Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Genealogy Blogging Healthy?

There was an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper on 3 June 2008 (page E2, titled Blogging: It's the New Jogging, on the Wellnews page) that reads:

"Writing -- the kind that's expressive and heartfelt -- has long been known to be a kind of self-medication: Jot down your personal thoughts and feelings and you just feel better.

"Research backs this up. Studies show writing can improve memory and sleep, boost the immune system, even speed healing. A recent study found that cancer patients who practiced expressive writing just before their surgeries felt better, mentally and physically, than those who did not.

"The explosive growth of blogging -- there are an estimated 60 million of them in the world, about half in the United States -- has some scientists speculating that it's the feel-good nature of writing that's driving the blogosphere's growth.

" 'You know that (biological) drives are involved (in blogging) because a lot of people do it compulsively,' Alice Flaherty, a Harvard University neuroscientist told Scientific American.

"So Flaherty and other researchers are launching studies to parse the neurological reasons of blogging. One possibility, it triggers the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which also happens when people listen to music, look at art or run."

I just knew that blogging was good for me! Since I started blogging two years ago, my blood pressure is down, my cholesterol is down, my weight is down, and my stupidity is down (isn't that what dopamine does - relieve stupidity?). Who knew that it was a brain chemical? I was treating my health by blogging without even knowing it!

What about genealogy research? Is that good for your mental and physical health? If it gets me out of my genealogy cave and the computer, and into the library, the FHC, a cemetery, or a society meeting room, it must be good! I get much more than finger exercise when I venture out to go to a meeting, share lunch with my genie friends and colleagues, attend a lecture, do research (but then much of what I research at the FHC is on a computer system...). Helping other researchers solve their research problems stimulates the detective in me.

To me - being a genealogy blogger is a double win - it's good for my physical and mental health, and is fun besides. True confession here - I think that modern drugs are responsible for some of my physical improvements...

The article claims that there are about 30 million bloggers in the USA. I wonder if that includes all of the social networks, or just folks with a blog account of some sort. My observation is that there are less than 1,500 genealogy blogs online (from the Genealogue's Blogfinder) at present, and probably less than 50% of them are actively posting on a regular basis (at least weekly).

Look at all the health benefits that genealogy researchers are missing out on! But if every researcher devoted an hour or two a day to blogging like I do, even less real genealogy research would be performed!

What about you - do you enjoy writing expressively or creatively? Do you get a rush doing genealogy research?

NOTE: While I'm on vacation, I'm republishing some of the "Best of Genea-Musings" for your reading enjoyment. This post was originally published 4 June 2008.

I recall that there was a recent New York Times article along these lines too that several bloggers wrote about.

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