“I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now.” —Max
Kicking and Screaming (1995)
When I started this blog back in 2001, Toby and I were living in a 3,000 square foot loft in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Our bedroom overlooked the East River and all of Northern Manhattan. I was head-over-heels in love. I had a sweet job in SoHo. I had great friends and family living nearby. I was 27-years-old and living the New York City dream.
I wrote a lot back then. I kept a diary on my laptop. Sometimes I printed out the pages and put them in a notebook. I used to read those pages to Toby Joe. He’s always been a great listener and super supportive of everything I’ve ever loved or felt passionate about.
In typical Toby Joe fashion, he took his supportiveness to an extreme and programmed a personalized blog publishing platform for me. At the time, I didn’t even really know what a blog was. But he was willing to show me. And I took great pride in the fact that the publishing platform was the only one of its kind.
My first post was about snot invading my head. It was meant to be a test post, but once we hit publish and it went live, I kind of freaked out.
“You mean anyone can read this, like, right now? Anyone? Anywhere?”
For better or for worse, anyone was able to read about my snot. Weird.
So I wrote. And I took a LOT of pictures. I used my graphic design skills and created silly posters in Photoshop. I didn’t care if anyone was following along, knowing someone could was enough for me.
But then people started actually leaving comments, real people. People I didn’t know. This was huge. Where were they coming from? Why were they sticking around? How had they found me and why did they care about what I—a complete stranger—had to say?
The whole experience was life-changing, frankly. I know that sounds completely ridiculous now, but it was life-changing.
When Toby realized how fascinated I’d become with my visitors, he built a stats package as well. I was able to see just how many people stopped by, whether they were repeat readers, how they had gotten there and how long they stuck around.
This was totally kick ass. And over the course of a year, I watched my numbers increase from the single digits, into the double digits, all the way up into the thousands.
People were actually reading.
So I kept writing.
A blog was born.
I wrote every single day. I took loads of “from the hip” pictures of my commute throughout my beloved city. I enjoyed blogging more than I can possibly say. I enjoyed interacting with people all over the world. It was truly life-changing.
And it continued this way for many years. Toby managed the backend. I continued to pour my heart and soul into it. My site became an unpaid, part time job, and I loved it.
Right around 2009, things began to change. And while I could easily blame it on everything else—the popularity of Twitter, Facebook and all the monetizing that started taking place—it probably had more to do with me. I changed.
In 2009, I had a miscarriage and immediately entered an 18-month long battle with infertility. I clammed up. While my blogging peers continued to share and write (and monetize), I hid. Something inside of me changed. I was no longer the personal blogger I’d always been. I wasn’t even all that open with friends and family anymore. I became introverted and fearful. I felt broken, sad and alone.
I simply stopped sharing.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but my innocence and passion for embracing life head-on, with wild abandonment, well, all of that came crumbling down.
I know I pushed people away. Just last night I was reminded of this when one of those people made an appearance in a dream. I treated this person poorly. I was so afraid of telling this person the truth—of being honest about my infertility, depression and vulnerability—that I built a wall instead. And last night, when she appeared in my dream, and I was given a chance to explain myself, it was too late. She refused my friendship. She had moved on. I woke up in a cold sweat, agitated and crushed.
Even my dreams remind me of how many people I pushed away.
And this blog suffered as well. I second guess everything I write. Nothing seems important or everything seems too important, or I think, “Why would anyone even care about this?”
And I don’t even have access to my stats anymore. I have no idea if I even have a stats package. I honestly have no clue how many people stop by anymore. And that ignorance is probably a good thing. Because I’m pretty sure that if I knew that number, I’d just have Toby take it all down. Why not just go back to keeping a journal?
I know. I know. Bloggers who talk about quitting never actually seem to. Whereas those who actually do pull the plug—they just do it. They don’t discuss it. They don’t write about it. They just let it go.
So, why not just let it go? Why do I keep this thing on life-support when I make no money on it whatsoever and instead pay 80 bucks a month to host it?
Well, for starters, there is no backup. If we stop paying the host, the site and all its data will be gone forever. And I can’t let that happen. There is just too much information here. I use it ALL the time as a reference—from Mom It Down recipes, to trying to figure out when something in our life took place. I use it to remember how sad I once was and how far I’ve come. It’s a massive archive holding THIRTEEN YEARS of my life. I can’t just pull the plug.
And Toby and I are way too busy (or dead tired) these days to back it all up. And when we do find time, the list of things we have ahead of it is way too long. I have no clue when we’ll actually get around to it. A site that spans 13 years has one hell of an archive especially since I want the comments and all the images as well. In many cases, the comments are what made this site so awesome. All of this takes time and space and energy—all of which we don’t currently have.
So, what does one do? Does one continue to write sometimes to justify the expense? Does one continue to write knowing all her peers recognized where things were headed years ago, and made the necessary changes? Does one become more and more discouraged and write posts like this one and, well, this one? Or does one finally just shut the hell up?
Is the personal blog dead? And am I the last guy to realize this?
More and more people are in search of sponsors and advertisers. More and more people want to make money off their blogs. Meanwhile, reader cynicism seems to be on the rise. Readers are less trusting of bloggers, they question intentions. (I know I do.) They are just waiting for the day a blogger tries to sell. Readers are a lot less invested. And I can’t fault anyone for that, just like I can’t fault anyone for trying to make a living. I know things change. Change is good! I get it. I don’t love it, but I do get it.
Sometimes I genuinely miss the way things used to be. I miss being invested. I miss the passion involved on both ends. Or maybe I just miss myself. Maybe I’m mourning the excitement I once had for sharing and writing and publishing my unfiltered thoughts. Maybe I miss the newness of it all. Maybe I’m being too cynical and crotchety and “old school” about this. Maybe this is where things were headed all along.
Maybe the problem is me.
Edited to add: Incidentally, I swear I did not write this for attention. I’m sincerely just thinking out loud today. I have these thoughts about blogging often enough and today I figured why not share them like I used to? Certainly I’m not alone in my thoughts. Please don’t think I’m begging for ass kisses. I will kick my own ass and film it if I come off that way.