Yesterday on CNN.com, Anna Jane Grossman tackles the very heart and soul of personal blogs. Grossman says some may question why people share their deepest thoughts and feelings with strangers online, but the better question is: Why not? Grossman writes, "Overeating, alcoholism, depression — name the problem and you'll find someone's personal blog on the subject." Grossman spoke to Stacey Kim, whose husband died of pancreatic cancer. "Kim curled up next to her husband and held him as he succumbed to a long battle with pancreatic cancer," Grossman explains. "The next morning, she went online to post about the experience." Stacey's emotional blogging helped her cope. "Right after he died, people kept asking if I was in therapy," she says."I'd say, 'No, but I have a blog.'"
Writing long has been considered a therapeutic outlet for people facing problems. A 2003 British Psychological Society study of 36 people suggested that writing about emotions could even speed the healing of physical wounds: Researchers found that small wounds healed more quickly in those who wrote about traumatic personal events than in those who wrote about mundane activities. But it's the public nature of blogs that creates the sense of support.
There's something about communication. The transfer of emotional information. When you're burdened with heavy thoughts, sadness, confusion, despair, depression and internal turmoil, does anything compare to unloading it all through writing or talking? There's a release that comes from the simple act of expression, of crafting intangible feelings into words and sentences. It's therapeutic, liberating, healing. And, according to a study called "Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging," women are more likely to blog about their private lives.
We got an email from a reader yesterday. She claims that Jezebel has been her therapy. "This is what I dreamed of in high school and after, a space of kindred spirits and friends," she wrote. She continued:
My husband cheated, with my best friend, thank you very much. The Jezebel editors AND especially the commenters were there. Giving out advice, support, and snark. In real life, where people where choosing sides and making bland, passive aggressive statements to my plight, the sheer volume of outpouring and sincerity of I got was both heart-warming and bolstering. EVERY SINGLE DAY, there were words of support, so many of the commenters, there are waaaay too many to name. And it helped, more than I can articulate in words. On Monday, I received a hand-written note from my landlord telling me my children and I have to be out by Monday the 12 (end of lease). There's a whole story behind that, but its still the same story. The Jezebelles mobilized into action! People looking up links, offering advice...
Can a blog replace SSRIs and visits to the shrink? Maybe not. But when was the last time your pills or psychiatrist helped you find a new apartment? There was a time in our collective pre-historic evolution in which a woman could actually rely on her "community;" the other people in the cave or around the campfire. Could it be that the internet has helped us come full circle?
[Image by wjmckelvey via Flickr.]