Is Blogging Dead?

“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?”

“Yes.”

Holy shit.”

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.

BAM!

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.

On Not Playing The Game. (About Blogging)

I have so many posts drafted. And when I go to publish them I imagine the backlash I might receive and I decide it’s not worth it. Because at some point during the last two years, I changed.

It occurred to me recently that I’m a part of a blogging group I know next to nothing about. Meaning, I am a mom and I am a blogger. I sit alongside members of this group (sometimes) but rarely chime in. I’m a spectator. And I don’t have the ambition (or knowhow) to enter the mainstream. Not that I’d make it anyway! When it comes to sinking or swimming and the Internet, I usually tread water.

Toby Joe has told me time and time again, “You gotta play the game if you want to get ahead! You gotta play the game if you want to get noticed!” And I always shake my head at that, actually it frustrates me to no end. And he knows this. He’s not trying to upset me. He says it to remind me that playing the game just ain’t my thing. It’s always the same conversation, one that ends with me asking him, “What’s the fucking point?”

I’ve never played the game. l probably never will play the game. I will continue to sit on the sidelines. Sometimes I’ll cheer people on. Sometimes I’ll boo and hiss at people. But I’ll always do so silently.

I’ve never been very good at playing the game.

And I don’t write much about heated topics anymore, even topics I feel very strongly about. I’m not sure why (or when) that stopped. I just hate the idea of anonymous hate mail, anonymous comments, or Tweets from Below. But I am even more freaked out by the chorus of commenters who write things like, “Wow. Just. Wow. You are AWESOME! I totally agree! I love you!”

Doesn’t that make people feel uncomfortable? It does me. It makes me cringe as a spectator. Comments like that tend to freak me out more so than ones spewing hate.

So, I just avoid heated topics altogether.

But I always have an opinion. Always.

Last week I wrote a relatively scathing post about Babble’s “Top 50 BEST OF” lists and lists in general. I gave up midway through that post because I worried that I might offend someone. And I’m pretty sure I would have been accused of being a jealous twat and I don’t have the energy to fight back even though that’s not the case.

But ultimately? I just couldn’t shake the voice in the back of my head asking, “What’s the fucking point, Michele?”

And I didn’t have an answer to that. So I hit save and walked away.

Yesterday I wrote a post about the whole Amazon/pedophile book fiasco. I didn’t partake in the shitstorm that engulfed Twitter because I didn’t want to draw attention to a book that, up until yesterday, had sold one copy and is clearly the work of a very, very sick man. But the news spread like wildfire. People called for a boycott. People were outraged.

Good news for all those opposed? The book was removed by Amazon last night.

Bad news for all those opposed? The backlash helped it go from the 158,221st best-selling Kindle e-books all the way up to #65.

(Please note: I’m not discussing how I feel about the book or Amazon having listed it. I’m also not suggesting others should have ignored it. I’m not saying anything. See? That’s my point. When it comes to the Internet? I RARELY MAKE ONE.)

There are just so many half-written posts. They’re piling up. And instead of publishing any of them, I just give up and write about my cat, baking, or something silly that happened while spending time with my son. All of this probably makes me seem pretty damn boring. Hell, I bore myself on here anymore.

So, yeah. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I suck at playing the game. I don’t see that changing. And quite honestly, I’m not even sure I know how to play.

But here’s my hunch regarding the rules:

Playing the game means linking to other blogs a lot, blogs at the heart of it all; it means knowing what one’s peers are discussing at all times. Playing the game means finding out about the hot topic straight away and writing about said topic immediately. Playing the game often includes heated debate. (It also means having a strong backbone something of which I do not.) Playing the game sometimes means being a decent writer, but more often than not has nothing to do with actual talent and more to do with who’s on one’s team. Playing the game means feeling passionate about one side of an issue (or pretending to feel passionate about one side of an issue) and I often see many sides. (Unless we’re talking vaccinations, animal rights, littering, or guns. Now, you unvaccinated, littering, gun carriers who torture animals? YOU DESERVE TO DIE.)

Playing the game means going to conferences. Playing the game means NOT finding out about something days after it happens. Playing the game means NOT getting annoyed by those on your team.

I suck at playing the game.

I’m admittedly a bit emotional these days and I gotta be frank with you: I don’t know how much of what I’m feeling is legitimate Michele stuff and how much of it is hormonally induced reactionary stuff. So I feel crippled when it comes to making any changes.

I do know I’m not a very good blogger (anymore) and I have no idea how to change that or if I should. I’m even losing sight of my own voice while reading everyone else’s. And Twitter seems to be making it worse. You give people 140 characters and they use all 140 repeatedly and often. And then sometimes they re-tweet the same sentiment from others. Before you know it, you’re reading 140 characters a dozen times from a dozen different people and in a dozen different ways, but all of which are saying the same thing.

So, yeah. I feel a little lost out here, online. And I’m realizing I always have, which is probably why this blog is facing its 10-year anniversary and not many folks know about it. (Not that I’m complaining! I assure you. Making my family laugh has been worth it. And those who have reached out to me regarding their miscarriages or infertility have made the entire decade I’ve been blogging worthwhile. I mean that completely. Your loss is something I will always care about. That’s why I started this blog 10 years ago: I was hoping to make people feel less alone.)

But overall? I find myself wondering how and why everyone seems to care so damn much about seemingly pointless shit. And then I just get frustrated at myself that I don’t care enough. I don’t care enough to write about Babble’s lists. I don’t care enough to write about baby slings, attachment parenting or breastfeeding in public. I don’t care enough to write about who harassed who and how they went about admitting it. I don’t care enough to give some attention whore even more attention because she wrote an article about hating fat people in exchange for some ad revenue.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I’m terrible at playing the game, and I’m frustrated by it too. And I think it’s safe to say that I’m too much of a pussy to actually say (or do) anything about it.

The iPhone 4 and Its Camera

Sunday is our long day at pastry school. We go from  9 AM until 5 PM but we do get a 20-minute break. Whenever lunch rolls around I pull out my iPhone to check email, Twitter and the like. Well, this Sunday it wasn’t working. The little ATT icon showed up but the 3G icon did not. I figured the entire network was down.

I looked around the room and saw another woman was using an iPhone. I asked her if she had service. Her’s worked. I restarted. When it started up again, nothing worked. The ATT icon was gone as well as the 3G icon. It read “No Service”. I no longer had a working phone.

Toby’s iPhone died several weeks ago. So he’s been living without one since. And that’s been hard for us especially since we don’t have a landline and haven’t since November 2001. For weeks we’ve been using the DM service through Twitter to communicate. (Why not email, I’ve no idea. But it did keep our correspondence to the bare minimum and there’s something to be said for that sometimes. You get to the point when dealing with 140 characters!) So he needed a new phone. He went back and forth on what to get, whether or not he wanted to switch away from ATT altogether or sign another contract. (Toby hates contracts more so than most people.) But in the end, given his job an all, he decided to stick with Apple.

I didn’t really need a new phone. Mine works, albeit rather shoddily since Emory gave it a sponge bath. But it does work.

But here’s the skinny: I need a new camera for school. We were told on day one that we’d need a small, but decent digital camera to document our work. At the end of our time there, we’ll need a photographic resume of everything we bake. I don’t have a small digital camera. My camera is a massive Nikon D200. And since we already have so much to carry with us to and from class (knives, a bag of pastry supplies, towels, a scale) there’s no way I could include that in my repertoire. So, I would need a new camera at some point. And I told Toby this in passing one day. It was such a non-comment, I kind of forgot mentioning it all.

Well, Toby apparently had an idea and his idea traveled uptown and entered my head right as I restarted my iPhone for a second time: my husband was, right at that very moment, buying me an iPhone 4 as well.

(Thank you, lovely husband!)

You’ve probably read all about the controversy surrounding the iPhone 4. And I’m sure by now you’ve heard that Consumer Reports basically said DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. And they have to; it does have a problem. And Steve Jobs was less than accommodating when it came to responding to the backlash. He went from suggesting the user not hold the phone that way, to offering up free bumpers to fix the problem. Consumer Reports suggested duct tape. Another user suggested buying an Ove Glove. All those perpetually drinking the Apple Kool-Aid responded to the naysayers and critics by holding their hands over their ears and repeating, “LA LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”  The whole mess was quite entertaining for those of us in the middle.

Straight up: I don’t use the phone part of the phone very much. If I were a heavy caller, I’d probably have taken my iPhone back. But I use it to browse the Internet, check email and Twitter, as well as text people. I’ve used the actual phone application maybe four times since Sunday and thus far I haven’t had any dropped calls. I know it will happen and probably at the most inopportune time, but for now I’m really pleased with my new phone.

A FEW THINGS TO NOTE:

The Screen

The screen is amazing. It’s just beautiful. Whenever the very first round of buyers got a hold of it and my Twitter stream lit up with tweets about the screen, I rolled my eyes. But you know something? They’re all right! It’s really wonderful. So much better than what I had been using.

The Speed and Ease

The applications run so much faster and smoother. I use the New York Times application every single night. I fall asleep reading. At least three times a week for over a year I have complained to Toby Joe about how buggy that application is. It takes forever to load, if it loads at all. It crashes. It crashes the phone itself. It spins and spins and often times you can’t scroll through the article. With any other application, I’d have trashed it on day one. But I like reading the NYT, so I put up with it.

That’s all in the past. It’s fixed. It runs supremely fast. Other applications run better as well. It’s just faster all across the board. No joke. And noticeable for even us laymen.

The Camera

But, guys, the camera. Holy shit! The camera. The camera is outstanding. It will definitely do the trick for class. And I’ve been inspired again! A phone has inspired me to take pictures again. I just want to snap everything I see, which is totally mihow.com circa 2002. For those who haven’t been around since the beginning, that’s how this blog began. I took pictures of my everyday life. I snapped hundreds a day—to an from work, during lunch—all over NYC and beyond. I loved doing that and often miss it. It was super easy to do because I had a Canon ELPH back then. I shot from the hip and most of the time my subjects didn’t even notice me.

Well, this phone has me doing that once again. I’ve taken dozens of shots in the past few days. I just can’t get enough of it. And with the added application Hipstamatic forget about it. I’m a photo-taking machine.

So, yeah. I’m really happy with this phone. No regrets at all. We’ll see how I feel with the first dropped call, but I super pleased with the phone’s camera ability. I haven’t even used the video yet!

That’ll be a post for next week.

For now, I’d love to share some more of the pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of days. I hope you enjoy!

I’m so enjoying this, my friends. And you know there’s going to be a whole lot more of this. It’s like I’ve met NYC and 2001 all over again.

Consumed By the BP Oil Spill. How Can I Help?

I’m currently consumed by what’s going on in the Gulf and at a loss for ways to help. I’m writing this today to ask you for help. If you know how to help the victims of the Gulf oil spill—both animal and human—please post links or let me know what your thoughts are. This is colossally bad and I’m not sure that we fully understand the extent of its damage.

It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Here’s the skinny: I’m going through some stuff I don’t know how to write about—not yet. All I know is that lately whenever I sit down to write, I write about everything but the stuff. So I end up feeling disingenuous.

All along, since the birth of this blog 9 years ago, I have tried to be as forthright as possible. I’ve never held back. When I go through something, my words reflect as much—the good, the bad, the ugly—I try and cover it all.

I just can’t do that right now and I’m not sure why that is.

I will say this much: I’ve changed a great deal over the last couple of years, more so than ever before. I’ve always been a relatively open person, willing to share almost anything with anyone. But recently that’s changed. I’ve become a lot more introspective. And while I’m still getting to know this new person, I think I kinda really like her. She actually seems pretty great. (Oh yes, Internet. I did just reflect upon myself in the third person.)

I’m embracing this transformation. This isn’t a bad thing. But it is a relatively new thing when it comes to everything I’ve ever known about myself.

I realize I just wrote a whole little about a whole lot. And that’s precisely what I’m trying to say. I’m having too much trouble writing these days. I’m paying too much attention. I’m in transition between who I was and who I’m becoming.

So: I’ll be back in a few weeks or maybe a month and I can only hope that at that time you’ll still be around.

Not My Friend Nathan.

This might be the single most awesome comment this blog has ever seen. Like, I think my work is done here. Blog for sale!

Lady are u insane? Speaking as a 12 year old, when I was 5 I didnt think about any thing like what you are talking about. except… this is SO funny and thats a cute monkey. No 5 year old EVER think’s about this kind of stuff and just for the record you are an over protective MOM!

P.S Crazy you should keep your opinion to your self!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sincerely: not your friend Nathan. :(

For those feeling a little curious, it’s in response to a post I wrote about how Curious George is a bad role model for our children. Click here to read the EXTREMELY TRUE AND SERIOUS post.

(Nathan: I was just kidding. Please be my friend?)

NaBloPoMo: The Morning News: Sacrifice

A silent reader sent me an article today that had me in tears—huge, blubbering, messy tears. It was written in 2007 and for that reason, I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before today. I wanted to thank her for sending it along. And I’m not sure why, but I also wanted to post it here as well. (Warning: it is sad.)

It’s called Sacrifice. It’s written by Andrew Womack about his wife’s triploidy pregnancy. For those of you that don’t know this already, I had a triploidy pregnancy. It was devastating. His story hits so close to home for me, I find it difficult to read. It’s so similar to what we went through, it sends chills up my spine.

It’s close to home physically as well; we live two blocks from the street he mentions walking down. Haunting.

NaBloPoMo: Maclaren Stroller Recall

Yesterday dozens of people sent me emails about the Maclaren stroller recall. I appreciate the thought, and I do hope that people continue to send me stories like this in the future because I do want to know. But here’s the skinny on this one: I’m just not getting it.

I have the Maclaren Techno XT. I’ve used this stroller every single last day the last 2 years. It’s been perfect for us. It’s lightweight and easy to use in the city. And it’s really durable. I haven’t once had to have anything replaced, not even a wheel. I’ve put this stroller though a great deal of work. No complaints here.

So, yesterday I’m combing through the articles that were sent to me, searching for the urgency. Some of the pages loaded, some did not due to too much traffic, but I eventually pieced together what I think this is about. My understanding is that it has something to do with a hinge. I read that 12 toddlers lost their fingers while mom or dad (or caregiver) was opening the stroller. And I looked; I looked long and hard at my stroller and I still have no clue what I’m supposed to be freaking out about.

So here’s my question: Is this a legitimate concern or is this another overhyped, hysterical reaction to 12 (albeit horrible) careless mistakes? Because in that case? I have seen a dozen kids get hit by swings on the playground. Better remove the swings too. And while you’re at it, recall all doors. Those pesky bastards are always catching a finger or two.

NaBloPoMo: Lionel Electric Trains At Rockefeller Center.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here before, but my son LOVES trains. He’s obsessed with choo-choos. I know, that’s probably pretty common for kids his age, but trains are his favorite thing ever. That said, I wanted to extend this great opportunity to anyone living in the area. Maybe we can hang out!

Lionel Electric Trains has opened a pop-up retail store in Rockefeller Center for the first time ever! To help spread the word about the store, Lionel is inviting awesome NYC Mommy’s to a special event on Saturday, November 14th at 10 AM. The Party will let you and your kids look around the store, get a demonstration of the trains, a sneak preview of Lionel’s new CGI movie “LIONELVILLE Destination: Adventure!”, have refreshments and leave with a gift bag for your children. The only thing that Lionel asks is that if you have a good time, please spread the word via blogs, twitter or however you think is appropriate.

Space is limited so please RSVP now by emailing Emily_Saltzman [at] dkcnews.com

Lionel Electric Trains Party
Saturday, November 14th at 10 AM
The Lionel Store
30 Rockefeller Plaza
50th Street, near 6th Avenue (directly across from Radio City Music Hall)

I get the feeling my boy’s head is going to explode with awesome.