is this why you blog + tweet? actually, why do you blog + tweet?

Posted on June 30th, 2010

This popped up on TED.com this morning – a rant by Clay Shirky an expert in “technology as a force for good” (who I’ve interviewed previously and just loved his energy) . Here he rants about how our excess brain energy – we have a trillion spare brain hours up for grabs, apparently – can be used for good online. Do watch it.

His basic premise is that we have a lot of spare brain power and that we’re putting it to use in generous ways online. Wikipedia is an example. No one gets paid for the input. But it’s emerged as a resource that’s all about sharing excess information. Ditto LOLcats and ask.com, etc Ditto all the advice we all share online with each other on blogs like this one you’re reading right now.

I like his slant and it impacts on why I blog…cos sometimes I wonder why the hell I do. He’s not the only one on it. Seth Godin preaches the same. So does Daniel Pink in his book Drive. All three quote the example of the Israeli childcare pickup experiment. This study showed that when parents were simply asked to not arrive too late to pick up their kids at the end of the day, they largely complied. When the policy was changed such that parents were fined if they were late, the number of late pickups spiked. Why? When the incentive was largely altruistic, parents were engaged in the outcome – they cared about not holding the staff up from getting home to their own families on time and made an effort to be on time. When an economic contract came into play, altruism was “allowed” to be disbanded.

The point to the experiment is that it shows communal generosity is powerful. That without a contractual overlay, we are motivated to share and give and care and change society.

I agree. I struggle daily with the idea of writing this blog and tweeting. Why do I share? Am I over-sharing? Is there a point to it? The accepting place I’ve arrived at is that I need to trust that the drive to share is inherent in me. I can’t not share. It is actually a natural urge, right? It might be unpleasant at times. Annoying. Time-consuming. But if there is an urge to connect and give then we should cross that juncture that Clay refers to between doing nothing and doing something. We should connect.

There are a lot of forces out there that steer us away from sharing, like financial (dis)incentives, and voices (from various quarters) that say our resources are limited, that we should steer our energy and time to things that serve us directly.

Granted, blogging and tweeting can be a colossal waste of time, IF THE INTENTION IS NOT ABOUT SHARING. I know for me, when my heart isn’t in that authentic place, and I’m frantically “posting to maintain (readers? continuity?)”, then I am wasting everyone’s time and precious energy.

What do you reckon? Why do you share?

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  • http://www.sharnanigans.com Sharni

    I share to connect, to relate, to make sense of the world – in fact since becoming a ‘blogger’ I have been through the fastest learning curve of my life and have made many life revelations all through the act of writing, exploring, connecting — sharing.

    Initially blogging started as an outlet as a new Mother but it became so much more, through the sharing it motivates me to be my better self to read more, learn more, question more, totally a good thing when used for these purposes.

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  • http://www.stylecounselonline.com.au Alison Triffett – Style Counsel

    I loved this blog Sarah! It spoke right to my heart and finally explained both for and to me why I Blog & Tweet like a mad woman! I actually feel compelled to share and at the moment, even from my hospital bed, I still need to connect and share. Perhaps even more so!

    I believe in what I do, and I do believe that all my sharing may actually touch someone’s heart. Somewhere, some how. And maybe my willingness to open up and talk about my experiences and beliefs, may just help free someone, or help them feel better about themselves or their own situation?

    Anyway…Just had to “share” that with you! Hope it makes some sense? It’s getting tricky to type on
    my iPhone here! And things a bit blurry. When I get out of here, I can’t wait to Blog about all the life lessons I learn everytime I’m admitted to hospital (too often I reckon!). However I do still believe all the pain, surgery, tests, you name it…all are great teachers/gifts if you reframe what each experience can give you & focus on the good that can unfold during enforced rest/recovery.

    Thanks Sarah! Another great blog! See? Another upside of all this! I finally have enough time to actually “comment” back to you! Hope I didn’t overshare here! :)

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    Sarah

    Sarah Reply:

    Hospital??? What for?
    I so very much know the whole “illness as teacher” route. Walkin it right now, my friend!

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  • http://runramataviv.blogspot.com/ Sherry

    Thank you for sharing this post! Really has me thinking.

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  • http://onelifetherapy.blogspot.com Gabrielle – One Life Therapy

    Really appreciate your sharing this, Sarah.

    Blogging seems so multi-layered… I also wonder what it’s all about sometimes.

    For me, the opportunity to offer what I’ve learned or found useful (both in life and in therapy) seems so important.
    So does the chance to keep learning from what others are sharing on their blogs.

    It feels like, together, we’re evolving…

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    Sarah

    Sarah Reply:

    i like that, “together we’re evolving”… x

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  • http://www.foodieinberlin.com Suzan

    I started a blog because I am a full time mother. I don’t want to succumb to peer pressure and go back to work and miss out on my daughter growing up. At the same time I like having this “hobby” that indulges me and also keeps the cogs in my brain working. When someone “out there” empathizes with what I have written, well, it really makes me happy.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.jardino.me/ Janine

    Perfect timing.Thank you so much for sharing this, this is exactly what I needed to hear!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.livingsavvy.com.au Jo – living savvy

    I created Living Savvy as a place for sharing stories and information through story telling as I do believe that this is how I learn and discover things about myself and the world in which I live.

    When I listen to stories I connect with the information at two levels. First, I connect with the story teller and the story they are sharing. Secondly I connect with myself, my feelings, judgments and questions. When I listen deeply I discover things not only about the person telling the story and their world but about myself broadening my beliefs and awareness of myself and the world in which I live.

    Sharing my stories or telling of my experiences through tweeting or blogging also does this – the reflection required to tell a story deepens my awareness and understanding of self. But it is not self-less I also hope that through my sharing others are encourage to wonder and find their own story.

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  • http://flickr.com/apetitodelalma dani

    I share because i have the need to make the world know that here is an amazing artist, doing a great job and someone needs to spread his not-wasting time on their works.
    I share because is the only way to remember what i’ve seen ( yes, sometimes i know it but i don’t know who was it? )

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  • Agand

    I do blogging and tweet to share and make connection from the another place with his/her point of view.

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  • http://twittertales.wordpress.com Louise Curtis

    When I was young, and “facebook” was just two unrelated words, I’d sometimes write “here’s where I am now” letters, updating throughout the day on the bus, in a dull class, etc. Then I’d post them.

    So I love blogging about my day-to-day life, and I love reading day-to-day blogs (as long as the style is interesting). Lately my blog grew dull for both myself and others so I changed the format – now every day I do something awesome (I have a HUGE list), and blog about it. It’s a brilliant way to make my life more interesting – and of course many more people are reading the blog now. So, good!

    Louise

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  • http://rubytwoshoes.wordpress.com RubyTwoShoes

    I cant quite get my mind into gear to answer your question on why I blog because it is presently consumed with the fascinating Israel Childcare example you just shared (shared, see?!). It really jumped out at me in relation to the major trend of governments the world over scrambling to come up with ‘climate change’ solutions, or environmental solutions in general, by fixing a price tag to what it “costs” to continue destroy the earth. I wonder how different it would be if instead we were culturally challenged to do it altruistically, which the example you outlined show, ultimately motivates us more…(well, by “us” I mean “me”!!)

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    Sarah

    Sarah Reply:

    Hey Misho, really sweet idea. Imagine….

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  • Natalie

    I think I blog because
    - so that I can remember the stuffs that I come across that I want to remember.
    - the blog can become my life steps, collection of memories, mistakes and experiences. Something like my proof of being.
    - something like your personal guidelines. If you are are down you can click on ‘good times’ for example.
    - it’s more personal than Updating your facebook. There are no disruptions such as pets, group updates, games, etc, etc.
    - by sharing, you get comments. It expand even further more your mind and knowledge. Sharing is loving.
    - express your creativity. With words, pictures, stories, jokes, erm font colour, etc. Title : 20 of my fav chocolates. Something like that.
    - people keep diary because they are stressed. So expressing your thought and opinions are healthy living.
    - make new friends. Along the way.
    - it encourage/ push you to do sone deep thinking and do some research of topics that you want to write about.
    - personally ever since I have a blog, I hv a more interesting life, read more, watch more channels , observe people more, google stuff more, just for the sake of something to write about :)
    - (me) it

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