Buy that domain name. Carve your space out on the web. Tell your stories, build your community, and talk to your people. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t need to duplicate any space that already exists on the web — in fact, it shouldn’t. This is your creation. It’s your expression. It should reflect you.
Bring back personal blogging in 2023. We, as a web community, will be all that much better for it.
This will not happen, not in 2023, not ever. How misguided is this? Let me count the ways.
Most people don’t read. Of those who do, most of them only read one or two books a year, and those books are mostly potboilers of some type. Hardly anyone reads lit-rah-chur or weighty nonfiction for pleasure. The liberal arts conceit of a large population of humanities majors and passionate autodidacts gathering in every coffeehouse to discuss great novels and the human condition is just that, a conceit.
If hardly anyone reads, how many people do you think write as a hobby? And if we can split that tiny fraction even further, how many of them are still hoping for some sort of eventual career in writing? Incidentally, this is mostly what became of the first generation of bloggers; they either got signed to book deals, or they got a paid gig for some established outlet, or they got bored and/or occupied with other responsibilities and gave up. I bet you can count the number of currently-active bloggers who started out in 2002 on your hands, with fingers left over. The devoted amateur who refuses on principle to sell out is more myth than man.
Human nature hasn’t changed in the last twenty years. Trolls, doxxing, and tribal stupidity existed in abundance in the old blogosphere, if not quite at the current industrial scale. But more importantly, people were and are just as dumb, lazy, and self-unaware as ever. Yes, people certainly do complain a lot about the “hellscape” of social media. That’s because bitching and moaning is easy, but changing your life is hard, and people will reliably choose the path of least resistance. Plus, as social animals, people want to be where the action is, and where their friends are. If that means logging onto Twitter every day, whining all the while, then that’s what they’ll do. What, like they’re going to voluntarily isolate themselves, start a blog, high-mindedly ignore all the prolefeed and clickbait on the web, and write short essays for an audience of fifteen or twenty other bloggers, when they could be getting viral attention on Twitter or YouTube? Not to mention, what happens after they do all that, only to discover that they’ve run out of things to say after six months and aren’t nearly as smart or interesting as they fancied themselves to be?
No, I’m afraid this is just a combination of nostalgia and New Year’s resolution, a double-scoop of ineffective wishful thinking. Anyone weird enough to keep a blog is already doing it, and once we’re gone, our ways will be forgotten.