Where Have all the Bloggers Gone?
I’m a creature of habit. I don’t mean “if it’s Wednesday, it’s Pork Chops”, I’m referring to simple routines that help me organise my days. One example is my morning ritual. As soon as I wake, I get straight up, shower and dress. I then sit myself down at my computer with a mug of coffee and catch up with my emails, Twitter and Feedly. I also get a flash news briefing from Alexa. These things appraise me of what is going on in the world and often give me potential writing prompts. Feedly has been invaluable source of inspiration in the past. I subscribed to half a dozen professional gaming and movie news websites and a further thirty of so blogs, written by my peers.
I wrote a post last year for the NBI about the importance of blogging. The sentiment still holds, more so than ever at present. The world is changing and not necessarily for the better. Therefore, it is important for people to build communities, exchange ideas and interact in a civilised capacity. Not only do we need to get along but to tolerate and coexist with those who hold differing views to our own. Sadly, this appears to be “asking the impossible” at present. The world is becoming binary, tribal and aggressively territorial. This is reflected in the blogging world. Opinions are not to be debated but shutdown. There is no rooms for dissent. “You’re either with us or against us” seems to be the prevailing attitude. Facts and intellectual rigour are seen as unfair barriers to having an equal say.
As a result of this cultural shift, I find that the blogging community that I am apart of has greatly diminished in the last eighteen months. The thirty or so blogs, written by my peers that I mentioned are now either updated irregularly or virtually abandoned. The podcasting network that I am a member of still endures but has no aspiration to grow or expand. Apathy, disinclination and a sense of even defeat seems all too common. I should know, all of these things blighted my writing agenda last year. Then of course let us not forget that we are all getting older and people simply change. Life makes many demand on are time and even fandom has to bow before the school run, redecorating the bathroom and getting that promotion. Plus, perceptions of the internet have changed. The Frontier Town community spirit has given way to corporate formalisation. Being connected to other people from all round the world is no longer a big deal. Familiarity does have indeed breed contempt, or at least indifference.
Another thing to consider is the personal nature of writing. It also requires a modicum of skill and effort. A well penned post about EVE Online or the iniquities of pre-order culture can take a surprising amount of time to draft and publish. Maintaining a regular writing schedule requires discipline. Coming up with engaging content needs thought and creativity. Constantly writing takes its toll on the author eventually. For some, it’s too much of a “big ask” to begin with. Hence, you’ll find many people relegate their writing aspirations to forum comments. It easier to be reactive than proactive. It’s a shame. I see some really good ideas among the comments of a site such as Massively OP. Material that would make a good blog post in its own right.
Although I do feel that You Tube and Twitch do provide a useful service and have a role to play within the gaming community, they are still primarily entertainment mediums. Live streams are often about the social interaction between the streamer and their audience. It’s a more ephemeral experience to writing. You Tube let’s play videos are a double edge sword. The pace of the video dictates the dissemination of information. Often, I can read an explanation of a game’s mechanics far faster than the ten-minute video that shows me. Plus, not everyone is a good or engaging narrator. Improving your writing skills is possibly easier than fixing your video presentation skills. However, that is not to say that there isn’t an audio/visual equivalent of long-form writing, because there is. It’s just hard to find among the internet white noise. Overall, the democratisation of online broadcast mediums has fragmented the potential audience. Couple that with the current mindset and each niche seems to stay on its own turf.
I decided in the New Year to return to writing daily and one of my motivations was to try and encourage others. I endeavour to leave comments on blogs and retweet other people’s work. I’ve also persevered with streamers and You Tubers and I’ve found several that meet my expectations. Upon mature reflection, I don’t feel that the community that I enjoy so much, is totally in decline. It’s more of a case of natural ebb and flow. However, I still think that the blogging scene needs a shot in the arm. If the veterans can’t continue to carry the torch, then maybe it’s time to pass it on to others? Which raises the issue of events such as the Newbie Blogger Initiative. People have asked me whether they’ll be another this year. The answer is it’s depends on whether someone wants to run it, because it really is an event that needs a core group or an individual to drive it forward.
I have a lot of demands on my time. I’m a carer with two disabled parents. I write as much as I can and do not have the time to be in the driving seat of a community event such as the NBI. However, I am happy to strike the following bargain. If someone wants to seriously run the NBI this year in an organised fashion and with clear goals, I’ll resurrect the Gaming Blog Nexus. This was a website that indexed gaming blogs, aggregating content and driving traffic back to the source sites. In 2014 it had over one hundred contributors and was an invaluable means of finding new writers. It was and can be again a good community resource. So, it now remains to see whether anyone wishes to seize the day and get the ball rolling. Is there any interest in an NBI 2017? Would people welcome a return of the Gaming Blog Nexus? Or am I spitting in to the wind?