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 blogfriends 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.

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October 8, 2008. meta.

9 Comments

  1. Phantom Scribbler replied:

    Laughing! Thanks, that’s kind of you to say. But part of the reason those people are still there is because I’ve stayed connected to them through Facebook even when I wasn’t blogging. (I have to say, it’s been funny to see my real life and my blog life collide on Facebook. A few minutes after Elizabeth joined, one of my high school friends left notes on both our walls wondering how the hell we knew each other — turns out they were friends in college. Also one of my blog friends knows a couple of my cousins!)

    My hope is that these overlapping communities we’ve found here (overlapping since none of our blogrolls is exactly alike) will survive, in one form or another, as we go through the further stages of our lives.

  2. MetroDad replied:

    I enjoy reading so many different types of blogs (everything from politics to literature to food.) However, if I had to pick one thing that I enjoy most about blogging (and reading blogs,) it’s the sense of community and I find that I only really get that via the parenting blogs. I think you’re right. Blogging as a form of expression will change, both as a platform and as how an individual chooses to use it. But I have to say that the parenting blogs will always have a special place in my heart.

  3. Susan replied:

    My FB and (and now twitter) participation is dominated by my friends from blogland–on FB, there are some real -life friends, too, and colleagues, but I don’t think I’d have gotten drawn into FB or Twitter absent the blog connections. My own blogging has always been sporadic, but it’s a space I still value, in part b/c of the transitions among different issues (adoption blogs morphing into more general parenting blogs, political blogs going personal, that sort of thing).

  4. Jody replied:

    How I feel about blogs is tied up with how I feel about parenting school-age children, and slowly accepting that we’re never going to have another baby — so maybe visiting the infertility wing of blog-land isn’t helpful — and realizing that it’s been a long time since I followed a comment link to a new blog. It’s not bad, but it’s a change, and it leaves me uncertain about where the “newbie” action is.

    It’s disconcerting to read the blog of someone with their first baby and realize how long ago that period was in my life.

  5. CamiKaos replied:

    This was a great post. I do think that an increase in social networking has changed blogging, but the change has been good. People who want to be able to say what’s on their mind but don’t have time to maintain a blog (like my husband) can micro blog on twitter… where as I with my long winded ramblings on my blog (and in this comment) use the 140 characters to connect with other people.

    On a side note, I’ve been phasing out the “mommified me” title for a long time. First I added my name and made MM the subtitle (reducing it’s size in the header) but I got feed back from people that it was till confusing, because while I do talk about my daughter, motherhood is by no means the subject of my blog, so moving over to wordpress seemed like the right time to make the change.

    And as a note to Jody who commented before me: I can’t have more children either and that made reading some blogs difficult for a while, phasing out of reading so many “mommy blogs” can be tough… it can be a natural progression though if you just try out one new link a day.

    Now to go actually be a mommy and get my daughter’s bag packed for ballet class.

    xo Cami

  6. shestartedit replied:

    This is a great post. Thanks for the link. My new blog is sort of my last ditch effort at blogging. I will always love reading other people’s blogs, but I’ve been growing very weary of my own. I’m hoping that staying away from posts about in-depth parenting might actually keep me interested in blogging — whereas it used to be that I couldn’t stop writing posts about parenting.

  7. penguinunearthed replied:

    I really enjoyed this post. I’ve never really commented on the 200+ comment blogs – it always felt like it took too much time to read the comments properly.

    I imagine that for all of us, blogging will be something will dip into and out of – more or less as our need for paticularly social interactions ebbs and flows. But as well as finding people going through exactly the same thing (such as parenting) one of the wonders of blogging for me has been finding connections with people who are quite different from me. I’m probably too reserved (in real life as well) to really connect, but I’m certainly at least acquainted with a much more diverse group of people than I’m ever likely to meet in real life.

  8. thordora replied:

    As I grow away from “baby blogging”, varied forms of online life make more sense-I find once you get away from that insularity, tight communities aren’t as easy as they were-kids grow, lives change.

    I like the change, but I’ve noticed in myself a bit of irritation towards the internet in general lately-wondering what others get from it, mostly because it’s so bloody dense sometimes, trying to connect at all.

  9. fidget replied:

    Even though I keep having babies, I find myself blogging a little less about them (says the woman who currently has a baby photo splashed on her page as the top post). I think I’m moving back towards my original goal of blogging about me. My kids are part of me, but they arent center stage. I like blogging about life with them though. It helps me to feel connected with other parents and I like knowing it might help someone else feel less lonely in the thick of it.

    Twitter has become a great outlet for those weird little things that happen during the day but I dont post about because I cant allow myself to become so neurotic that I blog 12 times a day.

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