Blogging a source of comfort and companionship

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Female BYU students are taking their scrapbooks and personal journals online, following an increasingly popular trend: lifestyle blogging.

While online blogging may seem to be a solitary hobby, many female students find blogging to be a social activity and a way to feel more social support.

Elisabeth Earnshaw, a senior from Bedford, N.H., along with fellow Provo blogger Bonnie Larsen, launched her first BYU blogger meet-up for all Provo-area bloggers during Winter semester. Earnshaw said the meet-ups have allowed her to not only learn from other experienced bloggers but to also share her experience with newer bloggers.

“If someone had sat down and told me all the things I’ve figured out over the past year and a half, it wouldn’t have taken so much trial and error,” Earnshaw said.

Female BYU bloggers meet for a round-table discussion on how to grow their blog.
Female BYU bloggers meet for a round-table discussion on how to improve their blogs. (Photo courtesy Elisabeth Earnshaw)

Earnshaw first starting blogging after getting engaged. Although it began as a way to share the wedding-planning process with close family and friends, Earnshaw said she now recognizes how big the blogging community is.

“It wasn’t until after I was married that people that I didn’t know started to read my blog,” Earnshaw said. “Then I realized that there was this whole blogging community out there.”

One attractive draw for many women, especially newlyweds and new mothers, is the ability to monetize a blog. While this is a draw for many, Earnshaw said it is not what keeps women blogging.

“I think the thing that keeps people coming back to blogging is the network and the community that it builds. It is a support system for a lot of women who blog,” Earnshaw said.

Earnshaw married in the summer of 2011. While she is often busy juggling school, home and work, Earnshaw said her blog has been a great way to document the early years of married life.

“It is really fun to sit down with my husband and read posts from when we were newly married, whether they were feelings about my husband or fun activities or dates we went on,” Earnshaw said.

Like Earnshaw, Brooke Emery, a senior at BYU studying elementary education, has found blogging to be a blessing in her marriage because it allows her to feel connected and relate to others.

“I think, to me, blogging is all about the power of connection,” Emery said. “Sometimes I think when you write down your experiences and share them with others it helps you process your experiences and understand your experiences a little bit better.”

Emery first began blogging during the winter of 2010, after encouragement from friends who wanted to know what she was up to.

“I was kind of going through a hard time,” Emery said. “It was right after my mom died, and I think people wanted to have a way to connect with me, so I started blogging.”

For Emery, blogging has become a social activity as she builds her online network and gets to know other online bloggers.

“I would also say that it is kind of a social event to the extent (that) you are reading about other people’s experiences and relating to them,” Emery said. “You’re kind of building online relationships with other women.”

Olga Belikov, a sophomore from Vancouver, Canada, said she often looks to blogs for new recipes and style inspiration.

“I have a lot of friends who blog, and I really enjoy reading about their lives and what they’re doing,” Belikov said. “Reading blogs of admirable women, I believe, is a great way to inspire self-improvement.”

Sarah Coyne is a BYU professor in the Department of Family, Home and Social Sciences. Coyne, who has also blogged, said blogging often can become a sort of therapy for individuals looking for a medium to share their thoughts and their life.

“It becomes almost like a form of therapy, and if people are supportive of your thoughts, you can kind of get that social support and feel connected to the outside world as well,” Coyne said.

Last year Coyne, with former student Brandon McDaniel, launched a study about the famed “mommy bloggers.” The findings of the study show an interesting correlation between blogging and feelings of social support.

“We found that those moms who were involved in blogging actually reported feeling more connected with others, feeling greater social support, and they felt better as a parent,” Coyne said. “There are many reasons why, but we found blogging has a really positive effect because of this feeling of connection and feeling of social support.”

While blogging can be a great outlet for women to share their thoughts and feelings with others, Coyne said bloggers should be cautious of what they post online.

“I think you just have to be careful about what you say and be moderate, and know that some things should be kept private,” Coyne said.

Similar to Coyne, new blogger Elise Hunter said it is important to remember moderation while blogging.

“It is like any other social media,” Hunter said. “You have to balance it. You don’t want to just be talking to people on blogs and missing out on going and hanging out with your real friends.”

Hunter is a senior from Santa Fe, N.M., who is starting as a master’s student in speech therapy this spring. Hunter first started blogging while on a BYU study abroad in London as a way to keep up with family and friends. Although she began to enjoy blogging while overseas, it wasn’t until she married last November that she started blogging again.

“I decided I wanted to blog again as a way to journal everything we did and keep our families up to date,” Hunter said. “Then I saw a couple of my friends who blog about clothes and recipes, and I just thought it might be fun because I had run out of things to blog about.”

Hunter said she enjoys blogging as a way to document her life and marriage.

“It is really easy to copy and paste photos and type something up really fast,” Hunter said. “It’s really fun to go back and see what we did. It’s kind of like scrapbooking without all the mess of paper and glue.”

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