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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, I think I will finish sipping my coffee,
here’s a re-broadcast of last night’s show;
Categories: Culture & Society