The last post was my 500th and I felt, perhaps self-indulgantly, that the milestone deserved a little marking. I started blogging 8 1/2 years ago in order to regulate my writing and give me an outlet effectively to replace lined pieces of paper and diary-type books which were constantly going missing. In that time I’ve met people both online and in person, had some excellent contributions, and hopefully made the odd one or two. At the beginning this method of communication was comparatively new, there were people doing it who had been for some time but there were a great many more who had never heard of it and looked quizzically when I mentioned it. I had heard about it through media coverage of the so-called Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax, who started at a similar time to me but was picked up very early in The Guardian due to the currency of his postings in Iraq at the time. Pax last posted in 2009 from what I can see and largely ramped down in 2006. By this time there were many people blogging, it was before the phenomena of Facebook and Twitter where people needed an outlet for their mindless inane ramblings. Some of it was unadulterated tosh, but the same might often be said of mine, why should opinions of the global and national events of the day be any more valid than those of very localised events about the type of clothing one is wearing to parties?!
In the early days I wrote a lot, at time a self-confessional, at time chronicle and usually rants from the rather left wing of the political dial. Within a few months there were a few people who seemed to regularly read my ramblings. It was nice to have a connection to others across the world at a time when in my personal life I was confined to a small one room bedsit and writing was the escape. Additionally the interaction from others often sparked new ideas and new posts and the desire to write often enough was good for regulating my output and stemming the lethargy that I often succumbed to. I’ve spoken to those who share similar political leanings as me to the holocaust denier on the other end of the spectrum. There is no greater catalyst to inspire writing than the actions of others, whether one agrees or vehemently opposes. There was even a period of about 3 months when I wrote every day just to see if I could do it. As I was listening to the news constantly in order to have subjects to rant about I was very much alive and participating in the online world at large and it spilled over into my work life, an environment increasingly unaccepting of my brand of political diatribe. In some ways my actions through the formative years of the new job I started at almost exactly the time I did my blog shaped people’s opinions of me that last to this day, for better or worse. By the middle of 2006 due in no small part to personal reasons my output subsided and became perhaps 2 posts in a month rather than a couple in most weeks. It became almost a chore, a desire to keep something going that I had held dear to me at a time of flux but my heart wasn’t in it in truth.
I went on hiatus for a long while, online fripperies took up far more time than they should have done, it was a more immediate method of communication replacing face-to-face contact in many cases, it did make you feel connected for a while but then, at least to me, became far more disconnected a medium due to its short conversational style. There is little place for wordy monologues now and some might say this is a good thing but I object to trying to shoehorn what I wish to say into 140 characters. This may make me more verbose than I should or could be but to speak to the outside world with only really the people you know following you, if even them, feels like an admission that the essay is dead, or just in-depth conversation. I do not wish to play a part in the murder of prose. I like long words when searching for the correct word or term for something I want the one that is most apt, or apposite, but were I to say ‘more appropriate’ that would already take up 10% of my allocation so I would have to restrict myself and this is low-fat communication, better for you but tastes like shit.
Besides which as an experiment I checked myself occasionally to see whether or not I had a sort of pithy retort the like of which I might see fit to post in so short a space. The only time I remember thinking that I had a good tweet was –
“Drinking Irish beer in a Cuban bar in a German city.“
– which I thought possessed both my own activity and one of some interest and would be worthy, in that moment only, in my having such an account to post to. This was in 2010 so had I been an early adopter of Twitter the endless tripe that might have preceded and ensued would have been a pretty unfulfilling experience both for me and anyone unlucky enough to read my feed more than the once. That is not to say there are a great deal of people here nowadays, it is like the small town in the Klondike that had its brief bedlam of people and activity when blogging became the online gold only to become a ghost town when the resource was exhausted and people went in search of it elsewhere. Every now and again a lost traveller stops in to ask directions and I think the Wild West analogy should probably stop there.
I found the silence made my writing more about what I wished to say than what I thought people might wish to hear. I don’t mean that I was purely writing for the audience but I was probably more likely to self-censor to protect some of my own identity. Now it is back to barking at the moon, people are no longer blog diving and therefore no longer find you which is at times liberating and at times discomforting. Anyone who writes does so to be heard, otherwise you wouldn’t write, it is a method of communication just as direct speech, but unlike talking it affords you the time to work out what it is you want to say before someone comes back and tells you that you are wrong and why they think so. It is also a way to commit one’s life to posterity, even if you write about things that are not related to yourself, the words you use, the way you see things and the experience of your eyes in seeing those things changes all the time as you age and it is in the very style that this is most visible if you know how to read it. I find the idea of trying to build a picture of someone based on throwaway comments that have been distilled into a mere sentence saddening, as if identifying a body from dental records rather than unearthing a perfectly preserved specimen that tells so much about the individual and the time in which they lived.
Perhaps people have just evolved to the point where demands on their time are so many and so varied that to sit and write long blocks of text is a luxury they feel they can no longer afford. Maybe it is a fashion the future generations will see as folly and return to the written word. Or I might just be a dinosaur clinging on to a fading food source as many around have moved on, evolved or died out. If it is the latter then so be it, I shall go down writing.
Song Of The Day ~ Air – Alone In Kyoto