It was a fair question that my nephew Zach (Sally’s sister Lynn’s son) asked me over cake at the graduation party for my great nephew Nate (Sally’s brother Tad’s daughter Skye’s son).
I had already explained my motivation back in December in Episode 3: My Life Is Now An Experiment (https://tinyurl.com/4epzfffc), and so it seemed like a good time to reflect back on a half year of blogging to see if I still felt the same about this project.
Zach (a political science professor at Haverford College) had raised the question in the broader context of the meaning (or lack of it) of the things we do and the notion of ‘legacy’ or what will be remembered about us (if anything) two, three or four generations from now.
We had already agreed that not much of what we do in our lifetimes will last very long into the future (to whit: think about what you know about your great grandparents)…but that that didn’t really matter. We do things that have meaning for today…and that’s enough.
My primary reason for writing this blog is to provide data that might be helpful to researchers trying to diagnose and treat age-related cognitive decline and dementia. My hope is that by tracking and reporting my mistakes over the course of a decade, I will leave a record that either describes normal aging or the onset of dementia, and no matter how it turns out, that such a first-hand report will have value.
That assumes an awful lot, though. What are the odds that such a researcher will (1) stumble across my notes, (2) discern a meaningful pattern in what I recorded, and (3) convert that insight into a useful tool for diagnosis or treatment? As Sally is fond of saying in these situations, the likelihood lies “somewhere between zip-a-dee and doo-dah!”
Over these first 6 months, though, one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I also do this—and I’m being brutally honest here—for the clicks. It appears I’m a click junkie!
Each week, I spend money to advertise the new post on Facebook and Google. Whenever someone clicks through to the site, I can see on my WordPress blog dashboard not who they are, but which episodes they read and what country they are from. It’s exciting to know that there are folks all across America who have stopped by, and people from Ireland, Canada, India and Sweden who are frequent readers, too.
It’s comforting when they leave comments describing their own experiences that are similar to mine. They make my journey less lonely and it’s nice to know that I’ve made someone else’s journey a little less lonely, too.
I especially appreciate it when a reader signs up to follow the blog. It’s the ultimate validation for me as a writer: you liked the content enough to want to see more and to have it delivered directly to your inbox every Friday to make sure you don’t miss an episode.
And in the blogosphere, the number of followers you have is the gold standard for measuring success. Success would be nice, but I have a long way to go to achieve it and I don’t really expect it.
Managing the blog (e.g., rooting for content each week, writing a 600+ word episode, converting it to a podcast, refining and implementing the advertising plan, interpreting the results, and interacting with readers) keeps me busy in ways that push my cognitive envelope. In itself, it should provide a measure of protection against decline. But I also find it intriguing to monitor myself so I can catch as many errors as possible, try to better understand what causes them, and to divine what clinical implications (if any) they might have.
It’s work, but it’s fun.
Getting back to Zach’s question, after six months, several reasons for writing this blog have emerged: a desire to help in some small way, the rewards of having my work read and appreciated, and the joy of doing it.
Thanks for asking, Zach!