This might be the longest I have gone without posting! For a while there (and maybe still, let’s be honest) I resigned myself that this blog had died. I no longer have the energy to document my outfits, not even on instagram!, and my clothing has steadily become more, for lack of a better word, normalised. Mostly I just want to feel comfy-cute and devote more attention to skincare routines, reading and trying (but failing) to perfect napping. That is, aside from my hyper-stress inducing studies.
Oh but I miss blogging! Not my blogging, not the act of blogging but the collective tendency and the communities it grew. The closing of The Toast (a blog I love) cemented for me the end of en era. Blogspot, wordpress and even livejournal are clearly a thing of the past in the grand scheme of things. Here and there are one-off success stories but mostly they’ve been devoured by larger, greedier capitalist publications. I don’t think the latter is bad per se, but the fact that there are CEOs (or whatever you name them) regulating content and advertising to stricter and stricter rules (that’s what I imagine anyway), but mostly wanting to not speak to a certain group of people but absolutely e v e r y o n e. I mean, come on, that’s not possible, why try? It will only end in failure or at most a stagnant mediocracy. But thanks to the dwindling of more critical blogs, where else do we go? Internet has become ingrained in our day-to-day activities so people will just settle and read what’s available, even if it is drab. (I am one of them.)
What I miss is not personal stories either; we are drowning in thinkpiece stories and confessional essays. (Once again I am a reader of those too?) But more often than not a blogwriter in this atmosphere rarely talks to their audience (bonus points if it’s a man’s condescending opinion piece about how everyone is beneath him) and churns out a boring, mind-numbingly story of nothing at all. Just nothing. Not even a story. Just a title, and if we’re lucky one or two sentences instead of a video. This is not a writer’s fault (I mean, not always), this is the corporations fault. Blogging was hailed as innovative and democratic way back when, before exclusive brand deals, sketchy product placement (#ad), et. al. What happens when you accept a deal with, say l’Oréal? At the very least censure, and then what’s left of a blog or youtube beauty channel? I mean, I’d probably take a deal like that, I don’t mean to judge. I’m just saying it’s boring and there is nothing vaguely democratic about blogging left. The rich get the riches. Those conforming to current beauty ideals fit for advertising get the sparkly deals. Good for them, but it’s, damn, is it boring and lifeless. I could just as easy read a newspapers but newspapers are trying to align themselves with internet writing too. A dull monotonous cycle of drabness.
But then again how else does one blog, struggle to afford basic necessities and work at the same time? Can group blogs be more fruitful? Can we step back from social media platforms that promote superficiality and on-the-moment thoughts and group together and strive towards engaging one another? Or have we grown sick of it? Or is that on-the-moment superficiality exactly the same as engaging one another? I mean yes, of course! But there’s no writing involved. And I miss some good writing! There’s so little of it now!
Not too long ago there were, maybe, at least three great pieces a day and now, if we’re lucky once a week or month. Naturally writers need their time to write these and I am on 100% support of that. But the thing is, there are so many great writers, and considering how important the internet has become there must be more than there ever were. Theoretically a writer could write one or less piece per month and a publication could still get at least one quality post per day. Of course there’s economics, recession and mostly the uprise of right-wing politics (first rule is always: cut the art’s budget blah blah blah). But do you want this? Do you want to resign to this? Would you like seeing your old favourite publications become gossip rags or clearly politically aligned institutions like, say, newspapers? Do you want this? I don’t want this. Would you like to help me do something about this?
Bethany Lamont, I, and others are working on and publishing the wonderful Doll Hospital Journal, which shies away from typical capitalist/liberal ideas; everyone can get published with us, we turn no one away (if a certain piece might not reflect the Doll Hospital spirit we work with the artist/writer to bring out their full potential, for instance), we aim to be available to everyone which means intersectionality/inclusivity but also a pay-as-you-wish option by which you could theoretically get your issue almost for free. Radical idealism I suppose, but it’s what we believe in, and the end product is a sight to behold. I’m so proud to be a part of it. But, as it is a journal dealing with mental health we feel a physical copy (also available digitally) rather than a blog feels safer; you can take it along with you and be certain there are not comments invalidating experiences and taunting to torturing the reader.
I’m so proud of this project, but, honestly? I also need my blog fix with some decent writing for when I’m waking up, slowly drinking a coffee, or just generally procrastinating (or even better: literally not having anything better to do which is sadly so, so rare.)
Interesting reads regarding this contemporary conundrum…
Having said that, there were blogs and internet presences that were just anonymous time capsules. Not explicitly meant to capture an audience or wield influence; but to just share what they wanted to the world, whoever would listen, or to no one in particular. I think this is what Julia was speaking to in her post. The non-curated, messy, typo-ridden, slice of life posts mostly did not have the buzz of “make this viral” all over them; it could be a quiet contribution to knowing the intimate details of someone’s mostly mundane life. Through the quick death and rebirth of memes and vines, the mundane is obscured from view, and maybe isn’t even around because it’s not [socially] profitable.
But then, don’t we have to ask ourselves what we do these things for? If we want to return to slice of life writing, why don’t we just do that? I don’t mean to suggest that an individualist, run against the current approach is the way to turn the tide; the tide is here to stay until a possible internet 3.0 (or the internet ending, somehow). But what do you like to do, who do you imagine are the folks that you will share or not share it with (your audience), and how will you proceed? Do you have the will to proceed?
Would I write what I wanted to write, or what I anticipated people wanted me to write? Would I write for myself and people I wanted to be in conversation with, or the folks who I thought I needed to cater to? It was painful to acknowledge that I had even internalized a lot of the behaviors I thought I was above, but eventually I realized I would lose my joy, confidence, and self-respect if I didn’t do the work I wanted to do. So I made it work for me, regardless of whose eyes settled onto the page.
Re-reading those dead blogs now, I can remember the feelings even more vividly, as the heat of embarrassment fades from my face. Fuck, it felt brash, it felt good, it felt original to a certain extent. And it felt necessary.
Things have shifted since then. For me, and for the Internet. Since 2010, at least, I have been joking about being the last of my friends […] I would find solace in the idea that maybe I just didn’t “get it” because the Beast of the Internet had grown and evolved so much, and because my online habits, in many ways, hadn’t. I worried that maybe I had become the curmudgeon, shaking his fist at a screen because it didn’t reflect him, his face, his ideas, his values or beliefs.
So I shifted. I put my guard up. I succumbed, in many ways, to what is expected of online behaviour. I resisted in others. I typed out – and swiftly deleted – status updates about food or cats or overly emotional moments (positive and negative). I shared fewer and fewer of the thousands of photographs I take.