Are you a blogger? How long have you been blogging?
If your answer to the first question is ‘yes’ and the second one is anything that stretches beyond two years ago, then you’d relate to this post. Then again, you may not; for blogging is a very unique experience.
Each of us is in the blogosphere for a reason and those can be diverse in range. But one thing unites us all: We have a space where our voices can be heard.
I love blogging. I absolutely love to write and watch the words take shape as my ideas flow out onto the screen. I love the engagement that comes from the written word, the exchange of ideas in cyberspace, the way I can connect with practically anyone in the world, not hindered by the boundaries imposed by geography.
I still do. It’s primarily what keeps me hooked to blogging.
But a few things have changed among the blogs I follow. They manifested slowly, almost imperceptibly around two years ago and have grown ever since. Perhaps this also happened due to my personal experience with the process. I’ve noticed it spread across the blogging landscape and the change has unsettled me.
Note that these are my personal views and they don’t apply to all blogs, but to a majority of the ones I read these days.
So, what has changed?
Love of writing
When I began blogging, it was way back in 2007 on a tiny space in Blogger/blogspot, as a mom to a one-year-old, attempting to catalogue the mundane things such as which oil is best for baby’s skin and how I managed the vaccination schedule for a kid terrified of needles.
I had a grand total of two readers: Me and my mom (I think). I was never happier. I wrote a total of perhaps, 10 posts over 6 years and never fretted about stats, numbers or comments. Slowly, I got into the groove of blogging in July 2013 and grew to find my love for writing taking over everything. It was magical.
Sharing the writing with close friends on Facebook drew some more readers and that was it. It stayed fun and engaging. I found other bloggers who did the same thing as I did: Wrote because they loved the art. It was beautiful, sharing thoughts with people, nodding along with shared concerns and reading some fabulous writing.
How it’s changed:
Today, there is so much emphasis on numbers, page views, stats (a lot of it is also thanks to the mushrooming of influencer platforms) that there are hardly any people who write because they want to. A lot of bloggers write because of the traffic they will generate, an Alexa rank that they should watch and how they can be of value to a brand.
This causes hurried posts, sloppily written content, SEO-stuffed keywords and myriad posts by bloggers for the same brand, each working towards making a hash tag trend on social media. For what? A hash tag is ephemeral. It won’t add to the quality of the blog or the beauty of the written word.
So, what’s the solution? No more branded content? Of course not. I’d be a hypocrite to say that, considering I do write sponsored posts too. But, my advice would be:
[bctt tweet=”Take your pick. Don’t write for every brand that comes your way. Spend time crafting your post.” username=”shyvish”]
Good writing will endure the test of time. And yes, please do get back to writing for the love of it. It’s why I began reading your work.
Blogging groups are wonderful creations and I’d be the first to admit that, considering I run one myself. My introduction to the presence of these groups happened in August of 2013 when I was added to a cozy group of fellow bloggers.
It was delightful! We joked with one another, read each other’s posts, slapped backs (figuratively) and found veteran bloggers who helped the newbies with genuine concern. Even our arguments were good-natured, where the WordPress folk would playfully chide the ‘ancients’ who were stuck with Blogger and the blogspot folks took it in their stride. (I should know. I was on Blogger till August of 2016).
Then there were the blogging challenges and my, what absolute joy those were! My first 30-day marathon was in November 2013 and it was incredibly exciting! I stumbled across Blogher’s NaBloPoMo and plunged in with gusto.
If you look at my 30 posts from that month, they were all written with no great agenda. Most of them have zero comments and practically, I must have had a total of 10 visitors then. But, the fun! Oh and the quality of the blogs I read, how they thrilled me. It made me feel alive, to wake up, write a post and then check the ‘Yeah Write‘ grid to see what others had written. (BlogHer and yeah write had a tie-up that year, I recall).
I’ll forever be grateful for NaBloPoMo for introducing Yeah Write to me. Always.
That was the key: Fun. We blogged because we enjoyed it to the hilt. Everything else was a bonus: comments, visits, social media shares, all of it.
How it’s changed:
Bitterness crept into this space called blogging. I stumbled across blogs where people were sarcastic about fellow bloggers. Others were veiled in their approach, not mentioning people by name, but the ample hints scattered through the post would let others know who was being targeted. The one-upmanship became more pointed with bloggers flaunting their page views, number of comments, likes and followers as marks of achievement.
Slowly, cliques were formed and the gentle camaraderie gave way to whispers exchanged over private chat messages. Bloggers I’d been friends with cut me from their lists, blocked me and gave me the cold shoulder. I was warned to stay away from some people and suddenly the world of blogging turned murky and distressing.
This disturbed me, probably more than it should have. Where I used to be open and welcoming, I withdrew into a shell and also went through a brief, depressive phase two years ago, which lasted over a month. Not many people know about it.
The solution now? Honestly, none that I can conceive of right away. I now stick to sharing my thoughts here on the blog and maintaining a safe distance from most bloggers. Those whom I consider very close, I either make a phone call or message them when the mood strikes. It’s my way of staying sane.
The fascinating world of Facebook and Twitter opened its doors for me, as a blogger. I never realised that this could be a way to generate readership or find new bloggers and the last few years have definitely proved that right.
From hash tags to blogging groups, everything took on this hue of wonder as I discovered it all with the child-like enthusiasm of laying hands on a new toy. I made fabulous friends (some of whom I still have and will trust with my life) and spent many a happy hour both learning and teaching social media tips for bloggers.
How it has changed:
But, alas, all good things come to an end, or at least show signs of ending. People have started getting personal, intensely so, on social media. Political/ religious opinions now fly thick and fast, even among bloggers, and it’s made healthy discourse impossible.
A sense of humour is virtually non-existent these days since people tend to take offence at the drop of a pin. They get intensely involved with topics that are of no value and write reams of blog posts or Facebook essays on fleeting issues.
It’s become so bad that I laugh helplessly at a video online and an hour later read a tweet that says I was wrong to have done so! Ah, you can’t please anyone these days. So I don’t try. Not anymore.
But I am tired. Tired of all the angst, the anger, the bitchiness and the excessive engagement with issues that have no bearing on my life.
I want to write and feel my skin ripple with joy. I want to lose myself in the flood of words that take over my being. I want to read writing that will make me sigh in pleasure, smile at the elegant turn of a phrase, make me wipe a tear in solidarity and want to reach out and crush the writer in a bear hug that says, ‘I get you. So much.’
[bctt tweet=” I want to get back to #blogging for the love of it.” username=”shyvish”]
* Featured image: Phloxi via Shutterstock