Lately I’ve read a few articles about how the blogging bubble has burst. A few of the “big” bloggers have noted that their comments and hits have fallen off. Even us smaller bloggers have noticed that “no one comments anymore.” There’s been a lot of talk about how people have taken their social interaction to Twitter and Facebook. So is this it? Is blogging going to fade away like bell bottom jeans and one-shoulder sweatshirts?
I admit, I don’t comment as much as I used to. I still read, though. I have about 300 blogs in my reader and I actually keep up to date on almost all of them. But since I am reading through a reader, I have to click through to comment, which is an extra moment of time that I might not have, especially just to leave the kind of simple comment that let you know I was here, I read, and enjoyed. But I’m trying to do better at that, because I think it’s really important to let bloggers know that you loved their words, that you were touched by what they said, that you have something of your own to share on that subject. It’s a meaningful interaction to me.
I still find blogs from time to time that I add to my reader – every year at BOLO there’s someone I love so much, I have to hear more. It’s sometimes a bit of work to add a new blog. You have to invest time in reading longer posts, get to know the person a bit. Maybe even explore some back posts if something comes up that you don’t get. But it’s worth it. The people I have met through blogging have become friends. Even those who I’ve never met in real life seem like personal pals – I feel like I really know them. These days, when I tell someone a story that I read on a blog, I am more likely to say, “A friend was telling me that…” than to say, “I read on someone’s blog that…”. It just makes more sense to me the first way – reading a blog really is kind of like having a coffee with a friend.
I don’t get the same thing from Twitter or Facebook, but I hear lots of people say that they just don’t “get” those kinds of social media, so perhaps I’m missing something. I’ve “met” people through Twitter and we’ve chatted but I still feel like I know nothing about them. Maybe if I spent more time there and was more interactive there, I’d find the magic. But what I really love is delving into a meaty blog post, and finding insight into someone’s day, someone’s thoughts, or someone’s soul.
Is that too much to ask of blogging? Maybe.
I’m meandering here, but what I really wanted to say is that I think there’s definitely a continued place for blogging, even if the audience is shrinking. It’s extremely powerful to have a place for writers self-publish their works, be it anecdotes about how they burned their lunch to political rants to deeper pieces that share a difficult time or emotion. Even casual blogs that just document the day-to-day stuff can be great writing; there’s something about just being human that invites empathy. There’s meaning in sharing stories, and there’s power in developing your writing skills. Plus, there’s something worthwhile in documenting your own story, for yourself.
I’m wondering if, instead of the blogging bubble bursting, if we’re seeing more of a new life cycle for a blog. I think blogs and bloggers come in waves – people who are new to the format sign up, get excited, blog a lot, make a network of friends, and get reading, writing, and commenting. They mature in style and develop their own goals and plans, maybe spend three or four years growing their blog. Some will hit the right market segment and get huge; others will be content (or learn to be content) with a smaller audience. And then perhaps, eventually, the blogger tires of the same old subjects, the readers tire of the same old subjects, and everyone moves on to something new, leaving room for the next wave. Maybe the big bloggers who are seeing their audiences shrink are just in the twilight years, and new bloggers will come forward to take their place.
For me, I’ll always love blogging no matter what happens. I’m not cut out for the quickness of Twitter or the forced intimacy of Facebook. I like writing blog posts, and I plan to keep it up. But I do sometimes feel like I’ve accomplished all that I ever will with this space, and that I need new challenges. Is blogging dead? Mine sure isn’t, but it has matured, aged even, and sometimes gets a little tired and creaky. But I’m still here.