Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blogging as a behavioural addiction

There are no deadlines to meet in running a blogsite that are not self-imposed. One does not need to post every day or, indeed, do anything that that doesn't yield pleasure. It would be unrealistic to suppose that running a blog does not have its addictive aspects – getting lots of people to visit your site and reading lots of comments boosts your ego – but blogging remains (or should be) a self-centered, pleasure-driven activity.

Well-known and very active (and able) bloggers Skepticlawyer and Mark Bahnisch have pulled the plug and publicly announced various degrees of self-imposed exclusion from future blogging. But, in my view, their basic argument – that they have enormous workload commitments – would suggest a case for cutting back on post numbers and size rather than exiting. They are both members of team blogs so the blog itself will survive even if they slow down.

Sir Arthur Casingbroke at LP made an astute remark regarding the publicly-announced resignations:
‘Making a public statement like that Mark makes me think of smokers and substance abusers who announce they are giving up to improve their chances of kicking the habit; fear of public exposure of breaking one’s undertaking being an instrument to help one to stay away.
I agree but the ‘reduced pace’ approach is more sensible and it’s that I’ll take whenever work pressures get to me – cut-back and take a break rather than quit. Sir Arthur is implying that blogging is an addictive compulsion. The self-exclusion idea is a type of person rule or pre-commitment these bloggers are employing because they believe they lack self-control. Other effective personal rules in this situation are to limit blogging time to 30 minutes per day or to only blog twice a week. A really effective commitment device would be to offer to pay a substantial donation (say $10,000) to your worst enemy in the blogosphere should either party relapse and break their ‘no blogging’ commitment.

If blogging is a behavioural addiction we can expect blogging relapses perhaps under pseudonyms – in my relatively short-time in the blogging community I have seen several of these. We can also expect substitution towards other forms of self-expression such as writing and speaking. SL and MB have indicated that such substitutions are on the cards.

Do we need an ex-blogger treatment clinics where sufferers can dry out? Surely no need for lobotomies?


Corey B. said...

Funny... I just deployed a new website for people with addictions. It is an online support group. I wonder how that works if you are a blogger addict! Visit this site:

Anonymous said...

Think that you are right about their being a compulsion about blogging Harry. I have been doing it for about a year and a half and when we go away and I know I won't be able to get near computer for a while I just about get the DT's !!
Likewise what you say about a group blog being able to sustain a decline in output from one member is very true.
Any way glad to have discovered your blog and I will have a look around.
Best wishes
Iain Hall