My Bloggernacle Honeymoon is Over

My bloggernacle honeymoon is over, and I find myself wondering if I have made the right choice in participating here. But just because the honeymoon is over, it does not necessarily mean I want a divorce. But I find myself evaluating the choice that I made.

I do not think I am feeling sorry for myself, and I am not using this to fish for any flattery or compliments. I am simply wanting to asses the value of this experience overall. There have been a few individuals express a similar feeling in recent days which has caused me to think about this even more. I imagine this happens quite often on the bloggernacle, with new ‘converts’ considering going ‘inactive’ after only a few weeks or months. I hope this does not cause to many to roll there eyes saying ‘not again’. Judging by the mammoth amount of comments my posts usually generate I imagine the sound of crickets in the distance being the most likely result. Again I don’t think I am feeling sorry for myself, just evaluating.

I first sought out ‘mormon doctrine discussion’ on a yahoo search, and after sorting through a lot of anti stuff came across the New Cool Thang. I did this search because I was bored with the church curriculum, the Ensign, and most conference talks. I did not disagree with anything I heard, I just wanted to think a little more deeply about the gospel than I was. Reading some of GeoffJ’s stuff really got me excited. This lead me to the MA. I found out that a friend of mine in my home ward cruised the bloggernacle as ‘The Narrator’ and had a blog called Traveling Shoes. He showed me how easy it was to start your own blog on blogger.com. I made a few posts and requested to be included on the MA. To my great surprise I was accepted. That day was one of the most exciting days I have had for years. I really thought I had made it! It makes me chuckle a little thinking about it.

In comparison to most of the members in my home ward I thought of myself as a bit of a liberal loose cannon, and I looked forward to a more open discussion of doctrinal topics. Imagine my surprise when after a while I found that compared with many on the bloggernacle I am a very strict, conservative, by-the-book guy. Instead of making wild speculative posts, I found myself making safe, simple, feel-good posts. Probably a little like a poorly written Ensign article. Or maybe more likely the New Era or Children’s Friend :). Perhaps every bit as boring as what I thought I was trying to get away from.

I feel that I have benefited from my involvement here. This experience has turned me to the scriptures, and prayer, and thought more than I had in the past. But often in an indirect way. At times it was to counteract the posts and comments I came across, not inspired by them. Often my testimony was strengthened because of what I viewed as obvious ‘wrongs’ expressed on the bloggernacle that I felt I knew were ‘wrong’. I sometimes like reading anti-Mormon stuff because it is usually so lame that it strengthens my testimony.

This is not to say that there are not positive and valuable posts and comments here. There have been times when I have been inspired, and uplifted, and improved by what I have read. Unfortunately these times are more rare than I would like. And I wonder if the time spent sorting through the rest is worth it.

I also wonder about the value of my contribution. I feel a little like an island in an archipelago that perhaps doesn’t need much of a name. And that my value here could be measured by the amount that the ocean rises when I make a fist and stick it in. And that if I were to close up shop, the level that the water lowers when I remove my fist from the ocean would roughly be how much I would be missed. Again, I am not shedding any tears here, just trying to evaluate the value of my contribution that I esteem as slight. I sometimes flatter myself to think that perhaps the MA needs as many ‘true believers’ as it can get to provide a balance. But if what members wanted was simple ‘true believer’ stuff they could get that from the Ensign. Why would they come here? Perhaps for an interactive version? I don’t know.

I am seeking inspiration, understanding, enlightenment, self-improvement and ultimately eternal life. I am a true believer in the Church. Would a person like me be better off spending their spare time somewhere else? Is there more value at the bloggernacle than I am giving it credit for? Have I done any good in the cyber-world today? Is there ways to make my experience here more worthwhile?

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23 Responses to “My Bloggernacle Honeymoon is Over”


  1. 1 RoastedTomatoes January 30, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Eric,

    Speaking as one believer to another, the world does need our voices. The LDS blog world is different from the institutional church; there’s no authoritative voice here and less risk of detracting from a holy moment, and so all of the things that people might choose to simply disregard in church will become conversations here. But there’s sacredness in really coming to communicate with each other about the church, our community, and God. That’s what I find important about this place.

  2. 2 Geoff J January 30, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Hehe. Welcome to our world Eric. Running a blog and writing posts is a lot harder than commenting I’ve discovered. But then again, it is often other peoples lame opinions in their posts that spur my posts to begin with ;-).

    Anyway, the only thing I am bummed about is that when two of my favorite commenters at the Thang (you and C Jones) started there own blogs they stopped coming around the Thang as much.

    Now the next question is who is a true believer and who isn’t? I certainly think I am, but maybe others will think I’m not because of some doctrinal preferences I have picked up. (I posted on this question of determining orthodoxy here.)

    Anyway, I don’t know what to tell you. I have been feeling some ‘nacle burnout lately too. (Too many naive sheep that think inviting wolves to their blog will be fun. As a self-proclaimed ‘nacle shepherd this stuff totally stresses me out. Maybe I’ll post on it.) You are right that life will go on without your blog. And if you have nothing to post about that is ok too. But I do think the community is better for having faithful Mormons like you in it.

  3. 3 J. Stapley January 30, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Eric, count me as another cheerleader. I have apreciated your posts. When I first started bloging (before ldsblogs) traffic was pretty sparse, but I found that I wasn’t writing for other people anymore (though the feedback was thrilling). Once I started writing for me, I began to enjoy the process alot more. I also took some time off when I needed it.

    It is true that basic truths of the gospel won’t spur much discussion, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need it and that you can’t offer new insights.

    Some of the posts I’ve worked the hardest on and that mean the most to me stand with the fewest comments.

    I hope you will stick around.

  4. 4 C Jones January 30, 2006 at 11:28 pm

    Eric- It looks like we are pretty much on the same page- my expectations and hopes for a little more gospel depth have only left me feeling in over my head. I’m still evaluating how I feel about spending time on the bloggernacle, but a few pluses I’ve come up with so far are-
    -The gospel has always been in my everyday thoughts, but I think about things more, and maybe even in more complex ways
    -Putting my own thoughts in writing, whether on my own blog or in a comment forces me to work harder to figure out and then articulate what I really think
    -My eyes have been opened to a lot of perspectives that it would just be impossible to find among the people I know personally. I hope that will help me be a little more compassionate.
    -There have been some really beautiful, inspiring, faithful posts that have made a difference to me.
    As for the rest, you gave me some good advice!
    “I think your frustration may actually be a good thing – knowing what adds value to the gospel and what does not. Things that increase testimony, feelings of the spirit, prayer, gratitude, real understanding, etc. are valuable. Things that lead away from this type of stuff are not. Keep the good stuff you find and put it in you book (even your book of life) and discard the rest.”
    I hope you continue to write here. Don’t worry too much about few comments, I think a lot of people only comment when the don’t agree with you…

  5. 5 Tim Jacob January 30, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Hey Eric,

    I started my own blog as well a few months ago with grand dreams, etc. I never made it past my first post, which was my intro., and now, I’m not so sure if I’ll continue. After discovering the ‘Nacle about six months ago, in a very similar way to yours, some of the luster was worn off.

    Still, I wonder if some of us frequent commenters who don’t necessarily have a home, or have one that is not too frequently visited, should band together and possibly form a group blog? Just an idea I’ve been toying with.

  6. 6 Steven B January 31, 2006 at 3:15 am

    Eric,
    In your “small and simple” way you have made a contribution to the bloggernacle community. Lives have been touched. Your voice has enriched the dialogue. Whatever you choose to do in the future, your time has been well spent. Thank you.

  7. 7 Eric Russell January 31, 2006 at 5:56 am

    It’s funny, my experience was very much the same in terms of identity. In my BYU world I was often the edgy, liberal one. I read Sunstone (didn’t agree with half of it), but the very fact that I was the type of person that would even look at it and talked with people about those kinds of issues made me borderline in ways. All such self-identifications quickly crashed upon entering the bloggernacle, where I soon came to see myself as a hardline conventional. So now, when I’m among those old BYU folks, it’s this weird kind of identity crises.

    Anyway, I say just take a break. Traditional blogs are such that you have to keep content regular if you want regular readers, but because of the MA, you could go a month without posting, and people will still see your headline when you do post. I think burnout occurs when you pressure yourself to commit a certain amount of time or energy.

  8. 8 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:27 am

    Thank you all for the kind comments. I was not looking to create a pity party. Sometimes when I post I feel like a blind man speaking for the first time in sacrament meeting, and wondering if anyone is in the audience besides the two screaming babies. (No this is not an insult to people who comment here). It is nice to know someone is out there.

    I am going to continue blogging here, but probably at a lesser pace. I will also address individual comments here.

  9. 9 Moggett January 31, 2006 at 8:29 am

    Hey Eric,

    If you need a break, take one. And write for yourself. Far more people read these things than reply.

    Your voice is a sound one. Don’t let it go silent for too long.

  10. 10 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:33 am

    roasted, GeoffJ and J.

    Thank you very much for your supportive words. You guys are the ones who seem to hold this place together for me. There is a strange balance here, if you want comments you need to be controversial, but controversy can bring people down. If you avoid controversy you wonder if you are relevent.

  11. 11 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:35 am

    CJones:

    Thanks again. Sometimes we have to take our own advice. This place does provide unique interactions that you can’t get anywhere else.

  12. 12 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:38 am

    tim jacob:

    I have started wondering about a group blog but do not know where to start. I would be glad to join a group blog but would be selective about it. If there was a group blog started that was staffed by true believers who had the goal of inspiring, uplifting, gaining understanding, etc. I would be glad to be part of such a group.

  13. 13 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:40 am

    mahmnahvu:

    I have to look twice each time I spell your name.

    I am pleased that you feel that I have been a positive influence, thank you for letting me know.

  14. 14 Eric Nielson January 31, 2006 at 8:41 am

    The other eric:

    A break is a good idea.

  15. 15 Rusty January 31, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Keep blogging man. Many are the readers, few are the commenters. And I’d have to agree with Stapley, some of my most thoughtful posts are the least commented while my throw-away ideas get tons of comments (my last post).

    And as much controversy as some of my posts have created, I don’t like controversy very much. One of the reasons I’ve loved Silus Grok’s series (being gay and faithful) at my blog is because most of the commenters have been very respectful and have done a good job of avoiding controversy. (my post was the controversial one)

    Anyway, I say “blog on!”

  16. 16 Ariel February 1, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    “if what members wanted was simple ‘true believer’ stuff they could get that from the Ensign. Why would they come here? Perhaps for an interactive version?”

    Uhh, yes. And also because I also lean a bit liberal, and it’s nice to be able to talk to others who are like me. They’re rare here in mormon-ville, and we’re usually labeled as apostates.

    Case in point: A friend’s mother was lecturing me about the evils of the internet and said she was looking for something and found a “terrible website” that was “deceptively” called Millenial Star, and it was full of “those Sunstone apostates.” I had to try very hard not to laugh, but seriously, that’s how anyone remotely liberal is viewed in this area.

    I appreciate your blog because you’re a believer who isn’t afraid to share his opinion, and because there is a “comments” section. The Ensign doesn’t have that, and besides, I run out of Ensign too quickly. I’m a fast reader, so it doesn’t last all month, and I have to get my LDS literature fix somewhere. 🙂

  17. 17 NFlanders February 1, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Ooooh, that is too funny, Ariel. You just made my day!

  18. 18 Naiah Earhart February 11, 2006 at 1:53 am

    I’ve had some similar feelings, of late–the ‘nacle can have a touch of a contentious flavor with a dash of rebellion thrown in for spice, but I’ve been actively looking for sites to uplift, to challenge in positive ways, and I’m beginning to pick them out. I hope you stick with it. I find your voice very readable, and look forward to more from you.

    I’m sure you two will work it out, with time and counseling. Just think of the children. *tee hee hee*

  19. 19 Naiah Earhart February 11, 2006 at 1:55 am

    Sorry, meant to say “that uplift…” not “to.” I’m not sure how much I could uplift your site, even if I tried.

    🙂

  20. 20 Stephen February 11, 2006 at 5:53 am

    This experience has turned me to the scriptures, and prayer, and thought which is always good.

    The problem with blogging is that it is a time sink. As the bloggernacle grows, some people will move on, others will get lost.

    I write for a very small group who mostly come to my blog from my website. But the group is important to me.

    But I enjoy the bloggernacle, when I have time. 😉

  21. 21 Eric Nielson February 11, 2006 at 8:40 am

    Naiah:

    Again, thanks for your comments I am quite flattered.

    Stephen:

    You are right about the time sink. I am trying to be a little more discriminating about what sites I visit and what I read.

  22. 22 Stephen February 26, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Eric,

    for what it is worth, one thing I try to do is to only visit those websites that are on my link list (I know, I fail, I’m here now, after all).

    I find that helps me control my time on line, at least a little.

    You may want to try something similar.

  23. 23 My Kids View August 16, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.


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