the end of blogging?
Last week, both Elizabeth at Half-Changed World and Phantom Scribbler posted musings about whether Twitter & Facebook were causing a death of blog conversation. They both talked about the fact that their own personal blogging has changed dramatically since the early years, and how they felt less connected to their blogging community now than when they first started their blogs.
At the time, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about their posts. I have a Facebook page & I Twitter, and I have this. They’re not the same thing. Partly that’s due to my decision to keep this space totally private from anyone in my meatspace life–except for my husband. I have had the dissonant moment of a casual acquaintance knowing something new about me because they read it on my Facebook page. But because no one in my work or personal life reads my blog, it never sparks a conversation in my real-world existence. The only community it exists in is my blogging community.
Then last night, as I was watching the debate, I simultaneously started watching the Twitter Election Feed. (Which, btw, should really be called “Zeitgeist.”) And it clarified some thinking about the whole issue for me.
I first came to reading blogs obsessively during the ’04 election. At that point, I read political blogs (dailykos first and foremost among them) exclusively. I started my second blog then (my first literally had one post. ever. and hardly even counts as a blog), a short-lived livejournal experiment. I was trying to be a political blogger, but ultimately I found it too difficult to be both timely (given that I had a real, election-related job) and also to be circumspect about my role in the campaign that I was working on (since I was blogging anonymously). I did comment on blogs fairly frequently, but I never found a successful formula for political blogging myself.
And after a while, to be honest, I found it pretty boring to comment on a blog post that 200+ people had already commented on. It’s one thing to read through a whole blog post, and then come up with a response to it. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to read a blog post, then 200 people’s responses to that post, and then to feel like there’s anything new left to say.
Reading the Twitter feed last night reminded me of my early days of reading political blogs. Except–and here’s the good part–I didn’t have to read all the comments. I could flip away for a minute, come back and write a tweet commenting on some part of the debate, and I didn’t have to worry about whether I was being repetitive of someone else’s comment. Because the point of that Twitter feed (at least for me) is to see what the common threads are–not to find a single voice, but to hear the voices of many. There are interesting things that I’ve found as a result of that Twitter feed (like this! and this!)–but for the most part, what interests me about it is the hot flush of feeling in so many about the candidates they support. (Anecdotally, I’d say that Twitterers were about 60% for Obama, 40% for McCain. Maybe 65/35.)
When I first found the mommyblogs, I found something that I didn’t have in my personal life–a community of strong, funny women who also happened to be mothers. A place (or set of places) where I could hang out and kibitz about potty training, or sleep deprivation, or raising anti-racist children. The fact is, it’s easy for me to have political conversation every day of my working life, and I have a spouse who is very interested in political discussion too. The reason I never succeeded as a political blogger was that political blogs weren’t filling a void for me.
But mommyblogs do.
Don’t get me wrong–my life has changed since then, too. When I first started the job I have now, I was telecommuting, and the one place I occasionally worked out of did not feature a single other working mom. I was parenting a kindergartener and an 18-month-old, and I didn’t know a lot of other moms in my community. Almost four years later, I’m the PTA president, I work in an office every day, and my office now has three other working moms–one of whom has kids the same ages as my kids. I’ve got less of a void, when it comes to the mom conversation that I once did.
But it doesn’t mean that blogging isn’t an important source of conversation for me. I miss the commenters that I had, back when I first started blogging. I’m happy, when I open landismom’s email account, and see that I have a new comment on a post. It’s just that the void that blogging is filling has gotten a little filled up, and that place inside me no longer feels as empty.
One thing that I wonder about is how my need to blog, and the communities of people whose blogs I read, will change over the course of my life? Right now, I don’t read the blogs of anyone who is caring for an elderly or sick parent. But I bet that’s a thriving blog community. I bet there will be a point when I’m looking for that. And when I need that community, I’ll know where to look.
Several people* on Phantom’s blog commented about how they first turned to blogging in the isolation of new parenthood, and that obviously happens for lots of folks. You get stuck in a house all day with an internet connection, you’re bound to start looking for some other people in similar situations. I think the interesting thing about the future of blogging is going to be what happens when the bloggers move on to other voids, other isolating experiences, other needs to express themselves. Two of my blog-friends recently went through major blog overhauls–where they went from having blogs that were clearly identified as mommy blogs, to blogs that were somewhat more heterogenous in scope. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that, as we mommy bloggers realize that we’ve started to like the sound of our own voices–and that we don’t just have to talk about our kids to be heard.
*Tangentially, I’d like to say, that Phantom doesn’t have too much to worry about, as far as community goes, if she can still write a post that gets 53 comments. I think my personal best is 26.
October 8, 2008. meta.