Thoughts on being online

Over the last year, I’ve noticed several blogs pass into oblivion, either with or without an announcement.  This week, Bitch, Ph.D. said goodbye.  Several of the blogs of people I’ve been reading for 5 or 6 years are either gone or on a very sporadic schedule.  Twitter and Facebook seem more popular, though I have no desire to spend much time there.  My WoW guild is having an existential crisis of sorts.  Several members have left, citing both a boredom with the way the game works now and an increase in the need to spend time with work or family.  I, too, have spent less time online than I once did.  At first I did so out of a feeling that I was spending too much time online and not giving enough attention to other things in my life.  But now, it’s because I literally don’t have time.

I have a couple of thoughts about what appears to me to be not a “death of blogs” or “death of the online world” moment, but certainly a moment of transition.  Some of the disappearance, especially of blogs is a factor of commercialization.  As corporations set up blogs or media outlets like the Huffington Post arise, the small-time blogger has a harder time keeping up.  It’s impossible to keep up volume-wise and there’s the inevitable loss of audience as a result.  There are exceptions, but I do think a lot of us liked blogging because it felt like a community.  We got comments.  We had conversations in the comment threads, between blogs, etc.  I see that happening much less now.  I used to comment a lot.  It’s much more rare now.

I also wonder if some of us who’ve been online a while are getting bored.  Honestly, I’ve been participating in online communities for twenty years.  Every four or five years, the world would shift and a new type of community would emerge.  Nothing new along those lines has really emerged for a while.  Yes, there’s Facebook (been there since 2004).  And there’s Twitter (been there since 2007).  Neither of those offer the in-depth reading I want, nor the community I’d like.

I also think the online world is being used for other things.  Gaming thrives, but older games like WoW are losing their appeal, especially for those who’ve been playing for a while.  All of my guildmates agree that it wouldn’t be fun for us without the community aspects of the game, but increasing games are not meant to build community.  We’re still waiting to see if the expansion brings that concept back, but even I feel kind of blah about it.  Video has exploded, bringing our tv mentalities to the web.  So we pull up video on Hulu and watch for a 1/2 hour or hour and then we feel like we’re done.  And then there’s our phones and other devices, like the iPad and the Kindle, which offer other kinds of activities, most of which are disconnected.

I realize there are some people out there just now discovering all the wonders of the Internet, but for me, it’s starting to lose its luster.  And that’s left me with a bit of gap, entertainment wise.  My family asked me why I wasn’t raiding last night.  And I said, essentially, “Meh.”  I told Geeky Girl I needed a new hobby.  She asked me what I liked to do, and it was hard to come up with anything.  When I was kid, my hobby was writing, thus the appeal of blogging.  As I got older, I picked up needlepoint, but that takes more time than I have and I’m not that interested in the results.  I’ve never been much of a gardener.  Most plants that come into my house don’t leave alive.  I have no artistic talent for painting or pottery or even jewelry making.  I’m interested in politics, but not enough to go out and volunteer a lot.  And even though I have some time for myself, between work and managing kids and the house, I’m not looking to fill a huge amount of time.

Don’t worry, I’m not shutting down Geeky Mom any time soon, but I am doing some thinking about my life online.  I think it’s fair to say that the Internet will always be a part of my life, but what I choose to do on it (with it?) may be transitioning, as, I think it is for many people.

9 Replies to “Thoughts on being online”

  1. I accepted the inevitable, which is that high-volume blogging as an amateur is HARD. Feed readers helped soothe the guilt though. I know if people are subscribed they will read my stuff no matter how infrequently I post. As a result I spend more time on my posts because I don’t feel any time crunch and ultimately I get more attention for them. Maybe quality verses quantity is the way to go.

  2. I’ve been seeing the blogs disappear, and being disappointed, too. I comment, but I don’t blog myself, and I see the trends you are describing playing out, too.

    I’ve wondered if one of the ways to a solution might be group blogs (not Huffington/commercial group blogs), but just friends who share the blogging responsibilities. It wouldn’t work if one person did all the work, but it might work if it allowed the two (or three) to take up the slack when needed. Since I’m not a blogger, I don’t know.

    I do think there’s less commenting, too, and that does happen out of less time, but there’s also boredom, and the feeling that you’re repeating yourself.

  3. I’ve been blogging for about seven years (yikes!) and have noticed some of the same patterns re: commenting as you note here. I comment less, and receive fewer comments on my own entries. But I still get a lot of personal value out of blogging, and I still feel a sense of community–it’s true, however, that many of my blogging friends are now FB friends instead, but FB has never been a big time suck for me. I hope on and off several times a day, just enough to skim updates and send a few messages, but I don’t play any games there.

    I think as with any creative pursuit, blogging has to evolve to stay fresh and useful for each user, otherwise it’s not worth the investment. I guess the community that comes with it must do the same.

  4. Well, I’ve passed into oblivion, mostly, and it’s pretty much because I’ve got nothing to say. My kids are in school all day and their lives are mostly off-limits anyway. I bore even MYSELF with my agonies over my dissertation and my career. And then, when it comes to issues, I have two reactions: (a) The world doesn’t really need yet another blog site to debate this issue; or (b) I’ve already written what I think about this issue and I hate to bore people (starting with myself) with repetition.

    I started writing a blog because I wanted to make long comments on other people’s blogs, and needed my own space to do that. Now, I want to make the comment and be done. I know it narrows the circle and circumscribes the debate, but there’s been some sort of tipping point, and I’m on the non-engaged side of the scale.

    I enjoy reading people’s Facebook updates but I don’t feel compelled to check the site more than once a week or so. I’ve got no interest in Twitter at all. I’m not hostile, I just don’t have the same interest in 140-character thoughts as I had in longer blog posts, and I’m not going to commit the time for something that interests me so little. (Something of a catch-22 in that one.)

  5. I think making a connection between bloggy communities and your WoW guild is really smart. I played EQ for a while, and when I started, it was like a whole new world to explore. And then I was in a guild and started raiding, and even though grinding levels had become a chore, raiding was a whole new world of cooperation and strategy and such. We worked around the bugginess. But at some point, the bugginess (and the resulting programming choices and the resulting new strategies) and the grind of leveling (and adding skills and such) overcame the fun, and lots of people started drifting off. And when WoW got going more left.

    And I sort of see that in blogging. At first, we’re excited to share each other’s worlds, especially if we are, or someone else is, going through something new and different and so doing a lot of processing in the writing. But for most people, new and different becomes not so new and old hat at some point. For me, the most interesting blogs are often student or “new job” blogs. I think there are new ones out there, but it’s hard to start reading a new blog and make it part of one’s community; we’re sort of rigid and closed that way, without wanting or meaning to be.

    For me, the space it takes to process new and interesting stuff means that doesn’t really happen in twitter. It may in facebook, but most of my friends are in a “new place” to be doing that.

    The key to blogging, then, is to put oneself into “new places” and to seek out others who are starting new stuff, too. And if you’re not, then it’s also okay to quit WoW or join a different guild (to go back to the earlier connection). I had fun playing EQ, but my life is better without it.

  6. I hear ya, Jody. I think I’m less engaged with the online world too. I have too much other stuff in my life demanding my attention. Even when I was working part time just recently, I didn’t have the energy to make fuller comments and not enough was going on in my life that I could blog about.

    bardiac, I think you are definitely right. I think I’m ready for a “new place” and haven’t found it yet. I’ve added new bloggers to my list of people to read, but so much of what I read is for work–all those ed tech blogs at both the college and k-12 level. Blogging was always for me a little bit about my professional life and a little bit about my personal life. And I think I need it to be more of a hobby than about work. And I’m leaning toward my life being better without WoW. There was/is a lot I like about it, but the shine has mostly worn off. Plus it’s $14.95/mo. 🙂

  7. I’ve been blogging less, I think, because I’ll felt freer to express my real opinions in real life. I work in a very conservative place, but I’ve been less worried about being publicly feminist and environmentalist, and geeky, than I used to be. Part of growing up, I suppose. But I think Jody’s right, it is also because there is less of a conversation going on than there used to be.

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