Susan Milstrey Wells

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

I came late to the party.

There I was, trying to figure out what to blog about, or whether to blog at all, when I did what I often do when I can’t write—I research. I researched the past, present, and future of blog writing and decided to write a blog post about blogs, which somehow struck me as a bit like the Droste effect.

You’ve seen the Droste effect, even if you don’t know that’s what it’s called (I didn’t either, until my trivia-buff husband told me). It’s when one picture contains a smaller image of the same picture—think of the turtle on the can of Turtle Wax, who is holding a can of Turtle Wax. But I digress.

What I learned is that many consider the heyday of blogging to be over. Long gone are the days when a blog consisted of a writer or group of writers posting about everything from motherhood to politics, each with a distinct voice, each connecting with like-minded souls.

Blogging was a “singular moment in internet history,” Brian Merchant said. It was egalitarian—anyone with a computer and a URL could to it. It was “chatty” and “affable” and “prized personality over pomp,” Robinson Meyer wrote. He said blogging was supposed to be the Obi-Wan of web writing—made stronger if Darth Vader, in the guise of corporate interests, tried to kill it. So, how did we get to the point where the only people who blog, according to Meyer, are “undergrads on their first week of study abroad” or “40-somethings with kids,” as longtime blogger and a 40-something with kids Jason Kottke wrote?

“Twitter killed the blogging star,” Jett Heer said. He wrote that Twitter has become the “micro-blogging form of choice,” leaving behind countless abandoned blogs, what the Japanese call ishikoro, or pebbles. As the web becomes littered with these pebbles, bloggers have begun podcasting or creating GIFs. There is little room in a post-print world for a medium that was “all about voice,” Heer said. With many bloggers now running corporate media empires, like Vox, blogging has gone corporate.

And that leaves many pining for the good old days, including Vox editor Ezra Klein. When pioneering political blogger Andrew Sullivan stopped blogging, Klein said “crap.” Clicks are replacing conversations, Klein wrote. “Blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral,” he said. As the personal diary style of blogging has evolved into content marketing, “the romance is definitely dead,” Lynsey Grosfield concluded.

Well, in the words of Ezra Klein, “crap.” Where does that leave a Susie-come-lately like me?

It leaves me right where I am, cheered by Sullivan’s words, “I’m a human being before I am a writer, and a writer before I am a blogger.”

It leaves me knowing, in the words of Brevity’s Social Media Editor Allison K Williams, that I’m not going to make a million dollars with my blog, but I can blog anyway. I appreciate her contention that blogging helps a writer “put out work regularly without being precious about it” and that it keeps us in the habit of writing.

It leaves me acknowledging, in the words of ProBlogger Darren Rowse, that blogging is still important for establishing trust.

But, most important, it leaves me agreeing with dear friend and blogger Kristen King that writing is “existence. It’s survival.”

Perhaps I’m being a bit precious when I say that being a writer is more than what I do to make a living—it’s who I am. But it is true that writing is how I make sense of my world. So, if the occasional blog post allows me to make sense of something I’m curious or confused about, and if that allows me to connect with someone who might be curious or confused about it, too, I will keep blogging.

I may be late to the party, but I’ve worn my best dress!

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