I used to have a different blog, using different software, on which I griped about entirely different matters of the early-20-something variety. Even though I hated — and still hate — reading what I had written, I loved the feel of belonging to a community, sparking discussions and gathering encouragement from my fellow moody 20-somethings.
Fast-forward [redacted] years. I still read blogs regularly: those written by people I know and by total strangers. I re-read old entries and discover new gems all the time. I’m a compulsive reader, I guess, and when I’m stuck in front of a glowing rectangle, I have to scratch that itch somehow.
Since the dawn of blogs, however, a lot has changed on the social media landscape. In the mid- to late 1990s, email was still the dominant form of interpersonal communication. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook — heck, even MySpace — didn’t exist yet. We didn’t whip out our smartphones in public to calm our twitching hands or stab out directions to the restaurant or offer a friend an updated ETA.
Has the velocity of our lives outpaced the velocity of a blog — a medium that (in its ideal form) is a thoughtful, measured longer-form forum than most social media today?
I hope not. Blogs, done properly, wield a lot of power. They can serve as:
- Aggregators of news and commentary
- Scrapbooks for interesting ideas that are less cutesy brand-y than Pinterest
- Effective springboards for talented writers who otherwise would go unheard and unread
- Amazing grassroots-y forums that rally like-minded people to a particular cause.
Until March, I was able to pretend that this blog was just a vanity exercise, a way for me to talk shop into the void and pull together my professional life in a single, meaningful way that is more flexible and useful than the ever-maligned LinkedIn. Then I got a few hits. I make no assumptions about my interestingness. My takeaway? People still read blogs. They read them, of course, after clicking on links they’ve found on Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn (hi, Dad!) — so blogs obviously don’t sputter on in isolation.
Those gasping sounds you hear aren’t death throes. They’re the sound of the socially awkward engineer trying to make a joke during happy hour. Don’t give up. Keep reading (and reading me, if you wish), keep writing, and above all, keep promoting quality work. It’s not all noise out there.