The more cynical amongst us might chide that it was never really alive, but that doesn’t answer the question. I’ve been posting online for over a decade and have had my masters degree students post as part of their class work for almost five years and part of the problem with the question is understanding some of the gigantic misconceptions that most have about posting ones thoughts and writing online.
The biggest misconception is that blogging is a broadcast medium; that it’s a one-voice to many listeners/viewers kind of thing. The assumption is “all I need to do is post my piece and the whole world will come running and be amazed at my brilliance.” Then the beginning blogger is horribly disappointed when no one leaves a comment or they see that there is no traffic coming to their blog/website. Just looking at two of the major blogging platforms, in 2012 there were over 87 million Tumblr blogs and almost 60 million WordPress sites (According to Royal Pingdom). How is someone cruising the Internet supposed to know that your blog even exists when there are well over 147 million voices out there also screaming for attention? So, except for perhaps the NSA, no one knows that you’re out there posting your most important thoughts. The mistake is assuming that because anyone can view your work that everyone is viewing your work.
Like I said I’ve been doing this posting online thing for awhile and had settled into the notion that I was just one small, largely ignored voice, who did this because I liked writing and producing web-content. And I didn’t particularly care about the numbers. I’d get a few students to read my blog every once in a while but that was about it. What prompted the opening question was when I got sick and pretty much stopped producing my blog material (which I’d spent a lot of energy ramping up to daily thematic posts), I decide to share my treatment progress on my FaceBook account. I was shocked at the number of comments, likes and well-wishes from friends and family that I got. I’d been trying for years to get my immediate family to pay attention to my blog (which I knew they weren’t doing when they’d ask how I was doing just after I’d written out a 500-word essay on my state of being in my blog). Ack. I got so much more feedback and it was such a better experience posting to my Facebook account than my blog that I really began to wonder, why would anyone bother with the hassle putting together a blog when a simple Facebook post gets so much more buzz?
The simple truth about posting online and getting good responses is that you have to go to where the people are if you expect to be heard. In the physical world if you want to meet up with friends it’s generally best to go to the place where you know most or many of them will be. If you know that everyone is hanging out at the beach and you decide to go to the park would you be surprised that you don’t run into anyone you know? Surprise, it’s the same in the online world. As important as you are to your friends and family unless there is a really big reason for them to visit your blog on a regular basis (like it’s a class assignment…) there’s a pretty good chance that they won’t. Except for big name media or news websites, blogging is not a broadcast medium. At best they are individual expressions of an existing community and right now, for most of us the biggest ongoing community is not on your blog or website but on FaceBook. Blogging isn’t dead, it’s just that if you and your blog aren’t part of an interactive community than your posts are like undelivered postcards strewn and stuck on the chain-link fence along a freeway in the desert. Happy blogging.