I became interested in the Internet through researching ideas which is what I do even without the Internet, but the Internet has made it much easier and more enjoyable. The first topic I web-searched to a great degree (by which I mean obsessively) was Tarot which led me to MBTI. I was only vaguely familiar with MBTI and was happy to learn more about it as I was already deeply interested in Carl Jung’s ideas.
This search for info led me to an INFP discussion forum (INFP is my MBTI personality type). It was utterly amazing because it was a large group of people who had a similar way of thinking and communicating, but it kind of spoiled me for more general forums I’d later join. I had some truly awesome discussions there, but some of the members I interacted with on a regular basis ended up moving on. I came to learn how informal web relationships are. Most people don’t really want to connect. I do want to connect, but when someone asked if I’d like to meet in person I realized I had my limits on how much I wanted to connect as well. I’m somewhat of a loner and am contented with my few close real-world relationships. However, I look for something different in my on-line friendships that my everyday relationships can’t satisfy.
Anyways, the INFP forum and other MBTI-related forums were just too specific. My mind wanders and my intellectual hunger wasn’t being sated. I went looking around. I’ve since belonged to many forums: Beliefnet, Truth Be Known, some Integral Theory forums, and various Atheist/Agnostic forums. I realized no single group would satisfy and groups took too much effort and time for what usually turned out to be too little benefit. I started considering blogs as I really just wanted a format to express myself without constantly worrying about what others thought. I first tried My Opera because the only blog I was following at the time (Quentin S. Crisp’s Directory of Lost Causes) happened to be there, but I quickly realized that it had too many foreign language blogs for my taste.
I wanted to still be able to connect with people to an extent, and so I looked for places that offered blogging services along with social networking. At first, I considered Ning because I already belonged to some groups there. The problem I saw with Ning is that blogs seemed pretty isolated there. There really weren’t too many other options that fit what I was looking for, but I kept looking and comparing. I was also worried about newer start-ups that might not stick around and so I was trying to determine sites that had been around for years. I finally settled on Gaia.com. It had a good balance. I was initially attracted to the fact that it had a very active Integral community. I did enjoy it quite a bit and participated regularly in one of the groups. I met some nice people and it was there that I developed my blogging abilities. After awhile, though, it too felt confining. It was really a site dedicated to people wanting to improve the world. I have nothing against improving the world, but it really isn’t the reason I spend my time on-line and definitely not what I blog about for the most part. Besides, the cynical side of my personality really grated with the large number of New Age types there.
So, I decided that I just wasn’t going to find a community of people who were similar to me. My interests are just too diverse. It was an amazing experience whenever I met a person who shared even a small percentage of the same interests, but that happened too rarely. I was just tired of trying to connect with others.
I turned to sites that simply specialized in blogging. I decided to instead use the blogging platforms themselves as the standard of my decision instead of anything to do with social networking. I now was simply looking for an easy way to post my writings that gave me enough options to play around and personalize my blog. I looked back at My Opera and checked out my old Live Journal account, but I mostly focused on Blogger and Word Press. I posted the same thing on all of these blogs and compared their specific functions. I did that for several months and Word Press won. That is the story of how I ended up here.
However, I still crave discussion. I wish more people would comment and I wish the people who comment would return a second time. A single comment a discussion does not make. I’m not trying to drive traffic to my blog because I’m not trying to make money or anything. I just figure there has to be other people like me with similar interests, and at least a few of them would be interested in discussion. I don’t know if such people are fewer than I imagine or if it’s that they’re unlikely to find my blog for whatever reason. As far as I can tell, my posts often come up in search results and I definitely show up in Word Press listings. People visit my blog on a daily basis, but why do so few leave a comment?
I suspect most people aren’t interested in discussion and especially not of the deep intellectual variety. Even other deep intellectual types don’t seem all that interested in discussion. Most people seem content to do their own thing in their own blog. The people who seek out places to comment are often spammers and trolls. It depresses me a bit. I comment in other people’s blogs all of the time, but it doesn’t usually lead anywhere. Most bloggers don’t respond back and certainly don’t try to connect in any way such as commenting in my blog in return. This is partly explained by the statistics. I was reading that 96% of bloggers haven’t posted in the last 4 months.
Partly to satisfy my need for discussion, I’ve been commenting in the online version of my local paper. That is somewhat more satisfying as I actually know some of the people commenting and the subject matter is a bit more personally relevant. However, I’m not much of a news junky and so I just enjoy the interaction and I even partially enjoy the stupid debate. There are a couple of intelligent posters which comes close to offseting all of the opinionated ignorance.
I did recently connect with some fellow bloggers here on Word Press. I’m feeling inspired to make my blog more interesting and new-person-friendly. I wrote up an extensive ‘About’ page, a ‘Favorite Posts’ page, and finally got around to adding the blogs I visit to my blogroll. I was thinking I should clean up my categories because they’re a bit of a jumble. Also, my theme is rather mundane. I picked it for practical reasons as I liked the way it was set up, but I should look at other options again. If I ever feel extraordinarily motivated, I might add a picture to my banner. It was only recently that I even got around to adding the icon of my kitty. It sure is a lot of work. If I was a motivated person, I’d probably be doing something in the real world rather than blogging. lol
To further break out of my isolated slump, I joined Technorati and Blog Catalog. I’ll see how that turns out. I doubt it will make much difference. Blog Catalog looks like it could potentially be a place to connect, but there is a lot of crap to wade through.
I’m happy to have a blog anyways with or without regular discussion. I used to journal which got boring after a decade of being my own audience. Blogging forces me to be more thorough and careful in my thinking process. It’s good practice to have something that motivates me to write on a regular basis. I enjoy writing and that is the important part.