(An addendum to this post.)
This summer this site will be 19 years old.
Andrew Sullivan is giving up blogging (again) after 15 years. He wants to get back to the “real world” and away from the “digital life.” He wants to read slowly again, carefully, and think about things. He doesn’t want to have to blog instantly about something, and he wants to spend more time with family and friends and cut out the stress. Hey, I don’t begrudge anyone doing that, and he writes about what he’s been going through with eloquence. If he wants to give up the daily blogging to concentrate on writing for other publications and writing books and to have a deeper experience with what he writes and reads, that’s fantastic. It’s what more people should do (and I really hope he gives up social media too). What I object to is the reaction to his decision, which is…weird.
BLOGGING IS DEAD. ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN FOR BLOGS. NOBODY BLOGS ANYMORE, THEY’RE ALL ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Oh please. While I do see a disturbing amount of people who are doing everything on social media now, blogs aren’t going anywhere. It’s irritating when people in the media and tech – people who do this stuff for a living and maybe even for fun and should know better – constantly mark this as an end to blogs just become a prominent practitioner of the form isn’t going to do it anymore. People keep saying that blogs are just sooooo [take your pick: 1999, 2005, 2012]. It’s a tired story. Is writing going away? Is the web going away? Of course not. That’s why blogs will always exist, whether people get paid for doing them or not.
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith not only calls Sullivan one of the first bloggers (I’m not even sure if he was if he started in 2000 – maybe one of the first bloggers of a certain kind, politics, and one of the first who became famous doing it), he also forgets history. He’s yet another person who seems to think that blogging started with political blogs and war blogs. That’s not true. I know, I was there. I’ve been reading blogs since around ’95 (and as I said above I’ve had this blog since ’96). Most blogs were personal, and in fact most still are. Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post strikes a nice balance but seems to not understand that most bloggers do it because they like it and they like to write, and she puts way too much emphasis on people who blog for publications and people who go from independent blogger to “establishment.” Personal bloggers need more attention because we’re the ones who started all of this. (I also think her description of blogging as “the outpost of a lone obsessive with a WordPress account” is rather unkind.)
Whenever someone says “blogging is dead” what I hear is “writing is dead.” Isn’t blogging just another term for longform writing (at least it is now)? I’ve read some articles that say the form of blogging is dead because there are quicker, shorter ways of reaching a lot of people now. As if speed and convenience are the most important things. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live in a world where everything written online is tweets and Instagram pics and 6 second Vine videos. I’m interested in the writing.
As I’ve said before, I don’t consider myself a blogger. I’m a writer. I don’t mean this in a snobby way, as if being called a blogger is insulting (though we all know a lot of people will use that term to belittle someone’s opinion – “oh, he’s just some blogger!”) But I consider a blog just the technology, the form, the delivery system. I wouldn’t call myself a newspaperer or a magaziner either.
Good luck to Sullivan though if he feels he has to get away from it. But if he goes back to his site in, say, a year, I expect to see a ton of “BLOGGING IS BACK!” pieces.
Here are some posts related to this you might like to read:
If We’re Going To Have Comment Sections, Here’s How To Do It
Five Things About Media And Technology Right Now
Five More Things About Media And Technology Right Now
And Here Are Five More Things About Media And Technology Right Now