Thursday, September 20, 2018

Five Things I Miss About Blogging

I've been blogging for almost 14 years. I started back in 2005, in the middle of what many may call this medium's heyday, which was roughly 2002-2009 or so (it might have actually ended sooner than that).

Obviously, I still blog. But my attitude toward it has changed, which perhaps reflects the larger shifts that this practice has undergone over the years.

It used to be that "everybody who's anybody" had a blog. For a while, it was one's primary method of sharing one's opinions with the world in an online format. Now many who used to keep one have moved on to other social media sites and share their views in different ways.

I admit that even I don't read nearly as many blogs as I used to. But there was something about what blogging used to be that I still miss and can't seem to be able to find in this internet practice the way that I used to.

Here are five such things.

1. The Camaraderie - The "blogosphere" used to be more of a community. Big sites like Salon and Patheos and others had networks and interactions, and there used to be things called "blog rings" that you could join for like-minded bloggers or for blogs with similar themes (some like the RevGalBlogPals are still flourishing). We'd regularly cross-polinate posts and comments and, over time, I found myself in little pockets of supportive communities.

But as blogging has waned, so has that sense of camaraderie. As mentioned, people connect online in other ways now. I've found a decent amount of people from those earlier days on Facebook and Twitter and interact with them there, but what we had at the beginning is gone.

2. The Personalization - Harkening back to the days of LiveJournal, blogs used to be more personal in nature, like keeping an online diary for the world to read. As more organizations and corporations and businesses adopted the practice, blogging became more formal in tone, and the information shared in posts became more about tips of whatever trade people were a part of and less of their personal lives. Some blog genres like "mommy blogging" kept personal sharing, but turned it into a professional brand. While such blogs had the look of those earlier days, at its heart was the promotion of a persona, which arguably is what most of social media is, anyway.

The point is that something of blogging's raw quality has been cooked away because everyone's trying to sell something now, including oneself. I've even fallen into this trap, having moved away from that same style of personal updates. As an author an occasional speaker, I feel that pressure as much as anyone else.

3. The Frequency - I could tell you about blogs that used to be updated at least several times a week. They were in high abundance, and I'd spend an hour most mornings going down my list of favorites to catch up on their latest insights. I can count those near-daily blogs on one hand now; many more have moved to weekly, biweekly, or monthly output.

It's understandable that this has happened. People may update their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram daily or even hourly, and it's way more convenient to do that than to try pounding out a few paragraphs several times a week. Such writing takes time and effort, and after a while you just might not feel like putting in that work any more.

4. The Longform Writing - Which brings me to this. It's way easier to type a few sentences on those other sites than something longer on a blog. The attention spans of writers and readers alike have changed. While posts on these other places can still be thoughtful and deep, there isn't the same nuance and expansive explanation that blogging afforded.

Ironically, people who read Facebook posts and tweets, in my experience, have way less patience for understanding the writer's point in favor of outrage either in solidarity or in opposition. A blog post had more potential to develop a point than these more popular media can.

5. The Reading List - As mentioned, I used to have a list of blogs I'd check every morning the way others read the morning paper. A few of these are still writing; many others have moved on. Now I open Facebook and Twitter and am barraged by short pithy ideas or videos or pictures or memes or links to someone else's writing. We no longer share our own thoughts in detailed form online the way that we once did. Hell, I don't even feel like doing it the way that I used to.

But I miss when a lot more of us did.