Armchair BEA: Blogging with Social Responsibility

May 25, 2010
Since I – ever so sadly – cannot attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York City this week, I’ve decided to join in on a new event … Armchair BEA! Those of us who are participating in Armchair BEA are essentially putting together our own book blogger convention from the comfort of our own homes (or workplaces or wherever else we’ll be). You can read more about Armchair BEA here.

There’s just something about being a blogger that seems to connote a certain amount of social awareness. I’m not really sure what it is that makes me believe that – maybe it’s because we’re the kind of people with connections to friends and acquaintances all over the world? Perhaps it’s because we book bloggers in particular tend to learn about different cultures and realities through books? There are even tons of challenges (such as the Colorful Reading Challenge and the World Religion Challenge) that get us to read outside of our familiarity and about other people and ways of life. We seem to be a rather open-minded bunch!

Social awareness is just that, though – awareness. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we do anything with this awareness. Here’s where social responsibility comes in, and again, I feel like the book blogging community as a whole tends to be on the Side of Good (TM) when it comes to this. Examples of how our community exercises its socially responsible side (either by organizing or participating) include Do the Write Thing for Nashville and Books for Soldiers. I’ve seen other things around the blogosphere including giving books for children’s charities, such as during the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon back in April.

One way that I – and many other bloggers – try to practice social responsibility while blogging is in the types of materials we choose to talk about. I like to read books about social problems, both fiction and non-fiction, and I love to recommend these books to my students and also to other people on my blog when they are a good read and/or about an important issue that I think people should educate themselves on.  I really and truly believe that we as bloggers can make a difference in the types of books that people read and the types of issues that are absorbed into our collective community, which in turn affects the knowledge and experiences that we bring to the table when we are faced with someone who has faced (or is facing) hardship or could otherwise benefit from our expanded worldview.

Here are a few examples of books that I have read and reviewed lately that could fall into this umbrella:

There are many other books like this, and I know I’m not the only one reading and discussing them!

carbon neutral offers and shopping with kaufDA.deFinally, there are mechanical ways that we bloggers can go about practicing social responsibility. For example, I’ve seen the Carbon Neutral Blogging program around a lot on book blogs lately. As of today, my blog is carbon neutral as well! Basically what this program entails is that a tree is planted to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced by your blog. Click on the image beside this paragraph to learn more, or to make your blog carbon neutral as well!

Along the same lines as this, I have chosen to run my blog on a domain purchased from HostPapa, a company that exclusively uses “green energy”. You can read more about this on their website, but a quick overview is this:

“We take pride in being able to say that HostPapa was one of the first web hosting companies to make a public commitment to going green. We promote the development and use of wind and solar energy resources by purchasing green energy certificates to offset all the power we use in our data centres and offices. By putting equivalent clean energy back into the grid, we effectively reduce our carbon footprint and support renewable energy initiatives.”

So … what do you think?

In your experience, do people – especially bookish types – blog with social responsibility?

Do you?

18 Comments

  • Iris May 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I hadn’t heard about the Carbon Neutral Blogging program before, but it sounds like a very good initiative. I love that you’re doing this and that you’ve really considered your host as well.

    I’m not sure if bloggers are more social conscious than other people. I don’t think I’d go that far. What I will say is that the community feeling of the challenges you mentioned (and many many others) really help and stimulate people in exploring books about social issues. That is what I love about these challenges in particular.
    At the same time, I think bookbloggers might be more consciously looking for new information. After all, reading is all about learning and being open minded (at least it is to me) and this can really contribute to being a more social conscious person.

    • Carina May 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      A couple years ago, I had a website with HostPapa before they got as big as they are today (which is still fairly small, honestly, but it’s more than just Canada now!). I remembered them when I went to buy my domain, and made sure to look there before going with one of the bigger companies.

      I’m not sure that I think bloggers are inherently more socially conscious because of being bloggers. I think it’s more that … bloggers tend to be made up of a higher percentage of young, liberal, technologically savvy, environmentally- and socially- conscious than the general population, so it’s more noticeable in our community. I think it’s part and parcel of the kind of people that blogging attracts, yanno? That’s a generalization, though – obviously not all bloggers are more socially conscious than the average bear, and not all non-bloggers are less socially conscious.

      I agree with you about how book bloggers are more consciously looking for more information. I think that’s also part of the inherent makeup of the blogging community – readers and bloggers tend to be people who want to learn and network with the world around them. 🙂

  • Amy May 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    What a great post. I think our reading choices, and what we highlight in our reviews, really shows social responsibility and consciousness. Of course it isn’t a requirement of blogging, but for those of us that it is important, it is pretty evident. I love finding out about new books and getting other opinions on them.

    Also, thanks for those two links, I hadn’t heard of them. Very cool.

    • Carina May 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      I also love reading posts by other bloggers that pique my interest because of social/ethical interests. It makes me squee inside!

  • Jen-Girls Gone Reading May 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I was not familiar with Carbon Neutral blogs or with 100% green energy hosts. I will be checking both of these out immediately!

    • Carina May 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      I’m happy to have hooked you up with the site now! 🙂

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  • Bluestocking May 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I never thought about this. Great post.

    Here is my first Armchair BEA post

  • Melina May 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Very nice post. I have never thought about this before.

    Melina

  • Aths May 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I think blogging with social responsibility is very important. One can argue that this blog is my space and I can do what I choose to do with it, and they are right, of course, and there are such bloggers who don’t care about the rest of the world. I think that’s ethically wrong. Sitting behind with a “I don’t care” attitude is as wrong as not being socially responsible. I extend that to the blogging space. If you stake a claim to even an iota of space on the internet, then you should be bound to use it respectfully. One doesn’t have to be a saint, but small gestures of appreciation, and respect can go a long way. Like you said, it can be by reading important books (little-known works, translations) or by taking part in any of the many ways to improve the world.

    Great post!

    • Carina May 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      Exactly! Social responsibility doesn’t have to be the same for every blogger. People should each find their own way of contributing, because even the small gestures count!

  • Janelle May 26, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I had also wondered about the Carbon Neutral Blogging program. Thanks for an informative post!

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    Armchair BEA: Making the Rounds « Reading and Rooibos

  • Valerie May 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Good blog post that brings up food for thought. As with people in general, there are a variety of book bloggers out there. I like reading about different cultures (both here and world-wide) and therefore the issues that come up in these books often show up in my reviews as well. But, on the other hand, there are some book bloggers who read certain types of genres that might not raise these issues, so they don’t discuss them.

  • Tif May 31, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Great post and great thing to consider! We really put ourselves out there all over the world, so we really do have the opportunity to share the love.

    By the way, have you seen the Social Justice Challenge?

    • Carina May 31, 2010 at 9:34 am

      I think I’ve seen it around somewhere, but never got around to joining it. I might do that at some point!

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