"The blog belongs to yesterday, I wanted to tell him."-- Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson
After a dizzying spell of scribbling rough journal entries at my blog for six years, I have begun to wonder what I am doing.
Other bloggers are also wondering, not what I am doing, but what they are doing, or perhaps not what they are doing, but why the comments at their blogs are dwindling. Since the early autumn, there has been a whine-fest in the blogosphere about the decline of comments on blogs.
Those with moxie claim their traffic is up, though comments are down. And if you believe that, you’re a journalist.
I say that to tease the journalists, who have blamed social media for ruining literary criticism. And I also like to tease my fellow bloggers, who perhaps take these numbers too seriously.
Nothing on the internet lasts. There is always the next new thing. Blogs, according to a rather vague article in Wikipedia, started in the late ‘90s. But “social media” have been around for longer. A friend told me that in the ‘80s he was busy with an online community (sorry, I don’t know the name of it). At AOL in the ‘90s, books were discussed on “bulletin boards” until the AOL site Book Central shut down. Then the book communities dwindled. And of course there are discussion groups at Google, Yahoo, etc., but the number of posts there is dwindling, too.
People have moved on to whatever they move on to: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblir, etc.
For whom are we blogging? Numbers, or readers? The access to statistics on readership at our blogs is a surveillance feature. It reveals that my most popular post ever was about the actress Elizabeth Taylor...and why do I need to know that? Am I a corporation frantically trying to sell the most popular post? Or am I writing about books?
Blogging has changed my style of reading. I have five or six books going at a time now, instead of one or two, as though I am a book editor deciding what to read, or can’t bear the boredom of reading one. I want to be bored again.
In the ‘90s, when I posted on book boards instead of at mesite.com (or whatever you might call my blog), I talked with intelligent people about classics and excellent literary fiction. Since I began blogging in 2006, my reading has taken a downward trend. I still read classics and literary fiction, but why would I ever bother with Celia by E. H. Young (a middlebrow novel by an extremely unimportant writer) or Maidenhead by Faith Berger (basically a porn book selection at the innovative online book club Emily Books)? Yes, I learned about these books online.
Blogs are fun, but we click from one to another to another and learn about more books than we can ever read. I need to slow down.
So I don’t know what the future is. The other day I was reading dovegreyreader scribbles and Kevin from Canada, and I wondered, hm, will they still be doing this in a couple of years?
As for myself, I plan to keep blogging but to write shorter posts. I plan to be bored.
We’ll see how it works out.