about me in some way.

No, to me, ego-blogging is when I write a post primarily because I'm hoping that it will get me noticed and that others will link to me. Writing these posts may interest me, in the way that virtually everything seems to capture my attention, but they don't ENGAGE me and there's a huge difference that I can literally feel.

Ego-blogged posts are the intellectual exercises. They are the the posts I write for other people, for some imaginary audience that I don' t know particularly well and with whom I haven't developed a connection because when I'm ego-blogging I'm NOT connected to other people. I'm living in my own head--or inside a search engine, more likely. Ego-blogging is blogging for a grade, rather than blogging because you want to learn or genuinely have something to share. It's the online equivalent of that kid from your 6th grade class who grubbed for every grade--and we all know how we felt about THAT kid.

There are a lot of signs when I'm in the grips of ego-blogging.The post just doesn't feel right, even as I'm hitting "publish." After it's up, I'll obsessively check my stats to see if there have been any visitors and scan my inbox for incoming comments. I'll have Technorati on reload to see if anyone else is linking to me, hoping, praying that they are. All the while, I'm feeling squeamish and uncomfortable, knowing that this is what I'm doing and yet somehow powerless to stop.

And the really bizarre thing (or maybe not) is that my ego-blog posts are not good. They are pedantic and inauthentic and a little too much like having a teacher give you a lecture. They are the posts I write from my head, not my heart and they violate the cardinal rule of blogging--be passionate about your topic. They are ugly, I hate them, yet they persist.

Although my 31 days to Building a Better Blog experience was a hugely positive one, something I've realized in the past few days is that it fed my ego-blogging habit and I'm not happy about that. I find myself searching for topics that I think will "sell" and obsessing all the time about what I'm going to write. Not because I have something to SAY, but because I must WRITE. I must produce a "good" blog or else. I've become unbalanced.

The worst part of ego-blogging is that you end up doing it alone. All of the things that attract me to blogging--the opportunity to have a voice, to state a point of view and be authentic, to connect to other people who share my passion and engage them in conversation, to learn from my experiences--I chase these things away when I fall under the spell of ego-blogging.  I'm too busy worrying about "marketability" and not worrying about finding the things that I really want to say. I'm optimizing for a search engine, not optimizing my network of learning and people.  I'm alone, disconnected from even myself, and I lose my way.

Then I have to find my way back. So this is me, on the way back.

Photo via Pixelberber


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I'm been guilty of the same sin. I like a lot of your writing and have found good food for thought since subscribing this Spring, but I have to admit that I ignored every "Better Blog Experience" post. I read this entire post. Welcome back :-)

Hi Michele, The term ego-blogging offers a useful way to think about my writing as I'm writing and also to assess what I've written as I'm revising. Thanks for another thoughtful and helpful post. All best, Robin

Hi Michele
I'm getting a strong feeling about this theme in more than a couple of blogposts this week. Many of us have been through the 31 Days approach, which was business-like and focussed in large measure on driving visitors to the website. The notion of writing for self, of poeticising titles, about the process i.e., with a very personal 'voice' is I think, a great antidote. And of course, whilst one approach is no better per se than the other, it's always good to feel a balance.

Harold, Robin and Kate--thanks for re-affirming what I've been feeling. After I posted this, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that it didn't matter if I got up this morning and saw comments or anything else. What mattered was that I'd said something true for me. But then when we say something that's really "true," those are often the things that speak the most to other people. Thank you for helping me to see all this.

Awesome insights Michele! This morning it dawned on me that our seeking approval is doomed, which is why it does not feel right when we chase after it. As you're describing -- the solution is to write what feels right. It's as if the post is already "pre-approved" by how: good for the process, right for right now, personally valuable, or immediately passionate it feels within us. We then don't need others' approval because of where it came from, who it was really for and how it felt from the start.

Thanks for stimulating so many insights!

Hey Michele, I read your post in my reader and immediately thought of a post yesterday from Tom Haskin's on PLEs.

So it's funny to come here and see a comment from Tom! Here's what Tom said about PLEs, which seems really connected to blogging (if you're using blogging first and foremost as an element of your PLE and not as a money-maker:

"PLE's are self propelled. Unlike homework and jobs, PLE's only happen when they energize and fulfill you. The thing you're learning has to be your baby, not somebody else's that you're babysitting." (Tom Haskins)

Michele, I loved our discussion and trying to get it posted. Somehow your audio recorded very low even when our test worked great. So I'm trying to fix it before I produce the podcast for the public. But I think I'm going to put it up as a kyte show temporarily and so people can listen to it there. Its the big window on the right hand side of my blog

Wow, great post. I know exactly what you mean. I often find myself trying to force a blog post when it doesn't feel right. That's one of the faults of naming my blog 'eLearning Weekly' - I feel like I'm forced to write weekly! :)

I've decided link out to other resources during my dry spells, rather than forcing a half-hearted posts. That way, I still feel like I'm providing something valuable to my readers.


I agree that blogging really needs to be for yourself and not for the consumption of others, a contrived or "fake" entry will not make you or your readers feel good and rarely gets the play you hope.

But, I am not sure that I agree with Brent however, in that sometimes when I just dash off a post that I think is no good, it gets a much bigger reaction than I think is warrented and then sometimes, I write what I think is a great post and ....crickets.

So, I am not sure if that is ego related or not but I think that the act of writing is good in and of itself and that forcing yourself to write, forces you to think and examine your own thinking and doing that in an open forum like the blogospheres is not really ego-centric. Even as some claim it is.

I think writing in more formal settings is more ego least in academics...hey look I'm in a peer reviewed article, how special am I?(of course it is only read by a couple of peers)

So, the very nature of blogging makes it non-ego centric and much more open to critique, disdain and ridicule than deciding to publish a polished piece.

Hi Karl--your comment on how writing forces you to examine your thinking, etc. is a really excellent one. Maybe that's part of what I mean by ego-blogging, actually. Maybe the writing I'm referring to is writing where I haven't properly engaged with or thought about things in the way that I think is the essence of blogging. I think that what makes blogging such an amazing medium is when we're transparent in our thinking processes and opening ourselves up to the comment, disdain, etc. Some of the posts I'm thinking of where I'm "ego-blogging" don't really open me up at all. They're like little magazine articles or something that have no real sense of process or my thinking.

I think that what I'm partly talking about with ego-blogging is blogging that is for "show" not for understanding--which goes to your point of writing for an academic journal.

To me, blogging is at its best when I get a sense of the person and their struggles. I'm less engaged by "how-to's" with no personal touch, for example. Ironically, when I feel like there's less of "me" in a blog post, that's the most when it feels like ego-blogging.

Thank you so much for your comment, Karl--I've actually written myself to some greater understanding here!

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