The Older Bloggers Survey covered a lot of factors, but inevitably excluded others. So we asked one final question, and found that many participants saved their most important comments for last.
Q. 22. Do you have any further comments about your experience as a blogger? We’re interested in anything you’d like to share on this topic.
New points were raised, and previous ones emphasised, so it was well worthwhile asking for further input. I assume that our older bloggers must have felt strongly about these points to add yet another comment, when they had already answered 22 questions, often in depth. So in one sense this open-ended question carries special weight.
Problems, problems: state them here
Participants raised several problematic aspects of blogging: the pressure, the footprint, the conflict, the trolls… While the complete survey shows that on the whole, older people get satisfaction and enjoyment from blogging, that is not the whole picture.
- “Blogging can be viewed as an obligatory commitment resulting in self-imposed ‘meeting a schedule’ pressures which defeats the relaxed recreational activity I prefer this to be.”
“For me blogging is something I dip in and out of. I’m also very aware that anything you write down on the internet is there for ever and can never be truly erased once published. It tends to put me off writing anything of any great meaning.”
“Sometimes you feel like you’re just adding more info into a perpetual black hole, but the need for expression generally wins out and I keep on keeping on.”
- “Always on the verge of quitting blogging. The need to return visits and comments can be exhausting. Might start submitting articles to established publications instead.”
- “I’m working on a future blog post about how the different blogging platforms (us WP.org and WP.com) are reminiscent of the Crusades except we’re not killing each other. Everyone thinks theirs is the only way to blogging heaven. I need facts, not opinions.”
“I think everyone should take blog breaks to pause and pull back — to assess and just get away from the same ol same ol. I see some folks addicted — in a rat race of blogging way.”
“It does tend to attract some nasty people as well as good friends.”
“Worried about loss of privacy.”
- “I sometimes feel overwhelmed by having to come up with interesting posts, and I really feel overwhelmed by reading other bloggers. But the latter is important if you’re going to both get ideas and also keep up virtual friendships.”
One commenter found a solution to the pressure created by blogging: a different platform, Micro.blog.
- “I blogged for nearly 20 years, generally using WordPress. Then I found I wasn’t blogging much but was using Twitter. My blog was huge and felt like a weight, a burden. I needed to research and write ‘posts’. That was time consuming. I didn’t want to abandon that site but still wanted to express myself. Micro.blog is an opportunity to write brief posts, that are more like tweets, but which belong to me and stay on my site rather than disappearing into the ether as with Twitter. I’ve now parked my KnowIt blog and am using Micro.blog more or less (but not quite) as a replacement for Twitter. It’s the same as ‘regular’ blogging but is also different. I’m using the hosted option, but if I wanted could also set up a regular WordPress blog and feed it through Micro.blog. Now when I write Micro.blog short posts they automatically also get posted to Twitter.”
Changes in the blogging culture
Some comments were about changes people have perceived in the blogging culture—changes for the worse.
- “Over the years I’ve blogged, on and off — and on several platforms — there has been a significant change in the public view of blogging. It is seen more as a commercial enterprise now than it was when I started.”
- “I miss my blog—as it was. By necessity, perhaps, the blog community has aged and narrowed. It has changed. I miss the dynamic, fun world it used to be. I feel as if Facebook has drained away most of the brightness of it. I wonder often if perhaps, after 13 years, the changes have made blogging a platform that I am not suited for. I am still thinking about it.”
- “I’m working on a future blog post about how the different blogging platforms (us WP.org and WP.com) are reminiscent of the Crusades except we’re not killing each other.”
A couple of operational points
- “I would include how people are preserving their posts. I have had mine printed in batches by a French firm. It gives me a hard copy.”
- “WordPress: Please add a significant bloggers track to your WordCamps. I attended a WC in my city, and it was all about the developers. I would relish more opportunities to get together with other bloggers on a regular basis… just to share tips, ideas, encouragement, etc.” (Ed. Start a Meet-Up for WP bloggers?)
Joy of blogging: new points
- “It has increased my awareness of the natural world around me as I have got used to looking for things to photograph for my daily posts.”
“Blogging catalizes meeting people sharing the same passion… interesting prople all over the world.”
“Blogs are a good way to help build international alliances and communities for particular issues.”
“For me I have discovered aspects of London I didn’t know existed.”
“I like keeping records and blogging keeps records in cyberspace so even if one’s computer crashes the blog will still be there. I have my hard copy diaries which are great but they take up space and nobody reads them. It gives me pleasure that others find my blog worth a look.”
Comments that reinforce the value of pleasure, community, self expression and learning
Many of the final comments reinforced themes that had already become clear through responses to earlier questions. Enjoyment, community, self expression and learning scored high throughout this survey as reasons to blog, benefits from blogging, and feelings about blogging— and now respondents made their point once more. Some examples:
- “It was much different, and better than I thought it would be. I met more writers than I have spoken to in my whole life previously, from all over the world, and writing about subjects I might not have even read about if I had not read others’ blogs.”
“I’ve made a good friend through blogging. Despite living 200 miles apart, we have met up once and are doing so again next month. This was an unexpected side of blogging.”
“I have been blogging continuously since 2003. I enjoy it immensely. I have made new friends through my blog. It helps me remember things I’ve done and share experiences with others.”
“I love my blog! And find real satisfaction and fulfillment from publishing posts as well as maintaining a record of life. I’ve also been delighted to find such a wide-ranging community of souls with whom to connect.”
“It has improved my fiction writing. I have also been published in print since I started blogging, as well as having articles published on other websites and blogs. I also try to promote hints and tips for new bloggers, as well as advice for those who are struggling.”
“I love blogging it has improved my writing skills I have made many friends and feel I have also increased my knowledge base in many ways. The tech side I have learnt a lot and some things I do not want to learn: too techie for me.”
Comments about the value of blogging for older and isolated people
Unprompted, many participants commented on ways that blogging can help people as they age, or if they are isolated by geography or illness.
“The blogosphere is not discriminatory. No one is aware of your age unless you tell them. I see blogging in my future as a way to stay connected as other activities become less viable.”
“It’s a fun way to connect with like-minded folks, esp. when you live in a rural area.”
“I am transcribing my letters to my mother and illustrating them with photos. They are detailed and interesting, both about the era they are written in and about the family and personal relationships.”
“When I showed coworkers (all of us are in electronic medical records support and building admins) they couldn’t believe I’d built a website. Even the younger ones 30ish, said they couldn’t believe it because they couldn’t do it. Perception was I was old and how could I do all that on my own.”
“It’s a wonderful tool for positive aging in all aspects. Our experiences through life can, hopefully, encourage each other as well as encourage those who follow. It’s also one more testimony of our lives that we leave behind. Thanks for the opportunity to share!”
“I ran a blog for my dad until he died a few years ago and my mum at 91 still blogs about her life (they write / wrote the text and I created the blog posts). I think in both cases this kept their minds active and gave an added interest when their physical boundaries shrunk.”
“I like to think it’s a way to broaden one’s horizons, if one is housebound by chronic illness. And you get some good perspective too, depending on what you choose to read.”
“I’d recommend it to any computer literate senior who is looking to keep their mind active.”
Two older writers explain in detail why they find blogging a good fit for this later stage of life:
- “Blogging for the past two plus years has allowed me to see myself differently — for the first time in my life I see myself as a writer and a creative person. This is deeply satisfying. Blogging was an incredible vehicle for processing difficult feelings around aging which I started feeling in the months leading up to my 60th b’day. I’ve since been able to recreate my life so that my age, at least at this very moment, is not an overwhelming part of who I am as a person. I have a new, better sense of equilibrium. I am more alive.”
- “I am returning to blogging a bit more regularly and it has coincided with realising that this year I turn 65 and retirement age. I realised that my attitude up until now with regards to writing, was that it was my job — what I did — but it was unpaid. Now that I am retired I want to enjoy writing what I WANT to write, not what I think will please a publisher (or people I perceive as future readers) but rather to please myself. I do not want to submit, enter or register (I am tired of these processes) — I want to simply express myself in writing as the muse takes me. If I do not publish another book, I am fine with that. At present Blogging feels like a gift. It feels like freedom from the pressure to keep up (for example, with younger writers who are superior and quicker on the uptake and more desirable to publishers). Through blogging, I am publishing my writing without any of the previous angst. And I am connecting with others around my own age. I am interested in the ageing process and want to write about it from the inside. Blogging seems to be an effective and affirmative platform for this subject — or any subject or interest. It is interesting to find that a lot of older bloggers are ‘returning to the fold of blogging’ (perhaps like me after trying Facebook and social media and finding that after its useful means of remaining in contact with cousins and distant family has been established, it ultimately lacks sincerity and depth). Recently I have re-connected with a few bloggers who have been to Facebook-land, but are sneaking back to blogging where there is a more receptive audience and environment. If WordPress and Blogger were to acknowledge this trend and make it easier for older people to blog — more intuitive programmes? — it would be helpful. I find personally that I am often limited as to how to manage and operate my website properly, or fully, and often get confused and frustrated. Thanks for the opportunity to do this survey. Looking forward to seeing what eventuates.”
Glad to take the survey
Finally, I was delighted to find appreciative comments about the survey itself. This is not something I expected! Such courtesy is in tune with the generosity of the older bloggers who did this survey—thank you all!
- “Privilege to have been part of this survey.”
- “This was a well constructed survey.”
- “No [further comments]. This has been a thorough questionnaire.”