Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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.