Death by blogging?

death by blogging from Still a Night Owl

I forget now if I found this story in Romenesko or Mediabistro; either way, I found it in one of these email blasts. Anyway, the NY Times’ Matt Richtel speculates that with the deaths of two high profile bloggers at relatively young ages (50 of a massive coronary and 60 of a heart attack) and the survival of a third blogger from a heart attack — is it possible that the stress of blogging can kill you?

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.

Meh. I’m with Larry Dignan — he thinks that, sure, blogging about tech, celebrities or politics can be stressful to the point of a heart attack, but so could thousands of other jobs.

When I talked to Matt the theme of the story was clear, but I had doubts about the premise. I played devil’s advocate and outlined my day, which didn’t exactly dovetail with the primary example of the guy who is in his Brooklyn studio blogging until he passes out at his computer. If that person weren’t blogging my guess is he’d pass out playing Xbox or something else.And that brings me to my point with Matt. Yes, blogging is stressful. Yes, it can be insane. But is it any worse than being a corporate lawyer? How many of those folks dropped in the last six months? How about mortgage brokers? Hedge fund traders? FBI agents? Any job where you gnash your teeth together? We write for a living, yap all day and don’t have to wear suits. You could do worse than blogging.

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.

When I read the story, another thought also crossed my mind — when you read over some of the ailments suffered by stressed-out bloggers, how many of those same ailments are suffered by reporters, editors, photographers and a variety of other course, that has some drawbacks, too — a lack of sunshine, fresh air and real human interaction.

Either way, I’ve been doing this too long to feel any pressure, even if I was earning some money via blog advertising — which I am. More than anything, I feel like blogging is best when you are doing it even if you weren’t earning any money for it. Shoot, I’m more jealous of blogs like I Can Has Cheezburger? and Go Fug Yourself, which grew out of personal interests and hobbies and somehow exploded into huge cash cow ventures.

Besides, sometimes, I just need to get out and see something beside my laptop and my living room. But I always come back and share my pictures. :)

Photo (the epitome of appropriate for this post, btw) lifted from Simply A Night Owl

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