It's a rainy Sunday, perfect for reading in bed, or lazy shopping (what is lazy shopping? I don't know, I just like the idea of it), or knitting in front of the TV. I'm not doing any of those things because I'm getting all antsy avoiding the myriad jobs I need to catch up on. Like time sheets and paid blog posts and reading more of the 70+ research articles I have printed and waiting. And mentally slapping myself for feeling antsy, because it's not like I didn't choose all these things.
A lot of my reading is on blogging, and narrative psychology - the way we make sense of our lives through telling stories. Stories in the general sense, like I love the sound of rain on a tin roof because it reminds me of home. That sort of thing. Blogging is a powerful platform for sharing stories, but I think the day of the personal blog has long been fading. It's greatly business oriented now, where useable content and social marketing have become what's important. And I have been asking myself, if you don't have an engaging story or something useful to pass on, why blog at all? The answer used to be, because community, but those communities have moved to Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat. It's not a complaint, I barely read blogs anymore myself because I catch up with all the people I would be reading on Instagram, and a lot more quickly too. There has been little directed purpose in the scent of water for most of its life; I've been here because I like it here. I liked the visitors, liked the writing, liked taking photos. But I'm not sure that's reason enough anymore.
I had to answer the same question as a researcher too, why conduct research on people's stories? I mean, there's nothing new under the sun when it comes to people's stories, not really. And have you read research articles? Almost entirely, they are the very definition of boring, intended to show the cleverness of the author rather than to communicate ideas effectively. They strip the life out of stories. And the 'creative' research articles I read don't often impress me either, people trying to use artistic techniques but not pulling it off because they don't have the requisite skill. Do they think, I wonder, that creative skills don't need the same effort and practice and development that critical thinking skills do? The lack of ability commonly shown makes it seem so. Everyone can write creatively, but not everyone's good at it, in the same way everyone can sing (and should, if they want to, if it brings them pleasure) but not everyone should perform in a concert at Wembley...
For lots of years I didn't have any answer for why I should be a qualitative researcher either, and was just as pointlessly meandering along as I do here - because I liked it, because I received a positive response from others through it, because, I suppose, I could. And I once upon a time had grand ideas on the purpose of research (advocate! change the world! shape people's thinking!) but have you noticed that the older you get the more grand ideas fade? I don't see it as cynicism, more an understanding of what is possible. Ideas can be big, but the people who have them? Just finite little specks of dust.
I have found an answer that satisfies me better in the end, though. I want to conduct research on people's stories because it challenges my own familiar understanding of what and why things are, and in challenging the familiar, it opens new windows on to what is possible. And having to justify my arguments keeps me honest, forces me to look at ideas I don't necessarily agree with. This all creates a larger world in which to exist as my wee speck, and that larger world helps me to keep developing cognitively and emotionally. If I haven't yet learned how to pass that on effectively, I still hold hope that I will.
Which doesn't answer the question of why blog, except expanding possibility doesn't seem to be what happens here, and it's what I would like it to do. It has been a place to explore my own creativity, and I've loved it for that, but there's always been too little coherence to be satisfying. I'm not sure I can weave the mess back into something useful again, I'm not sure I can't. For the moment, I'm just asking the question.