An article I thought my bloggie peeps may find intriguing...
Blogging's Good For Your Health
Claudine Ryan, ABC Science Online
March 3, 2008 -- Blogging can help you feel less isolated, more connected to a community and more satisfied with your friendships, both online and face-to-face, new research has found.
The research, from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, found after two months of regular blogging, people felt they had better social support and friendship networks than those who didn't blog.
Researchers James Baker and Susan Moore have written two papers investigating the psychological benefits of blogging and regularly updating personal Web pages with information that invites others to comment.
The first, published in the latest issue of the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior, compares the mental health of people intending to blog with that of people not planning to blog.
Moore says the researchers messaged 600 MySpace users personally and directed them to an online survey. A total of 134 completed the questionnaire; 84 intended to blog and 50 didn't.
"We found potential bloggers were less satisfied with their friendships and they felt less socially integrated, they didn't feel as much part of a community as the people who weren't interested in blogging ... they were also more likely to use venting or expressing your emotions as a way of coping," Moore said.
"It was as if they were saying 'I'm going to do this blogging and it's going to help me'."
And it seemed to do the trick, as the researchers' second study shows.
This study, which is yet to be published, was conducted two months later. The researchers sent out questionnaires to the same group of MySpace users; this time 59 responded. Bloggers reported a greater sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people and feeling more confident they could rely on others for help.
All respondents, whether or not they blogged, reported feeling less anxious, depressed and stressed after two months of online social networking.
"So going onto MySpace had lifted the mood of all participants in some way," Moore says. "Maybe they'd just made more social connections."
Moore acknowledges this is early research and hopes to follow a larger group of people for a longer period time to test some of the research findings.
Okay, so maybe not the best designed of studies (pssssh, myspace blogs? So 2005!). However, I do find it interesting when a subculture, such as this one, becomes a formally recognized as worthy of research. I also am fascinated by the effects of technology on our culture and psychology-- for instance, I previously pondered the connotations of Facebook taking away the experience of losing touch with people, an experience I would argue is a reasonably vital part of the transition to adulthood.
These findings actually mesh really well with research showing significant psychological and health benefits of writing about one's secrets, even if no one will ever read them (by Jamie Pennebaker, if anyone's interested). It seems to be an interesting combination of catharsis and gaining insight-- which seems fitting for this particular endeavour we are all engaged in, doesn't it?
And, yes, apparently my geekyness has officially seeped beyond all walls supposed to contain it. That's what overwork will do to you, I guess. I've forgotten how to even pretend to be cool.
Thankfully, I'm in a slight pause at the moment, sort of a brief stop on a boulder in the midst of a rushing river. I will try to come visit your sides of the world soon, I promise, before the currents rush to sweep me off again!