A “friend” of mine has made the decision to end her blog. I don’t know why I put friend in literal quotes, suggesting air quotes. I actually know Lauren, though only because of the web of social media. When I read last night that she is ending her blog (a quite successful travel blog at that) I was surprised. Not that something would end, but that she had the commitment to kill it. And I loved her examination and explanation of it. “I’ve outgrown my own blog.”
It got me thinking about how lately I have been writing as much as ever but blogging far less frequently. I also had an uncharacteristic lack of motivation to deal with sorting out how I would mitigate the limits of the free WordPress platform, which I had come up against. For months I have been unable to decide what to do about that (ultimately deciding to commit to this noncommittal second free page, which will require a redirect and blah blah blah.)
On top of that I have been watching with interest how the blogging intercourse has been changing of late. I count among some of my most significant friends people who I met only via the web-based world of writing (Hello iDriss, Daniel, Clare, Michelle, Ruth, Stacy). People who came across my blog, or me theirs, or who I wrote with, and all of whom traded commentary, suggestions, questions, insights, and support surrounding our writing, and sort of by default, our lives. But this, like all things media based, seems to have changed, and quite dramatically as of late. Take for example the phenomena of “liking” something.
There’s times where I want something more
Someone more like me
When I was first writing publicly in a regular way, I had a clear and specific audience – I was a recently expatriated teacher and was recounting my experiences to my students as well as writing for my family. Of course , my audience grew as it is prone to do when one uses categories and tags in an effective way, and with this I got more and more interested in the audience factor. Still, the growth was slow. During this time, people would leave comments on my posts. Like real, thought-out comments. They would ask questions. They would offer their parallel stories and emote in logical ways. It was completely clear that they were reading the blog.
In contrast, two days ago I set up this new page. It has only a couple of not terribly profound pieces on it. Yet, in less time than it took to set up the page, I have been subscribed to, followed by, and ‘liked’ by more people than (outside of family) I garnered in the first year of the blog’s predecessor. Now, do not misunderstand me, I am still me and find the attention totally validating (falsely, I know) and satisfying (the ego is a tyrant) but this is a really different experience from the dialog I had with people surrounding my posts of yore.
But, all things change. Another friend of mine from the world of the interwebs reminded me that to like/follow/favorite something on the Internet is so much easier than other forms of interaction. And of course Ken is totally right, but the interaction is so different. Or is it? If the object of Internet intercourse is actually to draw more interest to your own work, then the interaction was never what I thought it was. Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing, just that I misunderstood the motivation for webversation in the past. This belief that the best way to get attention is to get your self out there like crazy (self-promote I think it is called?) then to go out and “like” several hundred random postings is a good plan. Right? I mean, at least in my own experience I almost always go and check out my random “likers”, which means that at least their primary objective (views? contact?) is being met.
But I am not sure that is my goal. However, having said that, it seems pertinent to identify a goal. And of this I am no longer sure. Was it to meet people? I am not sure though it certainly happened. Was it to inspire my creativity? Unlikely. Though, it may have. I think a much more honest admission of intent would have something to do with showing off a bit, whether experiences, accomplishments,”talents”…. There is even a word for this sort of thing now [facebragging]. There is also the thing about blogging in its immediacy and individualistic nature that encourages the confessional, which for me brings up all sorts of questions, not the least of which being the one I hear constantly from my friends and family: why did you write about that!?!?
Sometimes I write because I want to vent about things. This usually draws a lot of feedback, so I imagine some of the things that make me insane must get to other people as well. I have blogged about specific people because I know they passively aggressively track my blog, but that is frustrating, because then you have to suffer though their crap to see how they responded, so really, who suffers most in that case? (Some of the shit those librarians posted made my eyes bleed, and they were shockingly poor writers for literary folk.) See what I did right there? Yeah. Some blogs I have seen are really, really bad. But not for their self-indulgence, I allow for that (obviously). A lot of people out there just can’t write. Or they are painfully derivative. Frankly, I’m unsure what is worse. But maybe they started out strong and just lost their mojo.
There’s times when this dress rehearsal
And this brings me back to looking at the lifespan of our social media selves. Maybe we do just outgrow things, even ourselves. They say even the magical empire of Facebook is waning in the face of even more abbreviated formats like Twitter and Instagram. If we keep on this trend pretty soon entire posts will be punctuation and then… *
Maybe the lack of inspiration to share things is less about not having things to share than a realization that some things aren’t served by this medium of self-indulgent immediacy. Maybe as we get to know ourselves better we realize that it is less important to explain ourselves to others. Maybe there are just better things to do with our time.
So many moons that we have seen
Stumbling back next to me
I’ve seen right through and underneath
For now I will keep blogging. For the same reasons. To talk about work, about travel, about funny stories that I know will make certain people laugh. Maybe because I like the idea of some sort of personal archival record. Maybe to meet more interesting people. Maybe. I am not even a good blogger like that in terms of interacting and reading other blogs… I go for months without taking my head out of the sand and then I binge and see what all my friends are up to. But I will miss Lauren out there in the blogosphere.
And I will be more aware of that niggling feeling I get sometimes when I just feel like maybe there is something more substantial, or at least more relevant, underneath it all.