Ecstasy

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In his latest HR Gumbo blog, Steve asks “Why do you blog?” It reminded me of a recent Chuck Klosterman essay entitled "Something Instead of Nothing" (which can be found in his latest compendium of writings, "Eating the Dinosaur"). In this piece, Klosterman reflects on the interviewing process, and tells an anecdote about being interviewed by a Norwegian magazine writer: "But in the middle of our playful conversation, I was suddenly paralyzed by an unspoken riddle I couldn't answer: Why was I responding to this man's questions" As his books are not translated into Norwegian, nor would he be likely to read the publication, he thought about his motives for answering interview questions, and they reflect similarly to why I blog (no matter how infrequently it may be):

1. I felt I had something to say. Except I did not. No element of our interaction felt important to me. If anything, I felt unqualified to talk about the things the reporter was asking me. I don't have that much of an opinion about why certain Black Metal bands burn down churches.
Like Klosterman, I'd like to thing the words I write have some meaning to a greater audience; that the years of education and reading have some relevance to the world. However, in many ways I feel unqualified given my lack of true "real world" HR experience, and who am I to tell a practitioner or generalist about how to do his or her job.
2. It's my job. Except that it wasn't. I wasn't promoting anything. In fact, the interaction could have been detrimental to my career, were I to have inadvertently said something insulting about the king of Norway. Technically, there was more downside than upside.
Like Klosterman, blogging has no real impact on my job as a professor in that I am not going to be punished for not blogging, nor am I likely to be praised or rewarded for a great blog post. I am not looking for fame or money, or to gain future employment from my missives.
3. I have an unconscious, unresolved craving for attention. Except this feels inaccurate. It was probably true twenty years ago, but those desires have waned. Besides, who gives a fuck about being famous in a countryI'll never visit? Why would that feel good to anyone? How would I even know it was happening?
Like Klosterman, I wonder who I am trying to earn attention and praise from. Students? Co-workers? Fellow HR peers?
4. I have nothing better to do. This is accurate, but not satisfactory.
Like Klosterman, I blog when I have nothing better to do (which probably explains the infrequency of posts).
5. I'm a nice person. Unlikely.
Unlikely, indeed!
6. When asked a direct question, it's human nature to respond. This, I suppose, is the most likely explanation. It's the crux of Frost/Nixon. But if this is true, why is it true? What is the psychological directive that makes an unanswered question discomfiting?
I was prompted to start blogging by one Laurie Ruettimann. But, it still doesn't explain why I continue to blog. Being an academic, I suppose one enters the field for the very reason Klosterman concludes. There are unanswered questions one finds discomfiting that prompts one to look for solutions.

One comment

Wow. I feel all surreal-ly and strange now. Wait, I bet that's just my brain burning off the dust and actually getting to work. :-) Good one, Matthew. I know why I started, but why I continue is another question.

by Ben Eubanks on October 21, 2009 at 11:59 AM. #

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