In Defense of Personal Blogging...

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a blogosphere comprised of personal bloggers. This blogosphere was vast and wonderful, and bloggers flocked to join. This blogosphere was autobiographical, where interesting people shared interesting stories about their lives and other bloggers commented on those stories with honest feedback. In this magical blogosphere people took the time to read your thoughts and think about them. There were no generic comments, no link bait, and all the bloggers blogged happily ever after.

Or something like that, right? Right, because when blogging became a thing it was a lot like journaling. Blogs were the technological, postmodern revival of the dead-tree edition diary. They were a peek into the lives of people you knew, and people you didn't know, and they were honest. At least, the best ones were. They were a way to meet people you might never otherwise know, to make friends around the world, and share experiences. For those that still engage in personal blogging, they still are.

But there's a problem.

Personal blogs are dying out. They're becoming extinct, a relic of a time when there was less information floating around in cyberspace and people had better attention spans--and frankly, seemed to care more about people and less about missing the next big trend. Now, with the web growing vaster by the millisecond, there's so much content and information available, we seem to have collectively developed the attention span of a goldfish. This post is already longer than most people can go without clicking onto something shinier. An issue that, frankly, speaks poorly of us as a people.

For the past few days I've been searching for other personal blogs. I'm looking for reading material and relationships with like minded individuals. I'm having a remarkably hard time. Everything has to have a niche now. Mommy blogging, style, lifestyle, technology, beauty, DIY, entertainment, home renovation, photography, travel, food, book bloggers... but, personal blogging has become a catch all. It's the category for blogs that don't fit well into other niches, which would be fine if those blogs were actually personal blogs. It's less personal blogs and more "you don't fit anywhere else." The personal blogging category is becoming the blogosphere's junk drawer. Don't believe me? Go to any blog cataloging site and look at the personal category. Lots of neglected, uncategorizable link bait. Because personal blogs aren't really a thing anymore. People don't care about people anymore.

Worse, people revile the idea that anyone would care about personal blogging, or personal bloggers. An example: I came across a blog tonight, the entirety of which was one long entry about why personal blogging is a waste of time. Someone actually took the effort to create an entire blog, just to explain why they believed personal blogging was pointless. It boggles the mind, but is just one of the many examples available that exemplify how personal bloggers aren't valuable to the blogosphere anymore.

We don't necessarily monetize, or care about SEO or keyword optimization--though some might. We care about being who we are and sharing our experiences. We do it for ourselves, to remember, and for others to make connections with our fellow human beings. It's symptomatic of a bigger problem, though. One that extends far beyond the blogosphere. In college I studied English because I feet an overwhelming desire to make human connections--which is a big deal for someone without serious agoraphobia and social anxiety. To examine that part of the world that grasps at humanity and sees value in making connections with the human part of our past--and our present and future. I write a personal blog for the same reason. But just as in the business world my degree makes me less employable because I didn't study something others find useful, personal blogging makes me less valuable to a blogosphere that asks only what you're quantifyably worth in dollars and cents, or clicks and visitors.

I won't stop personal blogging or sharing my thoughts, even if not one single other person finds them interesting or relevant. Nor will I stop looking for others who, like me, are working toward taking part in the human experience by sharing themselves honestly. They're still out there and they're looking for an audience who will value them beyond their ability to sell something. And truly, I'm fine with the existence of niche blogs that specialize in whatever is relevant to their authors (heck, monetize away!!), I even have a much neglected book blog, but there has to be room for those things to co-exist with  personal blogs. Technology is dehumanizing enough without our willingness to participate in marginalizing and discounting one another for something as trivial as links and clicks.

I already follow some amazing people and, this week, I've found some more great personal blogs with my SITS Girls tribe members. Connections I hope will hold. But, even if they don't, they give me hope that there are still other people like me who want to connect on a personal level.

20 comments

  1. So, SO awesome of an entry, Kristyn. I agree with EVERY single word.

    "This post is already longer than most people can go without clicking onto something shinier." What a great line to capture a fundamental flaw in our society today!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, I might add to your argument that a lot of people think you're "self-absorbed" if you keep a personal blog. One of my twitter followers, upon hearing that I have a blog in which I just write about "life," suggested that he could never do that because he's not that "into himself." It's a little insulting that I'm dubbed as being some sort of egomaniac simply because I enjoy recording memories. Especially considering I don't advertise my blog or try to pressure people to read it. Sure, I enjoy sharing my experiences with those who are interested, but otherwise, like you, I do this for me. If I didn't have a single reader, I'd still blog. Because at the root of it, it's a journal of your life. Sharing it with others is simply the icing on the cake, but not a necessity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love. I have trouble finding my "niche" because I blog about life in general. Sometimes that includes the mainstream post like a recipe or a DIY project but that's because it truly reflects my life. It saddens me that an apple pie recipe could get over 1k hits but a pouring out of my soul post barely gets any views. It's okay with me because I too have decided to write regardless of who is reading. There is a reason I am a memoir junkie. I love, love reading about other peoples life, in books and in blogs.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree, Jodi. I think it's really sad that wanting to share your life--with yourself and with others who might care--is considered self-absorbed. I think I might have stopped talking to that twitter guy. Like you, I don't exactly advertise or whatever, I just look or other blogs I might like and if a blog-friend comes of it, then awesome. But like I said, I'm going to keep writing because I do this for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I enjoy reading about other people's lives, too, Jenniemarie. The most popular posts on my blog are an entry about wine, a cupcake recipe, and a post where I share a recipe ebook. Otherwise, I wrote a post about being childfree that got a lot of hits. But, the posts about my life are pretty overlooked. It's okay, I do it for me, but it speaks pretty poorly of how people connect with one another that no one seems to care about others anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I needed this. I have had my blog fpr a little over a year, but I'm just now really getting serious with it.
    I have not posted many "personal" things... Until this morning. And it felt good...
    I hope to have an audience one day, that reads my blog because they are interested in what I WRITE and want to build a community of like-minded people.
    PS I read this post to the end, and I have ADD. HA! I am definitely bookmarking your site. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I still love personal blogging! I have a book blog (Closed the Cover) but I also have a personal blog (myhappydance.wordpress.com) which I've had longer than the other and that I still use although I did take a 3-month hiatus.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! This post sums up how I feel about personal blogging or "nicheless blogging" as I've seen it described at times. Personal stories, sharing life's moments whether good or bad, or just sharing your thoughts matters so much more to me than being pigeon-holed into a single niche.

    These days you have to establish yourself as a brand, as yet another label and logo with no real identity. I've fought this throughout my entire 3+ years of blogging because I refuse to be just another corporate mouthpiece hawking products or doing reviews for things that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. They're fine once in awhile but they do not reasonate with readers nor do they provide the opportunity to create a lasting legacy. If writing about me is self-absorbed, fine. I can live with that. My blog, my rules.

    Thanks for sharing such an awesome piece! I'm definitely on your side with this one!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have ADD, too. I hopped over to your blog and read about your pup, I hope he's okay. Thanks for taking the time to let me know that there are others who share my feelings about this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have a book blog too (http://aturnofpage.com), but it's sadly neglected. Every time I think I might pick it up again, I just never get around to doing so. Or, I do get around to it and then never keep at it. lol. I think it's possibly hopeless. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi, Kim. Thank you and you're welcome. I'm so happy to meet others who share this with me. I've been personal blogger, one place or another, since April 2003 (here since September 2009). So, 11 years, and though I've never drawn a huge following, I have made some friendships through blogging. I'm always happy to share my life, to give myself something to look back at and remember. I'm also happy when that helps me reach out to others. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well you do it for me to, you just don't know it. :-) I wouldn't have followed your blog for the last few years if I were bored.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was so glad to read this because my blog is a mix of personal and a niche, but the niche isn't very common (disability), so I often feel like the odd one out!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Okay, I'll take that. :) The same goes for you, Jodi, I follow your blog because I'm interested in your life and making a connection. Also, because I totally heart you. :P

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, Emily! I checked out your blog just now and it looks like we have something in common. I studied English in college, too. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to reach out. I often feel like the odd one out, too, especially since I often blog about niche topics that're not mainstream, like being CF.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I loved this post. I struggle with trying to find a niche and just blogging about my life because that is what I want to write about. I constantly struggle with, who will care? It's frustrating. Maybe I shouldn't care so much and just write what I want to write about.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you, Diana! I'm finding there are more people like us than I had originally believed. It's really nice to meet another one. :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post. I have a niche blog and I do visit alot of niche blogs but I do enjoy personal blogs too. I think blogging may be a lot like book publishing (when I'm not cooking, I'm writing), where some genres are hot, hot, hot and that's all anybody wants (like vampires) and then the market swings and all of a sudden contemporaries are the new hot thing. But the one thing we shouldn't do and that is write for the market, so keep on writing the blog that you are passionate about. That's were you'll find success. I look forward to reading more of your posts and btw, I'm a Shih-Tzu mama too. Love them! Visiting from SITS.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi, Debra. I actually quite agree with your point about blogging be a lot like publishing in that what's popular swings around a bit. I also really enjoy niche blogs, and food blogs are among my favorites, I love to find new recipes and look at amazing pictures of food (those onion rolls on your blog look amazing!). Always nice to meet another shih-tzu mama!

    ReplyDelete