Cartoon from the New Yorker by Lee Lorenz
Five years ago I summarized why I still blog this way:
I keep blogging because I owe just about everything about my current situation to my blog. My writing and my readers’ responses have shaped and radically altered my worldview. I quit my job because of it, and found my next (and last) two jobs through it. My book publisher found me through it. I’ve fallen in love because of it, and found many of the people who have become the most important in my life through it. So I can’t not blog. it’s part of who I am. It’s my auxiliary memory, my means to think out loud and figure things out when there’s no one I can talk to in person about things. By writing these terrible realizations about the inevitability of civilization’s collapse on my blog, I was able to formulate them and generate the courage to say them out loud, unapologetically. And I found lots of people who, rather than thinking my ideas were (as one reader put it) “doomer porn”, came out and said “Yes, that’s what I think and feel and sense and intuit too! I’m not crazy! You’re not crazy!”
Since then this blog has allowed me to discover how to eat well, and to discover and achieve clarity on radical non-duality, learnings which have been equally transformative in my life. And while writing about these things has alienated even more readers, it’s also produced, I think, some of my best work. And the realization that I’m still not crazy.
Eighteen months ago I quit Facebook (other than as a calendar for upcoming local events). That included ending cross-posting my blog posts there. I did that with a lot of trepidation, for two reasons: My work was read (and commented on) almost as much there as via email notifications and direct links. And many of my favourite bloggers (mainly the ones who provided links to reading that was important rather than their own original content) had stopped blogging and were using Facebook for this purpose instead (to reach a much vaster audience). Ending my cross-posts meant cutting myself off from them.
But I did it anyway. My quarterly links posts are as voluminous (and I think as useful) as they were before, largely because my favourite linkers continue to send me links by email. And my original writing and creative writing continue to develop with a much smaller but more coherent audience.
Sadly, many of the finest original content blog writers, their audience diluted and diminished by the firehose of useless, time-wasting and dangerous Facebook and Twitter blather, gave up writing. Blogging now can only provide the last two of the ten incredible blessings that the medium once provided that I listed above. The only remaining benefits of blogging are as an auxiliary memory (“what was that book all about again?”) and for thinking out loud (we learn much of what we learn by telling it, incoherently at first, to others). For many fine bloggers with busy lives, that just wasn’t enough to keep them going. For me, and the bloggers remaining on my right sidebar, it still is enough (some of the ex-bloggers and non-bloggers who still send me links and useful news about collapse and other interesting subjects, mostly by email, are shown in black on the ‘blogroll’). And a few others, unacknowledged on the sidebar, also send me interesting links for my Links of the Quarter posts. Thank you! But that is not why I blog.
Those two remaining benefits — auxiliary memory and thinking out loud — are, perhaps not coincidentally, probably the main reasons people have always kept diaries, and probably always will, as long as our species stays around and retains abstract language. I just keep mine in a public space, I think more out of habit than ego.
It’s sad that the golden age of blogs is gone, co-opted and diluted into mediocrity, its sense of community lost. Just as the late 1960s was an amazing time that couldn’t possibly last, so too were the magic years of blogging’s heyday. You can say that both were overrated, but those of us who blossomed thanks to them, know better.