The Internet is a strange thing. Nonhuman yet capable of evolving and maturing, it’s a much different Internet than it was 20, 10, or even five years ago. A digital manifestation of fashion, if you will.
I began blogging around 2001 or 2002, back when the word “blog” was more slang than legit. I had an “online diary” at Diaryland, which is surprisingly still in operation but apparently unchanged since I was a memeber so many years ago. It was as simple as possible: put the words into the box, add a title, and hit “post”. There were no such things as SEO or featured images or RSS feeds, let alone the maintenance of a myriad of social media accounts to promote the blog.
Back then nobody hawked cookbooks or Super Awesome Brand™ Ultra Product or begged for you to sign up for the newsletter for their niche blogs with pop-ups. The only people who were blogging were real singular people, writing about their mostly mundane lives. A few were public and open about their identities, but most of the blogs I frequented were completely anonymous, especially since it was mostly text-based and confessional style. While there were, of course, the dregs of blogs that contained terrible writing of their uninteresting subjects (myself included), the best diaries were the ones that told fantastic yet relatable stories.
Fast forward 15 years and much has changed. While I’ve written off and on for those 15 years, it feels like the last several have the fiercest changes. The most frustrating are the technology advancements. Although my main purpose for my blog is creative release, I suffer from some kind of achievement complex that leads me to want…success?…or something. I mean, really, who cares if I have followers? (My posting history suggests I certainly do not.) But still, I made my blog look pretty, set it up “the right way”, slogged through learning the trade of search engine optimization…and for what? I’m still not sure. I could have actually been writing all that time. Yet, here it is, just as special as every single other mom-with-a-DSLR-camera’s blog on the Internet.*
It seems most writers are not anonymous anymore (at least not on the blogs I’ve come across), and while I suppose that lends to their credibility, I remember when I could be free to express my deepest and truest feelings because it felt like shouting into a secret abyss where one or two strangers might holler back. (One could make the argument that my blogging is still like shouting into an abyss, albeit a more polished abyss.) I still don’t like to publish my full name, although I couldn’t really call this blog anonymous anymore. Additionally, I worry about my family’s privacy and the ethics of posting anything regarding my growing children, and yet that’s where the meat of my story lays. A catch-22.
I do appreciate the advancements that have been made in visual design, however. “A picture says a thousand words”, and sometimes a picture is a perfect compliment to capture a feeling a writer is trying to capture in a blog post. So I suppose the wide changes that have been brought forth since the turn of the century aren’t all terrible. Plus now I have memes.
*Okay, so I couldn’t edit this into the post nicely, so it’s going to lurk down here, but I have a few relevant things to say about Search Engine Optimization. I really hate SEO. So badly. I need to use it for another project I am a part of, and while I can appreciate the theoretical usefulness of it, actually writing a blog post within the confines of SEO is maddening. It’s so formulaic. Maybe I don’t want to repeat my key word five times or have more than 20% of my sentences longer than twenty words. I have faith that my readers are able to comprehend long sentences. GOOD DAY.