Yes, you read that title right. A blog on why I don’t blog. Really, this isn’t me being self-contradictory. Rather, I mean why I don’t have a personal blog that I maintain. I’ve had more than one person tell me I should have one. The main question always rolling around in the back of my head: whatever on earth for? Now, my points here don’t reflect on group blogs, because I see group blogs as having less of the problems, or at least in much smaller doses, than personal blogs.
I have three reasons why I don’t have a personal blog: 1) too many blogs exist in the world, 2) I’m not an authority on anything and so I don’t think I should be blogging and leading people astray with the potentially bad ideas I might have, and 3) blogs condition their readers to consume massive amounts of data without ever stopping to synthesize it into knowledge. Yes, I actually do believe these things of most personal blogs.
Regarding the first problem: tumblr alone had over 300 million blogs in April, 2017. Is this really necessary? Not everyone has ideas worth reading about; ok, most people don’t. And, the more people who do blog, the more they contribute to the noise and chaos of current culture. This utter noise drowns out the few people who do have legitimate things to say and actually know what they’re talking (and blogging) about. Currently, I don’t want to contribute to the noise and so I don’t have a personal blog. But, I’m happy to contribute to a team blog like the one here at FreeThinkingMinistries.com. If everyone who had the blog impulse teamed up with others who also had this impulse, it would reduce the overall number of blogs and allow for just a bit less noise (and increased accountability).
And, what am I an authority on, anyway? I personally do not feel as if I have put in the amount of time necessary to make me an authority on a given topic. I might have interesting thoughts on some stuff (See Zombies), but I don’t claim any type of authority. Currently, I find it hard to differentiate between a blogger who has done extensive research and one who is articulate but hasn’t really researched; between a blogger who synthesizes and a blogger who regurgitates. The only way to differentiate is to do research yourself prior to reading the blog. Additionally, today it seems as if all bloggers have turned into “authorities,” thereby undercutting the real authorities in a given area. I’ve personally seen an individual in a 100 level philosophy class think their opinion is just as weighty as an individual with a PhD in philosophy (while discussing a philosophical topic); I hate to say this, but no it’s not. This is not to say that a PhD-holding philosopher can’t ever be wrong or that a freshman philosophy student can’t ever be right, but the amount of time and research necessary to acquire a PhD automatically makes the individual who holds it more qualified to speak in areas of philosophy than the person in an undergraduate class discovering for the first time that a guy named Kant lived.
A last problem I have with blogs is that the massive amount of data turnover shapes readers into consumers. Blogs require the blogger to have new material constantly, because old material isn’t enough to hold a reader’s attention. Now, it’s true that few people read the same book twice. But, blogs come in a medium that seems to encourages readers to only read it once by nature of the new material constantly being produced. Many readers await new material and consume new information without properly understanding the old, unable to synthesize and thus turn this information into knowledge.
Now, group blogs do help guard against blogs that are mere opinion disguised as fact. If a team sees fit to publish a blog, it’s less likely this blog is a mere opinion. For example, FreeThinking Ministries has sought to avoid these potential pitfalls by creating a team of regular contributors, official guest contributors, research assistants, and many proof readers. Most of those involved have relevant graduate degrees, some hold PhDs in philosophy or theology, and others are currently working on their PhD. This team approach allows for heightened accountability which leads to trustworthiness.
Group blogs (like this one) also bolster the general level of the blog above what one individual would be able to produce if left to one’s own devices. Now, this doesn’t mean that group blogs always have qualified and authoritative bloggers, but it’s far less likely that you will find a rant on one (current blog excluded). The fact that blogs turn readers into consumers is something, though, that a group blog still struggles to overcome. But, this doesn’t mean group blogs should not exist; they may be a great forum to reach the average person who would probably never open a philosophy or systematic theology book. In fact, many times blogs like this encourage readers to start reading more. However, if the reader never does choose to open difficult books, then they probably aren’t interacting well with the blog material. How to instill the virtue of patience in a reader is something I still can’t figure out. But, thanks for reading this blog on not blogging.
For those interested in moving from a “mere blog reader” to one who is ready to crack open a few good books (one does insightful cultural analysis) on philosophy, I personally recommend starting with C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory and Abolition of Man; Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death; and all things Plato. This should go without saying, but make sure that you start with studying your Bible on a regular basis!