This morning I realized that, if my first ever blog had been a person, this year it would be old enough to vote and to drink in some provinces of Canada. It didn’t seem right, and I had to check my math three times. But it’s true. I started my first blog in 1997, when I was 17, before blogs were blogs.
That was also the year my family got the internet for the first time, so I very quickly discovered and fell in love with “online journals” and the thought of having my own website. I worked on that awful little Angelfire site so much. One day, my then-boyfriend wanted to go out, and I whined at him from my computer chair, “But I’m working on my website!” I’m happy to say I saw sense and went out with my boyfriend that day and probably had fun, but it shows how much I loved website tinkering even back then.
I haven’t blogged at all this year. I don’t know if Jane’s recent post about blogging worked its way into my subconscious, or if I just didn’t have anything to say. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ve probably seen me talk about the “old days” of blogging before. I knew it was good even then, and I miss those days more and more. I’m trying not to grow bitter over the changing climate of what is probably my longest-lasting hobby, but it’s difficult when blogs can seem dishonest, or only vehicles to make advertising revenue instead of sharing something with the world. It’s difficult when being online these days involves sharing your full name, photo, and location to many different people and other sites and services. The internet of 1997 was small, and I liked it.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Some blogs, like Jane’s, and Kali’s The Nife en L’Air, are full of wise, honest, beautifully-written words I return to again and again. But I suppose I’m just wondering what role blogging, the way I know and love it, still plays in today’s world. I’m beginning to worry that its time is over, at least for me.
I see evidence of this in my own blogs throughout the years. The one I kept in 2007 was quite personal. Among other things, I detailed my wedding planning, and my frustrations with other people’s attitudes to my short engagement and very pared-down wedding. I read that blog now and can’t believe I wrote such personal things. On the blog I opened after that one, I remember one entry where I wrote in a quite general way about a rough time I was going through, with no details whatsoever, and how I agonized over posting even that. And with this blog, I’ve made a very conscious effort to not write about many things – the fact that it bears my surname for the first time was a major factor in that. In 1997 I had a pseudonym. I could say anything. And anyway, who would even see it? Here, I’m wide open.
When I opened this blog, I asked myself, “Are you going to be a writer with a blog, or a blogger who writes?” In my old blogs I had been the latter, but this time I was going to be the former. And so far I have been happy about that. It suits me. But part of me misses the old way. And I wonder why my increasing desire for privacy and “the right to shut up” runs exactly opposite to what I see in a lot of blogs today. Maybe I’m becoming unsettled by how public the internet is, and how freely people share almost every aspect of their lives, with their full names attached. Maybe I have to resign myself to the fact that blogging, as it was when it was best for me, is over now and won’t return. But that also makes me a little angry. I like that I’ve been blogging for so long. I think that other “internet dinosaurs”* like me should stick around to remind people that it used to be different. Maybe that’s the major reason I still do it at all.
I know that sounds cynical and like I’m saying goodbye. But it’s not, and I’m not. I’m just thinking aloud, so to speak. The years have slipped by so quickly that I rarely think about just how long I’ve been blogging, and how those years have affected my relationship with it. For all I know, there probably is no easy answer.
* – For the life of me I can’t remember where I first read this, but I love it.
PS I hope this didn’t come across as snobby or sneering at blogs today. I know there are lots of great ones out there, and I read several that have ads. My worry is more about people who have heard that you can game the system to make money and get free stuff and fame, and that becomes their sole reason for starting a blog. Back in the ancient days, those ideas were antithetical to blogging, so it’s very hard for me to come to terms with.