I remember when blogging was cool.

I tell them, as they check their phones, and glance at me warily as if I’m some rambling grandparent. Trying to be respectful, but inching away as if needing to escape the aroma of arthritis cream and their own mortality.

I remember when blogging was cool.

Before the specializing and monetizing and Twitter-izing.

Between Livejournal and… this, there was a sweet spot. I was there. People living and people sharing. And you know why they did it?

To live. And to share.

Friendships grew organically. From internet friends to “friends” to no disclaimers.

Nothing was forced.

Nobody knew what SEO was. And, even if they did, nobody would have given anything resembling a fuck.

Popularity was earned, not chased. Popularity was deserved, not sold as a How-to.

Branding was for corporations and cattle.

I remember when blogging was cool.

No one promoted. Especially not before they had something to promote.

New blog posts were a delicious treat, not an obligation.

Word of mouth with a smile has turned to a cynical sneer.

I’m not sure when things changed. Nothing stays untouched forever, of course.

It was an entire cafeteria full of nerd tables. Then, in a moment of oxymoronic glory, the cool nerds rose to the top. The emulating began.

And Camelot fell. In a pile a pixels.

I remember when blogging was cool.

If you don’t, you probably hadn’t arrived yet.

And that’s too bad. It doesn’t look like it’s coming back any time soon.

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38 Responses

  1. HarleyJQ says:

    I also remember. Blogging as it has become has made me cynical. It used to be wonderful. It’s still wonderful, but you have to search for it.

  2. Jenn says:

    I’ve seen a lot of blog posts discussing the nostalgia for old-school blogging days. I have so many things to say, as I whole-heartedly agree that blogging ain’t what it used to be and I eff’ing miss it. However, I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to say about it.

    I love this post. Love, love, love it.

  3. Candace says:

    I remember being harassed by friends in Ontario to set up a Livejournal about 9 years ago. I loved it! I miss the excitement of reading new blog posts and waiting for comments on mine. Maybe it will pick up again?

  4. Melissa says:

    Aw, this made me very sad! I mean, I understand where you’re coming from. I think the *new* direction of blogging CAN be fun, if it’s done the right way. I don’t disagree with advertising and sponsoring, but I think sometimes it can just be too much. I personally love sponsoring my favorite bloggers and sharing their writing spaces with readers, but I think there’s a difference between doing it because I WANT to, doing it purely for profit, and overdoing it/ruining it.

    I also think Twitter is an awesome tool, but then again, I was a very happy blogger before I used Twitter and before I read other blogs. I just think I’m more… fulfilled as a writer knowing I can share my stories with at least SOME people. It’s a nice feeling.

    I do agree with what you’re saying and maybe I’m a little nostalgic for the blogger I was before I had readers or any knowledge of the blogger world, but I don’t think that means we can’t make the best of what it’s becoming either! :)

  5. Molly says:

    Yes. This. Yesterday I got on the train and spent the day in NYC with ‘Clink’, one of those friendships that grew organically and stuck around. No matter what happens in blog world now, I am thankful for those early days and what grew from them.

    • Peter DeWolf says:

      That’s just awesome.

      I have half of a blog post written in a draft folder that talks about the role you and Clink played in really getting me into the blogging community.

  6. Amanda says:

    I’ve been blogging for about 10 year now, and since I started when I was 14, I felt like the differences I saw were more about me growing up and seeing different types of people, as opposed to the close groups of blogging teens I was a part of back then, but what you described has exactly been my experience. Thanks for capturing what I thought was something only I noticed or was slightly saddened by.

  7. San says:

    So. very. true.

    There were days where I blogged for myself (or very few other people) and where it didn’t matter if you got 2 comments or 22. It’s hard to not get sucked into the popularity contest that seems to be going on online.
    I am trying real hard to stick to what I know from back in the days.

  8. Arielle says:

    I don’t know if I think this post so much describes the days when blogging was cool so much as when blogging was authentic. But whatever you call it, I totally agree. I’ve really cut down on the number of personal blogs that I read for the exact reason that I can’t stand the monetizing and the comment-chasing and all that nonsense. It’s sad. I think a lot of really great bloggers stopped blogging when they realized that seemingly everyone around them was making money or getting book deals and they weren’t. Boo.

    • Peter DeWolf says:

      I was being ironic with the “cool.”

      But at the same time not, you know?

      I find myself wondering if there is a way to re-capture some of the magic. Not to change the system, but to find a little corner of it to still be authentic with others who want the same thing.

  9. Molly says:

    I would love to read that post, btw. You should finish it! :)

  10. Linda says:

    I remember online journals! Real life diaries online. I had one and loved the circle of friends I found through it. (We are now all facebook friends but no one journals the way we used to).)I think things started to dilute from there because we grew up and learned that baring our soul online can be detrimental. (I had to learn the hard way!)

  11. Brittney says:

    I love you because I *just* posted this! Well, about this, I mean. Gah, I remember when fabulous scripting bases didn’t exist yet and you HAND CODED every entry and had to MAKE your own archives ::waves cane::

  12. mrsmitten says:

    My first blog was when I was 13. I’ll be 30 in (yuck) 2 days. I would give anything to get my journals back… such a different experience! Much… cooler.

  13. Felisa says:

    For some reason, my life got busy at some point so I didn’t have time to blog. Then when I wanted to start blogging again, my long and dramatic way of telling a short story just seemed out of place among the tumblr-like picture-filled posts, the posts that just review products and the “list” posts.

    I miss the days when people’s posts and somehow continuous narratives allowed you to slowly get to know them. Between relaying funny experiences and rambling about life, you pick up on the “story” of the writer and his/her depth. Even now, I still check up on those with whom I normally interacted on a weekly back-and-forth of comments back in the day. I do miss that.

    We’re such old people.

  14. wishcake says:

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this. It captures exactly what I’ve been feeling for the past year. I, too, started blogging before having one was as common as having an email address (my first was on a site called “Blurty”!) and it has been a good decade since then. I miss writing for the sake of writing, without thinking of the audience or the response that I will receive. I miss when blogging was truly more of an online journal than a way to become “famous” or make a living.

    I am not a blogger who set out to create a community, but had been blessed with a readership and many friendships that have come from the blogosphere. Somewhat ironically, I find myself overwhelmed by it all, though, and all that is expected from bloggers now (respond to all comments! read everyone elses posts! sponsors! reviews! reply to every tweet!) and I feel more guilty than anything about it all these days. There are many expectations now, you know?

    I’ve started to understand the bloggers I used to follow who quit blogging and fell completely off the radar. I get it now, because sometimes I feel like the whole thing has lost the charm it originally held for me. I’ve always told myself if blogging started feeling like a rat race or an obligation, I need to step away.

    Phew! Felt good to let that out. Hahaha… ;) Anyway, I’m glad to know I am not the only one who has sensed the shift in blogging, though. I have felt like this for a while and wondered if I was just being an emo kid or something. Heehee.

  15. heidikins says:

    Absolutely. This.

    xox

  16. Oh, yay! I wish we could go back!!! It’s all about money now and I hate it. People treat their personal blogs like little businesses. I simply hate it. I love true authentic blogs about life, but it’s not easy to find them. I’ve meant to quit blogging for a long time because it was so annoying to just see all this commercial ****. I continue to…hmm…protest? Or to provide a real life blog just in case there are other people like me. I have to work hard to stay authentic, because it is so easy to get sucked into the flow… I don’t care about SEO, I hate reviews and giveaways, and I definitely hate GFC, that in my opinion destroyed blogging and the friendly and true connecting between bloggers. GFC created the contest of having the highest number of followers (whatever they are other than people who clicked a button).

  17. Jess says:

    As you can probably guess, I am super behind on google reader – hence the constantly delayed comments. But I wish I could echo every sentiment listed. I feel like the heyday of blogging was from 2007-late 2009/early 2010. Or maybe that’s just my experience, but I do remember when blogs used to be about personal experiences and not about new products and brands and recipes and whatnot.

    I don’t want to comment on the general dwindling of blogging and commenting, but I think the “Like” button on Facebook has made it easier for me to share my pleasure in reading something without having to personalize it. I’ve succumbed to lurking for the last few years and I can’t quite pinpoint exactly why I stopped blogging (moving to Baltimore? Steady job? Steady relationship?) but I am so glad you’re giving some of us old bloggers a chance to get back into the swing of things again.

    Also? I’ve met so many amazing people through blogging. Even those whom I haven’t met face to face, I feel like I know through having read them and subscribed to their lives for the last four-five years.

  18. risha says:

    I remember too, and it makes me sad that good blogs (bloggers) are harder to find now. So I hold on tighter to the blog(ger)s that make me a better, smarter, warmer, kinder person.

    (even if that means making sure I read posts 2 weeks after they were posted. Case in point.) x

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