Perhaps it’s my age, but I’m prone to nostalgia lately. More, in fact, than I would care to admit over the past couple of years. It’s not just music, mind you, although I’ve pined my share over that. It’s not just old Saturday morning cartoons, or even old breakfast cereals, though I’ve certainly found myself drawn to those quite often of late. No, the chronology of my longings isn’t nearly so narrowly defined. In fact, other things, things from barely a decade ago, have piqued my reflective longings recently.
And yes, I do realize just how much I’ve dated myself in that last statement.
Is there a point to this? Yes. The point is this post from a blog that I began following years ago when I was writing prose more than code (and beginning the novel that I swear I’m going to finish at some point). As the comments poured in over the subsequent weeks, it became obvious that I wasn’t the only reader with whom Mr. Bransford’s thoughts had resonated. I’ve enjoyed reading those thoughts. I always have enjoyed reading others’ thoughts. That’s what was always so powerful about the blog.
I began writing a blog as an experiment back in 2005, and, although I rarely read that first post, when I do, it makes me pause to think about what’s changed about the writing and the writer over that decade. The purpose of this space changed as my focus and interests became more defined (“faith, art, and culture” came more than two years after I began blogging), an epiphany that happened in large part because of my writing here. I found my voice as a blogger…so different from that first post…along with that focus. Simply, I came to call myself a blogger, to take this seriously. Certainly, I’ve waxed and waned a bit in my frequency of posting over the years, but I’ve never left. I’ve waxed and waned in my reading of others’ blogs, as well, no longer finding the time to peruse my feeds every day, but more likely once weekly.
I initially found these blogs through a bit of a curated experience, of course. I began, as many bloggers did, with Blogger (I was writing there before it’s acquisition by Google), and, like many bloggers, I outgrew it. Like many bloggers, I used blogrolls to discover and be discovered. I was always looking for a new blog to add to my reading list, because the things that you discovered, the things that you learned, by reading the thoughts of people from all over the globe, was so amazingly enriching, so profoundly important.
I met friends through blogs. People passionate about blogging, and passionate about writing. People passionate about faith and theology, about the arts and so many of my other interests. Some faded away over the years, and I’ve lost touch. Others I’ve met in person and continue to communicate with to this day.
I commented on posts. I subscribed to comments. My posts received comments. We interacted, those other bloggers and I. We discussed, almost always civilly, and, in doing so, we learned things and grew.
This wasn’t just about entertainment. It never was for me. It’s more important than that. More profound.
So, nostalgia. Nostalgia because I miss what it was. I’m not saying that blogging is no longer existent, or no longer important, or that it’s only on the fringes and important to only a few writers who refuse to accept change. There are those who say that, and I couldn’t disagree more. Blogging isn’t the only option, now, and it isn’t the only way to discover other people and discover their thoughts. I don’t comment nearly as much as I used to, nor do my posts receive as many comments, even though the number of you reading these posts has only grown. That’s okay…it’s the evolution of the medium. I sort of miss it, though, because the discussion is what made this so special, so different from the streams of consciousness that are social networks, for better or worse.
What feels most void is that I miss the discovery of other’s blogs. I miss going looking for new blogs. I miss not having the discovery process dominated by the algorithms of Facebook or Twitter. To be honest, I miss having the time to do this discovering.
Many of the blogs that populated my feed years ago are no longer active. They exist, but with most recent posts of two or three years past. Some no longer exist at all…they’ve been taken down, domain names now belonging to others. I’ve no intention of doing that for some time to come, although I’m not nearly naive enough to believe that this medium will never be replaced by another and that this will never cease to exist at some point, replaced in the evolution of technology. There are, however, a lot of very active blogs out there, and I don’t fall into the “it’s over and I’ll always miss it” sort of nostalgia of many of the commenters on Bransford’s post. There are fewer personal blogs, perhaps, as more have become focused on what we do for our livings as professional and personal are tragically forced to meld beyond healthy boundaries. But there are still blogs, good blogs, waiting for readers with the time to engage in the writers’ thoughts.
Not just their in-the-moment impulses. Their thoughts. The stuff that makes us grow, that expands who we are as people, that helps us to know each other better…and hopefully even, in an ideal circumstance, hurt each other less.
That’s why this is so important, and why I’m nostalgic for what it was, even while being fascinated by what it becomes.