Brian LePort has been taking a look at the pros and cons of blogging as a student. In his latest post, he explores the idea that blogging can actually hinder the possibility of getting into PhD programs, or, in the case of professors, of getting tenure. Anything we do online is open to scrutiny, whether it be from potential employers or schools.
I think part of comes down to the motivation behind the blog. Do you blog as a means of self-promotion? Do you blog as a way to gripe and complain about your program? Do you blog because you are opinionated and have to comment on absolutely everything? Or is the blog a way to build community, practice writing and enter into a wider discussion?
I started blogging when I moved to Caronport as a way to connect with other people. We moved here in the middle of winter when everybody hibernates and it was really hard making friends, especially as an introvert. Blogging became a way to dialogue with people who shared similar interests related to theology, Christianity, and geek culture.
I continued to blog because it also helped improve my writing. I (slowly) learned how to get to the “point” in less than 500 words. I learned to come at an issue or idea from a variety of angles, and I learned how to nuance my thoughts so that I was not reacting out of emotion in an attempt to be the first to comment (which is a very real danger in the blogosphere). All of this has improved my writing “offline.”
And I have made some very interesting friends and contacts. It was because of the blog that I was able to meet people at last fall’s ETS conference instead of wandering from session to session without interacting with anyone. Blogging has also helped my “real life” friendships, as blogging has introduced my “real life” friends to sides of me that they may not see otherwise (again due in part to my introversion) and several of my posts have sparked interesting discussions between fellow students.
Should I have done it all anonymously? I don’t know. I did briefly blog anonymously as part of the great blog experiment, but I find that blogging openly holds me accountable. I have to own my words and be willing to stand behind them, or apologize for them if I get it wrong.
I also know that I have greatly benefited from the blogs of other seminary students. Being able to see their journeys, their struggles and their passions have been a great encouragement. And it has been amazing to see tenured professors come alongside these young students and mentor them, be it with a brief word in the comment section or in highlighting the student’s reflection on their blog.