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. 

12 comments:

  1. I have been thinking of this a lot lately! There are so many blogs that I miss, some people were truly great writers and I appreciate their perspective and a glimpse into their lives. Glad to see you're still blogging!

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  2. I've worked in content marketing myself, and I, too, hate the word "content." I've been thinking about everything you mention here a lot lately. The blogging world has changed so much over the years, and so many of my favorite bloggers have come and gone. I've had my blog since 2009, and it feels very much like a part of my identity, yet there have been times when I've wanted to scrap it all together. I finally gave up on trying to monetize my blog a while back, though there's still pressure to produce consistently, especially since I use my blog as a way of marketing myself to potential employers.

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    1. It's hard to be nostalgic without sounding like I'm complaining. I don't hate the way blogs are now, but I miss the good ol' days, you know? I've also thought about closing up my blog, but like you said - it's such a part of my identity! And I also think about it terms of career, too. I haven't monetized it, but I do think about it as a way to reach readers and the community of people who will one day read my novels. (Fingers crossed.) I really like the direction you've taken your blog in, and your newsletter is great, too! I'd love to contribute some time. :)

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    2. I would love that! If you've got any ideas, I'm all ears. I know I'd love whatever you come up with. I'll be doing some brainstorming after the holidays in that regard, as well. And so glad you're enjoying the blog and newsletter. :)

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  3. I know I hardly post anymore, but I still love checking in with your blog! Maybe I'll get back in the swing of things after my MFA is over. I have some big plans to post over winter break... Let's see if that actually happens.

    I do read all of your posts, even if I haven't commented in like a year.

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    1. I miss your blog, but I totally get being busy (especially while doing your MFA!). Plus since also we're friends on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, I still feel as if I can adequately stalk you. :)
      Also this wasn't a cry for comments! I very, very rarely comment on blogs anymore myself. If I respond to posts at all, I take the lazy way out and head to Twitter. Another fascinating development in the blogging world.

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  4. Aw, I feel your nostalgia, my friend. Of course I miss the way things used to be! I've been thinking about how nice it is to have hobbies and outlets where the goal is NOT to make money. It feels like freedom, as so much of my day (sometimes from morning until night!) is tied up in making money. I love my work, but sometimes it utterly dominates my life. And that is a hard reality to accept sometimes.

    I too have thought of just acknowledging what seems obvious: that I lack the time/passion/persistence to keep blogging. And yet, I just wrote my second post in two months after not posting anything since April. APRIL! So I feel like my blog still has value, and I'm allowed to keep it open.

    I'm glad you are still writing in this space, and I plan to catch up on your posts :-) Also, I'm glad we are friends!

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    1. The beauty of hobby blogging is that you don't have to keep any kind of schedule - you can post when you have time, and/or something to say. I think this is wonderful, and I like knowing you may pop up in my feedly reader at any moment. I'm excited to scurry over and see what you're up to. While I like following your escapades on Facebook, there's something more intimate and cozy about chatting blog-to-blog, you know?

      Also, I agree that it's good to have a hobby not tied up in money or responsibility. I crave that freedom as well. <3

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  5. It's so strange, looking back at the way it used to be. I remember the exact moment when I realized that I was pretty much going to drift away from blogging--a national blogging conference that took place right down the road from me. I went, thinking that it would be cool to meet other VA bloggers who were attending (as well as some food stylists and writers from around the country) and quickly realized that the entire shindig was a huge marketing ploy by large corporations. I just felt sick. The internet used to be about stories and honesty and not even having a photo in every post...I miss it.

    But that's life--and as someone in marketing, well, yeah, I kinda get it. The whole point of my job is to monetize content as well! (Which also means I have ZERO desire to go home and sit in front of a computer and type...)

    I'm glad you still sporadically post. I love everything, from the fitness to the chickens to the books (you're one of my best book guides!) and I hope you keep doing what you want to do with this space with whatever time you feel compelled to give it. I also hope to make it Wilmington way again soon so that we can have another blogger meetup, so many years later now. Time flies!

    Here's to the freedom to be whoever we are in 2016--especially on the internet! <3

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  6. I still blog like my LiveJournal. I'm just better at inserting pictures now.

    I noticed the blogs I follow dwindling. The ones that are still around post much less. I have less time to read. I definitely don't comment as much as I used to. I think 4 blogs are still left from the ones I was reading 4 years ago. I have added some new ones but not many. I used to read 20+ daily.

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