When we came back from our trip in March, I was looking forward to a binge-reading session where I would finally catch up on all the blog posts I had missed while we were away. I subscribe to hundreds of feeds and when we are on the road, I don’t usually have time to go through my daily list of updates, as I do at home. Feng and I share a laptop and my Internet sessions at night are dedicated to work assignments, blog updates, and travel decisions.
But when I logged back into Feedly—my feed aggregator—I realized there weren’t that many articles unread, certainly fewer than I had expected considering I follow about 50 personal blogs.
I was somewhat disappointed. See, I actually enjoy reading blogs. It’s not a chore, I’m not returning the favour after receiving comments. Blogs help me satisfy my curiosity about us, humans. I take pleasure in discovering how other people live, in Canada or elsewhere, and I find inspiration and a certain comfort in different writing styles, ways to tackle issues, perspectives, dilemmas and sources of happiness. I like following life-changing moments and more mundane activities—your routine isn’t always my routine!—much like I can’t help looking into someone’s living room when I walk past if the lights are on and the curtains open.
But lately, I realized many of my favourite bloggers just stopped writing. Last post published a year ago, six months ago… I’ve been blogging since 2006, so I know the drill. Few bloggers officially shut down their blogs—and when it happens it’s usually because a specific adventure is over or after some drama took place, like cruel trolling or doxing. This is rare, though. Most blogs don’t end with an epilogue—the author just stops posting. Sometimes, a hiatus is announced and occasionally, a quick “be right back, sorry for the lack of news lately” article shows up in my feed. But from experience, those who pause for a long time simply stop blogging eventually.
I don’t blame them. Blogging is a weird activity, both selfless and self-centred. In a way, it’s volunteer work because there is little or no money to be made and no fame to enjoy for sharing information, advice, experiences or adventures. Writing is time-consuming and when you’re finally done making sure all your sentences have verbs, you still have to deal with the technical aspects of publishing online—updates, plugins, functionalities, etc.—and the cost associated to services like hosting. It can also be downright depressing when you’re personally attacked. Yet, of course, blogging is also an opportunity for navel-gazing since most of us do use the first person and focus on our own little world. It’s rewarding to be appreciated. It’s rewarding to be read.
I get irrationally angry when one of my favourite authors dies—how dare they!—so you can imagine how disappointed I am when the blogs I follow are no longer updated. I’ll never get closure! I’ll never be able to discover the next chapter in their life! Damn. Feels like dropping a book in the bathtub just before discovering who was behind all the murders described in the previous 500 pages.
My data probably lacks perspective because I’m stuck in a tiny corner of the Web, but I think a bigger trend is developing—nowadays, blogging just isn’t as popular. I remember that between 2007 and 2010, everybody wanted to start a blog because you could supposedly make a living out of it (I’m still wondering how). If you weren’t on Facebook, you were on Blogger or WordPress. Lately, other platforms and networks took over, like Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Blogging isn’t as cool anymore.
In 2006, I remember hesitating between developing the small blog I had just started first on Yahoo, then on Blogger, or signing up on this new network, Facebook. “Meh, I don’t want to write on Facebook,” I thought. “This wannabe MySpace probably won’t last and I may lose all my data.” (Yeah, never ask me for stock investing advice…) I never regretted my choice because this blog helped me in many ways—I got some writing practice, met awesome people, and landed new contracts. Despite the occasional headache and questionable requests—a guy just emailed me because he wants me to help him sue the Canadian Government…—blogging still makes sense for me.
I hope it does for you too.
I don’t want to ever run out of blogs to read. Get to work, people!