2022 Is the Year of the Blogger
The oligarchy of tech companies are tightening their strangle hold on internet media. Yet, I rely on these platforms to interact with people outside of my close personal circle and immeidate geographical region. These platforms are also how I connect with others in interest circles, political groups, art groups, and anything else. The internet was built to enable these links, but it seems the towers are built too tall. Social media has commodified and gamified to unbearable levels. This is a sickness.
My response comes subtly. There was a time before advertisers dominated the web, when it was a smaller collection of users who shared content to enrich their lives - not competing for points. When posts were long form, when the content of an article was discussed, not the headline. Bringing these concepts into the current day is a challenge - but I think, at least for a community that I care about, it is possible.
Read my manifesto, if you want some context. I have some ideals for the kind of blogger who can help bring us into an enlightened age. Some of the items are sanity checks, some are asking a little more. This will be my guiding document as I work.
“Our annual opportunity to place a steady hand upon the rudder of the new year is here” - Justin McElroy
The question is not an absurd one. Near the end of 2021, the general userbase of Twitter has adapted the term ‘hellsite’. Whether it be affectionate or derogatory, it is alarming to see what was once used to lament a poorly-managed, hastily-programmed site with only a few million users (Tumblr) apply to the platform where the President of the United States gives official information.
Forums are facing deactivation (like Eurogamer) or cultural stagnation (like StackOverflow). Platforms are unreliable (the Geocities archive is useful, but often half-baked for some deeper elements) but I can easily read a blog that has been standing for 20 years.
Deleting an account on a single platform should not necessitate the destruction of the work posted there. A blog is a method of serving content that is stored in raw text files and images to the world. These files can be saved, backed up, and moved around as nomadically as the user desires. Tumblr posts will always stay on Tumblr. This becomes a problem, for example, if the iOS store changes policy, forcing tumblr to haphazardly hide posts from users.
All of this to say, we are culturally raedy for it. Hackers, gamers, tech savvy users, and even just mindful types have all expressed an interest in blogging they wouldn’t have shown even a year or two ago.
The Long Form Post
The long form post has become somewhat of an elite format. Journalists write news, pricks write thinkpieces, and columnists write editorials and opinion pieces for news sites. Tumblr and Facebook are micro blogging, Twitter is perhaps picoblogging. The concept of blogging broken down into its smallest component building block. A single fact or opinion takes the space of an entire post, with no room left for context or support. It isn’t in vogue to write long form posts, even though they give the writer and the reader a chance to more deeply engage in a nuanced dialogue. It is time to bring it back.
Discovery and Reach
While I have focused on the positives, it is important to acknowledge the biggest drawback of independent blogging: the lack of discovery and outreach tools. Other social media platforms have the advantage of finding new people far outside your social sphere with almost zero effort. For this reason, I have zero expectation of dropping things like Twitter/Tumblr outright. In fact, I believe it would enrich the experience. Using the community tools to gain breadth, and the private blogs to gain a depth is the ideal combination.
What to do about it?
Start your own blog using whatever technology is comfortable for you. Think critically about what you are putting on the internet, and find what you have to say that hasn’t been said in quite the same way. And remember that social media should be an entertaining and enriching experience, instead of a daily drudgery.
Think I’m wrong? Leave a comment!