It’s All In The Ego

News of high-achieving children, exotic holidays and pay rises are being dropped through letter-boxes across the nation, tucked inside a Christmas card. But is the annual round-robin letter a welcome way for busy people to stay in touch, or an unsolicited irritationBBC Magazine

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of these round robin things. Partly for the reasons given in the article — they are impersonal, they reflect only the ‘authorised’ version of someone’s life, and I’m not, and have never been one for viewing someone else’s holiday photos.

And also partly because I’d rather hear about these things from someone. If I don’t hear direct and am instead told by another friend or relative, that’s fine; if I hear through Facebook, that’s fine. But it feels a little odd to get a once-yearly letter telling me how Jocasta is doing in the Horse Club Trials. Or it would be, particularly since I don’t know anyone with that name.

But this is just the natural instinct of people to go “look at me, me! Aren’t I interesting?”. Everyone likes to be liked, likes to be the centre of attention — or at least the centre of the right attention, but these round-robin things are generally (as the article states) a list of inflated achievements to try and tell everyone how successful you have been.

It’s a bit like “my child is smarter than your child”. Now I don’t mind swapping child stories, and frequently do with my friends when I’m out for a pint or two, but I sincerely hope we don’t turn into the sort of people who will tell everyone else that “Kirsty got 8 A* grades at GCSE” or that “Luke has gone to Cambridge to study particle physics”. If I know the children in question, it might be relevant or interesting, but when it’s kids that I have and will never meet, it’s just more one-upmanship, only using your kids as tools.

And that’s crass. What’s worse than that too, is that it’s boring.

So you either have people who feel the need to tell everyone else how successful they are, or how successful their child is, and they need to tell you all about it.

It’s all down to ego. It’s the peacockiness of it: puffed-up, look-at-me, aren’t-I-important.

But it could well be argued that us bloggers are pretty much the same. If, like me, you pay to have your domain and your blog hosted somewhere, then that is vanity publishing, isn’t it? Admittedly, I’m not forcing anyone to read this; you’ve turned up here of your own free will, but it’s the same sort of thing.

Is blogging any different to writing those round-robin thingummies? As the article states:

There’s a certain egocentricity in assuming that people are interested in the minutiae of what people put in these thingsBBC Magazine, quoting Noel Turner

Isn’t that what the personal blogging is all about? Assuming that someone is interested in our lives? Of course it is.

Why should I think that what I have to say is sufficiently important or interesting that anyone else will want to read it? Is it because I do think that I’m important and interesting? Is it because I enjoy doing it? Is it because I think I am good at it?

Or am I sufficiently egocentric to tick the ‘all of the above’ box?

One Response to “It’s All In The Ego”

  1. The Goldfish responds:

    I loved the BBC article, I particularly liked the idea of a round-robin in the voice of someone’s pet! I feel cheated that I have never received such a thing.

    Whenever the issue of egocentricity and blogging is raised, it’s the same answer; people can come here or not, it’s pure choice. We are socially obliged to read round-robins, whether we do so or not. Similarly autobiography and published diaries (or indeed any kind of writing or art, or anything). It’s not someone saying, “Hey, you’re going to be interested in this.” more “If you are interested, here it is.”

    Plus very few of us post entirely about the events of our lives, and I hope most of us don’t paint ourselves much better than we really are.

    Merry Christmas Jack!

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