Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A song for Sarah

Where have all the bloggers gone, some time passing,
Where have all the bloggers gone, so long away,
Where have all the bloggers gone?
Gone to Facebook every one.
When years and fashions turn, they move away.

While the years flow quickly by me, I watch the ebb and flow of how people communicate, of how they relate. As a university student in the '1960s, I wrote letters home to my bemused parents with varying regularity, and employed the one outside line phone in my residence (hanging on a staircase wall) only in case of necessity. (Mom, someone stole my wallet with my train fare home in it, please send money.) In the 1980s, my daughters had phones in their residence rooms, and used them frequently. In the late 1990s we all got email and the heavy letters that crossed the oceans between me and my peripatetic daughters were no longer necessary, nor were the staccato out of country telephone calls, limited by the cost of each precious minute. Now my neighbour checks the progress of her grand kids with Skype, I post photos to the web directly from an i Pad, receive Blue tooth calls from my 40 something kid while she drives home from work and find out what she is doing via Facebook into which she inveigled me. My grandmother would never believe this stuff – she could keep up with what her sisters-in-law were doing by looking across the fields to the next farms.

Equally radical changes have taken place in the provision of news and comment about news in the last sixty some years during which I have paid attention to it. I heard of the death of George VI on the radio that my mother listened to in the kitchen in the mornings. Although I think many people still get their morning news that way, the morning paper that I read over coffee after the kids left for school is dead and gone, the heavily analytical news magazines of my early adult years have morphed into picture books and TV news seems to be a series of sound bytes with little depth or context. The most in-depth stuff I read comes from the computer – news sites, article referrals from friends on Facebook, search results. These information sources are biased toward my own world view because I choose them; they do not provide the balanced coverage the old CBC and PBS reporting allowed. And for detail it is necessary to troll through, for instance, the Township website to find out what is happening to the local fire station. Or hang out at the local community centre to get the latest community reports. Social and local reporting is long, long gone. I am connected to the world through the web.

I have always thought that blogs are a cross between letters and diaries. A good blog has carefully constructed posts, often interspersed with photos and bits of news but still full of information about the person writing as well as that person's situation, activities and interests. The bloggers I followed with joy wrote well and took delight in writing well and had interesting things to say that sprang from their own experience. For a while I was part of a group that was quite analytical about the practise of blogging and the communities it created. Reading around the circle was like reading a really good magazine, with the added benefit of knowing the people writing to the extent that they felt comfortable with letting you into their lives. And most posts trailed a dialogue of comments that were just as good reading as the original post. Blogging was a lot of fun.

Being a good blog writer, however, was also a lot of work and took time. Being a responsive blogger, reading and commenting, also was something that ate time at a great rate. To be part of a blogging community was a commitment, a thing you had to budget time to do, a creative act that took energy and thought. If you were also juggling a young family, a career whether school or job, real life friends and interests, home chores and time for your health, blogging could at times be a chore, something you needed to drop out of from time to time, just to keep all your other commitments. I know I have read many, many posts apologizing for gaps, many comments apologizing for absences, many short and frantic paragraphs composed on the run as space savers, seen many blogs go dark. I've done
these things myself; what keeps pulling me back is an addiction to writing and putting the result out to be read. There are as many reasons people blog as there are people blogging, I am sure, but it seems to me that it is the addiction and the connection that keeps some few of us at it.

Because there are other ways to communicate and connect that are not as time consuming and that fit the newest technology; not just Facebook and Twitter but many more Iphone and Ipad based communication apps that are easy to use. (Hmm. Open Office Writer just turned iPhone into Iphone all on its own. I can't even make my software behave.) People wear little telephones hooked to an ear, or wander around with ear buds jammed into both, oblivious to traffic and other people in the way. Or they live life one-handed, the other holding a phone to their head, They stare at their screens, immersed in their own private worlds.

To be honest, I love the way the world has changed and is changing, I love the new technology, even when it won't behave for me, and I am addicted to Facebook, especially Scrabble on Facebook, no matter how often I lose. It's a lovely community. But it isn't the bloggers' circle that I used to have and still miss, dropout though I may be.

And if I ever manage to learn how to comment from the iPad, and have the damn comment accepted, I'll be all over your comments again.


  1. Thank you for this, Mary. What an incisive analysis. xoxo

  2. i find myself reading less and commenting less - lack of time. also, the mobile devices are, as you mention, hard to use for comments. and, when i read on the computer (as i'm doing now), some blogs make me use a different browser if i want to comment on them (firefox works, chrome doesn't). many barriers in other words.

  3. Every so often, I feel a pull toward these new tablet thingies. But I use my computer primarily for writing. That is the very last thing that a tablet device is for. I'll stick with my laptop.

    Regarding the Time Issue--I have plenty of it, but I don't often knock out a post for my blog. Like you, Mary, I do enjoy the whole Blog Culture. I have eschewed Facebook, but I recognize that it has drawn off a lot of blog traffic. People are almost continually on it, and it is quicker to read the small blasts of text there. And that's fine. I've retained most of my subscribers--of course, I have no idea if they are actually READING me--and I'm happy with my chosen medium. Like you, I compare it to a magazine article. Once I've made my morning blog rounds, it feels like I've read a magazine. I like that.

  4. Gah! That was very clumsy of me. I just typed a long comment, and then clicked a wrong button instead of "publish." And poof! Anyhow...I don't have the energy to reconstruct it now. Really, I should write a response post, like in the old days.

    I really miss the blogging community, too, even though I am still friends with so many of my ex-blogging friends.

    I really enjoyed this post, Mary. I like how you discussed the changing channels of communication. Very thought-provoking. (And how fitting that the thoughts that were provoked in me were then accidentally deleted by me through technological ineptness. And I like to think of myself as technologically ept!)

  5. I love your song for Sarah. When I first started blogging many of my family was blogging too and it was so much fun. Only three are still blogging. They too have gone to face book. I'm almost ready to abandon my family blog, but I do love going back and reading it myself. So I guess it has really become a scrapbook for me to enjoy more than anything else.

    I have made a lot of blogging friends over the four years I've been blogging, but like you a lot of them have left blogging for other social media. I miss them too.

    My own life has become so busy that I have cut my list of people who I follow to 35 and I only comment on about half of those. I compose my posts on the weekend and schedule them for the week. Basically I'm participating in a few social games with different blogging groups. I find it fun. I usually try to go through my reader on Thursday and Friday and catch up on what's going on with the few bloggers I'm still in contact with.

    I enjoyed your post today and your walk through the changes in social media. I am on facebook--but they don't really seem to be a community. It seems to me to be a never ending stream of self absorbed people shouting "look at me, look at what I'm doing." I don't see a lot of communication between people.

    I think the thing I like best about blogging is I have a small group of friends that seem to like the same kinds of books as I do. I get to hear what they think of them before choosing my reading material, I find it very helpful.

    I also really enjoy the few friends I have that write really thought provoking posts like this one. It's nice when someone pushes you to think. Thanks, and I hope you stick with blogging even if your posts are spread out a little more. They are always and enjoyable read.

    Have a great day.

  6. Well.... I really enjoyed that post and I also miss the old community of Bloggers that were there when I first got started.
    I think that we do all move on to other things but even though I've let things slide a bit, I'd be reluctant to give it up.
    I won't be doing Facebook or Twitter.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May