The Impending Rape of Social Security
Ageism Hits as Young as 35 in Seattle

Try the TGB Older Bloggers Survey

Teens and 20-somethings make up 92 percent of bloggers, or at least that’s the estimate Perseus delivers in their recent survey of eight blogging services.

According to a related story in the San Jose Mercury News [free registration required] which I found via J.D. Lasica, blogs are a serious new addition to the teen social scene.

“In many ways, what transpires online is an extension of the social interactions that take place at school,” writes K. Oanh Ha. “There are online cliques as well as the digital equivalent of hallway banter and gossip. Yet, what occurs online mostly lives in a digital reality that seldom crosses over into real life.
“Most teens abide by an unwritten code of the blogosphere: What happens online stays online. Many have digital friendships with classmates but never socialize in real life ‘because we don't hang with the same crowd.’”

         - The Mercury News, 5 July 2004

Teens today seem to have a whole new repertoire of exclusionary criteria that were unavailable when I was their age.

What the San Jose Mercury News piece ignores is the other end of the survey which reports that older folks [age 50 plus] make up only .7 percent of bloggers, or 32,400 of us. Broken down further to my personal age category, 60 and older, we are just .3 percent of bloggers or 13,900 of us. With stats like that, we'll soon all know each other.

Our numbers will grow as more older folks join the online world, as younger people grow into our age demographic and as blogging software gets easier to use. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know now, among us Older Blogger pioneers, what it is we - as opposed to the teenage hordes - get out of blogging, what purposes we put it to and why we do it.

I am not looking for numbers in this very casual, completely unscientific survey. Instead, I’m asking that you send me an email or leave a comment on this entry about how you use blogging. In a week or so, I’ll see what trends or commonalities emerge – or not – and I’ll post some of the most interesting answers.

It’s not necessary, but it would add, I believe, to our understanding, if you include your age. Here are some questions - not necessarily to answer, though you may - to get you started thinking:

  • How did you discover blogging and why did you start?
  • Were you a proficient computer user when you began? How difficult was it to master the technology?
  • Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic? How do you choose what you write about each day?
  • How much personal information do you reveal? Do you have rules for yourself about that?
  • Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog? Do they read it and comment? Do you use your real name or an online alias? Are any of you “secret bloggers” who don’t tell anyone who knows you?
  • Have you made new friends because of your blog?
  • How comfortable have you become with new friends you have made through your blog? Compare to offline, real-world friends.
  • How important to you is your blogging life? What does blogging give you that you don’t get from other parts of your life? What does it take away?
  • Do you think blogging is here to stay?
I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

Kind of amusing that I'm replying, since I'm one of those twenty-somethings (though for less than a year can I still be called a twenty-something).

I'm not sure any longer when I discovered blogging. I started perhaps 2-3 years ago keeping an online diary/journal (I've switched sites since); I was aware of blogs before that, I'm not sure for how long. I didn't read them often as I had trouble finding ones that interested me, or keeping up with them if I did. I'm still not sure that I can actually be said to "blog" - I don't talk about current events much, I use LiveJournal, etc., etc.

As far as computer proficiency, I'm a programmer, and I've stuck to LiveJournal and other sites of that ilk (OpenDiary, for example). The software is designed to make it easy for people who don't know computers, and actually managed not to make it hard for those who do; I've been pretty happy with it. It's definitely a day-to-day journal; I write about whatever's on my mind, what I've done, whatever comes up. Mostly. Sometimes I leave strong opinions on current events out - I use the thing to connect with others and I've found that I don't enjoy people taking issue with that in my journal, or worse, deciding I'm not a friend because I posted politics in there. If I feel strongly about something, I'll still put it up, but I'm actually pretty cautious about what I do and don't say there.

I don't worry too much about revealing personal information, but generally I don't go out of my way to do so or need to either. I try very hard not to reveal others' personal information (except where they themselves have) or to reveal stuff related to my job, though. As an ethical consideration, since some of my entries complain about my work-day, it seems wise not to include coworkers' actual names, or to make it any clearer than my already-unusual industry niche does what company I work for. Everyone has bad days at work. The more responsibility you have, the more stuff you tend to see. But I don't need to make those public posts, or otherwise do things that could cause the company problems (even minor ones). The reality is, while I know that it's just life that sometimes I will want to complain, if I put those in public and someone found my journal right after I went off on a long post about the incompetence of another programmer in our group (who might have just done something to really, really upset me, even though that is definitely NOT the norm at my job), and they knew or figured out my company, the impression would be bad all the same. Add to this the fact that I know some people who could potentially be clients do read my journal, and it just seems advisable not to put that stuff out in the open.

As far as my friends and family, many of them know about my journal, the rest I am not so sure care. My dad has a LiveJournal as well, and my SO, as well as several of my old college buddies and people I know from more recent friendships; they read and comment on my journal, and I do on theirs. Very interleaved. I've picked up new friends from LJ, many of whom I have become very comfortable with. They're not on the level of people I've known in the real world for years longer - but they're pretty dear friends. How dear depends, in part, on how often and how deeply they post. People who post less often, and less about themselves, I may admire, like, or be interested by; but I don't think of them as friends, really. Nor are they asking me to, so that works. :)

I've considered a "secret" blog or journal in which to post those things I don't put in this one for fear of reception, but you know, I really think it would be pretty sparse and boring, and no one would read it or care. In the area of public events, I usually can find someone who said it sooner and better than I would have anyway. ;)

I spent a fair bit of time reading and writing on LJ. It uses up time I could do on other things. On the other hand, it gives a lot back. Strong friendships with multiple people I would not easily maintain contact with otherwise (I'm a lousy letter-writer), or might not have met otherwise. Exposure to information, points of view, and wisdom I would not have found; ideas, books, hobbies, videos being recommended. I love the chance to "meet" people and learn from them, to pick up information in a way that, once you find people you "click" with, you know the signal-to-noise ratio is going to be pretty darned good.

For all the same reasons I love it, as well as quite a few that aren't my cup of tea, I think blogging is here to say. Let's be honest, lots of people love to write, love to express themselves, love to think others are watching. Now we can go out there and do that, and maybe we're even right that they're watching. Not only that, we can go out there and read, and connect with people and understandings we might otherwise never have encountered.

Which is, in the end, how I come to be commenting on this entry of yours. :)

"Were you a proficient computer user when you began?"

I suspect this will be your main issue. I watched a 70 year old man learn to use the computer and become completely addicted ... and yet still insist "I need to turn on the computer first, wait!" when I said I would email him. He'd gotten to grips with fax but didn't actually quite see that the internet was different.

When my son was 3 I got a note home from the nursery one day: "We had a fun day today. We used the computer and everyone thought it was great. Connor told me I wasn't using the mouse right and ended up running the software for me." I laughed but I was also fairly sure that 1) Connor was right and 2) this was a major hurdle. She was 30 at the time. I strongly suspect she would not consider a blog. I hope I'm wrong.

erm, sorry, for the poll:

36

1) watched/read blogs for quite some time but had no theme so wasn't happy starting one (I write randomly every day, I just don't want the world to see it :) until I found fotolog

2) extremely proficient (ran a Web Design team for an ISP) so no issue with the technology at all

3) I couldn't see starting a "pure" blog without a topic; I then used the photographs as a limiting factor, although I'm not sure that still holds

4) I check with people close to me before posting their images or posting about them as a general rule. A hard and fast rule with my son (who brought the issue to my attention by sneakily taking a photograph of me and posting it, it hit me then that although it was innocuous, it could have been anything and seriously intruded on my personal space).

5) My friends and family know about it but rarely comment. I'm more likely to receive feedback via email or a phone conversation. I use my real name.

6) It's a nice outlet for my short stories, losing that would hurt most I think. But I also enjoy the community and the bouncing-off-each-other and, for fotolog, the varied imagery from other people. For whatever reason, it works better for me than a text-based forum like LiveJournal.

7) Yes. It's easy publishing and for many (including me), an excuse to publish ramblings without serious effort, as tomorrow it will be gone.

I would not call myself overly skilled at using the computer,but I love surfing around....really just poking around using a combination of numbers & letters just to see what pops up on the screen.I stumbled onto blogging this way ( don't remember what numbers & letters I used).I have not used the blogging site to keep a journal as yet,but there are times when I would like to have a place to jot a thought while it is fresh.
I have few offline fiends & no new online friends,but don't consider myself a closet blogger...just have had little to say so far.
I am 63 & had my first taste of computers in 1959
in the Air Force using same to control long range radar ( a flop by the way ).The need to use a computer did not resurface until 1999 ...still have not come close to catching up.

Byron

I will write a detail comment later but for now your post prompted me to post the poem friendship on my blog http://www.mblog.com/forsv/friendship.html which explains one of the reasons why I blog.

Great Site. Interesting post. I'll do my best to give you a general answer to the topics you've raised:

I'm a TV presenter in the UK. I host shows about technology and science. I also write articles for magazines about gadgets and gizmos. The problem with TV is that it boils everything down to its lowest common denominator and for me, the wonder of technology is in the very details that TV executives deem too geeky for general consumption. So in part it was a search for a means of expressing my passion for the philosophy of gadgets and light science that lead me to blogging. I have another urge that's driving me, I'm sick of conforming; I'm really having issues with doing what is expected of me. The freedom of expression that is at the centre of blogging, the downright bare faced irony and thirty something cheek that shines out from so many blogs also attracts me. I hope that what I do with my blog is articulate some of the ideas I'm most excited about; concepts as simple as a train journey, on which I use a camera phone or a wireless link; regular strands like 'Future Perfect Moment' in which I talk about the times when I feel the future coming together in front of me; or me dressed as 80's pop icon Kajagoogoo :)

I came to the medium via a friend of my fiance. He runs a blog called www.myacelife.com. It's a very funny but personal diary of this guy's life and has what I understand to be a very London-centric flavour to it with which I can strongly identify. Our two blogs could not be any more different, but it was his site that introduced me to blogging.

The points you raise regarding 'blogging oldies' are spot on. At the tender age of 35 I am looking at life in a thoroughly new way; it's not positive or negative, it's just more rounded. I might even be feeling the first tentative steps of wisdom arriving on my relatively young shoulders. This new sense of perspective needs an outlet and the written word that is the beating heart of blogging offers just that.

As for my blogging habits, I post at least twice a week, but I check in with my site and any comments three or four times a day. I'd like to post more but I generally spend too much time on posts and run out of time. I try to use photographs whenever possible. I pride myself on the fact that every image on my site is 100% my copyright. My Sony P900 phone is the ideal 'moblogging' tool and offers a quick and easy means of snapping my experiences.

Do I think blogging is here to stay? Yes, without a doubt. Indeed, I am confident we shall all be talked about as the blogging generation, the pioneers of a text based form of expression that defined the turn of the new millenium.

-How did you discover blogging and why did you start?
I ran inot blogging years and years ago through a magazine article, don't remeber what.
I started fairly recently as bloging goes less than a year.


-Were you a proficient computer user when you began?
Yes, I love computers.

-How difficult was it to master the technology?
Easy, I use a very basic program at Blogspot (yea I know allready)

-Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic?
I blog about politics and pop cultrue for the most part. I have a Livejournal for my personal life stuff.

-How do you choose what you write about each day?
The news is my main inspiration, current events stuff.

-How much personal information do you reveal?
Only the minimum.

-Do you have rules for yourself about that?
Not hard and fast rules..

-Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog?
They know about it, some of my most regular readers I guess

-Do they read it and comment?
Yea, comment not so often.

-Do you use your real name or an online alias?
Alias, GT

Are any of you “secret bloggers” who -don’t tell anyone who knows you?
nah.

-Have you made new friends because of your blog?
A few

-How comfortable have you become with new friends you have made through your blog? Compare to offline, real-world friends.
Less so, but only a little.

-How important to you is your blogging life?
It's an outlet for my political nosiness and voice.

-What does blogging give you that you don’t get from other parts of your life?
freedom to vent to the world, and the konwlege that they can take it or leave it at their leasure.

-What does it take away?
Time, allways time.

-Do you think blogging is here to stay?
Are you kidding, people love to tell others what tehy think and its soo easy to do now too. Theres allways goign to be opinionated shnooks like me to do this sort of thing.

Hello Ronni,
I found your blog through my online friend Fran Pullara's blog, "Sacred Ordinary".
I've been blogging for the last 6 months since my daughter showed me her site, but have kept a journal for most of my life. Some of my friends and some of my sisters know of my blog. I have made friends (like Fran) online through my blog.
I write and post my art and pictures as I feel like. I also post articles I find that I feel would be of interest to others.
I do my own web art and designed my own page as this is part of what I do now: I design "headers" and logos for online and offline businesses.
I am extremely comfortable and proficient with computers for the last 20 years or so, when the publishing company I worked for in NYC sent me to IBM school to learn it all, 'cause they were having a computer system installed.
I use both my real name and my nick for entries at times.
I write as much personal info about myself as I feel it relates to the entry that day.
Oh yes, I am 56 and am always thrilled to find 'older' people blogging since they write well on a variety of topics and can also spell. I also admire the younger ones ability to design an interesting, beautiful looking blog even if what they post is only about their friends and school life.

Namaste!
Carol aka Lace =)

How did you discover blogging and why did you start?

You know, I don't remember how I discovered blogging; only that I did and decided to start when I was accepted for my present job in Sri Lanka

Were you a proficient computer user when you began? How difficult was it to master the technology?

Fairly proficient in a journeyperson's way. Had lots of experience of online community with Howard Rheingold's Electric Minds and later Brainstorms.

Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic? How do you choose what you write about each day?

A combination of journal and various topics, either from current events, mostly about war/veteran issues, or from the treasure-trove of memoir pieces I like to write about my life.

How much personal information do you reveal? Do you have rules for yourself about that?

I don't have difficulty or any reticence about revealing anything I have experienced. I have no rules about what to post or not to post -- I let the moment guide me . . .

Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog? Do they read it and comment? Do you use your real name or an online alias? Are any of you “secret bloggers” who don’t tell anyone who knows you?

Yes, I have a list of about 80 folks, family, friends and associates, who I periodically let know about my blog entries. Some do, most don't. I is who I is. Not many secrets here.

Have you made new friends because of your blog?

Ah yup, a few, including you . . .

How comfortable have you become with new friends you have made through your blog? Compare to offline, real-world friends.

Friendship is friendship

How important to you is your blogging life? What does blogging give you that you don’t get from other parts of your life? What does it take away?

Very. An further opportunity for self-expression, to play with different parts of my personality. Sometimes I wonder what other activities I could be doing with the time I use blogging. On my recent trips to Mexico and Tuscon, it has been frustrating not having the time and access to do much blogging, but I was able to fully enjoy the off-line activities.

Do you think blogging is here to stay?

Ah yup, as long as online access is relatively inexpensive.

Opps, forgot to mention in the previous post that I'm another Oldie but better at 61 . . .

Hi Ronni I e-mailed this to yu and then thought I should also post it here.

Were you a proficient computer user when you began?
Yes, very. I wonder if for some folks, either the keyboarding or the general idea of writing like this isn't a barrier

How difficult was it to master the technology?
No problem. I read about Pyra in 1999 or so, but didn't want to switch ISPs to be able to run it. Finally started blogging with Typepad about 7 months ago. I love it.

Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic?
I tend not to be too interested in other people's pure journals, for some reason. Mine is on specific topics, like a commonplace book, but a little journaling

How do you choose what you write about each day?
Whatever is in the queue

How much personal information do you reveal?
Too much, probably, but I have this idea of transparency

Do you have rules for yourself about that?
No, except that if I say ssomething libelous I try not to use real names.

I should have not revealed as much about my children as I did. Too late now. they don't mind.

Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog?
It's part of my e-mail signature, but mostly they don't. Seem to use the ocmputer mostly for e-mail rather than reading.

Do they read it and comment?
I don't know if they read it, but they sure don't comment

Do you use your real name or an online alias?
Real

Have you made new friends because of your blog?
yes, and have found a few old friends.

Q. How did you discover blogging and why did you start?
A. I found a few good diaries and millions of bad diaries on the internet and decided to try it myself on Dec 23, 1999.
Q. Were you a proficient computer user when you began? How difficult was it to master the technology?
A. My career has been mostly in the software business and I already had a web site, so the technology was familiar.
Q. Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic? How do you choose what you write about each day?
A. I write about whatever comes to mind. There are several sources to consult as to what holiday, saint's feast day, famous scientist's birthday, or whatever to celebrate each day.
Q. How much personal information do you reveal? Do you have rules for yourself about that?
A. I reveal nothing I wouldn't shout from the rooftop.
Q. Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog? Do they read it and comment? Do you use your real name or an online alias?
Are any of you “secret bloggers” who don’t tell anyone who knows you?
A. All my friends and family know about my diary. Although I use an on-line alias, I'm pretty open about revealing my earthly name.
Q. Have you made new friends because of your blog?
A. I've formed quite a bunch of on-line friendships.
Q. How comfortable have you become with new friends you have made through your blog? Compare to offline, real-world friends.
A. Well, that's hard to judge. Some folks, both on-line and in earthly life, are pretty close, others are sorta arms-length friendships.
Q. How important to you is your blogging life? What does blogging give you that you don’t get from other parts of your life? What does it take away?
A. It's important enough to make an effort to do an entry almost every day, and read several other folks's entries every day. It's a window into other people's parts of the world. It doesn't take away anything.
Q. Do you think blogging is here to stay?
A. Yes!

Hope it's not too late to participate. I'm 54, BTW.

•How did you discover blogging and why did you start?
I came across willa's journal and read that for a while and then thought I would like to do something similiar, but in a more simple way.

• Were you a proficient computer user when you began? How difficult
was it to master the technology?
I'm not and I haven't. I use a very simple website to write my journal. I also have a webshots page (http://community.webshots.com/user/primquilter)

• Is yours a journal, or do you write about a specific topic? How do you choose what you write about each day?
It's a journal. I make two entries each (or most) days. One is a "basics" page and another is more like an essay. I write about memories, some are rants, some are about what's actually happened that day.

• How much personal information do you reveal? Do you have rules for
yourself about that?
Quite a bit, actually.

• Do your friends and family know about or take part in your blog? Do they read it and comment? Do you use your real name or an online alias?
Some friends and family know and comment on my blog. I use my real name.

Are any of you “secret bloggers” who don’t tell anyone who knows you?
I have a second, secret blog which is not public.

• Have you made new friends because of your blog?
Yes, several.

• How comfortable have you become with new friends you have made
through your blog? Compare to offline, real-world friends.
Very comfortable.

• How important to you is your blogging life? What does blogging give you that you don’t get from other parts of your life? What does it take away?
I've been keeping my journal for almost three years now so I'd say it's a pretty important part of my life. I can go back and read about what I was doing or thinking a year or so back and see how I've changed.

• Do you think blogging is here to stay?
Yes. At least for me is is.

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