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New York Times: Blogging is Dangerous

The New York Times has a story about how deadly blogging can be.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
The New York Times deserves credit for stirring up the blogosphere but to pick on blogging as being dangerous to your health is unfair. Sitting for long periods of time isn't very good for the human body. That's what bloggers do. It's what writers and journalists did long before computers. It's also what millions of people around the world now do in the information age. The human body doesn't cope well with what people need to do to make a living in the information age - sit and type and move a mouse. This isn't a blogging problem - it is a widespread result of the information age. Even so there are many industries such as mining or foresty that put workers at far greater risk than blogging does.

Larry Dignan at ZDNet makes this point as well.
Let's put a little perspective on this blogging thing. You could be getting shot at in Iraq. You could be a single mom working three jobs to stay afloat (Happy Birthday mom). You could work in a coal mine. You could be in a life and death battle with Leukemia. You could be doing any one of thousands of high-stress jobs. Sure, the Web has a lot of stress but let's get real: If you're stressed out over 5,000 RSS feeds chances are good you'd be stressed by any profession you chose.
Careerbuilder has a list of the most dangerous jobs - blogging isn't on it.

What the Times article is really about is overworking - getting so caught up in your work that you ignore your health and damage your body. Hard workers in any industry tend to not sleep enough, not exercise enough and not eat right. This happens to lawyers, CEOs, accountants and bloggers. It's easy for a doctor or New York Times journalist to tell people they need to take it easy when they are trying to make a living - when they are trying to provide for their family. Still it is a message that resonates and it doesn't do you any good to work yourself so hard to you get seriously ill and/or die.

Om Malik - a blogger mentioned in the article who recently survived a heart attack - blogs about the Times story in this post titled " Relax, Chill and maybe Blog." It is worth reading for anyone that may be pushing it too hard.


Posted on April 6, 2008











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