This is by necessity one of those “writing about writing” things that I tend to find tedious. More specifically, this is about blogging and the evolution of tech. If that’s not your cup of tea, just swipe right (or left – I can never remember). There are plenty of other things here to read. Or, if you’re interested in my reflections on the matter, as someone who has done a lot of blogging, left it for social media and then returned, then read on.
I ran my own web sites for many years. I started with WordPress when it was still just a nice free script that required manual installation on your site. I did several successful commercial blogs and in the meantime I did a personal blog. The commercial blogs which were laser focused on their subjects did well. The personal blog, lacking any clear focus, never did very well. At one point, I turned off the comments because the spamming got so bad (even with Akismet). This killed the possibility of interaction with the readers.
The tidal wave of social media platforms, particularly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, raised a question about the continuing validity of the blog format. Would users even read blogs once they, the users were assimilated into the hermetically sealed echo chamber of social media? In the first decade of the new century, the blog went on the endangered species list.
I jumped onto the social media crazy train about a decade ago, signing up with the four services above. Facebook quickly filled up with my relatives and people I knew in high school. This seriously inhibited my creativity long before the horrors of 2016. I closed my Instagram account when they announced that they were claiming unlimited rights and licensing on users’ photos. LinkedIn filled up with mostly strangers who were looking for jobs. Twitter did all right for me. I got up to 10K followers, and developed a lively online group of friends with whom I communicate almost daily.
I love Twitter for news delivery and the constant stream of creative work that I get. But Twitter is a 240-character fire hose of information that eventually has a numbing effect on my mind. As Twitter users, we are usually in the passive role of absorbing massive amounts of disjointed and unconnected information. There is no “mental sovereignty” when using Twitter. It is mostly reactionary unless you start a flame war with a total stranger.
Twitter is a far less friendly place than it was when I signed up. The advent of tRUmp, his armies of trolls and his critics have turned the atmosphere of Twitter vitriolic and toxic. The abuse of women has driven most of my favorite influencers and inspirations off of the platform. I stopped posting on Facebook in 2018 when the complicity of Facebook in hacking our election became undeniably clear. LinkedIn is boooorrrriiinnnggg. Instagram is silly and suicide-inducing. Tumblr is dead. Flickr is dead. Tinder and Grinder are going great guns but I’m not in the market for that.
Concurrently (I’m not great with dates) I let my websites and blog simply expire. I even lost my domain name. There was a lot going on and I realized that these sites and blogs had ceased to contribute anything in my life. I lacked the energy or interest to run a website and fight the hacker battles. After all “nobody reads blogs anymore. The cool kids are on Twitter.”
I haven’t left Twitter and I still have active accounts on Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Tumblr, but lately I find myself getting aggravated and anxious on social media. Cable news has the same effect on me. At the same time, I have felt a need to work on my own stuff, my own creative process, rather than just having garbage poured into my head all day. When I’m working on my own stuff, I feel happy and fulfilled. I feel like I’m accomplishing something rather than just wasting time.
I have always resisted the constraints placed on posting by social media. 240 characters or 250 words, I don’t care. I don’t like them. I worked a long time in advertising art and web development. I like to format my own pages and if I want to write 10,000 words I want to know I can. Cut to the present – I came to miss the freedom of expression and creativity, and yes, the audience a blog can provide. I needed a home where I could house my content in the way I wanted to present it.
I had a rare bright idea: why not lease a blog at WordPress.com and let them suffer the website headaches? I did that and I was up and running within the hour. It’s an excellent implementation of what is already the king of the content managers. Most of the widgets and extensions that we used to spend hours and days testing and installing are already installed. The platform is mature and stable and just a pleasure to use.
Did I do anything different this time? I thought a lot about the theme of the blog. What would give the blog an identity while being broad enough a concept to accommodate my creative work? What was an idea powerful enough to sustain my interest and that of my readers? The idea which kept coming back to my mind was the “oikos,” our home, environment, cosmos, world, mind, self, street where we live. That was an idea broad enough for some freedom, but with a focus. The result was A Small Blue Marble.
In a way, I have come full circle. I find that my own “mental sovereignty” is important to me. I need to manage my mood and control the content which enters my brain. I’m not a herd animal. I have my own fish to fry, and it seems that for now the blog is the best vehicle for that.
Oh, this is such a great post! I care that you are Blogging again. You are one of my favorite Bloggers on WordPress! I love your poetry and prose and your photography is great!
Your post has made me think about social media and my love-hate relationship with it.
I hate FB now and very seldom go on there but my family is on and I go on to see their photos. (all those cute grandkids that make me smile.)
I have a Blog on Blogspot and started that in 2006 and shared my poems on there and met some wonderful people and made 4 good friends.
But, I have not written anything on there in over 3 years.
After my sister came down with ALS in March of 2016, all whole existence was about her and her being okay even though in my heart of hearts I knew that would not be the case.
No poems came to me and all I wanted to do was scream about the injustice of life.
My neglected Blog just sits there and I probably will not write on it again but one never knows!
My dear sister died on Dec 31st,2018 ~ that broke my heart in two and most days it is beyond repair.
I never imagined I would blog again and then I saw your Blog on WordPress and I left a few comments and then I set up a Blog ( I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing or how to set it up (not at all tech-savvy!)
I gave it my best try and voila, I managed to set up my Blog!
( Success at last!)
You were the inspiration to wanting to Blog again as I so enjoyed your Blog and all that you were sharing.
I probably won’t blog that often on WordPress as I do not have much inspiration for poetry these days but it’s coming back, just a little bit!
I think my sister would be glad that I am blogging again as she liked my poetry.
I very often would write poems and send them to her via texts. ( OMG, how I miss those text messages with her!)
Goodness , this is turning out to be a long comment!
My sister always told me that ‘I was a good with words’ Lol
Guess you were right, sister dear!
Twitter is great for news but some days it makes me want to scream!
Ever since the idiot came President (and all he seems to do is Tweet out hate) it seems Twitter has changed greatly.
So many bots and so many defending The Idiot In Chief , I think the world has gone mad!
Anyway, I am so glad you are Blogging as you are talented and kind and I truly enjoy all of your posts!
Thanks Syd !
Thank you. The inspiration comes and goes with me too. I realized that I wanted to have the ability to blog, inspired or not. I have the advantage of having accumulated a substantial body of work to draw on.
It thrills me that you are enjoying my work. That makes it all worthwhile.