web analytics

This past week, I was contacted by a reporter from the Stockton Record. She interviewed me for a story about women here in California’s Central Valley who blog. She has also spoken with women in nearby Modesto and Stockton.

Among the questions she asked me: “How did you get started blogging? Why do you blog?” There is an ongoing dialogue about the “why” of blogging. In recent days, I’ve found myself considering that question again, but not only because of that interview.

The New York Times recently examined the plight of professional bloggers, reporting that two have died in the past few months and a third survived a December 2007 heart attack.

Is blogging for a living a new source of work-related maladies and associated claims for medical and other benefits?

Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch is quoted as having concluded that his work-at-home blogging lifestyle is “not sustainable.” He claims that blogging has caused him to gain thirty pounds in three years, develop a severe sleep disorder, and convert his home into an office accommodating four employees, the tacit implication being that the convergence of his home and business lives has been unsettling, at a minimum.

As I told the Record’s reporter, I blog strictly for enjoyment, stress release, insomnia. I have fun reading the work of other bloggers, studying their blog themes and templates for ideas about how to tweak mine, and thoroughly enjoy writing about topics unrelated to the issues I deal with in the course of earning a living. Those who choose to abandon traditional employment in favor of generating sufficient income to support themselves by blogging face the same issues vis a vis technology as those of us who toil in the corporate world or government, but the dangers are magnified, perhaps exponentially.

Even at established companies, the Internet has changed the nature of work, allowing people to set up virtual offices and work from anywhere at any time. That flexibility has a downside, in that workers are always a click away from the burdens of the office. For obsessive information workers, that can mean never leaving the house.

One of the biggest challenges is the 24/7 nature of the Internet and, hence, requirement that bloggers be perpetually available to write about and aware of recent news items and technological developments. Arrington says, “There’s no time ever — including when you’re sleeping — when you’re not worried about missing a story.”

A colleague recently told me about his Hawaiian vacation. Holding up his Blackberry — identical to mine — he said, “Hey, did you know that these work in Hawaii?” I chuckled and replied, “Well, mine worked in New York City last year. I left it in my hotel room during the day, but checked my office email each night when I returned from sightseeing, Broadway shows, etc. I absolutely refused to carry that thing around New York with me.”

“Well, when we got off the plane in Honolulu,” he continued, “I turned it back on and then told my wife, ‘Look, honey, it works here!’ Do you know what she said to me?”

“I have a pretty good idea, but tell me,” I responded.

“She said, ‘if you don’t turn it back off, you’re going to find out if it works from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.'”

We both laughed, but the point was clear: At some point, we all need to disconnect, relax, rest, and allow our minds to be refreshed.

How many years do you think these men will be able to maintain their lifestyles without suffering at least minor adverse impacts?

Matt Buchanan, 22, . . . works for clicks for Gizmodo, a popular Gawker Media site that publishes news about gadgets. Mr. Buchanan lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn, where his bedroom doubles as his office.

He says he sleeps about five hours a night and often does not have time to eat proper meals. But he does stay fueled — by regularly consuming a protein supplement mixed into coffee.

But make no mistake: Mr. Buchanan, a recent graduate of New York University, loves his job. He said he gets paid to write (he will not say how much) while interacting with readers in a global conversation about the latest and greatest products.

“The fact I have a few thousand people a day reading what I write — that’s kind of cool,” he said. And, yes, it is exhausting. Sometimes, he said, “I just want to lie down.”

Sometimes he does rest, inadvertently, falling asleep at the computer.

“If I don’t hear from him, I’ll think: Matt’s passed out again,” said Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo. “It’s happened four or five times.”

Mr. Lam, who as a manager has a substantially larger income, works even harder. He is known to pull all-nighters at his own home office in San Francisco — hours spent trying to keep his site organized and competitive.

Lam is praised for encouraging his blogging staff to “take breaks, even vacations.” What a great guy!

For the record, my Blackberry is programmed to automatically turn off at 11:00 p.m. each night and come back on at 7:00 a.m. If someone just has to reach me during those hours when it is powered down, they can do so the reliable, old-fashioned way: They can call me — on my “land line.”

Why do you blog? How many hours per week do you devote to blogging, reading other blogs or periodicals online, drafting documents, watching videos or using the computer for any other purpose? Are you perpetually connected or do you, as Mr. Lam suggests, “take breaks, even vacations?” How has being connected via technology impacted your life to date? And what steps are you taking to assure that you do not become a slave to or victim of our 24/7 culture?

Click here to read Part Four.


  1. i’m glad that reporter contacted you. you immediately came to mind when she was interviewing me.
    for me blogging is a way to relieve stress, reflect on the joy and blessings in my life (usually when i am wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing) and yet another creative outlet.

  2. Blogging for me has been purely entertainment so far. I am on a computer all day. I work as a translator for a large company and I blog about something completely different. I don’t talk about my job EVER and I never mention my place of work or any of my colleagues, with the exception of one, who is a fellow blogger – but never in a work related context. I blog in the evening, after all my Mom stuff is done, or on weekends and then I schedule the posts to appear during the week. I am getting much better at managing my blogging time and I write first drafts of most of my posts on the subway (40 minute ride each way) to and from work. I haven’t given any serious thought to blogging for money and the topic I blog about (Food) isn’t about scoops (not that kind anyway 😉 ) so I can’t imagine it getting that crazy for me. Especially since I am so much about the Slow Food experience – that pretty much carries over to my blogging – hee Slow Blog!!

  3. This is an eye opener. Often I have questioned myself to check if I am becoming obsessed with my blogging activities! I am so passionate about my blogs that I spend hours without knowing doing one thing or the other that is blog related online.
    I agree with you that if one is not careful to set his or her priorities right, he may suffer heath wise and even loose valuable relationships as he or she abandons the physical world and lives perpetually in the virtual world of bloggers.
    Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. Internet has changed the world, all easier. and blogging manner communicatings, give opinion, and share one another. Internet is enlivened with blogger. : )

  5. Paul Anderson

    Hi Janie, hope you don’t mind me posting the same comment here that I did on the Write Stuff!

    I can’t imagine blogging so much that it affected my health (says the guy who could stay up all night reading blogs…). As with all things, if you do it so much that it is affecting your health, that’s a sign that things have got out of hand. Like eating, drinking, even exercise. I suppose it is one of those unforeseen maladies that we’re going to see increasing over the years as blogging becomes more popular, like RSI and eye strain with the rise of the personal computer.

    At the moment I don’t blog very often, certainly not once a day. On my personal blog I only blog when the mood takes me, I have a topic I have the need to get out there, and the iron is “still hot” so to speak. My writing blog gets two or three regular updates a week, and my podcast only once a week.

    The majority of my online time is reading other people’s blogs, news feeds from sites like the BBC and CNN, and sometimes even writing (which I should be doing most of the time!).

    I’m terrible though for connectivity. I take my laptop on holiday and look for wi-fi hotspots. I’ve been mountain climbing and used my phone to check my e-mail when I was at the summit! But I have begun to take breaks. My phone goes on silent during the night so I don’t get disturbed. If matters are so urgent, someone would use the land-line, as you point out.

    And it is good to get away from the “always on” culture. It isn’t good for us (and this isn’t even beginning to think of all that electromagnetic energy in the air!). Because people are instantly contactable, people want responses instantly. Not only does that increase stress, but I imagine it makes people rush work. I’d rather have things done right, than done right away.

    Paul Anderson’s last blog post..Stay DrunkFrom The Write Stuff – 25 Nov 07

  6. The New York Times report is very alarming. If this is the way to go for professional bloggers, there is something seriously wrong with the whole blogsphere. Rather than be flippant about it,we must do everything possible to prevent such burnouts like in the normal world, it is done.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Some of the Worst Commercials

  7. “At some point, we all need to disconnect, relax, rest, and allow our minds to be refreshed.”………if your work is online you could essentially work 24 hours a day, but guess what? The human body needs rest, fun, and relaxation, as well as exercise, clean food to eat, oh yeah, and clean water. 🙂

    I think it’s possible to be a healthy blogger or internet intrepreneur, as long as you keep your health forefront – if you don’t take care of your body, your health, what do you have?

    Thanks for the great article. 🙂

    JoLynn Braley’s last blog post..What Does Eating Clean Really Mean?

  8. On my days off, I can pretty much be a the computer all day and well into the night, doing blog related activities. I do stop at night though usually to relax, by watching t.v. or painting. For me blogging is purely for entertainment purposes. I like to write about whatever comes to mind, and I enjoy the social aspect of it to.

    I know that I should spend less time blogging though, as I tend to miss out on the day. It doesn’t help that my husband works from home, and will frequently work all day and all night. When he’s working on a big project, we tend to stay at home for days at a time, hence my many hours blogging. When he’s done though, we will spend time doing fun things outside, which is a great and much needed break. Sometimes I just have to close the computer and make myself do something different, just so I don’t waste my life away.

    It is definitely addicting.

  9. Its amazing because I’m sure a lot of the reason people get started in blogging anyways is that they can “make money from home” and assume its easy… now it is apparent that it can be a job like any other!!

    I definitely know what you guys are saying about “disconnecting”. Its hard for me to discaonnect sometimes and i wil find my self on line at all hour of the night when i have a full day ahead of me in the morning,,, I dont know why I do it but I do lol….

  10. I read that New York Times article, too

    Vuelos’s last blog post..Vuela desde 10 euros (todo incluido)

Pin It