The Blog is Dying…REALLY :(

deep in thought

By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday the blogging world was rocked by the announcement that Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” a 15 year old blog, is closing up shop. Sullivan had grown his blog into one of the biggest blogs in the world. A regular guest on CNN and a political activist who wouldn’t allow anyone to put him into a single ideological box, Sullivan will be sorely missed. 

Chris Taylor of Mashable says in this <article> that blogging has gone the way of the “dodo bird”, because according to Taylor; why blog when you can send a short Tweet or make a Facebook post to get your thoughts out to the world, he writes,

“These days, if you have something to say and it won’t fit in a single tweet (or a tweetstorm), you have so many more compelling options than blogging. You can post on Facebook if it’s just for friends, or Tumblr if it’s image-based, or on Medium if you want a think piece shared more widely, or LinkedIn, or any one of a hundred other sites and services that are thirsty for content”

What a strange world we live in these days, Newspapers have all but disappeared over the past decade because the general consensus among readers is; “why pay for a Newspaper when I can read a blog for free?” Yet, now, the blogs that practically ran most Newspapers out of business, or at the very least, they pushed Newspapers into a state of irrelevance, now these very same blogs are being pushed into irrelevance by Facebook and Twitter!

It is the same story with the corner book store. When I was a child, oh so not long ago, their was a corner bookstore in practically every little downtown area of Chicago, right next to the music store that sold “BRAND NEW” cassette tapes (and then when the 90’s came they sold CD’s). Yet with the rise of the big box book stores; first Waldon Books, then B-Dalton, than Borders, and finally Barnes and Nobles, suddenly, those awesome little corner bookstores were disappearing.

Sure, you can still find a handful of corner bookstores here and there, especially if you live in a college town like Berkley, Cambridge, or Ann Arbor. Yet by and large the bookstore and the local music store simply don’t exist anymore. And even stranger; the big box bookstore is going the way of the dinosaurs as well, since more people use amazon.com to purchase books at a discounted price. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Amazon hasn’t turned a profit <article> since their goal is to run everyone out of business.

My good friend Tonya in Chicago who writes for chaptertk.com is an aspiring writer, who like me, is a fellow blogger. When I first met her she was at the low end in the blogging world, but with a lot of hard work and dedication to honing her writing abilities and posting a plethora of articles every week, her blog has risen up above the masses. When we first met, I encouraged her to keep at it and not be discouraged even though her audience was small, and as time went by it paid off for her. Yet, if blogging is now irrelevant, like Taylor says, then what is the point? Should I have told Tonya, ‘don’t blog, just use Facebook” ?

If you’re an aspiring writer, artist, musician, or fill-in-the-blank, than in my humble opinion, blogging is still a good platform to get your work out to the public. As much as Mark Zuckerbergg is trying to buy up every single one of his competitors and have everyone use Facebook and nothing else, I simply believe that Facebook isn’t enough.

What kind of world would it be if one media outlet (Facebook) was the entire source of our entertainment, news, and social network input? It would be a scary world where the person behind the scenes at that media outlet would potentially yield more power than the President of the United States.

Blogging is difficult. As Taylor wrote in his article rather eloquently, running a blog is a huge effort and it can lead to burn out, as in the case of Andrew Sullivan. Blogging is also difficult because it opens you up to the public; the public being a mass of people who suddenly believe they own you. This past week I received comments and emails from so many sides of the spectrum,

—) “Kenneth, your articles lately have been simple, trite, and of little substance

—) “Kenneth, you’re writing too many articles. It is too much for me to read. Please slow down and just post a few paragraphs”.

Why do people think they have the “right” to tell me what to do? Isn’t this my blog? Can’t I write and do whatever I want on it?

The simple fact of the matter is that readers are consumers; and there is something inherent about consumerism that leads people to believe they somehow “possess” you if they have consumed what you offered them.

We see this same problem in religion. Churches all across the United States have moved into a state of irrelevance. Largely because so many of them capitulated to consumerism and attempted to let the consumers tell them what to do. Suddenly, churches were starting to look like mini-rock concerts, they have McDonalds and Starbucks in their narthex, they offer silly little “mens groups” and “women’s groups” as though they are a local chapter of the Masonic Temple or Lions Club. Churches became more focused on offering programs to consumers; rather than focusing on simply being a community.

Isn’t this also the problem with the big coffee house chains as well? Do I drink Starbucks, yes. Does it annoy me that the average Starbucks location seems more like a long hallway, rather than a traditional coffee house where strangers and acquaintances can meet up and have stimulating conversations, yes and yes! Consumerism has driven Starbucks toward having drive-thru windows so people can perpetuate their laziness by not taking a few extra minutes to park and walk inside the building. Consumerism has led Starbucks to teaching their employees to be friendly, but not too friendly, because if you get stuck talking to a customer for too long you might cause the customer behind them to get upset.

Sadly, the problem of consumerism plagues so much of society. Here on The Culture Monk, I know that statistically, if I write more than a 900 word article a ton of people will simply not read it, and I’m then forced into a corner; do I go the way of pragmatism and give the people what they want (i.e. an article that is no more than 900 words) or do I go the way of idealism and write what I want to write, knowing that a hell of a lot less people will be reading it?

Most of my life has been about walking the fine line between pragmatism and idealism; trying to find a balance between the two, even though more often than not there appears to be no way of balancing them together. For many of my friends who grew up in the Christian church like myself, when as adults they began to see the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in church doctrine and in the church itself, they split, never to return to the building. Yet I have always stayed, trying to maintain that balance between faith in God, grappling with a hypocritical church, and not losing my mind altogether.

In recent years, I have kept up a pretty good pace of marching to my own beat. I’m always trying new things, while at the same time keeping my eyes on history and learning from the past. This year I’m trying out the concept of a live streaming TV show right here on my blog. The technology never existed until recently to allow us to film a live show, with participants all over the world, and broadcast it right here on The Culture Monk.

Last night, four of us had a stimulating conversation on the topic of jobs, gender roles in jobs, and the role of economics. My goal in these live streaming shows is to bring the type of conversations to the Internet that I have everyday in coffee houses. To demonstrate to people that intellectual conversations are still fulfilling, and that we don’t have to let Facebook swallow us up with triviality.

Tonight we’ll be live again at 6 PM central, 7 PM eastern, and if you would like to be a guest on the show, send me an email at culturemonk@gmail.com.

For now, I think I will finish sipping my coffee,

Kenneth

here’s a re-broadcast of last night’s show;



Categories: Culture & Society

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47 replies

  1. You make a good point. I don’t know if the blog is dying. Perhaps, at a larger level, reading and conversing may be dying. I cannot read too many 1,000 word blogs in a day. Barring The Shah Of Blah, I try and limit my posts to 500 words, which I find, is readable.

    Twitter? Seriously? Why do I care if Whitney Spears brushes her teeth with Colgate or Pepsodent?

    Blogging, for me, is to share thoughts, opinions and discussions of general interest with people.

    At some point, even FB will die out. There are signs that the young are moving away from it

  2. I don’t know why I blog since I only have a couple people who actually read my writing. Even with 250+ followers how many actually read? less that 20 according to my stats . . .

    I believe there are too many writers in the world since it has gotten to easy to do it. Today Thoreau would have a time of it . . . anyways I blog for fun . . . what else?

  3. I must live in an odd place. None of my employees have facebook. If I need to hire someone, there is a local blog that will pull in young people but the newspaper is still the best source for advertising. A sale in the store will not be visited unless there is an ad in the paper.

  4. Hey, I’m enjoying the little written blurbs that appear. And it’s more fun with more people involved.

  5. As to the death of blogging and Facebook. Facebook is getting to be a watering hole for the older bunch… which is fun, for me. And as for blogging, I think we have to rethink this whole idea of audience. What does it really do for you? An audience can be quite constraining. So writing a nonentity blog gives you the chance to get it out there at the same time you haven’t all the blow back of being seen.

  6. Don’t worry, when you write more than 900-word articles, you can count on me to read them!

    I hope that blogging doesn’t “die” because people are too lazy to read something that’s longer than 140 characters. This world is so fast paced, and it can be difficult for me to keep up. I enjoy being able to slow down, read, and absorb an article that could be thought provoking.

    It’s my hope that as long as there are opinionated people, current events, and motivated writers, there will be blogs.

  7. Great work… And I read it all, even though it exceeded my 899 word daily allotment. But, I still read novels. I’m that kind of dinosaur.

  8. They told me 17 years ago radio was dying and wouldn’t last another decade but yet I see radio still alive, the public station I listen to is proof that just because someone highlighted in mainstream media says something doesn’t make it true. Of course they want people to think blogging is dying because they aren’t really making any money off of people sharing their thoughts, stories, art and supportive comments. I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting 90% of the things I post here on WordPress on Facebook, I post different things on tumblr than I do here or on fb as well. One stop posting doesn’t work for a majority of people. Each venue offers something different to me in return for my contributions. The people who want to encourage everyone to communicate in images or 140 characters are only adding to the destructive force of the culture we live in. The less we say the less we’ll think. The less we think the less we’ll notice. The less we notice the easier we are to manipulate.

    • that’s an awesome point….because i heard the same thing about radio…and yet for me at least, its where i get 50% of all my news; i listen to CNN, BBC, NPR, C-span, and a host of other stations on the radio (granted, many of them are on my satellite radio) I don’t have cable or an antenna on my tv at home since i just use netflix and hulu, so the radio is a big part of my day

    • “The people who want to encourage everyone to communicate in images or 140 characters are only adding to the destructive force of the culture we live in. The less we say the less we’ll think. The less we think the less we’ll notice.”

      @dobetter, excellent point. These constraints feed the impatience of our culture and “satisfy” the need for socialization and communication without enabling people to talk more meaningfully and deeply.

  9. Blogging might be dying due to commercialisation if that is a word. Just check everything out. Money is being made on FB. Use this product like us on facebook. Every show you watch even the news channel like CNN say “Check us on FB” “Follow us on Twitter.”
    It is the catchphrase of the century.

    Blogging is dying, I think when one writes news it is or might be. When one expresses their art it isn’t. When one discusses a topic it isn’t.

    I do not agree with how things go on FB. Than again Google is just the same. Blogging is started because you wanted a journal of your every day thoughts. And share them. But do we do it to make money are we not also being suggested to follow a certain way. Told that the amount of people following you matter.
    Do we write because we want to write and share or do we write to be followed by as many as possible and reach celebrity status. And I am sure you can open a book on celebrity status ad how much we dream about it.

    What am I rambling LOL. I enjoy the few that follow. I write because I love it. It gives me room to escape and express.

  10. Personally I blog for me. Not because I expect people to read what I post. If people do, fine. If they like what they read, even better.
    If they don’t like what I like or the frequency of my posts, do I feel like I owe them? No, because as I say, I blog for me. It’s my online diary that I don’t mind people reading. Stuff falls out my head and lands there. How often is determined by what I’m doing in my life, not by some sense that I “owe” strangers a post, or indeed a break from my posts.

    Keep on blogging. There will always be readers.

  11. I use Facebook to share links to great blogs. I still think that blogs and youtube channels are better because stuff gets lost so easily on Facebook. And twitter? Don’t even get me started on that!

  12. I don’t know if things die or it’s that they go in and out of popularity. Things often “retro” back with the next generation (or fad). For instance, my son has a band in the Seattle area and he tells me vinyl is in and CD’s are out. Who would’ve thought that would ever happen! I know a lot of 20-somethings who prefer the village, little shop atmosphere to the suburban box stores. Even Atari is back in!
    Also, the “church” is very alive in the West. It just doesn’t have a traditional face anymore. Many of the vibrant ones are meeting in houses and coffee shops. Could it be there’s a growing (good) reaction to our deeply entrenched consumer paradigm? I also think that people are slowly growing tired of social media in favor of actually being social (face-to-face), although the social media will always play a big part. And both are probably needed. The point being, humans have an innate need for for real connection and relationship. We just move around a lot on how to accomplish that.

    • “humans have an innate need for the real connection and relationship”

      and i would add to that Mel, that humans have an innate need to worship as well, but most people don’t realize it 🙂

  13. I sure hope blogging isn’t dying! I put a lot of work into mine and still hoping to grow. Yes, I am trying to grow my audience. I enjoy being able to interact with people all over the world. I like the freedom the blog gives me. It allows me to do much more than Facebook. Twitter? Forget it! I still haven’t really figured it out, tho I do connect my blog to it. I very rarely can say something in only 140 characters!
    I do agree that 900+ words is going to turn off some people. Personally, I don’t usually have the time to read long posts. If I don’t, I pass them up and come back to them later when I do have time. Kind of makes any comments I want to make out of date, but at least I still got to read the interesting post. 🙂
    Makes my email list VERY long! I have about 1100 UNREAD ones at the moment! Doubtful if I’ll ever catch up with it.
    I do think people are hungry for some real conversation and community, but where to find it when we all have so much to do? I’ve noticed with all the laws lately (public intoxication and DWI) that the local watering holes (all over the country) have been losing their place in the community. That used to be the place to go for hanging out, keeping up with the news, and getting to know your neighbors. Now, everybody is scared to go out. Personally, I might go once in 3 months, when I used to go at least a couple of times a week. YES, it has affected me and I’m sure a lot of others in this area. We don’t have (never had) a coffee house of the sort you refer to, where you can hang out for hours and discuss the topics of the day. I thought about opening one myself but no one seems to think there’s enough of a market for one here. 😦

  14. Like you I had a reader who who asked me (well, actually told me) not to post on my blog so often (5-6 times a week). She wanted to “keep in touch” but found it bit much and it was hard to keep up.

    Was that a compliment that just smote me? It made me re-examine why I do what I do and my tendency to check the temptation bog known as the stats page far too often. I started the blog because I need an outlet for the stuff bubbling up in me, but I am beginning to understand why churches who define their success in terms of numbers drift toward consumer-directed content. I told her she was under no obligation to read anything and that if she wished to unclog her email, which she felt was inundated by notices with my name attached, to “unfollow,” change her settings, or move to a blog service with weekly notifications.

    I do follow your blog because it gets me out of the house and introduces me to how people are thinking without having to get out of my bathrobe before 10 a.m.. My morning reading route also takes me through Facebookland (thank God for Ad block) but I find many of my more radical thinking/believing friends are moving to MeWe where the consumer spies have not yet dared to tread because they figured out that people like us have more expendable ideas than money anyway.

  15. You are one of two blogs I read. Because you have something to say. And my attention span is tested. I have to get beyond 2 second sound bytes and instant gratification to actually think about something important. That said, I know people get tired of thinking all the time. So, they don’t have to read that day. But keep thinking, keep writing. It’s good to have a conversation in the electronic age, and that is what your blog is.

  16. Once upon a time I used to blog almost every day – but all of those blogs were of a very personal nature, like a diary. When I started my blog here on WordPress, I wanted to try to be less personal and more professional, or at least focused on a theme. What I have found, since doing that, is that I don’t write as much. I’m always worried that my content will be thought stupid, or unoriginal, or just not entertaining. So, it’s like I save blogging for when I have a fully formed thought or enough of a project completed that I’m sure I can see it finished in my blog (which still doesn’t always happen).

  17. There will always be demand for good writing and good blogs as both are hard to come by.

  18. I think that the blog will survive, even if it ceases to be as commercially viable a forum. People want to communicate and share ideas, and the written word is often the best way to do it. Social media platforms come and go, but blogs are probably the simplest format – you just put words and pictures on the page. I can’t see that dying out when there’s very little cost to produce or consume blogs, very few logistics to battle, and very little incentive to drive them out since they don’t really offer anything fancy.

  19. I think that blogging will be around for quite awhile. Personally, I only go to FB to check in with a few friends and family. Blogging to me is an entirely different sort of experience. I will say though, that in the past year I have had to pare down the number of the blogs that I read, just due to time constraints…have to spend too much time working. For that reason, I only have a handful that pop up in email (yours being one of them).

  20. Don’t get me started on “worship” in churches today. Even worse in CA where the sunny laid-back culture has infiltrated the pulpit and pews. I’m hard-pressed to find Jesus on the pulpit in many churches, straining to sift Him through the entertaining stories. And I agree we are made for worship. We will worship aright or worship our Self.

    As to the blogging, interesting points you raise. The turnover on all things technology is indeed fast nowadays that it IS a wise thing to wonder if the blog might join the ranks of the obsolete. But it is so malleable, as your streaming venture shows, and if we build genuine, solid connections online, we are less likely to frizz away. Along this line, it’s true that shorter posts are more popular. But even WordPressers will give themselves to longer posts if it’s compelling enough.

    HW

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