Aug 16, 2012

The State of the Blog Union Address

Fellow Citizens of the Blog World:

I come to you today with the tale of a conversation between myself and a friend of mine. A friend in real life (no abbreviation necessary), and a friend on-line. My friend is a dedicated reader and follower of my blog. He has no blog of his own, but he has his own internet presence that he is fiercely proud of. I'm proud of it too. He is a great, great friend of mine.

My friend, lately, has been choosing to comment on my blog posts via text messages to my mobile phone. I chastise him occasionally about it, asking him to comment on my blog instead. You know, just to make me feel like somebody is reading the drivel that I irregularly write here. But he is a smartphone guy, as many of us are as well. Not that you are all guys, but you know what I mean. And, in his case, he uses Flipboard to view my blog. It's a great viewing tool, but it's not a great interacting tool. For him to comment on my blog would require him to pass through 2 or 3 screens and then, if he hasn't been attached to Google for a while, log in to leave a comment. That would now be 4 or 5 steps to leave a pithy, mostly sarcastic comment. Much too much, if you ask me. So he just texts me.

That makes sense to me.

It also worries me.

Here is the issue. I'm not sure why I'm doing this anymore. I'm not sure why anyone is doing this anymore. I look to my last several posts and I find one or two loyal commenters that will acknowledge that they are reading the drivel I am posting.With a pithy, mostly sarcastic comment generally. And I appreciate them and those pithy, sarcastic comments. It does make me a bit sad to see that the discussion that I so looked forward to in the past is now mostly gone. And that so many of my beloved blog friends have either given up, gone private or have made a decision to post less often.

All of that saddens me. Because blogging is something that I love. And I don't mean to use the word "love" lightly. Blogging has been an important part of my life for seven or eight years now. It is something that has given me a great deal of pleasure, sometimes a great deal of pain, sometimes it has introduced me to new friends. I wouldn't give up those last seven or eight years for anything. I cherish them. Blogging has been an outlet in more ways than one for me that has been massively positive in any way that I choose to think about it.

I don't know what my blog traffic statistics are. I never look at them. I wouldn't know what a page view meant if it woke me up in the morning, slapped me on the ass and gave me a hand-job. What I do feel like I am aware of is the community.  The blogging community. You and I. And that is something that I feel is slipping away. I'm a part of that decline, I readily admit. I rarely visit or comment on any other blog than my own. Feed readers, Twitter, smartphones and tablets have conspired against our great union.  I'm as much to blame as anyone. Worse, most likely. It is so much easier to flip through blog posts in my reader and occasionally interact on Twitter than to take the time to actually visit a blog and comment. And there is that word again.

Interact.

Such an important word.

Interact.

That's why I got into blogging. At first, I was merely a commenter on various blogs. I probably left anonymous comments on many of your blogs before I created my own blog-identity. For me, that was the fun. And starting my own blog was a natural progression of that fun. I wanted a place to tell my own stories and interact with those who might find them interesting. As I found their stories and lives interesting.

I still find all of your stories interesting. But I haven't been keeping up with my end of the bargain. Interacting with you to let you know how much they interest me. Or just to make a wee bit of fun of you. Either way, it's the process of walking down the internet road and shaking hands with you for a job well done. Or poorly done. That part of it doesn't even matter. It's the effort that makes it all worthwhile.

I'm here to tell you that I'm not giving up. Never.

I'm going to try to be a better blog-friend from here on out. I'm going to attempt to be a little bit more interactive with the rest of you. I'm going to try to put my smartphone and my tablet down and pick up my laptop when going through my feed reader. Because it's easier for me to type on that/this, you see. And I'm going to try to visit your actual blogs more often. And, gasp, maybe even comment every once in a while. That would be something I really want to do once again. Because, like I said, that's why I got into the game in the first place.

I hope you don't read this and feel guilty about not visiting my blog and commenting more often. Well, 94% of me feels that way. A part of me yearns for that interaction. A part of me needs it. I'm just trying to express how I feel about the state of our union and the steps I want to take to bring myself back to what drew me here in the first place.

I want to interact with you. I want a discussion. I want silliness and seriousness and everything in between.

I want you, and I hope you want me.

Sincerely,

The Earl of The United Nations of Blogwhateveryouwanttocallit

21 comments:

Dave2 said...

I do check my blog stats from time to time. My blog is getting more traffic than ever. But I am also lucky to get only one or two comments on an entry any more (even when I get a big link from a major source, the comments rarely jump).

And I don't think it has to do anything with accounts and such... I don't have account logins or captchas or anything. People just don't seem to want to comment any more. They're interacting elsewhere... like Facebook and Twitter and such.

Oh well. Maybe things will swing back one of these days.

B.E. Earl said...

Dave2 - I can only speak about my own experiences. I don't use captchas (I think) or require a login. Blogger prefers that, but it still allows anon comments. But I know I stream past so many blog entries on my phone or tablet and I don't consider commenting because it is a tad more difficult on them.

Maybe things will swing back one of these days. I hope to do my part starting now.

savannah said...

i'm truly glad you aren't giving up on blogging, sugar! i've been a bit distracted by the new babies out here on the west coast, so i've been remiss about blogging and/or commenting. i'll be back on the plantation next week and back to blogging with a bit more regularity. i've decided to back away from facebook until after the election for a variety of reasons, but the best one is i don't want to be angry anymore; the polarization and invective is just too damn disheartening. keep writing, i'll keep reading1 xoxoxo from lalaland

B.E. Earl said...

Savannah - I'll keep reading and loving all you write as well. Shugah! :)

PS - I'm trying to stay away from politics this election year. 4 years ago brought some craziness right here on this site. And only some of it was from me. So I shall pass. I know I ain't voting for one side, but it remains to be seen if I will actually cast a vote for the other. No one is inspiring me thus far.

Avitable said...

I agree with you - the interaction is down. It drives me crazy when someone comments on a post via the Facebook link or Twitter, and recently I've had a few people who have emailed me their comments rather than comment. Facebook likes are a new way for people to acknowledge that they've been there and read something, but it's not interaction.

Last year I cut my feedreader down from 800 blogs to 60, and have slowly added new ones until it's around 75 total. That's been manageable for me to read every single post and comment on most of them.

I go through phases where I just won't feel like interacting with anyone. Otherwise, though, I'll do whatever I can to foster the community that also means so much to me.

Heff said...

Heartfelt.

I sensed blogger's decline coming on, so I BAILED on my own blog, although I do still enjoy checking out a choice few of those who remain.

You keep writing it, I'll keep reading it - UNLESS you change formats and move to AssBook.

Slyde said...

i can easily be counted as one of those bad commenters... i havent gone thru my feed reader in about a month now, when i used to do it religiously twice a week. i'm just a bad, bad cyber-friend.

B.E. Earl said...

Adam - Wow...800 to 75. Were they all blogs gone defunct?

Heff - No Facebook for me. Just not my style.

Slyde - If I were to eliminate the baseball sites from my feed reader, I would probably only see 10-12 new posts each day from the personal blogs that I follow. Sad.

SK Waller said...

It all started going downhill when people decided to read blog entries in their feed readers rather than by actually visiting blogs. My comments went from 20-40 to 0 very quickly. If it's just about reading, then I'll buy books. I've been blogging since 1998, not to simply write (I have my books for that), but to interact, as you say. I say we all get back to VISITNG each other--all of us--and leave the feed readers to rot.

People aren't blogging because people aren't visiting, plain and simple. I've just this week returned to blogging on a regular basis after two or three years of frustration and futility. It seems to be working just great--one of my new entries has received 19 comments... I haven't see that in ages! And that's with my blog being set to 'private'. Wow!

Avitable said...

They weren't defunct, but I realized that I wasn't being discriminating with my blog reading and just added anyone, not the people about whose words I really cared.

People are still visiting blogs - my traffic has increased and continued to do so, but they're just not interacting in the same way.

B.E. Earl said...

SK - It's an interesting experiment, the private blog thing. I'm glad it's working out for you.

Adam - I guess. I don't know why someone would visit a site unless they were going to comment. I generally read new blog posts in my reader and then to the site if I have something to say. Then again, there are several blogs that I automatically visit when I see a new post pop up. Those are the exceptions to the rule for me anyway.

hello haha narf said...

i want you.
although i am totally guilty of reading through my google reader on the phone whenever i get a few minutes and not commenting. just recently i have tried to hit my normal rounds and leave a comment in an effort to let my friends know i haven't forgotten about them. must have been that i felt your disturbance in the force!

sybil law said...

Well, you know what's up with me, so that's why I've been much quieter, lately.
Is quieter a fucking word?
Oh well.

white rabbit said...

I think your pessimistic assessment is about right. People seem to have got disheartened and blog less often and interaction is down (though not necessarily pageviews). I think it's a pity. I blog less often. I'm not quite sure why I blog at all any more. I still get a surprisingly large number of pageviews but less interaction (the great and glorious Sybil being an exception - always there with a comment).

I blame farcebook. And twitter. The visual trumps the verbal and the brief the lengthy. Heigh ho ...

Badger said...

I don't feel guilty at all. Think of me as a silent and thoughtful reader.

Happy Mommy said...

I don't like to leave comments unless I have something to add. If all I can think to say is "Me, too!" I won't comment at all. But when a post evokes a response from me, I comment. And then, when the reply to that comment is "Thanks for commenting," the discussion is over. I just wish that I could carry on more lengthy conversations with my blog friends. And since I haven't written in my own blog for three years or so, I have only myself to blame.

Mrs. Hall said...

i still read your stuff. i haven't really had much to post lately. i haven't commented much lately. i mean, don't really have much to say.

my blog has slowed too. my real life has picked up AND FRICK I CAN'T BLOG AT WORK BECAUSE MY STUPID WORK BROWSER ISN'T GOOGLE FRIENDLY.

that being said. i think blogs wax and wan. sometimes the juice flows and the post come. sometimes rest is required. and that's all i gotta say about that.

:)

feel free to comment on my stuff though. i think you're one of the original mrs. hall readers :)

B.E. Earl said...

Becky - The Force is strong in this one...

Sybil - Oh sure, life is something that will definitely get in the way of hobbies like ours. You are most excused.

Wabbit - Isn't Sybil the best?

Badger - Always have.

Happy Mommy - So often those who blog don't even respond to their comments. That's something I've always tried to do. And always will.

Holly - Yeah, I've noticed you haven't posted as much. Then again, I haven't been commenting when you have. My bad. But that Anonymous Down With American Women guy is taking up my slack. ;)

Dr Zibbs said...

I agree with you. I think Twitter just killed a lot of it. But I like your blog so don't stop.

And I'm going to keep blogging. I think I'll be happy years from now when I can look back on posts I've written about my life that I probably would have forgotten about if I didn't write them.

badgerdaddy said...

I hear ya. I've been very slack lately, and I think I know why - apart from being hideously busy, I mean. I started using Google's feed reader, and it's shite. Don't like it one bit. I used to go through live bookmarks every morning and see what had come up, and now I have to view it in some shitty little window and... It's not working for me. Annoyingly, now, the live bookmarks thing isn't marking ones I've read as read, either, so that's going to get kicked in the plums soon too.

You're quite right though. We must always remember this is a community, and needs nurturing in exactly the same way was the one outside the window.

badgerdaddy said...

Fucking fuck. Just wrote a long reply and it's fucking disappeared. Rats' cocks.

In short, I concur. Google feed reader is killing my interaction, I hate it so will be switching back to manual shortly.