When I first started blogging - more than a year ago at Psychology Today, and three years ago at the Huffington Post - I never imagined that it would become one of my favorite things to do. But I do (mostly) love it. Let me count the ways.
I. I LOVE IT
1. I love the immediacy of it.
When the Atlantic magazine tells single women they should settle, when Susan Boyle becomes the new voice of the ever-single woman, when Ed Rendell claims that Janet Napolitano has no life because she's single, if I can set aside everything else, I can have a post online in a matter of hours. Singlism doesn't go unchallenged for long, and singles-enlightenment gets its due.
2. I love the grass-rootsiness of it.
When Singled Out was still just a proposal, plenty of publishing professionals said that singles don't want to read about anything other than how to find a date. As my friend Susan quipped, those are people with more power than insight. With blogging, we can create our own power. And we are. The number of people who are blogging and commenting about all sorts of aspects of single life - not just about dating - keeps growing and growing.
3. I love the opportunity to spotlight people who are not the usual faces and voices.
The MSM is sometimes saturated with all the usual sources. Turn on a televised political show, for example, and you can still see Mary Matalin and James Carville, Karl Rove and Tucker Carlson, yammering like they're still The Ones. You've probably never heard of many of the people I mention and interview in my blogs, and that also means you won't know their lines before they say them. You won't be able to predict their perspectives from the conventional wisdom, either.
4. I love what I learn from blogging.
For every person like me who has the great good fortune to blog at sites like Psychology Today and the Huffington Post, there are dozens more who have smart and insightful takes on the same topics I address. They post comments and sometimes email me; I listen and learn. Because I'm a blogger, I read more - more of other blogs, more MSM, more books. I've always been a big-time reader, but the opportunity to talk back, instantly and on the record, makes an always-tasty treat even more delectable.
5. I love the opportunity to correct the scientific record.
The popular press can't seem to get enough stories with the same bottom line - married people win! They are happier, healthier, smarter, sleep better...you name something desirable, and there's probably a story out there claiming that you can have that good thing too if only you'd wed. Typically, there is said to be scientific research at the heart of the claim. And typically, it is all bunk. (See, for example, here and here and here.) Now, with my blogging opportunities, I can take my decades of experience teaching graduate courses in research methods and my fancy PhD from Harvard and use them to dismantle the matrimania and make fun of the silliness of it all along the way.
6. What happens on my blogs does not stay on my blogs - I really love that.
Make a provocative point or a telling one, or just say something that resonates, and off it goes, bouncing around in emails and tweets and other people's blogs and the MSM. Sometimes it's a point of view that sashays away from its place in a post and finds a new home. It is so deeply satisfying when I read something elsewhere and think to myself, "that's just wrong," only to find that a familiar name from the comments sections of my blogs has already written a letter of dissent to the editor and gotten it published, or posted a singlism-shattering comment.
7. I love it that people actually read my blogs, and not just the usual suspects.
I never habituate to the joy of having other people introduce themselves to me by saying that they've read what I've written online. I've had it happen even in contexts that seem to have nothing to do with any of the topics I blog about. This is a wildly different experience than publishing in academic journals (which I also do).
8. I love the bad things that don't happen.
• By reputation, the blogosphere is the land of snark, snideness, and venom. I expected to be attacked and insulted as a matter of course. It happens, but far less frequently than I had anticipated. Sometimes, when nasty comments are posted, readers step up to defend me with their counter-comments. These defenders are mostly people I've never met and probably never will meet. Who would have guessed?
• My book, Singled Out, captures my passion about so many of the themes I address in my posts. It is my very first non-academic book. I want people to read it, even if they borrow it from a friend or a library instead of buying their own copy. So I link to it often. Rarely does anyone complain. I'm eternally grateful for that graciousness.
• I write mostly about single life. I don't write about dating. Ever. There's just too much about that everywhere else. I have no desire to add to the misperception that more than anything else, singles want to become unsingle. One of the nicest surprises of all is that none of my readers ever ask me to post about dating or spouse-seeking.
II. I LOVE IT NOT
Now, for a few of the things I don't love about blogging.
1. I don't love the speed of the blogosphere when it means that I miss my chance to weigh in.
Sometimes, by the time I can set aside my other projects and commitments and compose a post, the topic has passed me by. Everyone's moved on to the next intriguing thing. That's disappointing.
2. I don't love it when my posts vanish from the front page of Psychology Today or the Huffington Post in record time, or just get lost among the glut of others submitted at the same time.
Sure, they are still "out there" somewhere, but probably just fading into oblivion.
3. Blogging doesn't pay the bills.
If it did, I could make a career out of it.