A Retrospective on Blogging CommunitiesApril 18, 2018 • The Internet
I’m currently on the sidelines of a blogging community. Many within the community call it “The” Blogging Community as if there’s only this one group of bloggers on the vast Internet. Recently there have been a bunch of think pieces on whether blogging, specifically the concept of a blogging community, is dying.
I’ve been blogging for a long time, whether I’ve called myself a Blogger, or not. When the first Harry Potter movie came out, I started a fansite for Emma Watson, and alongside that, I was a member of a few forums. Through them, I met other fansite members, some of which had their own personal websites and blogs. And from there I found my first forum that was dedicated explicitly to people who blogged.
I don’t remember exactly what the first one was called now, although the last one of that era was called something like Toxic Passion Message Board. It all worked how communities tend to work: new people joined, we became pals, we shared content, and everyone cheered each other on. Then, around the time I was finishing high school, a bunch of people started to drop off as other aspects of their lives took over. We began to lose touch, so I moved on to the next thing.
At this point, I joined a forum called Snark, which was full of bloggers who enjoyed things like Not Stealing Celebrity Images To Make Blog Headers and Proper HTML (ah, the copyright and code turf wars of 2007). It was the same thing: new people, new friends, sharing content, lots of support. Then social media sort of killed the old school forum, and while some of my closest real-life friends today came from this group, over the years I’ve lost touch with most of the ones who quit blogging.
Finally, around 2012, I joined the community known as “The” Blogging Community, as mentioned at the beginning of this post. This group formed mostly via Twitter. And it was all the same energy, the same consistent influx of people, the same supportive atmosphere. When I moved to the UK, it was invaluable to my social life as I tried to construct some kind of friend base.
Half a decade later, there’s so much talk about how this community is “dying.” Engagement has dropped as many people have moved on or have decided to focus on something else. To me, it seems like the natural progression of any community. Some people will sense or see the end of this group and seek out something new. They will join up with others and become a new iteration. For the past (nearly) two decades I was the same. I couldn’t imagine how my former friends could give up their hobby and their community and move on to other things. I jumped from community to community to try to stay connected.
I started joining blogging communities when I was 12 and last week I turned 30. As I read these think pieces and Twitter threads I can’t help but feel a bit of déjà vu. And I can’t help but note the fact that this time I don’t feel like finding a new community to follow.
And that’s perfectly fine. I know that others will spring forward to the next thing, and some of us will choose to place our energy elsewhere. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.
I will always have a website (I’m a web designer, it’s sort of a requirement) and a place to write nonsense, but I’m no longer interested in the numbers or the “perks” that turned me into a walking advertisement. At the end of the day, I decided I’d rather write into the void than allow my content to become devoid of personality. I don’t want to follow the influence of what is now the “Influencer” community. I’m leaving the community behind, and it’s leaving me behind. This time, the breakup is mutual.
Blogging isn’t dying. Blogging communities aren’t dying. This particular blogging community is dying, and that’s normal and progressive. Sometimes letting go is a very good thing.