Friday, December 11, 2015

The Last Blog on Earth

I've been writing this blog for over 10 years, and in all that time I've never strayed far from the "personal blog" category. Sure, I dabbled in food blogging and fitness blogging and book blogging, and there was a big section of my life devoted almost solely to roller derby, but overall this blog has been a slow and steady compilation of my life. And it wasn't unique, either. Remember, I started blogging back when we all had LiveJournal accounts and wrote aimlessly about our day, sharing too many details about our love lives, big dreams, and irrational fears. I'm a nosy person by nature and I loved the ability to peek into a stranger's life, see how they lived and hear what they thought. For many years, blogging was a window each of us - including me - kept wide open. 

Then, things began to change. As the years went by I watched some of my favorite bloggers shift to specific niches, monetizing their blogs and branding themselves, all while closing certain windows shut. Each time I was disappointed, even though I mostly supported what they were doing. And while I miss the way we used to write, I can also see why it had to change. In the beginning the Internet felt like my own playground, free from prying eyes and judgement. Most of the people in my every day life didn't even know what a blog (excuse me, "online journal") was, so even though I was writing and publishing openly, it still felt private. I never felt the need to hold back or censor myself. Then the Internet blew up. Suddenly, everyone had a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a personal brand. These days, I can't imagine writing that honestly online, not just because I'm ten years older, but because the audience is so much bigger. 

I used to read hundreds of blogs daily. (RIP, Google Reader.) Now, I read only a small handful that continues to dwindle. Not all the personal blogs of yesteryear transformed themselves into money-making endeavors. Most of them simply faded away, closed down and shut their doors. The women who wrote them (and it was almost all women, at least in my corner of the Internet) started their blogs in their 20s, when they had time and energy to spare. Now, we're in our 30s, with careers and families and a better sense of how much we can safely share, how much we're willing to risk for an audience of strangers. There's also the fact that the blogs I loved best were written from a place of passion. They were hobbies, side projects, and so it makes sense that these blogs would be the first thing to go when new passions and projects rose up to take their place. I get it. One of the reasons I only post a few times a month is because my limited writing time is reserved for novels and short stories and essays, the creative work around which I'm trying to build my life. Even now, as I type this, part of me feels guilty for the hour I'm not working on my book.

So why am I thinking about this now? What, you're wondering, is the point of this post? The answer is complicated. Part of the reason I'm thinking about it is because of my day job, the fact that I now blog and manage social media accounts for various businesses and clients. I'm a content marketing specialist, which is ironic, because "content" is one of the words I hate most, at least when it comes to the Internet. It commodifies our words blatantly, sets them up as something to sell. The joy of sharing simply to connect with others is missing. Lately, it seems that every interaction on the Internet is layered. On the surface, we're making jokes and chatting with friends and sharing things that interest us, but it's not that simple. It's not that pure. There's always another motive, a thing we're trying to sell, something we want to prove.

Which is a very long winded way to say that there isn't a point to this post. I'm just thinking out loud, like I used to, before the Internet got so big that we had to hide the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. And to say this: to all the bloggers I used to read, who have moved on to new adventures: I miss you, and I hope you're well.