Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Blogger Ennui?

I have noticed something in this year of 2013, since at least late January. The blogosphere of religious readership is changing.

Readers who write to me have noticed this change as well. As a blogger since 2007, (early), I have noticed four things. Now, these are impressions and not professionally polled statistics, although I did do a poll on my blog last year on ages and education. Here are my points.

The blogosphere readership five years ago on religious blogs seemed to be college-age students who commented and young readership, especially converts. This level of education has not changed much. Over half of my readership are still either in university, have at least one university degree, or more. This group includes seminarians and singles and professionals..  Reading blogs is merely one way of gaining knowledge  as this group is use to doing  research and reading . These highly educated and intelligent people have been reading Catholic blogs for years, some tell me as early as 2003, the early days of blogging.  Their comments add to the blogosphere at a high level. Many have doctorates and masters degree. This educated group is my largest group of readers, according to my poll.

This number has been challenged by the new readerships.

Point two: new readers are "Joe Sixpack" guys and gals without degrees, who are very interested in the Faith, but have little formal training in religion. Many are married and have nice, big Catholic families, but are struggling with a lack of Catholic identity or culture in their geographic areas. They are isolated and use blogs for on line communities. They are not involved in careers relating to religion; some are in the military. Many are in their early fifties and late forties and therefore, in "Gen X". This group has very poor catechesis and use blogs to learn, as they are not necessarily readers, or scholars. Some are very active in their local churches; some suffer the lack of good pastors.

The third group are the young ones in their twenties and thirties who are highly skilled in getting information on line; read newspapers and periodicals on line (as I do) and use blogs as one additional means of information. Many are not Catholic, but interested and love the interplay of religion and politics, sensing the times. They are smart and savvy and want more information about a variety of topics. These young men and women are interesting, as they tell me, in discussion, that they read and do not comment. Many of those who read my blog fall into this category. They just do not want to make comments, but read the text.

However, the biggest change has been in the first group. Many of those who have been reading my blog and others who are educated in religious topics and very articulate are leaving off not only on my blog but others, even those with "names".

This is the group with blogging ennui. Some have written to me personally of the changes they have seen in the blogosphere-less intelligent commenting and commentators with a need other than knowledge. This first group is not interested in emoting on line.

Two groups-one needing knowledge and the other needing virtual community, have begun to clash on line.

This has nothing to do with specific hot topics, but with this fact: the on line smart ones do not need to vent or feel or seek affirmation on blogs. The first and third group seemed to be formed of smart and socially stable people.

The middle group lacks catechesis and are searching for a different type of religion than group one and three.

They want "friends" and use the blogs for virtual companionship. They are without the skills which help others sift through material quickly and easily. They are not necessarily on Facebook, like the younger ones.

They may not be interested in rational discourse at all.  I remember this type when I was teaching and coordinating RCIA (conservatively, mind you). These were the "feely" converts, not those coming in because they had read some of the Fathers of the Church. Sometimes, they could not articulate why they were interested in the Faith, and had to be helped to form an intellectual, adult response to Catholicism.

Many were coming from low-church, non-denominational backgrounds, God bless them.

Conclusion: bloggers, like myself, have to appeal, if we really take this ministry of Catholic blogging seriously, to these groupings. This is almost impossible, as bloggers reach out to a specific readership for the most part.

I try to appeal to all, but the first group is falling into ennui. I can see that. I have been told that.

I am saddened, as their comments helped me more than the others, as they could get into the conversation at a level which pushed the discussion.

Perhaps it is a generational thing-I think it is. The Baby Boomers, who had much better education than the Gen Xs, are simply getting fed up with the blogging thing. The Millenials, who are naturally on line, love blogs, but do not comment. This leaves the blogger to deal with the desparate needs of the middle group-catechesis and fellowship.

We bloggers have a task ahead of us to reach out to all, but especially be aware of a change in blogging readership. Have other bloggers noticed this change?

7 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, unabashed stereotyping! Really? how nice to have pegged everyone so easily.

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  2. I wonder if it's simply that more of us are spending more time on Twitter?

    Thinking earlier about your question, I realised that the higher the proportion of my time on line I spend on Twitter as opposed to Blogger, the less time overall I spend on the Internet, which is, on balance, a good thing, I think.

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  3. Colleen, this is based on a poll and comments, as well as conversations with bloggers. My poll results are on my blog.

    Ttony, yes twitter is good, especially for media types. Maybe blogging is fading slowly. It depends on what one is looking for on line, doesn't it?

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    Replies
    1. I looked on your two other blog sites and didn't find the poll, just one post where you wrote gen x women get most upset. Please leave the hyperlink or blog title. The poll sounds interesting.

      The fallacy I suspect is similar with staff reviews: those "like me" get rated higher. It doesn't seem logical the conclusions on education and catches is by generation distinction. I suspect sampling error as well as the "like me" fallacy at work interpreting the responses

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  4. No the poll was specifically education levels and then a second on on generations. I do not have time to look it up but you can using the search.

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  5. Silent millennial lurker about to chime in:

    Yup.

    I would have to agree with your observations, from my limited perspective as a college student who reads a lot of blogs. I tend to get frustrated in comboxes, because the people who get all riled up in there are not really the people who could ever have a change of heart based on something they read on the internet; not to say it can't happen, but it just doesn't ever seem to be a good idea to me to get on the internet and fight with random people.


    @Colleen, this is not necessarily intended to be an expansive census; it's merely a sense that one experience blogger has regarding her audience. It's not a sampling error because it's not a formal poll, and supertradmum doesn't pretend that it is.

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  6. Silent millennial lurker about to chime in:

    Yup.

    I would have to agree with your observations, from my limited perspective as a college student who reads a lot of blogs. I tend to get frustrated in comboxes, because the people who get all riled up in there are not really the people who could ever have a change of heart based on something they read on the internet; not to say it can't happen, but it just doesn't ever seem to be a good idea to me to get on the internet and fight with random people.


    @Colleen, this is not necessarily intended to be an expansive census; it's merely a sense that one experience blogger has regarding her audience. It's not a sampling error because it's not a formal poll, and supertradmum doesn't pretend that it is.

    ReplyDelete