Writing as catharsis: A case for self-indulgent blogging


This would be an uncomfortable way to blog.

It’s been a long time since I posted on my blog.  I became quite conflicted as I wondered why on earth I was publishing to the web and what the purpose of keeping a public sandbox for my thoughts even was in the first place.

Undoubtedly it’s self-aggrandising to do as the social media people do – give yourself a fancy ‘job’ title and pick a subject on which to proclaim yourself a specialist – but that wasn’t really my thing.  I never claimed to be an expert and have never written in expectation that anyone would actually read my thoughts anyway.

So why was I spending time blogging?

To answer, I had to be without.  At first I was writing for other websites, to do with my business or to help out with someone else’s, and so I had an outlet for the part of my brain that’s constantly forming sentences which have too many words and clauses to be used verbally.  But having less of that recently I’ve noticed some strange things happening.

Firstly, I’ve started spouting half-baked and comedically-intended social theory to anyone who’s nearby, whether they want to receive it or not.  Only today I came up with a theory that links socio-economic group with how aggressive you sound when shouting (inverse proportionality, in case you’re wondering.  Blue collar is angrier-sounding, and posher less so, even with the exact same words.  Hey it’s only a theory).  Instead of doing the decent thing and getting that out on my blog, which in a meta-blogging way I am now doing/have done, I unleashed my theory on a baffled and sceptical friend.  It’s not a serious theory.  Everyone knows that it’s teeth that are the real indicator of class.

Secondly, I’ve been posting longer and longer ‘witty observations’ on Facebook.  Extended prose is not really suited to a site where the most posted status update of 2010 was “HMU”.

It’s clear I’ve needed an outlet, and I bet other people do to.

It’s easy to look down your nose at web-obsessed social media junkies who live out their every moment online.  And you probably should.  They’re weird.  But what about someone who just wants to exercise their writing muscles or empty a few tangled thoughts out of their brain, so their daily communication is a bit less scatty?  If catharsis is “cleansing”, then writing as catharsis is basically cleaning my head out of whatever’s festering up there.  It really doesn’t matter whether anyone reads it or not – though it would be ideal if anyone who did found it at least partially enjoyable.

So yes – blogging generally is highly self indulgent.  But not necessarily in the way you think.  It might not be someone talking themselves up, or trying to expand their advertising revenue (I’m looking at you, Adam Piplica!), or a sign of a pitiable lack of social connections in the meat world.  It could just be self indulgent in the same way that watching TV is, or a glass of red after work is; it could just be a way to relax.

Image: Just2shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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