Monday, August 17, 2009

State of the Blog at 300: Blogging and Happiosity


This is my 300th post! I was going to post the other day, but was struck by a need to make 300 significant. Well, it isn't. I have thought a lot about blogging, the blog, and the blogger, in no particular order, as of late. Partially to do with seeing Julie and Julia last week. The question I keep grappling with is who is the blog for? Me? My readers? Is it a money making machine (that's a big no as of now!)? Is it a fame-seeking machine (Another no as of now!)? As my friend Eric said when he started his blog "I see how easily they can become self-indulgent or just a monopolizer of free time." It's the self-indulgent part that's most concerned me.

When I had my first blog, back in 2003, I was even less clear of these questions. I just felt the need to HAVE one because it was the it thing. In Accordance With the Prophecy is still on the web, but not updated. It was kind of like a journal, which was of course, the original intent of blogs, and was very self-indulgent.

Now, they're like little publications, with advertising and everything. They propel their writers/owners into quasi-fame, and have people seeking this sense of approval from number of hits or whatever. I personally shudder every time I see someone purposely promote their blog within other blog comments. It's just creepy. (Not when there's really a point, but when people are clearly just looking to get their stats up for some reason...and that's the height of self-indulgence.)

I've seen blogs explode and take on a life of their own--like Apartment Therapy. When I first started reading it, I think in 2004,  it was only in what could be called its pre-pubescence. It definitely had a readership, but was relatively small, to the point that the comments section was like a little community. Now, not nearly as much--it's turned into a different animal. Not bad, just different.

I started this blog after reading my friend Kim's and seeing that it could really cultivate a mini virtual community where you could share interests with people from near and far. (Thanks, Kim!) Since then, I also connected with many fellow Apartment Therapy readers and others...which is really fun!

I was confronted somewhat with the question of who the blog is for when I was approached by email by a company offering for me to do a giveaway. I have no doubt they sell great stuff, and probably usually have more hits than misses in customer service, but seeing as I had one less than fantastic experience with an affiliated company, I declined. It conjured up feelings of approval seeking that many bloggers face--"this means someone loves me!" "I have to do this for my readers!" I totally sympathized with the Julie character in the movie...

What is prompting this posting now, aside from it being my 300th post, is that I have hit a mini third-life crisis (assuming I live to be 99). Anyone who knows me knows I have these about every 6 weeks, so it should not cause alarm. But, I just had this moment, sitting at my work computer, doing something I don't like, thinking "What do I do in my life that I like?" Answer: not a whole heck of a lot. I don't pretend that this is anything but a first-world concern. It's only because I can decide what I do with my life that I can worry about whether what I'm doing is the right thing. I just need to increase my happiosity.

Happiosity is what my economics professor in grad school referred to as happiness, or the currency in the economics equation. Essentially, humans are always striving to increase their happiosity. Silly, but somehow, this seemed fitting to express what I am looking for--more than happiness. This boils down to a few key life areas: job, personal life, free time...I expect to try to cover these in more depth at some point in a way that does not amount to sophisticated belly button gazing. The highlights for now:

  • Job--I used to actually give a care (wanted to use another non family friendly term here) about what I did. Don't get me wrong, I care about doing a good job, but my motivation now is external. The only happiosity I get is from my paycheck (the 80% of it I still get) and the motivation is not getting one or of getting approval from superiors/advancement (of which I get very little to none).

  • Personal life--I've gotten to the point in my life where I am meeting few new people, and the ones I do know and love are dropping like flies, by which I mean, they're getting caught up in other life committments. I have very good friends, that I love, but I need to continue to add to my social circles to give myself a full and happy life. This would also include the infamous "dating," though I've had never had anything in dating that approximates fun. It more closely approximates "pain" than "fun." It is just a lot harder than I think it needs to be! I'd love to have one date this year that doesn't have me wishing I were a lesbian or a gay man at the end of it. (Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want...)

  • Free Time/Avocations--I spend a great portion of my free time doing stuff that is not fun or that I don't increase my happiosity doing. There are pursuits I like and care about that I don't do. Why? I don't know, but I need to get to the bottom of that. I fill up my time with unfun tasks and TV watching, which as I've covered in this blog before, amounts to nothing more than self-medication/tranquilization. 

My mind turned to my blog when I thought of what interested really does contain all that which I find engaging. So, the very fact that I haven't been blogging lately is indication that I need to turn back to things that are meaningful for me.

So much for not navel gazing. I hope that this is interesting for you, my dear readers, to read as well as for me to write. This post has strayed into the "journal" a bit much, but I promise to have interesting posts that are not explicity about me, me, me, soon!

I included the above photo because sunflowers are so happy, don't you think? NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz, from here, which offers a plethora of wildflower info. Who knew!?


  1. As you know i love your blogs, 300th congrats. You really are very informative on your blogs and i see the writer in you always. Not everyone is 100% happy in their employment as i said before. Happiosity, I have learned a new word and for you I want your happiosity to increase because I naturally want your happiness and contentment with life, love, job, etc. I know i am prejudice as i should be, but you have so much to give and do so on a regular basis, you will find the happiosity you are looking for......Dolly

  2. Also, I just recently passed 300 posts too and I TOTALLY forgot to commemorate in any way! I love that you did so with a "state of the blog."

  3. First, I want to say that I enjoy reading navel-gazing posts from people who I think are interesting, so don't hold back. :) This was a great post, and not just because I learned a new word (happiosity). I definitely encourage you to pursue that happiosity, and if that includes more blogging, then know I am totally willing to help via *reading* said blog! :) Also, if that pursuit includes more sewing, let me know, I'd be glad to help in that regard as well! :) :)


Since you have great taste in blogs, I don't think I have to tell you to be nice to each other...and don't spam me. Thanks!