I have been mulling over a post by Dave Pollard (Do Bloggers Really Care About Their Readers? A Speculation on the Nature of Relationships) on the How to Save the World blog since it was posted on October 2nd. In the post, Dave explores relationships in the modern world. He categorizes relationships as either symmetric (“where each party to the relationship gives and receives the same benefits”) or asymmetric (“where each party gives something different, of approximately equivalent value to the other parties”). He posits that we prefer symmetric relationships because when we are in these type of relationships we can renegotiate the terms and can more easily dissolve the relationship if desired. The point here is that the blogger/reader relationship is inherently asymmetric – even “uncomfortably asymmetric.” This is because people only receive attention and appreciation from blogging.
Overall, this is a fascinating commentary about the nature of relationships – and has quite a bit of truth to it. There is some sort of bizarre feeling of validation that one gets from the knowledge that people read their blog. Attention, especially positive attention, can be extremely fulfilling. But, what do we really expect from our blogging?? I certainly began my blog as a way to document my educational experience – a way to reflect upon things that I was learning – a way to work through my thoughts. This blog has been all this and yet, it has also become so much more. I think the piece that Dave Pollard left out of this assessment of the blogger/reader relationship was one of its most important benefits – the development of community. Blogging within a community is a much more symmetric relationship because there is much more give and take. A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought the development of community was very important. However, I have learned that it really is. There is much that can be gained by becoming a part of various communities that exist in the online world. For me entering into such communities has helped to dramatically expand my educational experience – and has become the most fulfilling part of blogging.