Here we are in 2017 and blogging feels dead. Medium, Blogger, WordPress are all flourishing. WordPress is actually the largest CMS in the world and PMachine, Expression Engine, Drupal are all but dead but the definition of blogging itself is outdated. Even among traditional media, the majority of the people I read to stay informed are themselves bloggers. I truthfully am old school in my thinking but if you didn’t go to J-School and don’t act with journalistic integrity and report the news, you’re a blogger. This is honestly most people on CNN and NYTimes. Everyone is injecting their personal beliefs in the news and adding opinion to it because leaning left or right sells advertisements and newspapers. Centrist recounting of real-world events is all but dead. The few places doing this barely make enough money to survive.
No, I’m talking about blogging on the personal level. The mundane, the fears, stresses and thoughts about our world seen through the eyes of someone who is imperfect and without any skin in the game to censor themselves and try to not piss anyone off. This kind of blogging feels dead to me.
I follow dozens of websites in my RSS reader from individuals who blog. These days, that folder in my reader has a post twice a year at most and it’s only SpecialKolin who has recently taken up writing again that I’m forced to reflect on the reality which is blogging is dead. His three posts in a week has been exciting. Tech-news is boring, analysis, commentators, rumors about Apple it all becomes mundane and boring. I’m in this mode where I want a digital connection with the people I know and I’m not getting it anymore. The feed-reader used to be the way I could know what was going on with my friends. Now, they’re all on Facebook arguing about politics and vaccines and whatever the Hell a social justice warrior is. The in-fighting and relationships based off what people like or share in their news-feed is all that matters anymore. Trying to find an actual post about that someone is doing on Facebook is impossible now. It’s just thousands of pages of articles about our government and people being shot and corruption. I guess all of the relationships are on Instagram or Snap chat? IDK
My point is, I need a stream, an unfiltered, ad-free, algorithm-free stream of consciousness from the people who matter to me. The last time I was friends with my sister on Facebook (about 4 years ago), it was re-posts of fake celebrity quotes, selfies with way too much make-up and memes. I had no clue what my sister was actually doing in her life. Her about page said she worked at the White House and her likes were 2,000 brands like Skittles and Fallout Boy. What does she actually like or do or dream or feel? Facebook wasn’t going to tell me.
If she had a blog, a place where once a week she shares 250 words about her week and what she did and her feelings toward it all, I’d be able to build my own graph of her. Now, we talk on the phone and that’s fine but when I’m drinking my coffee, I don’t care when the next iPhone is coming out. I want to read about my friends and their lives. Lauren, who updates her blog once a year, I don’t know what she’s doing and she and I tried for years to talk on the phone but in SF, she simply has too much going on to make that time. I miss her and I know she thinks of me sometimes but what is she actually doing? The same goes for Ben, I texted him while I was in FL seeing if he knew anyone in SC/NC I could crash with since he went to college at SCAD. He said “Well, I live in North Carolina”
He lives on Cape Cod for all I know but nope, he bought a house and lives in NC now. We talk all of the time about random things via iMessage and receive each others workout alerts on our Apple Watch but I have no idea what his life is right now. I’m sure it’s all on Facebook..or maybe not, who knows?
I know a lot of people have moved over to Medium and never bothered to send posts to their old RSS feed thinking no one uses RSS anymore but a lot of us do. An outsider may read this and think I’m trying to force the world to use my old way to consume media. Every social media company in an effort to be a silo has killed their RSS feeds. I used to read my friend’s facebook pages via RSS and their tweets as well. Those feeds are all dead. I found out my ex Elizabeth is engaged to be wed..how, via her blog that she updates twice a year. Twice a year is better than nothing. I’m happy for her, she found someone to settle down with and share her life with and I’d always have this unknown about her place in the world without RSS. Some would say that losing touch with people is a part of life but I don’t watch reality TV, I don’t use social media so for me, personal web logs are the way I keep up with the individual stories of people I’ve spent significant time with over the years.
There needs to be something to reverse this insulated silo of today’s modern social networks. I don’t know if there’s a way to go back. Facebook became too big so a lot of people followed the Path model of a private social network only with your friends but now social networks launch and stay on iOS. Who wants to write to their friends on a tiny screen with a tiny keyboard?
When I quit Twitter and Social Media in 2013, I wrote:
Overall, to those who know me, this isn’t a surprise. There may come a day when I’m no longer “social” on the Internet and just blog and take photos and spend more time away from the web. Who knows how social I’ll be in 10 years. For now, this is the deal. With just short of 80,000 tweets on Twitter and having been a member since the first anniversary of the service, I’m leaving.
A few weeks ago, I looked at my Facebook & Twitter archives that I created before closing up shop. From 2011-2013, I become more ornery and more old-school in my thinking or perhaps the better way to put this is I stopped keeping up with the trends. Who the Hell writes 1500 words about social media anymore?
I watch my girlfriend use social media. She uses her top of the line MacBook Pro once a week to organize, shop, plan, etc but I would estimate that 95% of her computing is on her iPhone 7 Plus and our home iPad. The MacBook Pro collects dust. This to me is horrifying because I see her 40 hours of phone use a week as completely avoidable. She could compose her messages, process photos and read updates from friends 80-90% faster on a larger screen with a real keyboard. Who the Hell wants to type on a damn touch screen all day on a 5” screen in a non ergonomic position on a device that’s twice as slow as your laptop? To me, the way she computes seems insane. I can’t comprehend it, I look at it like watching a kid who carries a Game Boy around all day when they have a Gaming PC right there that has better graphics and a huge screen. I relate zero percent to anyone who primarily computes on a tiny mobile phone. My phone has applications for Health, weather, music, email and reminders. I don’t have any social applications on my phone or iPad. I read on them and check email and HomeKit and when I compute, my MacBook Pro or iMac are always 5 feet away.
Even if I had this requirement to use social media, I couldn’t. Instagram, SnapChat, Path are all mobile only! I’d refuse it. Twitter & Facebook are on a desktop but supposedly those are old-school. All the new stuff is elsewhere. What are the percentage of people who use Apple Music within iTunes? Me, 95% of my Apple Music listening happens through iTunes and mostly I just listen to local files. I consume all of my media stored on a Synology NAS in my basement, streaming is ridiculous. the quality looks atrocious and usually there are buffers, ads and limited content availability. At any point your favorite show, song, movie could disappear from a service you’re paying for. Who would opt for that life?!?!
My point is, the posts I was making on social media back in 2013 were bad. They were ornery, insensitive. I was at my wits end for where the world was heading. People were giving up their privacy just to post short quips to each other via their cell phone, low grade text, photos, video full of ads sending media out to the world and signing over the ownership of that media to large corporations. I feel as strongly now as I did then. My days were numbered on social media. I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to. If I did, no one would be listening. I’d be so backwards from how everyone is thinking that I’d be tweeting and SnapChatting to myself. Who’s going to follow a negative nancy about the state of media today?
At my job, I still work in social media but I don’t do the posting. I design and develop and plan. I like that. I think social media is really valuable to large companies but it’s built for us. We are the customer, not the people using it every day.
I’m happy to still have my blog and store everything myself and keep ownership. I know most of you don’t care and most of you will never read this but I crave personal blogging. It’s how I express myself and I can read these posts years later and still enjoy them even if my mind has changed since then. I wish more of you shared like this. I miss you all.
The bloggers. Come back.