The Death of the Blog?

I recently watched this video of popular YouTube polymath Tom Scott.

A fascinating video regardless – of course we’re never going to be able to predict the future word-for-word or tech-for-tech, and I cannot really add my opinion about all those accurate guesses about phones. As Tom mentions, some parts of the future are easier than others to predict in the kind of twisted speculative fiction depicted in the tv show Black Mirror.

What drew my interest was his comment about the decline of blogs (starts at 7:13 of the video). He’s not wrong, of course–the evidence is at our fingertips with a quick Google–the blog as a text-and-image website format for regular posts of around and over 500 words has certainly declined over the last few years. Just like Picza and MySpace, its shelf life aged with its reader- and writer-ship (why is it FaceBook that has endured as the social connection site of choice?) and it oughtn’t be so much of the surprise I make it out to be that the act of blogging is considered by most old hat.

Are we still pigeonholed into being a society of instant-gratification, even on our social media? Is that why FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram with their endless scroll functionalities capture the hearts and souls of many many users?

“A blog post takes minutes or hours to write[…]and takes time to be discovered.” (9:23)

Podcasts and videos, not even vlogging so much anymore unless you have the luxury of a gamer or mommy brand, certainly come to my mind foremost when I’m thinking of ways to relax in the evening. I have a backlog on my ‘watch later’ list on YouTube – but the interesting thing is that the majority of those will not be watched by me–not fully. I don’t use the videos as visual entertainment, but as an audio background to help me focus and work as well as to discover new or interesting topics. I can tell the plots of a variety of movies I’d never watch because I’ve listened to their reviews on YouTube for a greater analysis of plot. I may not like to write to trope, but you can’t deny that being aware of the general readership or consumer opinion of your media product is a good tool to have when it comes to creating your plots.

Nowadays, it’s like reading [a blog post or non-fiction article] is more difficult to keep focused on for so long. Sure, I could invest in Audiobooks or a text-to-speech software and do my downtime background entertainment via reading, but it no longer comes to mind first, in the same way that my emotional priority for writing blog posts declined, noticeably once I hit about age 21.

It would be nice, and be productive, to get a blog post out there more than a handful of times a year–could I push myself to physically do it? Yes, I probably could. However, do I value the blog as a marketing and information-delivery service as much as I used to? Certainly not. Twitter and Instagram, perhaps directly due to their more-instantaneous delivery and greater reach, I find more useful as marketing and schmoozing tools.

I stopped expecting people to comment on my blog posts and through it, I stopped expecting myself to have writing at the tips of my fingers.

That may well be the wrong attitude to take–anything lives if you only work hard enough at it–but it’s the way my life, like that of the fiction characters in the video, has evolved in the last ten years. Certainly, there is a point in the above video that long-form writing, which may include blogging, will never fully go away, and indeed keeps evolving over the centuries as proof. For the exact reason that it has a monetising potential (I started my Twitter as a way to promote my writing, and it’s a sign of the times that I use it far more now) – and that everybody still yearns for long-form content like stories and fiction, whatever the physical/visual format it’s in.

But is it wrong to focus on improving the potential monetary income at a detriment to the short-form creative outlet? I say certainly not. I don’t think it’s a shame to hone in on what could be. As much as I loved the writing, the stories, and the community I built on the, sadly now defunct, collaborative fiction site Protagonize, I spent many hours of my teenage life brewing up plots and characters for pieces of fiction that I either would never let see the light of day, or that I have no creative rights over as a shared product.

I often wonder how many manuscripts I’d have written if I’d have taken those hours and poured them into work published under my own name, into the self editing and the critique work I now do in the little time I have been working full time and being a mum.

Nevertheless. And that’s the important side of this – nevertheless, we can’t spend the future lamenting the past. I move on. I think about the blog sometimes, wonder if I have in me to come up with an interesting topic that doesn’t meander too much off course to be a piece of prose, and then usually choose to plot my fiction instead. C’est la vie.

And for the record, I still use wired headphones as well 😉

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