Remember blogging? That thing a blogger on the Internet declared dead twelve years ago not realizing they were, in fact, blogging at that very moment even though they thought they were creating content as a writer instead? Or more specifically: personal blogging, which was lowered six feet into the ground back in 2009, each year the corpse exhumed, spat on, then lowered back down only to be lifted every year since.
It was never dead. The corpse in the casket was never personal blogging. It was a mannequin. Ferris Bueller tricked you. He didn’t have a bad cold. He just wanted to hang out in the streets of Chicago with Cameron Frye and Sloane Peterson singing “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout.” You were Mr. Rooney. Hoodwinked.
These online essays that pop up every few months declaring blogging dead and WordPress dead are akin to declaring rock ‘n roll dead because Elvis died back in August 1977.
Blogging, like email, is a part of Internet culture. It’s never leaving. It’s never dying. It may sink into the background for a bit while the shiny new Internet thing pulls in the world at large. But it’ll resurface because its birth was an independent one never attached to one specific platform.
The writers — and I use the term writers loosely — who tell you otherwise are selling you something — likely a course that costs $59 or they are directing you to their newsletter sign-up where they’ll later try to sell you a course that costs $59. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The hilarity of it all is they are bloggers blogging about how blogging or a subgenre of blogging, such as personal blogging, is dead.
They call them essays, articles, stories, or posts. But they are blogs.
And there’s nothing wrong with blogs or blogging.
Blogs are why I fell in love with the Internet back in 1997. There was a rawness to the writing that’s been lost over the years. They weren’t called blogs then though. They were weblogs, as in web-logs. But even that name didn’t exist until the end of 1997, in December, when Jorn Barger coined the term. Blog was cemented into legend in 1999 by Peter Merholz. It became a noun and a verb when Ev Williams, then of Pyra Labs, began using the phrase blogger, as in to blog.
Justin Hall was one of the first bloggers on the web in 1994. I remember Justin. He had a site called Justin’s Links from the Underground. He still blogs even if the rest of the web has largely forgotten about him. Michael Dean wrote a thorough piece back in October everyone who writes on the Internet needs to read: The First Online Writer.
In an interview with Blog Starter, Hall stated of the current web:
Now it is tough to know what a true personal voice on the internet is anymore.Justin Hall, Interview: Blog Starter
Is it? Kidding. Of course it is. One word: influencers. Two words: social media.
I lean toward Hall’s feelings on the subject. Instead of writing in a conversational tone like we once did, we’re all out here doing the polished turd act as if our next piece we’re working on is worthy of The Atlantic or Harper’s. We’ve lost the looseness in our pens. We think of our words as precious when they are but words. Instead of a text-based site, we search for the perfect header image.
In thinking about Hall’s quote on the current state of the Internet, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It sounds like a bad thing. If you think about it differently, you’re able to see it another way.
With so many people trying to replicate the success of others, they’ve lost their own unique voice. They use AI-assisted writing tools like Grammarly and Chat GPT instead of 100% bonafide personal experience, a red ink pen and an hour’s time of line editing. They’ve been told to niche down by experts to the point they’ve boxed themselves in.
They fall victim to being fooled by writers — who aren’t writers at all, but marketers disguised as writers — who claim to show you the path to success. They are often the same ones who proclaim blogging dead year after year. That path has snake oil spilled all over it. Watch your step. The reality they are selling you: the best way to make money online is to persuade someone to sign up for a course on how to make money online. If you want to make a lot of money online, that’s your path: write about how to make money online.
Forget that. Bring back old school blogging. If you want to write online, write online. If you want to make a little money from your efforts, that’s great. Start a monthly membership option where your readers can support you. You don’t need Substack or Medium to do that. Those are platforms. Own your domain. Post to your site first. Syndicate elsewhere.
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