I like following popular blogs. Not so much in that I find the material interesting (by the time I’ve found the blogs, the authors have already begun posting less than engaging material because they’ve reached a success that doesn’t demand time or quality), but because I’m intrigued with their lives as popular bloggers.
Recently, a blogger friend clued me in to some blogger drama going on with the blog Single Dad Laughing. In short, a lot of readers and bloggers have increasingly become annoyed at author Dan Pearce’s seemingly narcissistic blog rants. A recent SDL post spawned this angry response from Daddy blogger, Beta Dad. Though I don’t believe in blogger bashing, I found Beta Dad’s blog post kind of hysterical.
I don’t always follow Single Dad Laughing, but when I do, I’ve spotted keywords such as “depression“, “hiatus” (Dan had to take temporary mental health hiatus from blogging) and other words that insinuate emotional unrest.
This got me thinking about two other popular blogs I follow, The Bloggess and Hyperbole and a Half. The Bloggess’ author, Jenny Lawson, writes about crippling depression in the present tense, while Hyperbole and a Half author, Allie Brosh, has dropped off line all together due to her depression (though she promises she is still working on her book).
Three popular bloggers who suffer(ed) from severe depression.
This, in conjunction with a recent article in the Daily Beast asking if the Internet is making us crazy, made me wonder what came first? The chicken (depression creates good bloggers) or the egg (blogging causes depression). I think two of the three examples I listed above are the chicken, but I’m sure becoming a constantly read and critiqued online celeb makes for many, many eggs.
The Daily Beast article, “Is The Internet Making Us Crazy: What the New Research Says”, claims that the Internet is making us “depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic.”
Whoa! Intense, huh?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel that my mental (and physical) health have suffered from being on the Internet for long hours. Though I wouldn’t say that I clinically display any of those disorders above, I can confidently (and unhappily) say that I’ve experienced sadness, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit traits at various times throughout my online career.
Bloggers, do you check your daily stats much? Like every five minutes? How about your Facebook page for likes and comments every five minutes? Do you get depressed if people don’t share or comment on your posts enough? Do you compare yourself to other bloggers? Is your Twitter window open at all times and you instinctively jump everytime a “(1) Twitter/Interactions” pops up on your tab? Did even looking at “(1) Twitter/Interactions” just now make you tingly in your loins?
Yeah, we’re messed up.
The Daily Best article goes on to compare our Internet use to that of a cocaine addiction that “fosters obsession, dependence and stress reactions”. China, Tawain and Korea have “accepted” Internet Addiction Disorder as a real problem and have begun “treating problematic Web use as a grave national health crisis.”
So how do we know if we’re all addicts?
According to the article, if you spend more than 38 hours online a week, you’re an addict.
Work a 40+ hour a week job on the computer? Guess what that means!
None of this is new information and I’m sure we’re all somewhat consciously aware that we have a problem. Reading the article at least reaffirmed that I’m not alone in my wide array of emotions when dealing with the Internet.
If there is any point to this article, just remember, if you find yourself feeling like you’re going insane and you’re not sure why, step away from the computer and meet a friend or stare at the clouds. You might be surprised how much better you feel.
I think there’s quite a lot of history and evidence that the best writers (at least in Western Europe and the US) were often introverted, suffered from depression of some sort, and likely had a collection of things happen to them that caused them to be introspective and observant. That’s what makes them into becoming outstanding writers.
And the blogger drama — well, I’m sure since humans have been drawing on cavewalls, there has been drama. Human nature and all that.
I do enjoy your blog!
Hi Nerdette! Thanks for stopping by! You’re right. Sometimes I wish I was Hemingway, but he was an ass and killed himself, so maybe not.
Writing can be depressing, and being socially available 24/7 can be depressing. I think that being a writer is only the half of it.
…not socially available, maybe “plugged in” is the better phrase for it.
*That’s what makes them into outstanding writers.
I clearly have a grammar deficient. I blame the internet. 😉
I def think it’s making us crazy and more compulsive. Even when I know it’s bringing out my ADD I can’t stop.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if all of this was out of my life.
I don’t check my blog stats anymore, but I used to be obsessed. Please, everyone like me! It’s taken me 2 years of psychology school to finally not care whether people love what I write/do.
But how is this comment? Is it okay? I’m open to feedback.
HA! Maybe I should go to psych school too!
To make a couple sweeping generalizations, intelligent people are often more unhappy as a whole, and bloggers are intelligent. (I like to think so, at least.) How could we not be somewhat depressed, staring at a computer for hours on end, striving to meet self-imposed deadlines, and being our own worst critics?
Proving me wrong, of course, is Tolly Moseley. She’s everything that’s good about blogging, with none of the dark side. Somehow I doubt she stalks her statistics the way the rest of us do.
Let’s ask Tolly over on Twitter…
and I agree, Tolly is sunlight. 🙂
Oh my God you guys, wrong. I mean … THANK YOU, first of all, sweet Kristin and Lauren, for the very kind words. But, I should correct that lack of dark side thing.
So it’s true, I haven’t turned on my blog stats for the new site. I just don’t want to get into that.
BUT, I am currently refreshing the page obsessively on this article Apt Therapy wrote about our house today, which a ton of people apparently hate. Like I’m doing that right now.
I do check Twitter / FB / Instagram daily – but – I tend to go dark on social media over the weekend. (At least I try to.) It helps that my husband is pretty vehemently offline. When I see him tooling around the house, making stuff, playing music, or just generally doing things with his hands, I think, “why the hell am I sitting here on a computer? Lame.”
Two important things happened this year that yanked me out of the Internet anxiety trap, and those were:
1. After years of wondering, “how can I turn AE into a business?” I stopped making that a goal. Because I don’t want to be sitting all the time! Instead I started viewing it as a portfolio. It’s a work in progress portfolio, but it shows off my writing / video work enough to where I can show people, “you wanna pay me for this kinda stuff??” Independent, contract-based media projects — good. Turning AE into a business requiring me to constantly push it, up its popularity, sell ads, obsessively market it — bad. My ego just can’t take it.
2. Now instead of making my living through media, I genuinely do want to try to move into a career where sit less and compute less. Right now my plan is yoga. We’ll see how that goes.
So anyway. I like blogging, and I know you do too, ladies. But I’ve had a paradigm shift recently in the way I view it. I want to be more offline. Period. Life is more interesting and my body/mind is healthier when I am. The “dark side” (i.e. blogger insecurity) is definitely there still, but looking at the trajectory of uber-popular blogs, I know for a fact now that blog popularity ISN’T my desire. Do I want to be a good writer? Yes. Do I want to make nice videos? Yes. But ‘good’ and ‘popular’ are two different things, and the former is more easily achieved when I unplug.
Holy cow, you people are feeding my soul today. I’ve pretty much nodded my entire way through this post, as well as Tolly’s post today, not to mention this entire comment chain. Thank you for talking about it so openly. On one hand, it just feels like such a champagne-flavored, gauzy, preventable problem, but in the world in which we live and the realm in which we work, it’s really not that simple.
(Tolly, your house is brilliant. Who are these haters? Trotting over to AT now to leave the kind of shiny happy comment you deserve.)
Keep doing what you’re doing, ladies — it’s comforting and awesome. And yes, please treat yourselves to an al fresco afternoon every once in a while, because you deserve that too.
Thanks, Amy! Maybe we should all have a blogging detox event?!
WHAT?! Are you kidding me about negative comments on the Apartment Therapy post today? I loved it! I think the article really shows what’s unique and beautiful about you! I don’t even want to read the comments, but whatever people said, they can go f themselves.
Tolly, you are an inspiration. Thank you for this comment. I’ll need to remember this when I get all kooky in my head.
Actually, I went over to AT and got mad and left a comment.
Haha. High-five, ladies! Thank you so (so) much for the comment love over there. I mean it’s the Internet, so what are ya gonna do.
Water, meet my duck’s back.
Oh yes, those poor, working, simple folk who lack education and the time to sit in front of a computer and write about themselves are so much happier than intelligent-elite bloggers.
Give me a break.
“The narcissist lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201201/lack-empathy-the-most-telling-narcissistic-trait
And Lauren – I adore you, but I think the article was more about how as a society, yes we depend on the internet to provide us validation through social networking, but also, we are bombarded with so much more information it does cause worry, stress and anxiety. Headlines, facebook links, pop-up ads. It is depressing. just saying.
Good point, Val, but are we feeding the beast? If we shut down the computer more would there be less need for pop-up ads, sponsored links, headlines etc?
i don’t think it’s the just the blogging that makes you crazy; i think it’s the way that the internet provides instant feedback. as someone in a band, my twitter feed is constantly up, i have google alerts for our band name, there are various charts that i check regularly, and our facebook page is in a state of constant refresh, hoping that something will pop up. you share that you’re releasing an album and 8 of your jillion fans and friends “like” it (one of them being your mom, duh), then you mention casually that you’re engaged and out of the woodwork a verrrry significant percent of the jillion friends suddenly come out of hiding to give it a “like.” i know we’re not supposed to care about what other people think of what we’re doing, be it writing, music, or whatever, but it’s never before been easier to have an idea of what your state with the rest of the world is. i guess i wish i didn’t know how many people don’t give a shit. said the cranky pretend cynic who has had a long week.
It so many ways it’s helpful to get that instant feedback and in so many ways it is detrimental. I wish I could walk away, but I don’t think I will ever be able to.
It’s definitely not the blogging that makes you crazy
It’s not blogging
Seriously, though, it an be overdone, particularly if one is on F/B and has other blogs (yeah, plural) under their real name
But then I was nuts before the Internet
It’s Al Gore’s fault you have to put up with me
Then you’re the chicken and now the egg!
I was definitely obsessed with compulsively checking the stats on the tumblr I ran until recently. But I’ve always been neurotic or whatever, so I probs can’t blame that on the internet.
Good point. I’m a little neurotic ad anxious to begin with too…
I like the chicken and the egg metaphor. I agree (quite disappointingly, seeing as I have no mental health issues and therefore will never be brilliant, dammit) that sometimes it’s the depression that plagues the brilliant, and I’m just mediocre. I think SDL has written some things that went viral and readers (NON bloggers) latch onto that stuff. Bloggers can kind of see right through it. He doesn’t read or share other blogs, you don’t see him commenting in any parent blog communities, and he never interacts with anyone on twitter. I honestly think he’s a bit of an attention whore, and that’s where the whole “I think I need a break…” thing comes in. So he can get the validation from his readers that they want him back. Beta Dad and Dad Centric would do best to just let their annoyances go and focus on their own audiences.
ANYWAY…about your questions above: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. To make things worse, when the kids are being especially unruly and driving me crazy, I tend to retreat into my computer, which let’s face it — just makes things worse.
Thank you for sending me the Beta Dad link! Good insight to SDL. I hate to rip on other bloggers, but I agree with what you and Beta Dad are saying. I also agree that what’s the point in making those annoyances public tough? If one doesn’t like SDL, there is no point in ripping on the dude publicly. He may not be the best blogger, but he’s probably a nice dude.
So my life won’t have meaning if my blog becomes a hit? Aw, crap!
One of the things about being a blogger is that you’re putting yourself into the public eye… You’re opening yourself up to both affirmation and criticism. I think that if you’re not well rooted in yourself, this has the potential to make you come a little (or maybe a lot) unhinged…
You can see this manifest with small scale bloggers in the way they agonize over whether or not their latest blog post gets any comments… Sometimes people doubt their self worth over not receiving any feedback, there’s elation and excitement over receiving positive feedback, and if there’s negative feedback it could be soul crushing…
When you’re a big blogger, this is magnified by about 100,000x (or probably more). You’re every move is being either praised or criticized because you’re essentially a small celebrity. There’s a pressure for more, more, more… and there’s a risk of once false move causing a house of cards to fall… It’s a shit ton of pressure to be an Internet personality… and I think that’s especially true if that’s not what you necessarily set out to do.
Farmville. That shit drives me crazy!
otherwise, my blog gets blogged when I’m good and bloggin.
I don’t think so. Overthinking about anything or overdoing and failing can do that.