So, it’s not unusual that whole things go on in the big wide world of the internet without me really knowing about it. Most of the time I have a chicken eating off my kitchen floor…
It’s easy to not pay attention to much beyond that.
But with time (like the better part of two weeks off work) I open my eyes a bit to what’s going on out there, check in on old blogs, try to read through my damn twitter feed. And here’s a thing that is happening, apparently. Everyone is talking about how blogs are dying. (Or, alternatively, defending how they are not dying.)
I’m sorry. What. This is a thing? Someone is coming around, stealing the words from your mouth and holding them out in the air until they shrivel and die? Breaking your fingers off so you can’t type? Stuffing your ears full of cotton? Taping your eyeballs shut so you can’t read?
WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?!
I spend three years hugging donkeys and neglecting my Pinterest boards*, and apparently the internet has descended into utter madness. So, I’m just going to say a thing about this right now… “blogs dying” is not real. It’s not a thing. It’s like saying “cantaloupes running” or “light-bulbs laughing”. Those are definitely two real words that someone put together in a phrase, but they fail as a concept, and here’s why: Cantaloupes do not have legs. Also, a “blog” is no different than a blank piece of paper. It’s a piece of paper that a lot of people can see, if they’d like to, or, alternatively, a lot of people can ignore. Maybe you put something really personal on that paper and fold it into a pretty little origami crane and no one gets to see it but you. Maybe you write jokes on that paper and pass it to your best friend in the back of study hall. Maybe you pick up a pen and write a novel on that paper, or draw a picture of something you’re really proud of. Maybe you whisper a secret to it and then set it on fire and make a wish on the ashes.
But, you guys, this is America. They couldn’t pry that paper out of our cold, dead hands. Nobody is taking it from you, nobody is telling you want to do with it, and nobody can stab it with a knife and make it bleed to death. Right? Right. You don’t have to do shit with that paper either, but it’s there if you want to.
Here’s what people are probably talking about… the hundreds of advertisers who jumped on the “bloggers as marketing tools” bandwagon in the last decade might decide to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere. They might. They might not. I don’t know that I’ve noticed a difference, but I don’t know that I would because my primary source of income has nothing to do with this website. I’m not knocking making a living off your blog, or your writing (I’ve made money from both and enjoyed it) I’m just saying that “making a living off blogging” is different from, like, telling awesome fucking stories. It doesn’t have to be different… maybe you tell awesome stories AND making a living from your blog, and that’s amazing. 150% amazing. But those are also two separate and distinct things. “Making money from blogging” is not all of what blogging is. Maybe it’s all of what people see sometimes, because, let’s be honest, dollar signs loom large in our vision and sometimes it’s hard to see beyond them, but that’s not the core of it. It’s not even the best part of it.
And maybe people aren’t talking about money but are talking about their audiences. People are reading blogs less, or logging-on less, or commenting less. I don’t know. There was a period of time where I stopped scheduling my posts for the “optimal posting hour” and my stats dropped two thousand views per day. Two thousand. Depending on if I schedule that shit between 9AM- 11AM or just post it whenever-the-fuck I’m done writing, which may be at 11:30 PM. Real things guys. But you know what doesn’t stop when I post things at 11:30 PM vs 9:30 AM. Real stories. Not just my stories, but the ones you email me sometimes… the stories about how maybe you thought you couldn’t do something but then you tried and it turned out fucking-awesome and you just want to share it with someone. Or the stories about how you’re going through a hard time and not as motivated as you used to be, but you’re trying. Or the funny stories about your projects. Or the stories about how you built something similar to something I built and it turned out awesome and you wanted to send me pictures. Those didn’t stop. The insightful/encouraging/hilarious comments didn’t stop, which has nothing to do with quantity and everything to do with quality.
So when I hear people say “blogs are dying”, honestly, I kind of wonder what the fuck they are talking about.
Blogs do not exist to make people money, although it’s nice when they do (and when they do it in a way that doesn’t compromise the integrity of their content.) Blogs do not exist to bring people accolades. Blogs exist for you to do whatever the hell you want to do with them. Post pictures. Talk about the things you love. Make yourself laugh. Tell good, authentic stories. Maybe people will want to read those stories, and maybe they won’t. Blogs are clay, you guys. Not living, not dying, just there, waiting for you to try and make something awesome out of it.
Truth is, I haven’t found the world as a whole to be fully on-board with real, authentic stories–there’s a reason why reality TV is a thing, and it’s not because of authenticity… just saying–but I have found that the interactions I’ve had with people, the impact I’ve made, and the way that I walk through life is far more meaningful when I’m consciously being real than when I’m watering myself down for general consumption or worrying about how marketable I am. Or even just how much people will like me.
I’m not always a good storyteller. Maybe I’m not even often a good storyteller. I think I nail it every once in a while, and those times are the ones that keep me slogging through all the why-can’t-I-write-a-coherent-sentence days.
I’m not a brand. I’m a person… which means depending on my mood, the time of day, how much alcohol is in my immediate vicinity, and whether or not mercury is in retrograde, I may feel differently about things. If you read through the last ten years of stories I’ve told on this website in a short period of time, I probably look like a total nut. (A total nut who rarely proofreads her own writing.) Sometimes I feel differently about building methods, and the proper tools to use, and the awesomeness of being single vs. being in a relationship. Sometimes I give a shit when people are saying ridiculous things about “blogging” and sometimes I’m like, aw, fuck it, I’m going to go hug a donkey.
That’s just like the true, imperfect, authentic version of the girl who has been writing about houses, and tools, and doing it herself, and sometimes things totally unrelated to DIY for the last decade. And not a thing in the world could kill that, no matter how hard they tried.
I might not always be good at this. I might experiment with telling stories other ways. I might talk about different things. But legs be dammed you guys, this cantaloupe is going to keep on running. And I dare anyone to try and stop me.
Don’t let it stop you either. I think we all have awesome things to share, however we choose to do it.
In Retrospect: I think I might have veered off the path of what I was trying to say here. I mean, I love you guys, and appreciate all the comments on this post. I also didn’t mean to make it about me, and what I do. (I mean I’m glad you appreciate my stories and the way I tell them, it makes it way more fun, and I assume if you didn’t you wouldn’t be here to read it in the first place.) So. Imma keep on telling stories no matter how the world changes. It’s just… what I do. Back in the day I used to write full-on short stories about my funny college antics on Writing.com (back when it was Stories.com I think, anyone remember that? Probably not.) Before that I would leave two-sentence stories as my away message on AOLs Instant Messenger. (Is that still a thing people do? Also, probably not.) Before that I used to create these epic collages out of photographs and phrases I cut out of magazines… I mean, back in the early nineties, before scrapbooking was even a thing. So I think the point I was making–at least for myself–is, storytelling doesn’t die. The method evolves–as does everything– and that’s one of the beautiful things about life. Telling stories on the internet will also evolve, but the thing about blogging is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all format. I know people who have blogs and only post pictures, or only post poetry, or only post recipes. I know people who write 1000 words every time they post. (Ahem.) This isn’t like using Instagram or Twitter or Facebook all of which tell you HOW to tell stories.
My point wasn’t so much to defend the medium–I mean, short of an alien invasion the internet sure isn’t going anywhere… and, honestly, I doubt the open-source code that sites like mine are built on will go anywhere either–but I think it’s worth having another perspective out there. And it isn’t just “I don’t care if you say it’s dying, I’m gonna keep blogging anyway” it’s, you know, everything I said up to this point. Not something that can die. Not something that can even really be talked about in terms of dying, because I think it’s okay for a creative medium to exist for itself, and not to make money, or for followers, or to sell something, or for approval. It’s cool to blog just because you want to.
Okay, now I’m done with this one. For real.
In Retrospect, Part 2: Also, every time I see the title for this damn thing I have to look at it three times to decided if “cantaloupes” is spelled right. I’m still only 50% sure it is.
NOW I’m done.