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Bloggers’ Favorite Subject: Me

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Nothing really grabs the blogosphere as much as itself. It sounds like a Friday night crisis, but it’s less lonely than that. Can we call it collective individualism? Should we employ Shakespeare, Nietzsche, or Jung when considering that 37% of bloggers say they are their own favorite subject? Does it change things if over half of them are anonymous?

Bloggers' Favorite Subject: Me
Is Blogging All About Vanity?

According to Pew, almost 40% of the US online population, or 57 million adults, read blogs. The blogosphere is becoming more diverse, with nearly equal proportions of men and women, and a larger representation among the races. How does this influence how you market to or utilize the blogosphere? Tell us about it at WebProWorld.

The authors of a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project called “Bloggers” (PDF), reveal that, like the world outside, the blogosphere is diverse, and young, and the subject matter is as splintered as a Barry Bonds Louisville Slugger.

But no other subject, not politics, sports, business, or technology, was more important to the bloggers polled than “my life and experiences.” No, other topics were not even close. About 76% claim their personal experiences as A reason, if not THE reason to blog.

    Here’s the breakdown:

    37%: my life and experiences

    11%: politics

    7%: entertainment

    6%: sports

    5%: news

    4%: technology

    2%: religion and spirituality

“Some observers have suggested that blogging is nothing more than the next step in a burgeoning culture of narcissism and exhibitionism spurred by reality TV and other elements of the modern media environment,” write Senior Research Specialist Amanda Lenhart and Associate Director Susannah Fox.

Yes, it is called MySpace isn’t it? Me.com, anyone?

Narcissism nor Des Cartes is necessary for Wei Siang to justify existence in the blogosphere. Like Santa, Siang just needs you to believeand pay a visit to confirm all is real. Some have other agendas for making their mark, like creating the longest comment thread in history.

Christopher Keeton, a Christian ministry blogger more than likely dismayed at how few are spending their one to two hours per week exploring the metaphysical, agrees that we mortals hold ourselves in high esteem.

“Of all the things that bring me enjoyment, of all the stuff that occupies my time there’s one subject that means more to me than anything else,” says Keeton. “That subject is me. If we were really honest with ourselves, I would venture to say that all of us are very dear to our own hearts.”

Though bloggers can be as histrionic as they are narcissistic, it’s not the rule that bloggers want to be famous. Public as they may be, the majority of the 12 million American adults who maintain a blog intend their self-reflective musings for a “relatively small audience of readers.” Fifty-five percent use a pseudonym, playing out whatever fantasy suits them.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely Players;
They have their Exits and their Entrances,
And one man in his time playes many parts
– Shakespeare, As You Like It

Only 8% said they do it for money. Fewer would probably be willing to romanticize it to the point that they “do it for love,” but maybe our study authors shed light on the idea that it’s not necessarily rampant malignant narcissism nor necessarily collective mass hysteria.

“But others contend that blogging promises a democratization of voices that can now bypass the institutional gatekeepers of mainstream media. This democratization is thought to have implications for the practice and business of journalism as well as the future of civic and political discourse.”

So could the slings and arrows that Nietzsche bewailed of the pre-Web society be avoided though this new collective individualism?

“Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.”

The optimist will believe we’ve struck a balance between the mob and the self. The cynic will no doubt recall the blog swarm and laugh. And the marketers and public relations professionals will understand and lament them both, as their audience expands in context, in complexity, but also in reactivity.

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