A love letter to blogging
Classic blogging (which weaves together links, research, first-person stories and random internet ephemera) is wonderful to read.
I just published a piece about (mostly) quitting social media. It was fun to write, but I didn’t get to talk about what I really miss from the internet: blogging. There was a moment in the 2000s and early 2010s when it felt like writers ruled the web. It was before brands and publications realised there was money to be made online. A time when early adopters could play in this vast new sandpit without any rules.
I loved blogging as a medium. Classic blogging (which weaves together links, research, first-person stories and random internet ephemera) is wonderful to read. Books written in diary format have always been popular. Blogs capture that spirit. Written in a warm, ‘come here t’me’ tone, they were a space for imperfect, half-developed thoughts and ideas.
You could build a tiny digital home and fill it with the things that made you think. People burrowed into obscure holes about their favourite episode of a TV show or fashion inspired by a 90s children’s book star. One of the great pleasures was finding fresh angles on cliched topics. Like reading about fashion through a theoretical lens or looking at minimalism. This series captures a more holistic concept of beauty - like this one about running as an anti-depressant or from the POV of an arctic explorer.
Following the threads of the internet made reading a more communal experience too. A latticework of links and cross posting allowed credit to be shared among a community. I read things I wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards (like this piece on black male sexuality) because I trusted the people who recommended it. There’s a kind of intellectual intimacy in blogging too. There’s something so primitive and comforting about absorbing the thoughts that were just recently inside someone else’s mind, the unique pleasure of seeing yourself in the echos of someone else’s psyche
While traditional oped pages were stiff, static and built around two-sided arguments and the ridiculous idea of balance, blogging left space to ask questions, to add nuance, to leave space for new information. Reading my favourite writers was like watching them think through a knotty, complex question on the page. Blogging was a form of ongoing public conversation, the kind of writing that resists solutionism.
Blogs rarely reached a large audience and they certainly weren’t optimised for SEO or social media, but it was a different kind of internet experience. That kind of writing has moved to newsletters, which are more private and less dependent on social media platforms. (I have one.) I appreciate the re-establishment of a direct relationship between writer and reader, but I still miss blogging.
The internet is where both readers and advertisers converge. It will continue to be the locus of the modern craft. I try to bring some of what I loved about blogging to the writing I do today. I haven’t figured that out yet, but I’m not done trying.
A piece like this wouldn’t be complete with sharing some of my favourite blogs: Emily Gould, Rachel Hills, Sarah Wilson, Stevie MacKenzie Smith, Roxanne Krystalli, Roxane Gay, Enormous Eye, Samantha Irby and Justine Musk.
And writers I respect talking about blogging: