I overhear more and more conversations about how people cope with their lives online. We talk about our day-to-day strategies for coping with e-mail overload. We gossip about our friends’ Facebook profiles and worry about whether we should be joining the latest social network. We criticize people who spend more time online than we do for being Internet addicts, and deride the people who spend less time online as pathetic Luddites.

What’s harder to dig into is how the Internet is affecting our lives, not just on a day-to-day basis, but on a decade-to-decade basis.  Sure, we notice it’s easier to book our airplane tickets, or harder to reach someone by phone. But how often do stop to think about the way the Internet is changing how we live and who we are?

I’ve started searching out and compiling those moments when people do stop to take stock of their lives online. Contrary to research that casts the Internet as a great boon or a great evil, first-person reflections on the Internet reflect the same incredible variety of human perspective and experience that you find offline. Just look at some of the ways people describe their experience as bloggers:

  • Since I started blogging it seems to me like a new universe has opened up, one of discussion and debate, of sharing and generally good intentions. It has increased my belief that the world is generally full of great people.
  • It’s been 4 years today since I started blogging. It wasn’t really a plan. I had just looked into it for a bit and one day I had something to say and kept going…
  • I started blogging after someone I cared about very much committed suicide…I needed to be able to tell someone how broken I felt, and the Internet was there to listen. Since I started blogging in November of 2001 I have shared things online my friends never heard, I forged friendships with people I never met, and I felt the support a community of strangers can provide. They didn’t judge my relationship or care if I was or was not better off with this person dead. They knew and understood my pain. Through them, I found what I needed to heal.
  • Since I started blogging, I’ve become a fan of more kinky blogs.
  • Since I started blogging a little less than one year ago, I have developed a few very special online friendships. I have not had the chance to met any of them in person yet. But a few of the female movie bloggers that I have met on Twitter have formed an alliance– and believe it or not 4 of us live in the same city. We are planning to meet soon. We are all different ages, races and even blog about different film genres. It will be an interesting meeting.
  • Since I started blogging publicly in 2007, I’ve learned a lot about blogging and blogging culture. Along with things I’ve learned about myself and my own style there are some universal rules to follow to be a successful blogger, no matter who you are or what you’re writing about.
  • I’ve made a ton of mistakes since I started blogging. Some out of inexperience, some out of ignorance, and some out of excitedly following some brand new idea without stopping to think about it first.
  • Since I started blogging in March, I can count about 10 bloggers that just quit. I wish they had stuck with it.
  • Since I started blogging over a year ago, I do find myself writing, journaling and jotting a lot. Some of it goes into my blog, some of it doesn’t. But at least it gets out of my head. I never thought to make money from it, it was merely a way of sharing the insides of my head with others and see what came of it.
  • It’s been almost six years since I started blogging. Not nearly as long as some of my friends, but long enough to have a few things that I know I’d do differently…You want the moral to this story is? Don’t worry about how you start…. Just start and write. No one is going to laugh at you. No one is going to judge your blog as being less than some other person’s. If you write with passion. If you write about what you want to write about. If you just write what you feel. It’s going to be a great blog.

How has your life changed since you started blogging? I’d love to hear from you via Twitter (@awsamuel) or in comments below.