Back in 2005/2006 I used to check my RSS reader to see if I had written anything on my blog. I was always sad if I hadn’t and excited if I had. Then I would read it in my RSS reader. Then I would click through and re-read it on my actual blog.
Now this narcissism has been democratized and barely-literate celebrities tweet occasionally interesting things in a place where they can be asymmetrically followed, and barely-literate people I slogged it out with from K-12 post occasionally interesting things on Facebook. I’m being mean. They’re not barely literate, it’s just that 20 years ago if you would have told me any of those people would have been writing for fun, I would not have believed it.
I can’t say that on the whole my life hasn’t been enriched by this turn of events. Turns out that people I had written off in my youth have something to say.
But something has been lost. Many things have been lost. The paragraph, for one. The art of the essay, for two. Thoughts that lead to other thoughts that lead to other thoughts and then spiral back and modify the original thought. Also, I increasingly am not getting the same narcissistic buzz from “sharing” using other peoples’ tools. I don’t see anything resembling me in the person I see when I click on my profile in Facebook, I don’t see the whole me when I look at my Twitter feed. And god help me if I want to remember back farther than 2 months in either platform.
When I started blogging, I feared that the platform was too lo-fi, that it was a format someone else had invented, even in those early days codified into conventions set by others, and that if I started pouring myself into it, I would lose sight of the reality that not only was I not the person who was described in the words in the blog, but I was not even really the person writing the blog. I only managed to start blogging after I wrote my first blog post, a long stemwinder— which is still waiting in my drafts folder, maybe I’ll post it someday— which could have been more succinctly summed up by its first sentence: “the tao that can be blogged is not the eternal tao.”
And yes, I’m well aware of the irony that that’s less than 140 characters.