Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blogging, O Blogging. Wherefore art thou, Blogging?

A dying medium? A crippled connection tool? A once (arguably) revered form of literary expression reduced to advertisement and/or political bullshit?

Whatever your view of blogging, if you’ve been around the blogosphere long enough you know it’s dramatically changed in the last few years. What used to be the so-called, “intelligent” side of social media outlets has since been overshadowed and overrun by quick-and-now attention spans encouraged by FaceBook updates and Twitter feeds. One hundred sixty characters now seem to hold more merit than a three point essay or even a well-formulated rant. Likewise, a blog was once a badge of honor like Nineteenth Century name cards; their URL’s passed around and discussed between friends and strangers late at night, during working hours, or any other time of day when the need to respond became too much to ignore. In recent years, the only blogs you hear about are political, fashion, or gossip versions. And these are not written by anonymous anybodies pouring out their ideas late at night under glowing laptop screens, but rather by highly paid, “Editorialists” in penthouse offices and magazine front rooms. Not exactly, in my humble opinion, what blogs were meant to be.
Two years back I wrote about the eminent death of blogging. The post was immediately mistaken by some as a hate piece against FB, but further discussion showed it more of a sad goodbye than a blame game. When I wrote that, I was lamenting the fact that my blogroll had lost numerous members over the four years I’d been blogging and worse, was only half as active as it had been even one year before. Now? Less than one percent of the bloggers that were on that list (I still retain the complete list of blog’s I’ve followed) post (defining a post as more than one hundred sixty characters) more than once every two to three weeks. If you’re doing the math, that represents a 530% decline in bloggers – using the small scale of ELEVEN – in just  two years. If there was anyone reading this so far in a disagreeable spirit, what does that number do for you?
The thing that saddens me most is not the loss of bloggers but rather the exodus of readers. More readers fuel more discussion, more discussion fuels more ideas, and more ideas fuel more bloggers. The reader is where it starts. More times than I can count over the last six years, I would meet someone who informed me they were a reader of ELEVEN. In addition to the regular wordsmiths and idea-boxers I jousted with, these silent readers were an inspiration to me. With no return expectation, I would sometimes craft a post knowing specific someone’s were out there. Knowing my words were being read, invisible as well as in plain view, was a constant source of fiery inspiration.

So where have all the readers gone? To put it simply, life is just too busy for most to devote the time it takes to be an active reader of blogs. Children, work, family, friendships, television, hobbies, and of course, Facebook, have all taken a higher place on the priority list where blogging used to reside. That is not a slam on any of those things; priorities are personal decisions and no matter what your parents may have told you growing up, no one has the right to tell someone else their priorities are wrong. If you have limited time in your day, and blogging doesn’t hold the grip on your soul like everything else on your list, then it has to go. It’s saddening, but I get it.
I’m often frustrated when people bitch and whine without offering solution ideas to their complaint. Unfortunately, I don’t see a clear answer to this issue. As things electronic seem to do, blogging may hold on for awhile, but the crazy mad season of bloom it once enjoyed has mostly faded to a dull pitch. It may still hold value as a private (sarcasm intended) diary for some, a safer (again sarcastic) venue for family photos and stories, (and of course the paid versions will live on while they’re still funded,) the intellectual inter-change of belief system ideals, world views, and off-color humor – all under the beauty of e-relationships – is only staggering along at very best. Fix it? I’m not sure it can be fixed. And besides, I’ve outwritten my one hundred sixty characters and no one has the time to keep reading, so who am I talking to anyway?
What am I personally going to do about it, and what does the future of ELEVEN look like? I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument that FB is an acceptable alternative for how and what I see blogs as being; so despite the constant requests, I still reserve my right not to join. And since I have yet to find anything else that does compare, and even though the readers just aren’t around in the numbers they used to be, I want to keep writing here. I refuse to turn ELEVEN into an e-diary or a family picture album (even though I like reading others that do that), but would rather like to take ELEVEN back to a dialogue of ideas and opinions. One of my favorite things about blogging over the years is that the discussions contained within would often spill into real life, face-to-face conversations, which so many electronic forms of communications do not propagate. So if ELEVEN can give back to the world an opportunity to interact, discuss, or just plain think, I feel it still has worth. Blogging is not dead yet. Until it is I will continue to be on its roll call.

And for what’s it worth, this post is approximately 5397 characters.      


Blogger Kimmy said...

Well said! I'm right there with you.

And, good for you continuing to reserve your right not to join FB. Sometimes, I wish I'd never signed up. There are things I like about it, but on a whole, I wish it had never existed.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Priorities...I left my 3 year old unattended in the bath to come read wouldn't show up on my phone where I most often read those few new posts that pop up these days.

Any brownie points for that? ;p

I think the way people blog (or don't), and I certainly have no room to talk!, is indicative of the way people are living their lives in general. No time to stop and smell the time for friends and family - at least not in a meaningful way.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Swedish Mama said...

Blog on my son, I love it. I am a reader, and sometime commenter. I love the photos that many post: your sisters, Melissa, Jen to name a few.

I haven't blogged lately, the sorrow is still too fresh, but perhaps I will today. You may have primed the pump. (How many even know the true meaning of that phrase?)

And a couple pics of your new home would be great for us 'northerners'. Love You.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Hollie said...

Ihope you continute to blog. I enjoy reading your thoughts and ideas. And even though I have a FB account, I would much rather read a thought provoking writing.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I am not sure Facebook and blogs are all that similar except that they are on the computer. (Note this is coming from someone who does not have a Facebook). There are several reason to have a Facebook account and I don't think any of them are to read articles, analysis, unique content or opinions like blogs are. To me content is king- if the content is good it will be read. I read more Blogs now than ever because I have found the blogs that post consistently good content. I think the blogs that really last are those that have a specific vision or passion. Every time I go I know I am going to find the specific content I am looking for. In all the blogs I visit the writers are commenting on how many more page hits they are getting now than in the past so I am not sure I agree in the drop in readers.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Sweet Peripety said...

Hey. I'm rare but here. LOL. Keep it up. I'll try..but between my three kids, homeschooling, writing, whatever creative thing, is hard to do. Wish it wasn't such a tedious task. My dream is to blog every day, get published, reopen my Etsy shop, scrapbook, play piano every day, have dutiful quiet and extremely smart children, super clean house, awestruck husband. HAHAHA!!!!

9:21 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Okay Andrew, here's a question... What do you feel the specific content theme of ELEVEN is? Because as you say, my readership has actually increased over the past year or so. It's not even close to what it was a few years back, but it is increasing from the low it hit in 2010. So by your theory, that means there's something here worth reading, so what do you feel that is?

6:26 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

The content theme is your life. I obviously read 11 because you give updates on your life. They aren't "status updates" as to what you are doing now, instead they are usually reflective comments on an experience you have had or are having. Being that you are a friend of mine I check it to see if you have any updates. If someone was posting the same stories you were and I did not know them I probably wouldn't read their blog.

1:29 PM  

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