The Blogger’s Ego: The Necessary Narcissism of Writers, Actors, Musicians, and “Performers”

Is the stereotype true that bloggers are a bit narcissistic?  Well, not always.  It’s just true about the ones who are good at what they do.

If you go to Google right now and type in “bloggers are”, the first four phrases that pop up are “…not journalists”, “losers”, “annoying”, and “narcissists”.  Add to that, recently my arch nemesis/frenemy Ben Wilder (who within the past few months declined an invite to publicly wrestle me on YouTube) posted on my facebook wall, “Do you ever post status updates that aren’t blog posts? Seems like your ‘friends’ probably would like to be considered more than a number.”  (Actually, the links show up on my wall, but are not my status updates.)

That’s ironic for two obvious reasons: 1) He also has his own blog named Out of the Wildnerness which feeds into his facebook wall as well, and 2) The reason I don’t often post status updates other than links to my newest posts here on Scenic Route Snapshots is because these posts are my status updates.  To additionally regularly write status updates would, in my mind, truly put me in danger of being narcissistic.

According to Wikipedia, “Narcissism is the personality trait of egotismvanityconceit, or simple selfishness.”  Why do some see that word as an accurate way to describe bloggers?  Like actors and musicians (which unsurprisingly I’ve had my fair share of experience being both), a person who blogs, by the very nature of their hobby/career, must be wired to be “overaware” of their own life and their surroundings.  Socrates is one of the Greek philosophers credited for saying, “Know thyself”.  As for bloggers (along with actors and musicians), perhaps our motto is “Really, really, really know thyself and make sure everyone else does too”.  We have to; in order to be good at what we do so that our audience will find us intriguing, entertaining, believable, and simply relatable.  I can joke about myself being a tad narcissistic, but ultimately, contrasted against mainstream society, am I truly any more self-involved than the millions of other people on Twitter and facebook?

Would I make such an effort to write if I didn’t know that 600 to 1,000 people would be reading it everyday?  Yes, because I started with zero. Would I still write if I knew for a fact that no one at all would be reading it?  Of course not. Otherwise I would just write in a journal and hide it under my bed.  I’m the kind of person that has to have an audience in order to continue doing what I do.

And that is the reason why, that if we bloggers are perceived to be narcissistic, we are still encouraged to continue blogging.  Because despite some cartoonish criticism about our egos, we have an audience whose very presence tells us they appreciate and relate to our writing.  Our writing is based on our lives and essentially, our writing is our lives; though that sounds grammatically incorrect. Actually, bloggers are very similar to stand-up comics, only we are more like sit-down comics.

We assess the quirky situations and patterns around us and share those observations with an audience who hopefully will relate.  Good stand-up comics are funny and humorous in more of a “laugh out loud” kind of way.  Good bloggers are interesting and intriguing; but when they are funny, it’s more of a subtle “laugh quietly to self” kind of way.  Either way, the material that we sit-down comics and stand-up comics write is based on our actual lives.

Stand Up Comic

By blog readers clicking on our websites, they are essentially saying, “Here we are now, entertain us.” Who are we as blog writers to say no?   Even at the risk of being perceived as arrogant and self-centered; at least we have an excuse.

Do I personally think that I am narcissistic as a writer?  Compared to an Amish writer, sure.  But I do believe in the importance of balance in life.  I am very aware of my faults and shortcomings and I’m easily willing to admit them (especially as it makes great writing material); therefore, it’s okay to be very aware of what I am good at.  It doesn’t help that in virtually every post I embed it with several links to things I previously wrote.  Or that I have a “Featured In” page which lets everyone know where I am received the slightest amount of credibility.

We’re obviously living in the age of reality TV as we find much entertainment value in the lives of seemingly normal and “nonfamous” people. Sure, I specialize in writing about the department of “self”.  But the way I look at it, that means that readers are inclined to want to read about “self”.  They find enough of “themselves” in “myself” to relate.  It doesn’t have to be a “selfish” thing to “know thyself”.

So is the stereotype true that bloggers are a bit narcissistic? It took me 832 words to answer that question, so you tell me.