*clears throat, steps up to the podium, taps microphone*
We should all get back to blogging. Listen, I know. I know. It’s blogging. It’s old. It’s telegrams and buggy whips. I get it, I feel you, you’re probably not wrong, but here is a counterpoint:
Our choices for social media are occasionally hellish, and are arguably helping to hasten our collective destruction. Don’t get it twisted, social media also helps us become more informed and entertained — mis/disinformation spreads like norovirus, but good information moves fast, too. I just don’t know which one moves faster, and that’s a grim race I can hardly bear to consider. Point is, though, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they’re a place you go — like a bar, it’s frequently fun, occasionally interesting, often loud and deranged and usually full of one corner of belligerent drunken assholes who won’t leave you alone. (Unlike a bar, it’s also full of sock puppets and bots. So I guess it’s like a weird sci-fi muppet bar staffed by droids? Fuck, I don’t know, I think I’m losing the thread of the conversation here.)
What I mean is —
Those social media sites are external.
They aren’t yours.
Maybe collectively they can be ours, if we claim them, but just the same: we lack actual ownership. But you need a place to call your own. A place to which you can escape. A place to call home.
And so I present to you —
*wheels out rickety-ass cart with squeaky wheels*
*whips off the blanket covering it*
*inside is a janky old pile of blog*
*does a clumsy pirouette*
Remember those? Remember this place, right here, the one you’re reading? Holy shit, it’s a blog*! Did you even realize you were witnessing such rara avis as a gods-danged blog? That’s right, it’s a “weblog” or “web journal” — not quite as antiquated as a dial-up BBS (and you bet your sweet ass I’d go back to SysOpping one of those if I could), yet still feels like a relic of a bygone era. Most hot takes are done on Twitter. Most cold takes are done on Facebook. Instagram is where you see the pretty pictures. Mastodon is where you go for 10 minutes when you’re fed up with Twitter, then you go back to Twitter because now you remember why you don’t go to Mastodon. Livejournal is where you to go buy Russian dick pills, I think? I dunno. Point is, blogs feel like raggedy junk piles — crashed star destroyers and X-Wings in the Jakku graveyard. Even the name sound awful. BLOOOOG. BLAAAAAHG. BLOOORRRRG. It’s onomatopoeiac: a regurgitative sound, the sound of a dog horking up whatever weird yard garbage it ate.
Here is why we should all get back to writing and reading blogs again:
a) Because Fuck Twitter And Facebook
I mean, c’mon.
b) Because We Need Our Attention Spans Back
Remember being able to read something that took you more than two, three minutes to consume? Not just one glib tweet, not just an article you reshare because you peeped the headline and that’s probably good enough, not some SASSY MEME or ANIMATORTED GIF FILE. Wasn’t that fun? Not having the attention span of a high-anxiety, cocaine-sniffing chipmunk?
c) Because Nuance Is Good, Actually
You can’t build complex flavors on Twitter. It’s social Doritos, man. Delicious. Tasty crunch. Fast to consume. You can’t layer in complexity, though — it’s pretty much just a nacho cheese salt bomb in terms of content. You want nuance, you need more than 240 characters. Yes, Twitter has threading, and I like threads, but it’s still a string of popcorn more than it is a proper meal.
d) Because You Own It
It’s nice to own your stuff. You don’t really own your content on other sites. Okay, yes, technically you kinda do — but trust me when I tell you, the government has ruled that those sites own your shit. Why? So they can petition those places for your info. Twitter doesn’t claim to, or want to, own your shit, but the government says they do anyway, which creates a somewhat sticky situation, legally-speaking. As a person who has literally had tweets turned into a movie, lemme just say: this complicates things. So, as a writer, I note to other writers especially: owning your space, having an Online Place to call your own, is actually pretty great.
e) Because You Control It
I moderate this space. It is not a troll bridge. I control what I say here and who can say what in return. Now, true, Twitter looks to be instituting more robust controls for content posters, which is actually a positive by my metric. So, yay. Just the same, I can institute control over how the information is seen, dispensed, and commented upon without being at the mercy of any kind of giant company, especially one that seems to care very little about the presence of Nazis and a whole lot about the hurt feelings of Nazis. Also, one mis-step on Twitter or one mob campaign can get you suspended or banned outright, losing access to your entire bank of content and access to all your earned friends/followers.
f) Because People Quit Other Social Media Platforms Like They’re Bad Habits
It’s a constant refrain of people saying, “I gotta get off of [insert social media platform here] because it’s bad for me, bad for the world,” whatever. But nobody ever quits blogs. It’s like quitting vegetables. They’re just good for you. Probably. Maybe. Shut up and eat your WORD CABBAGE, jerks.
g) Because It Is Good Writing Practice
This one is for writers expressly, but it’s actually a really good place to churn words and develop a voice, a habit, a feel for language. Twitter is good for jokes, but not long-form content, and most of what writers will actually get paid for is longform content. Not a bad place to cut your teeth. And what the fuck does that mean, anyway? “Cut your teeth.” How would you even cut a tooth, anyway? Scroll saw? Laser torch? Don’t cut teeth, you barbarian. Your teeth are fine the way they are.
h) Because Blogs Can Also Be Newsletters
Newsletters are a new niche hotness, but you can have it both ways: this blog, if you subscribe, becomes a newsletter. Comes right to your email. Oooh. Fancy. High-tech. Mmm.
Of course, blogs have some downsides, too.
You don’t get an instantaneous response, for one. I tweet something and it’s chum in the water — it’s snappy, responsive, lickety-quick. Sometimes you write a blog and… maybe it sits a while. You’ve gone fishing and best put on your PATIENCE PANTS. It’s also not as sexy as Twitter — it’s still the hottest club in town, which means all the COOL PEOPLE are there, even though also all the AWFUL PEOPLE are there, too. For writers, this can feel like there’s less influence in blogs, but it’s also worth noting that publishers, agents and freelance clients might actually want to see some of your work on display. And though I’ve certainly gotten a lot of work over Twitter (Star Wars, the movie, theoretically a portion of my publishing career in general), the blog has long-formed the foundation of my so-called “platform.” (Hate that term, but when I say it, you know what I mean.)
It’s also, if done right, costly — compared to, say, free social media. Which means what I’m suggesting is a privileged option for many. There are of course free ways to go bloggy or do newsletters, just make sure you own what you put up, and be aware what happens if the service shits the bed on you. I own this blog, its domain, and I pay for the hosting (which is not cheap, regrettably), but I know what goes here is mine. I back it all up, and keep it going, and it’s all mine, miiiine, MIIIIIINE MOO HOO HA HA HA ahem. But I’m also trying to justify that by now convincing you all that blogs are a really good idea, and not at all antiquated, but please ignore the selfishness of my request and hie thee hence to the blog factory.
Blogs: they’re not just for breakfast anymore.
Anyway, let’s blog. Let’s blog together! Or at least come read my stupid blog, which will continue on being what it will be in the year 2020 — I’m gonna try to get back here and write more longform content. Hope you’ll join me. Feel free to subscribe. And if you want to help pay for it, then buy my books, like Wanderers, which I hear is maybe good? Books: they’re like blogs, but older and longer!
(If you want a good example lately of blogging working for an author, look no further than this very hilarious blog post about designer dogs by author Janel Comeau. I don’t think it’d work in Twitter format, honestly. But now I know who she is! Yay, blogs.)
* for an additional “holy shit,” recognize that I started this very blog in October of the YEAR TWO THOUSAND, which is to say, in nine months this fucker will damn near be old enough to drink, which really does mean I’m old, doesn’t it? fuuuuuuuuck
* * *
WANDERERS: A Novel, out now.
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. An astonishing tapestry of humanity that Harlan Coben calls “a suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic.”
A sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America. The real danger may not be the epidemic, but the fear of it. With society collapsing—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers and the shepherds who guide them depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
Print: Indiebound | Let’s Play Books (signed) | The Signed Page | B&N | BAM | Amazon
eBook: Amazon | Apple Books | B&N | Kobo | Google Play | BAM
49 responses to “Old Man Blogs At Cloud”
Hang on, has this been here the whole time?
You make me want to quit my day job and blog for free under the bridge where all my material will come from. That’s how inspiring you are. Thank you for this.
I dig this blog. Honestly, it’s the only one I follow, so maybe I should aim for more blog consumption in 2020 🙂
And I won’t sign up for it to be delivered to me on a regular schedule because I like to have a little cache of your posts to come back to, so I can blog BINGE. Yup.
Needed to hear this today. Have been struggling to decide whether to keep going on the blog (which has languished for months / years) because I didn’t know if I had anything (else) to say or if anyone really cared anymore (I mean, when you only get 3 likes and they’re all from “foreign interests”, not real people, you start to wonder why you bother). But maybe I’ll give it another go, use at as (as you say) writing practice, and feel at least as if I’ve “published” something in 2020. Thanks (again) for your wonderful words of wisdom.
Thank you! I needed this. Maybe for permission to up my blogging game (is that a thing?) or just to know that I’m not the only one out here not totally willing to lay it all down on the social media platforms.
My mom calls them blobs
That is amazing.
Bravo! I got sick of editing down my emails to my mother about what I was reading. If I want to take 4000 words to detail my thoughts on Operation: Outer Space by Murray Leinster, I should have the space to do it!
And speaking as a consumer of content rather than as a creator, I certainly appreciate that time and thought goes into this medium. I personally need a protection order against social media aggregation platforms because the algorithm that spoon-feeds us targeting advertising also dishes up an inordinate amount of hate/anxiety/please-kill-me. So, y’know, audience opinion.
A timely post for me, given just two days back I was able to transfer my domain name to a new host for my website, where the bulk of new content will be me blogging. Although I won’t officially title it that, as “blog” is a pretty ugly word to see and say. It sounds like a race of alien beings that a child named, perhaps having to be battled by Spaceman Spiff.
What the hell WILL I call it?
News? Everyone’s tired of news.
Journal? Fancy. Maybe TOO fancy?
But I digress.
Actually related side note, though: If your website were in the beautiful province of Ontario, it could’ve been drinking at a scant 19.
I am trying to get back to blogging regularly. I still use premium WordPress so I’m sure I probably don’t own my stuff but I’m wary of taking the step to self hosted because I don’t know if I have the time to deal with all of that. Also, as of now I never post more than what I can vomit out in 15 minutes or so before I go to work in the morning.
Ha! I’m so old-school I didn’t know that blogging was old-school. Oh well. I can’t bear Twitter and I do like to be able to write in complete sentences and at length. I like to read that way, too. FB is great for funny cat memes, but I’ll take a good blog any day!
I love you, Chuck. And I like your voice. You just SAY it – no schmaltzy fancy pantsy words. No long drawn out sentences. Just flat out clarity. Plus, you’re funny. How much better can it get? After a 5 year hiatus (a brain injury kind of does that to you), I’m going back to blogging under my new domain name – Writer On Caffeine. Kind of gives you the jitters, doesn’t it? hope I can write as honestly and clearly as you! Thanks for the great post!
I have been thinking about making a return. Now, you have pushed me over the edge. I miss it.
Word. I took a twitter break during the holidays, and found my life was SO MUCH BETTER without a constant influx of anxiety. I’d much rather read a 500 word essay on something than 240 characters on a site that is also promoting misinformation. viva la chuck.
Blogs are fully-formed thoughts in a conversation. Tweets are bumper stickers, and nothing of any consequence can be explained on a bumper-sticker. I’ll read blogs, and books, until I die. I’ve forgotten almost every bumper sticker I’ve ever seen, every tweet I’ve ever read. Well, there is one bumper sticker that still applies today: NIXON: Now more than ever.
I blogged since 2004 but started to fall off some years back as my kids got older and their problems got bigger. It was impossible to be all light and funny and shit when parenting was do tough. We are about to graduate youngest and aren’t totally out of the woods yet, but goddamn do I miss blogging. I used to write a post nearly every day. It’s easy with habit.
Yours is one of the few I still touch on sometimes.
It is true that Twitter barely holds my interest and now Instagram, bought by FB, is going that way quickly. Too many ads and a feed that hardly replenishes itself. Plus I hate the company.
I’m with you. Let’s bring back blogs and introduce their joys to the whippersnappers!
I didn’t even realize blogs had become passé. Guess that’s what happens when you spend zero time on social media. 🙂
How ironic! a friend and I talked about our abandoned blogs this past Sunday and made a vow to resurrect them before the end of the month. I’ll tag her when I share your post on Facebook.
Hey, maybe the next step is that we all ought to share our blog sites, y’know? I’m all for getting back to blogging (cough cough, looks at minimal blogging the last few years).
Blofgs! As a lover of long-form articles, I say yessssssss!
Get out of my head, Wendig.
I’ve been yucking and yikesing about Twitter for about six months now, (I deleted my profile in June and it was a glorious time) but I also recognise that it does have its upsides for a writer, whether that’s some more exposure or spotting opportunities if you’re freelance (‘cus everyone posts their stuff on twitter). So I’m back on the social medias, but I’m also blogging like a fiend since the new year, (with plenty of missteps so far) for largely the reasons you’ve outlined. It feels good to have a little internet home that’s mine. I wonder if 2020 can be year of the blog, instead of the rat.
Given that you’ve been blogging for… *checks notes, squints*… a little while, any blogs that you think are particularly good, either for content or the way that they blog?
I blogged for 7-8 years and haven’t, really, since. It was a place where I found community and a voice. It paid for things. It gave me access to impossible bucket list items. It hurts me to no longer have that space and platform. You’ve stoked something in me.
I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately (as evidenced by the fact that I updated my own blog…yesterday). There are a lot of things I miss about old school blogging, but the thing I *mourn* is the loss of Voice on the internet. Everyone on Twitter sounds like the same person and it shouldn’t bother me as much as it does.
Like you said, blogging (as it was) encouraged a person to develop a voice and a style that was all their own. You had to think up content, but you never thought of it as Content. No one earned enough (or any) money from it to care if other people liked it; we all did it for our own enjoyment, and that made the non-content content really fun to read.
I blogged for almost ten years before even attempting to write a book, and I know this generation is all about getting paid for their “art” but those ten years of free writing were the best thing for me. They taught me to hone a writing style, to make much of mundane life stuff, to observe, and to just enjoy writing.
Anyway. I’m rambling.
I just love blogs so much.
Thank you for yet another post I’ve reposted (with absolute full attribution, check for yourself if you don’t believe me, I would never steal somebody else’s writing, who do you think I am anyway, and thanks again!
I enjoyed this post and its premise. The breathless pace of Twitter can be exhausting and the trolls, bots, illiterates, etc. too much to bear. If you’re seriously in doubt, cut your teeth comes from baby’s teeth emerging their gums for the first time. If it was simply a stream of consciousness humorous aside, my bad. I couldn’t resist pulling out my professional mom skills.
The call to the keyboard and back to blogging is a step in the right direction. I hope we are fast approaching the precipice on social media and retreat to more longforms of expression.
Yay! Someone else on the same page as me.
Well, not the same, that’d be creepy, we’d be sharing a blog then, and I’m so punching above my weight on that one 🙂
Anyway, yes, blogging. Let’s do it!
Would you be up for being rounded up in a carnival of fun blogs weekly? 🙂
I’m happy to hear you are keeping at it! That the big takeaway for me.
This past summer I moved most of my content over to WP and made a mad push to blog 5 days a week. I kept that up for almost 4 months then stopped when I had a health issue. I crawled back onto the horse earlier this week and now need to prioritize it.
Thanks for being there for us!
Your blog is already old enough to drink here in New Zealand. Be warned: we have a bit of a binge-drinking problem in this country. I don’t know if your car is computerized enough for your blog to hijack it and drive drunkenly off into the night, but… it’s probably only a matter of time.
I’m taking a sabbatical from my blog after seven years of fairly regular blogging (870 posts), which seems quite a long time now I look back at it. No Facebook for those seven years, no Twitter (ever), no Ravelry since I got handed bans for things I wrote (#writergoals)… pretty much just blogs. Seems to me there’s a lot more extant civility in the blogging part of the online world compared to most places.
Incidentally, if you aren’t hosting your blog yourself, there’s still someone out there with the power to shut you down.
Yes to all of this! I started reading blogs back in the olden days and have always spent a lot of time reading them. Even when lots of blogs started writing sponsored content (Please bloggers don’t start this again) I hung in there and am heartened to see blogging making a comeback.
Austin Kleon, Elan Morgan, and Mimi Smartypants along with you Chuck have always produced great blogs with thoughtful content.
Hi Chuck. I haven’t commented on your blog in a long time. Because I haven’t read your blog in a long time. Because I haven’t read ANY blogs in a long time. Because I have cocaine-sniffing-Twittersquirrel brain. But I want that to change. Which is why I just blogged at my own blog. And why presently I shall blog again at my own blog. And why I have just read your blog. And why I shall be reading your blog again in the near future and habitually. And others’ blogs, too.
Because 2020 is FOR COFFEE AND CONTEM-NUANCE, FLO.
Ha, my sentiments exactly! (I loved (a)…the first one.)
Because there’s a need for content providers who inspire and inform others.
Great list, Chuck!
We’ve all heard that blogs are dying, but not according to my Pinterest stats. Readers trust bloggers over paid ads, at least, I do. Before traveling to Europe last fall, I poured over blog posts written by locals.
Blogging has shifted from spewing about daily life unless it includes some way to help others. You do this very well in your offbeat, hilarious way.
Thank you for articulating the “pro blog” side of my internal debate to continue blogging
blog sounds awfully much like flog . . . but what the hey, sign me up anyway
Haven’t commented in awhile but have to say “heck yeah” to all of this, a, b, and d specifically. Congrats on keeping yours not only running but also relevant and always a pleasure to read.
Blogs are easier to read and less likely to piss me off. I finally l left Twitter. For me, it’s like being hard of hearing in a crowded room: I have no idea what’s going on.
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Thanks for a kick up my bum. I hate Social Media and recently ditched Twitter. My blog is barren land. I am off to reclaim it! Blog on.
I’m also looking reclaim my attention span. Thanks for the good reminder.
Yay! Now we just need to get RSS up again. Curating your own stuff is way better than some stupid algorithm. Man, were we *stiffed*
Amen. Your blog (and specifically, the Friday Flash Fiction challenges you used to run) helped me to find excellent people with shared interests whose blog posts still excite and inspire me about a wide range of topics. And I’ve found as well that, overall, the blogging community tends to be mostly supportive (ignoring the existence of trolls, which are like an ungodly lovechild of tribbles and gremlins – they’re evil little buggers who multiply too fast to be effectively controlled at times, and it only takes one to ruin your day) and generally has a better atmosphere than other social media platforms. IME, anyway.
For your consideration: :Writers in other times and places have faced harder enemies than a stifling orthodoxy imposed across a flimsy platform. I have no glib answers to ours. What I can say is that we need good writing as much as ever, if not more. It’s essential to democracy, and one dies with the other. I know that many readers hunger for it, even if they’ve gone quiet. And I know that many writers and editors are still doing this work every day. Meanwhile, whatever the vagaries of our moment, the writer’s job will always remain the same: to master the rigors of the craft; to embrace complexity while holding fast to simple principles; to stand alone if need be; to tell the truth.” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/packer-hitchens/605365/?fbclid=IwAR2U2ZYVwB3Kkop0sP6xdMArLB6JMBr0vwQ_XhkYr7CwG1JlroIWz1FRbLo
[…] Blogs are a good idea. […]
THANK YOU. I’ve been blogging for just shy of a decade and while my audience is small, I still think it’s the biggest accomplishment I have in regards to my writing. And I’m not quitting anytime soon.
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