My first encounter with blogging was a Livejournal account of college life, focused mostly on the highs and lows of an early 20s relationship. The year was 2004. Outwardly, I mocked the writer with my friends (we trolled the writer before we knew what trolling was – something I deeply regret after my own extensive experiences with such behavior). But internally I was processing the idea that I too had access to this particular form of self-expression, and I wanted to try it for myself. That was the first wave of blogging. No one was a brand. There were no sponsored posts. It was raw, startlingly honest, and there were no pictures because digital photography hadn’t reached the masses yet.
The second wave is where I entered the fray. Posts began to transition from diary entries into tutorials and topical anecdotes. Writers put their real name and photos up as part of their profile. Blogger took care of the HTML and our sites morphed into personal spaces. I moved from bride blogging to wife blogging to mommy blogging. I challenged myself to blog every day for a year ,and writing posts then responding to comments became a part-time job. It wasn’t about the money (we didn’t yet know this thing could be a full-time job!). I worked as an assistant in a lawyers office and constantly refreshed my Google Reader tab to see if my friends and favorites had posted anything new, similar to the way I turn to Instagram now. We followed others, we developed a following, we delighted in this new way to form community.
Then the third wave. Writers became brands, posts became sponsored, mobile phones killed off our comment sections and with it went the sense of community. Pinterest combined with stories of six-figure blogger incomes whipped up a frenzy. How to go viral? How to get pinned? What’s the magic number of followers necessary to start pulling in sponsors who will pay cash so the day job can be quit and the living of the dream can commence? It’s prettier now, quick to digest in our snippet-obsessed society, but it’s fast food. I’m overstuffed and unsatisfied.
I don’t know what the fourth wave will be, or if there will be one. I’m tired of this overcrowded beach. I want to write because I like writing. Sharing feels good to me. Someone might benefit from something I have to say, and that’s a nice thought too but it isn’t essential. It’s worthwhile because it’s mine.
“One of the whys is because I can write. And writers write.” – Dr. Maya Angelou.