Blogging is people talking. That is the title of a post I wrote way back–way, waaayyyy back–in 2007. You can click over and check it out if you’re so inclined.
In the seven years since I wrote that post, social media has exploded in ways we–I–could not have imagined. Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, marketing, branding, we had no idea what any of these things were nor how they would impact the conversation we were having. We were just people, friends, talking.
And we still are, those of us still around, plugging along lo these many years later. But, as I’ve observed here before, it seems to me the kind of talking we engage in has changed. Now, admittedly, my circle of blogs is rather small and so my observation rather limited, but as I survey the landscape of blogs as I know them, it seems to me that blogging has become professionalized. The scope of your content, the length of your content, the art that accompanies your content, how you market your content, there are best practices to follow, ways to optimize readership and increase hits and links and who knows what else.
Here’s what I want to know: why do we care? Who decided what was best and what wasn’t and why do we listen to them? I’m not being snarky; it’s an honest question. Just the other day one of my blogger friends posted something on Facebook about how we’ve reached a point in blogging where we can’t post about real life but instead must present a polished, dissertation-worthy, hopefully viral post. I’m asking why can’t we?
For me, here at my little (very little) corner of the Internet, I feel that pressure my friend described where it seems I must always have an opinion and always express it well. She’s right, it doesn’t feel like enough, anymore, to tell you about my ordinary life. Posts among my circle, the bloggers I run with, seem sometimes to fall more along the lines of a graduate thesis or a lawyer’s carefully worded argument than, say, a chat about our day. I suspect other types of bloggers feel much the same weight of expectation, mommy bloggers with artistically captured photographs of the picture perfect family and home, for example.
The truth is I don’t have an opinion all the time. Sometimes I don’t have an opinion at all. Sometimes I don’t even care about the issue at hand. A lot of the time as I scroll through my Twitter feed or click through the posts in Feedly my lack of opinion and care embarrasses me and makes me feel foolish. And so most of the time I decide not to write anything at all because that self doubt and self consciousness take all joy out of writing, whether I’m writing about real life or not.
I know what you’re thinking, you astute readers out there who’ve actually read this far into the post (anyone? anyone?). “Blah, blah, blah, you’ve said all this before,” you’re thinking, and you’re right, I have. Several times, actually. It’s a recurring refrain, this lament for the former things of blogging.
So what’s a blogger to do?
First thing I’m telling myself is this: who really cares? I mean, seriously. If I don’t follow the rules, what happens? Nothing. Who is in charge of blogging? No one. Why do I care what some nebulous authority–whoever and whatever that authority is–has decided constitutes good blogging?
And secondly, blogging is people talking, of course it is. For me, however, blogging is even more nuanced. It is mostly me talking to me about the things I feel like talking about. I’m glad you, the reader, are along for the ride and you’re an important part of the fun of this hobby because, hello, otherwise I could just scribble everything down in a journal! So of course part of me writes, when I write, with our conversation in mind, but the other part of me writes for me and that’s ok. Actually it’s not just ok, it’s freeing.
I want to write more. I didn’t there for a long while but now I remember that I do. So let’s talk.