UNBLOGGER is about making sure that your head is on straight: be a person first and a blogger second. Don’t live your life for your blog; don’t sacrifice your life for your readers. In the end, it’s your life, your story, that draws readers in the first place.
Darrell Vesterfelt’s topic is a timely one. Blogging, as a trend, has risen, fallen, and is rising again. I believe it’s crucial that we take this message to heart. A few days ago, Jon Acuff tweeted the following:
In 20 yrs kids will be in therapy telling counselors “My folks made me do the same cute thing over & over until they got a great Instagram”
— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) June 11, 2013
The mindset that so many of us have can be summed up as, “I have got to post this.” It starts innocent enough with a desire to share, but then it becomes a compulsion to tweet/post/blog/upload every single moment. Finally, we then reach a point where we live our lives just so that we have something to “share.”
Vesterfelt’s solution to this problem is for his readers to become “unbloggers,” people who live as characters in their own stories and share those stories, honestly but with limitations. The focus should not be on statistics and readership and growing a “platform” so much as it should be sharing authentically from your own life so that others might benefit.
I think that there is definitely a lot of truth to what Vesterfelt says, and I think that many of us need to hear it. However, I would draw one distinction. For some—myself included—blogging is less about sharing our life experiences than sharing technical knowledge/experience (i.e. ChurchMag/PhilSchneider.net) and/or practicing their craft as a writer (i.e. IDontBelong.com). For people like us, the idea of an “unblogger” doesn’t necessarily connect.
Pros and Cons
UNBLOGGER is a quick read with a lot of great wisdom for today’s blogger. I don’t think anyone could go wrong by taking the common-sense advice contained within and applying it to their life. In general, the Internet would greatly benefit if those on it showed more common sense.
Now, to be honest, I didn’t really connect very well with this book. I never felt all that hooked by it. Of course, that may have more to do with me seeing myself as more of a “writer” than a “blogger.” That slight philosophical distinction surely played a role in how I read this book. Despite that, the book is well written and is definitely worth reading.
My only problem with the content was in the last chapter which was about leaving a legacy through your life-story. The author used Martin Luther King, Jr. to illustrate a point about living a life of integrity by making the “invisible decisions” that “make us good characters in our story.” I don’t want to nit pick, but I think that may have been a poorly researched illustration as King is known to have plagiarized his dissertation and had a number of extramarital “dalliances.” Since I knew that about King, the illustration bothered me slightly. From there, the chapter seemed to drag with another historical illustration that seemed out of place as well. I think that the author could have ended the book better by shortening the fifth chapter into an afterword or something like that. The point of the chapter—encouraging the reader to live in such a way that leaves a great legacy—was a vital one that really tied the book together, but I think the illustrations used to communicate the point muddied the waters too much for me.
If you’re a blogger who feels like you can’t check your stats enough, you really need to read this book. Nothing will ruin your “story” more than your failure to truly live it, and UNBLOGGER does have a lot of good things to say about how to live out your story while sharing it with others online.