On navel gazing

Just found this ollllld article on blogging at ollllld slate.com:

I’m not disparaging bloggers, so please don’t treat me to a high-tech lynching. But this study shows that at this early point in the blog era, the great mass of bloggers aren’t set on replacing reporters. The top 100 or top 1,000 may consider themselves “citizen journalists” of one sort or another, but the survey finds that 65 percent of bloggers don‘t consider their output journalism at all. They’re just expressing themselves in a leisurely fashion, inspired by a personal experience (78 percent, says the survey), and their blogs are a “hobby” or “something I do, but not something I spend a lot of time on” (84 percent).

Again, I’m not disparaging hobbies or navel-gazing: I have hobbies I can bore you with, and I navel-gaze. But the Pew report indicates that only a tiny fraction of current bloggers have any ambition to fulfill the blogs über alles designs some media theorists plotted for them.

Lenhart and Fox write that the blogging-world snapshot they present could change quickly. The blog audience is growing, with 57 million Americans confessing to the habit. (I, for one, read a dozen each day via RSS and monitor blogs’ coverage of my work.) New readers and writers are still coming online, and teenagers—not represented in this survey—are learning the craft of self-expression on social networking sites. Will the next Pew snapshot find bloggers engaging the outside world in greater numbers instead of cataloging their own? Will teenagers give up navel-gazing when they graduate from MySpace to the greater Web? If all these people really want from the Web is a hobby and to talk to their friends and family, they’d be better off taking pottery lessons and purchasing more cell-phone minutes.

I told you it was old. But joke's on you, Jack Shafer! Blogs died, of course. Social media ate everything and now all people do is scream to be heard. Most of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging, or stopped blogging regularly, or stopped blogging for eight months at a time. I've stopped and started and stopped and started and ...

Well, I still love blogs. I love the confessionals and the wild, messy weirdness of the voices. I can't tell all my secrets to Facebook. I mean, I can be there, I'm there, but I can't be part of the machinery that feeds The Algorithm anymore. I can't click on a LIKE button without hating myself for the piece of myself I'm giving away. For so passively letting it sell more of me to you, and vice versa, and through both of us, through this connection it’s ballsy enough to label "friendship," more Product We Both Might Enjoy! For the lazy fucking boring way it lets me present my life to you while letting me eavesdrop and pass judgment on yours. It's like we're all living in each other's cupboards, or hiding in the shower, only instead of a cozy house at the end of a leafy lane it's a motel with 24-hr klieg lights right next to the interstate. Nobody has to clean or set out fresh towels or dust under the bed or shove all their shitty embarrassing clutter in the closet, which means it’s easy, god knows, it takes less than zero effort (a toddler could post ASAKLKJ LKASDKFJ LKJ ;LKJ FFJKALSDKJ on Facebook and the whole world would lose its collective mind), but it’s also careless and thoughtless and cheap.

When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.

And none of this is new, btw. I can't pretend that these are deep original thoughts or really anything more than "I'm taking my toys and going home." But I'm trying to wedge my way back into this habit, to figure out how I did what I did back when I did it regularly and how to make it all work now, and this is the way I choose to tell my story, and I won't be giving up.

In the meantime there are new blogs I'm finding and old bloggers I'm clinging to, friends and strangers who still hold out a hand and say come in and sit with me for a while. I’d like to take some time and tell you about my day. Who along with that invitation open up a whole other world in a personal and rich and deeply human way. So bring back the navel gazing by all means. I’ll take more and more and more.