The writer does not simply give us what he thinks or knows; he gives us himself.
—from “Style and the Man” by John Burroughs
While poking around the backend of my WordPress account, I recently discovered several of my old blogs from 2007-2010. Truthfully, they’ve been “hidden” for years, so I forgot they even existed—and what a treasure trove of me there was to re-discover there! I’ve blogged under several site names over the years and typically abandoned one for the next, but the consistent theme of all my blogs has been me wrestling, semi-publicly, in some small way with the big questions of life. Although my posts were very sporadic during those early years, I decided to import them all here, so that I can have one, whole, continuous blogging record from when I started until the present day.
If you’ve been reading and writing blogs for as long as I have (apparently almost eleven years), you will have noticed that blogging has pretty much died. The mass extinction of blogs seems to have reached its peak sometime around 2015: First came the exhaustion and disillusionment of the bloggers whose monetized blogs straddled the line between compensation and exploitation, then came the “Is everyone having fun on social media without me?” phenomenon that effectively killed those still standing (hardly surprising given that Facebook went from 1 million to 2 billion active monthly users between 2004 and 2018).
It has been really disheartening to watch as blogs I used to love—or had the misfortune to discover three or four years too late—shifted their creative focus to social media silos, where no one owns their content and everything they produce is then sold back to them in some form or another. Gross. And the ephemeral nature of the internet in general, and social media specifically, means that if these “platforms” close up shop, all of that content will be lost, irretrievable—every memory, every family photo that you diligently documented on Facebook will be gone in the blink of an eye. The Wayback Machine doesn’t archive social media, but it does archive blogs.
Amid all this bad news, there is one interesting ray of hope: Many of us who started blogging more than a decade ago are still doing it. Perhaps it has something to do with the sheer amount of work we have put into, and continue to put into, these virtual spaces over the years. Regardless of our reasons, we keep coming back even when we know a lot of folks are no longer visiting our blogs, and if they do visit they are skimming rather than engaging (as we all do these days). We keep making beautiful pictures with professional-grade cameras, and painstakingly edit them in Photoshop, knowing that nearly everyone who actually sees them will do so on a tiny iPhone screen.
One might rightfully ask: Why bother? I can only answer for myself, but being able to look back on my life through my own thoughts and pictures is an incredible gift. And, I think this may be true for others, as well. Over the years, the posts of my favorite bloggers have become less frequent, but more sincere. Their blogs have matured with them, becoming more personal, more philosophical, more reflective—less about “projects” and “tutorials” and “shop updates” than about living. It’s really quite beautiful and inspiring. Of course, sometimes my older posts make me wince a little with embarrassment, but I think that’s a pretty common experience for those of us who make things to be seen. As John Burroughs noted, publishing requires being exposed.
And, exposure can be a good thing; it’s an integral aspect of the web. Back in the day, new bloggers sought exposure through inclusion in the “blogrolls” of more popular blogs. I found so many of the blogs that I still read and love from some blogroll or another, but you rarely see them anywhere today—like so many of the visual and functional aspects of websites, blogrolls largely died out with the advent of mobile technology. As an extension of this love letter to blogging I’m bringing back my blogroll, and I’ll be adding to it over the coming months—you can find it in the sidebar (desktop) or at the end of this page (mobile).
Come what may, I plan to continue blogging for the foreseeable future—perhaps you will consider joining me? Trust me: If you can post on Facebook, you can use WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad or Squarespace . . . ) and I’d love to add you to my blogroll 🙂
Le blog est mort, vive le blog!