What Happened to Community in Blogging?
This blog post has been stewing around in my brain for quite some time, forming the words long before I started blogging regularly again. It seems really crazy that it has been this long, but I have been blogging for five years. And while I know that's a very short stint compared to many other veteran bloggers, it's still a long time. In those five years, things have changed drastically. Personal stories have been replaced with sponsored posts. Comments are few and far between, and when I comment on another blog, the chances that I'll get a response are slim to none. Thoughtful posts have been ditched for how to posts and blogging advice.
The monetization of blogging has removed the community aspect that once existed. Instead of writing because bloggers love to write and connect with other people, many have become motivated by the dollar. And as a result, the community of readers no longer has a reason to read. I see bloggers big and small giving in to that desire to make money, and what I'm left with is a deluge of uninteresting content clogging my blog reader. Daily, I clear out blog posts that I never even click on because it's just another ad.
In addition to the slew of ads, I've noticed a shift in the way bloggers relate to each other. Just a few years ago, it didn't matter if your blog had a large following or not. Everyone still communicated with each other. As some blogs got larger in popularity, the high school social clique phenomena took hold. Large bloggers could no longer take the time to connect with those running smaller, less popular blogs or businesses. Their circles became limited to only those who were as popular as they were. And their motives for who they related to suddenly seemed to be based on what they could get in return.
Blogs that I had always commented on and found some community in exceeded the size of my own and soon I began to hear radio silence from those individuals. First, the silence came via the blogs themselves-- no more responses to comments, no more interaction on my own blog. Then it trickled into social media. The only voices that remained were the few other bloggers that were at my own level. This seemed to be the antithesis to what the original purpose of blogging was-- to connect and build community with others based on similar experiences that we can all relate to. Instead, just as many things I have experienced in life, it became about popularity and who you knew.
In the past couple of years, my blog has been silent more often than not. And before I decided to start blogging again, I struggled over whether or not it would be worth it for me. I knew the community that had previously existed was still non-existent, broken, and exclusive for the most part. However, I love to write and have always loved to write, and above all, that was the payoff, so I took the plunge back into blogging every weekday.
In the past month and a half, I've felt mixed feelings of optimism and pessimism as a result of regularly blogging and reading blogs again. I'm still getting radio silence from other bloggers, now both big AND small. And most recently, I noticed that a comment that I had left on a blog this past weekend had automatically been turned into an affiliate link by a monetizing app the blogger was using. This outraged me. I had spent the time to read her post and craft a response, and in return I received radio silence and was used for her own monetary gain. This is not blogging. This is not community. It's a perfect example of a one-sided relationship that benefits only one party involved.
On the other hand, in a more positive light, some of the usual suspects that have always been a part of the blogging community are still there. They still comment on my blog, and I still respond. We relate to each others' struggles and triumphs. That is what blogging is about. However, it's hard not to miss that aspect on a much larger scale.
When did we become too good to respond to those who have taken the time to read what is on our mind? When did we become too good to share our spaces and communities with some, but not others? And when did we decide that money and social status trumps community and caring about others? Or maybe it's not that we're too good, but that many just don't care anymore, that they're just simply going through the motions. Perhaps that's the saddest part of all.
But I still write. I write because it's a release, a way for me to process my thoughts and struggles and triumphs. And when I write, I am wholeheartedly me. My voice does not change because of a sponsor or because of a social network or because the blogging world has told me I'm supposed to be writing about blogging advice. My voice is my own. My own experiences. My own thoughts on life. My own hardships. My own victories. My own story.
How do you feel about the changes that have taken place in the blogging world? Are you a part of the blogging community? And how? Are you a reader, blogger, or both? I'd love to hear from you!