Friday, September 23, 2011

I’m Selfish!

Last winter I participated in a survey coordinated through the Departments of Communication at the Universities of Arizona and Michigan State. The survey interested me because it was sent to 300 bloggers who write about their health issues. (I didn’t know there were 299 other crazy people out there) I was sent the executive summary of the study this week and found it interesting and thought provoking.

Summary of the Study

The study was set up in two parts. The first examined theself-analysis relationship between blogging about health and the social support from the blog readers. The researchers found the following:
  • “The frequency that bloggers posted was consequential. The more posts bloggers made per week in the six weeks prior to completing the questionnaire, the more they believed they received support from readers.
  • The consistency of reader comments was important. Bloggers with a greater proportion of posts with at least one comment believed that they received more support from readers.
  • The support received from blog readers was influential. The more bloggers believed they received support from readers, the more bloggers felt they could positively impact their own health.
  • For those bloggers who believed they did not receive much support from family and friends, support from readers was especially beneficial.”
The second survey was seven weeks later. This survey’s results showed that writing about health can be therapeutic and then examined what benefits were derived from the blogger writing about their health. It found that the types of words used by bloggers affected the blogger’s perception of their health.
  • “Use of “insight” words (meaning words like “understand” and “realize”) were associated with a reduction in the uncertainty bloggers felt about their health. Use of insight words indicates that one is making sense of or gaining insight into an experience.
  • For those bloggers who made more frequent posts per week, compared to those who posted less frequently, the use of “insight” words was associated with increased perceptions that life has meaning.
  • Bloggers’ use of words that reflect negative emotions were associated with words that reflect both positive and negative emotions in reader comments.”
The researchers then summarized their findings. “Across the two studies, the findings appear to suggest that bloggers who write about their experiences with health conditions can obtain benefits, such as increased feelings of support and decreased uncertainty about health. ... we believe that blogging about health has the potential to be a valuable and rewarding experience.”


When I first took the survey, it gave me an opportunity to reflect upon (better understand) why I blog. What was I trying to accomplish?
  • Was I being selfish and looking for support?
  • Did I feel I could impact others by writing about my experiences and understandings of living with Kennedy’s Disease?
  • Was I trying to reach another audience?
For some time I have felt that writing this blog three times a week kept me from being a more serious writer (short stories and my novel). I find it difficult to switch gears. When I write I like to get into character (imagine living the lives of the antagonist and protagonist). I also used the blog as my excuse for not starting the rewrite of my book.

If this was true, then why did I continue to blog?

The ugly truth was that I am a little selfish.
  • I love feedback ... both positive and negative. It tells meselfish someone read my blog and felt compelled to comment about the topic or my perspective.
  • The more feedback I receive the more inspired I am.
  • I like to know that I in some way helped others.
I also found that the more feedback I received ...
  • The more I wanted to write (it was my inspiration).
  • The more subjects I wanted to tackle.
  • The more I felt I could help others to cope with this ugly disease.
I guess my reasons aren’t all bad, but this self-examination was an eye-opener.

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