A blogger’s community
I was rifling through the detritus of my old blog recently. Years and years of blog posts, some short, many quite long. The writing was a bit better than I expected, though there are plenty of examples of a showy, young, more arrogant version of me.
What struck me most though was not my writing at all, but rather the comments, some from people I know personally but mostly from other inhabitants of that strange world of mid-2000s blogging, before Facebook, before YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and TikTok and all of the larger interconnected, advertising-backed platforms that today dominate the business of personal expression on the internet.
The comments on my blog were lively and interesting at the time, which I had forgotten. (I had forgotten in part because the comments exist only on HTML copies of posts that are no longer directly linked anywhere, and not on the PHP copies that are!). But mostly they made present-era me feel great because it was like rediscovering a missing piece of my world. Nothing ever went viral, and it was often the same people interacting on a regular basis, but there was a warmth and a decidedly human-scale feel to it, and it was all very amateur.
Here in 2020, I tweet regularly, and I post photos and create ephemeral “stories” on Instagram, and I have written articles on Medium, and I’ve composed approximately one comment-section-free blog post in the past four years. Amidst all that, I miss the feeling of my little blog community and the communities of all the other blogs I used to frequent. The feeling of more than one person, but not the whole earth, and not sitting alongside world news and outrage and the President and the celebrities and the sports, and not inter-stitched with ads and analytics and the trappings of venture capitalism. The best blogs of that classic era had a strong individual voice, with a dash of serendipity, and a chorus of interested and engaged people, and even though blogs linked to each other, going to one felt like joining a friend’s kitchen party.
The personal voice and the serendipity comes through in many of the wonderful newsletters that inherited that role from blogging, but what they provide in personality they lack in communal interaction. I can reply to the newsletter author, but I can’t see if or how other people responded. Newsletters, travelling by email, are disappointingly static.
I crave that feeling again, and, sitting here, a couple weeks into the new decade, I am determined to figure out how best to scratch this itch.