Passé the blog, please?

We are dead. Or dying. Or we are soon-to-be fossilised. Or we are really old. If blogging is still important to us, then we are on our way out.

The New York Times and all the doomsday prophets at Pew Research Center can get all a-twitter about people leaving their online journal nests, but I’d like to grow old gracefully. For I know that something will come along to replace the current favourites and they will become obsolete too and have to meet me in my mouldy hole and, guess what? I’ll have more with me in that cave because I gave more and took more.

According to the NYT report:
Blogging started its rapid ascension about 10 years ago as services like Blogger and LiveJournal became popular. So many people began blogging — to share dieting stories, rant about politics and celebrate their love of cats — that Merriam-Webster declared “blog” the word of the year in 2004.

There has always been that smirky attitude. I started blogging because I was already ranting about politics – it was part of my work. I don’t have a cat and I do not diet. The first note I received was from a reader of my columns asking, “Why do you want to become one among the millions?” I found it weird. It was as though I was abdicating my throne! (Well, he did think I was going downmarket.) Then I read an article that said anybody who has a blog thinks they can say anything. Almost all international publications have blogs, some by their own columnists. So why chuff at the ‘outsiders’? Senior writers often quote from blogs and there are slots in newspapers that give snippets from them (now it is more tweets), especially on topical issues.

My blog journey was not for that. It was to find a space for all the things I wanted to say, without worrying about deadlines or word limit or audience expectation.

Yet, I did not treat it with any less respect than I did my more ‘constructive’ work. My writing has always been personalised, including my political writing, so this wasn’t a way to go on an I for an I binge, which is how many bloggers are perceived. Having been on both, and several, sides, I can say that I have read many blog posts that are far more substantial than some of the Op-eds, especially in the newly-refurbished publications that sacrifice content for layout. For someone like me, blogs have been a huge boon because since I do not toe any line, I can say just what I want without getting a headache dealing with those who are the line-markers. As a political animal, it was only a matter of time before my obsession with raindrops and damp walls would transmogrify into the bestial world of social degeneration.

So, when did the great bloggers’ escape take place?
Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Has anyone been forced to write lengthy posts? Since this is being posited against social networking sites, I wonder how many ‘readers’ those have. They will need to click on a link and return to lengthy posts, extracts, podcasts, video blasts somewhere else.

I have had immensely gratifying interactions with readers. Some have veered away, but they are the ones who mention me, and am sure some of you. And those who read my articles see a new side on blogs, a more complete picture. And if someone starts a blog only to appear as a legitimate blogger to be able to comment, then one must be worth it. Or if someone signs into a site only to send a message telling you how wrong you were about something you wrote two years ago, then it’s worth it. And if you feel let down when you want support and have the courage to say it, then it is worth it. And when you are down and they can sense it and stay quiet, then it is worth it. And if with passing time you can read their minds as they read your words, then it is worth it. And if you can remove the comment-posting facility and continue to write because you need to, then you know that the streets may be full of people and the walk may not be lonesome, but it is your feet that carry your weight and take you where you want to. It is worth it.

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Okay, there is a flip side. A couple of months ago I got a lovely letter about how very wonderful I was. I sent a 'Mucho gracias' reply. The person was online so I got a prompt note: "Are you on Twitter or something?"

"Am surviving without bird feed," I wrote back.

Well, he made some cute-nasty comment. A few weeks later, I sent a short email because I had not noticed something in his first letter. I was surprised to get this in an email: "Hey, hey." I hey-heyed back and quoted some rubbish. Then he asked, "Now can you tell me your name?" (My name often appears as only initials if I type on my phone, yet...) Poof. Was I angry? Upset? No. He said I took two weeks to reply so how was he supposed to recall. What were those wonderful words for, then? "Oh, I surely wrote them, but I don't recall the name of the writer!"

Fake humility is not my genre, so I won't venture there. But I felt like an actor who performs well and gets under the skin of a character and that is what is remembered.

It's really worth it.