Blogging has changed a lot since I first discovered the medium in 2005. I was a receptionist for a non-profit and spent the majority of my time trying to look busy to avoid the menial tasks of envelope stuffing and pamphlet folding. I don’t remember the name of the first blog I read. I do remember imbibing it from start to finish. I was fascinated to uncover the details of another life, someone I would never meet in person but who was real, experiencing a lot of the same boredom and disconnection I felt at the time. It was better than a novel. At least, any I had read at the age of 23.
Back then, blogging to me was about authentic story-telling. I could get to know someone, gain access to their worlds, without having to endure the discomfort of small talk. To be sure it was voyeuristic. I almost never left a comment. Yet, it was also cathartic. For me and, I assumed, for them The writers weren’t sharing anything they weren’t prepared to publicize, even if there were sometimes unforeseen consequences.
The lives of other people are still interesting. I learn a lot about myself by reading the challenges and heart breaks of others. Yes, blog reading is entertainment, something to do on a rainy day. It also makes the world a little less frightening, a little more touchable, a lot more survivable. Or rather, it did for me.
However, blogs are different now. This is okay. In fact, it makes sense. As the cliché goes, change is a natural progression.
For instance, when was the last time you read a blog, like really read it, from beginning to end? Actually, when was the last time you read a whole blog article? Truly read the words. Not scrolling to the bolded text or skimming while formulating your reply or scanning for a sexy quote to share on social media or just checking out the pictures or watching fifteen seconds of a video. Read the text and enjoyed it for its own sake.
Maybe you do all the time. If so, I think you are the minority. Especially in the Petosphere.
A few weeks ago I read a book by Ruth Izeki, entitled A Tale for the Time Being. One of the protagonists is a teenager named Naoko and she shared a few opinions on blogging in her diary that struck me. You may disagree:
It made me sad when I caught myself pretending that everybody out there in cyberspace cared about what I thought, when really nobody gives a shit. And when I multiplied that sad feeling by all the millions of people in their lonely little rooms, furiously writing and posting to their lonely little pages that nobody has time to read because they’re all so busy writing and posting, it kind of broke my heart.
This is harsh, perhaps, but I think more true than I would like it to be. And part of the reason I am quitting blogging.
Blogging, pet blogging especially, is no longer about stories. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few exceptions, You might be one of them. It is not my desire to judge or offend. It is not to say that personal stories are the only purpose of a blog, because they aren’t. But they were the main draw for me, and the only thing I know how to write.
In 2015, as opposed to 2005, blogging is less about connection and more about promotion. By that I mean selling something, whether one’s own brand/products or ad space for someone else’s. In my opinion, there is less time to get to know someone, to share an authentic experience, because there is too much pressure to perform. It is hard to be real when worrying about the bottom line.
In 2015, bloggers can’t just sit down with a cup of coffee and say what’s on their mind. Each post takes hours worth of crafting to ensure SEO and brand compliance. Money needs to be spent on supplies and every word economized because no one is going to read a post that is just a bunch of letters on the screen. Photos need to be taken with fancy cameras and professional lighting. The house needs to be spotless so as not to distract from the subject in said photos.
In 2015, bloggers can’t curl up with their feed readers and giggle over someone else’s story. Commenting is only done for the purpose of increasing traffic and engagement on one’s own website. “Mark All As Read” is the standard theme. There is no time to delve into someone else’s life, to learn, to connect. Not when the optimum daily time to post is approaching and one hasn’t even come up with a topic. There is no time to share stories.
In 2015, bloggers need to be experts. They need to present themselves as the authority in their subjects. They also need to be technologically savvy and brilliant designers – or at least have the cash to pay someone else.
In 2015, bloggers don’t need to be competent writers. Since no one is reading anyway, it doesn’t matter how they say something. As long as they are willing to write a positive review of the item of the day, companies will keep paying for it.
In 2015, blogging is harder and easier than it was in 2005, depending on your perspective. Depending on your goal.
It is possible I am bitter. I must admit, I miss the time in my life when blogging was new. When I looked forward to sitting down at the computer in the belief my story might reach people, and being reached by others in return. But it all got complicated. It all became a lot of work. I knew I don’t have it in me to keep up.
These days, I get as much out of writing in my private spaces as I do out of blogging. A pen and paper doesn’t need hosting fees or knowledge of CSS, After all I went through this past fall when my hosting company kicked me out and spam monsters ate my blog, none of the stress seemed to have a point any more. It made more sense to let it go. No one was reading anyway.
Pet blogging is no longer for us amateurs. That’s totally cool. It’s kind of exciting. Pets aren’t this dorky niche that no one talks about any more. Companies are starting to take it seriously. Bloggers are finding ways to make real money. It’s fantastic. I am so glad I got to be a tiny part of the beginning.
There are no regrets. I have met some amazing people through blogging. Some of the .kindest, most authentic, most talented people in the world. I am so glad I spent the hours coming up with 902 posts on Rescued Insanity. Every second was worth it. I wish I had it in me to spend more.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have learned Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers has a new addition. We brought home a puppy at the start of January. Proving we are insane. I would love to write about these new struggles we are facing. I would love to seek your advice and commiseration on house training, dog-cat interactions, and how to prevent your destructo dog from eating all of your new puppy’s toys. I would love to share our failures. I would love to tell more stories. But I can’t get up the energy to start over again here. The magic is gone. The connection is lost.
My blogging days are done.
I am not sad over this as much as I thought I would be. I guess it’s no surprise.
I won’t close down the page. When I started it in 2009 the main purpose what to track Shiva’s progress. I would hate to lose that. As long as WordPress is free, I will keep this space.
If you are interested, or would just like to see some adorable puppy pictures, I will be posting on the Facebook page when I can. It won’t always be pretty and my house will probably be a mess, but I’d love to see you there. Moreover, I’d love it if you’d share your stories with me. I promise to read every word.