When I first started blogging, it was the spring of 2003. MySpace was several months out from launching. Classmates of mine were on LiveJournal, maybe Xanga, maybe DeviantArt. Friendster wasn’t on my peer group’s radar.
My friends and classmates had an understated respect for substance. We wanted to hear about each other’s lives, and if we had something to share, we explained why it was important. Fourteen-, fifteen-year-olds.
Now it’s pithy tweets. Or it’s articles from questionable, hyper-partisan sources posted on Facebook with no context, little real thought at all. Once in a while, someone will post something on Medium, but chances are it’s a thinkpiece meant to draw attention to and further their career. (I’m afraid my posts will probably do more to damage mine, to be honest.)
The Internet was already open, there for anyone to find their voice and share it with others. It took about a decade for online communities to boil down to their essential form: massive, monolithic, centralized platforms that let us share any thought, instantly, to millions or billions. Instead of ushering in a new age of openness, these services have been coopted by the greedy and vain while those holding the keys to these castles stand by, hoping their engagement metrics continue to increase.
Now, we find no openness, just frightened masses screaming their anger and desperation inside a very crowded yet infinitely-sized room.
When I first started blogging, as with my friends and classmates, it was my diary, but public. I talked about what I did, what I wanted to do, how I felt, and quite often how lowly I thought of myself. Years later, after first settling into my life in Savannah, I stopped, but later realized I still had thoughts to share.
I’ve written a fair amount since then, as I’ve bounced around the country working to understand where my beloved but troubled industry is going, and fighting to understand who I am and what exact forces have shaped me.
I do enjoy writing long analyses of subjects important to me. It’s the format I feel most comfortable in; the brevity of Twitter and the unpredictable temporality of Facebook prevent me from saying anything of substance, and Medium has become the kind of monolith they thought they were competing against. Tumblr isn’t much of an improvement, and is probably past its prime.
So, well, since I have to write somewhere, here I am, back home.