Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm a little concerned about blogging these days.  Many of my favorite bloggers have cut back significantly in their number of posts and some have gone "on haitus" which usually means a farewell message several months down the line.  Others certainly are thriving.  The big political blogs that mix in some pop culture and occasional (or even regular) eye candy -- Joe.My.God, Towleroad, Bill in Exile, et al. -- put out several posts each day and get hundreds of comments.  But the really intelligent personal blog does seem to be something of an endangered species.

I don't get as many comments as I used to.  Sometimes I wonder if I have become boring or have perhaps occupied too much of niche with talk of the arts and history.  Then, unexpectedly, I'll get a most welcome comment or two from a totally unknown reader and think, well OK, I have readers who really are out there.

I began a bit of a hunt this summer for bloggers who had dropped out of sight to see if they had come back to blogging as they had said they might in their farewell messages.  These were people with whom I had great conversations that I came to value for their personal take on things, and from whom I learned a lot.  And by a lot, I mean from the lives of men in their 80s with an enormous life perspective, and from men in their 20s who kept me connected to the pop culture and The New, which is very important to someone working in the arts with progressively younger and younger colleagues.

I found a former classical musician who left it all for the Law and settled in New York City (the connection between classical music/opera and Law is very strong, interestingly, in Germany where a large number of conductors and the great soprano Hildegard Behrens all had law degrees in addition to major music careers).  I was particularly happy to rediscover a New Yorker I had followed from blog to blog years ago and from whom I had the recipe for what he called a "minimalist paella" that has become a staple of my dinner guest repertory.  He's in Miami now, teaching (lucky students!) and wrote back saying he was happy to have been found.

There was a time before blogs or telegrams or phones or communications of any kind beyond the written word entrusted to a messenger (for the wealthy) or the postal service (for everyone).  Writing letters was essential but also an art.  People wrote extensively, kept the correspondence sent to them, and made copies of their own letters in reply.  When they died, their correspondence was kept in the family, sometimes published if they'd been prominent in any way, or archived in a library to be accessible by researchers.

I began to think of blogs as the written letters of the modern world, self-archived at the blog site, including the responses of the blogger's correspondents.  I know of several bloggers whose blogs have become the basis of books.  As for research, when the history of the U.S. war in Iraq is written, I would be surprised if the blog of Salaam Pax weren't referenced, and the same is true for a number of international political and cultural blogs that have captured moments in history from personal involvement.  These are prime source material, valuable documents.

Unfortunately, when a lot of the blogs that were important to me shut down, the only way to keep in touch with their writers was via Facebook where thoughts can't really be developed at length.  Casual updating is easy, depth difficult or non-existent.  Twitter is even more limited.  I keep hearing that social media discourages, and may even eliminate, social contact.  What I think it limits or even destroys is the expression and expansion of ideas.


It does seem like a lot of bloggers have gone the way of the dodo. Even worse, their blogs disappear never to be read again. Which is really disheartening to me.
Just want you to know I love staying connected to you by this means in between visits to WH or chance encounters at an Opera. I really felt that last weekend. I'm not keeping up my side of the conversation, I realize. Haven't figured out a way to share my written record - the journal of my erotic life - and wonder if it would be of interest to others...
A great many men do chronicle their erotic lives on their blogs. Anonymity, if an issue, can be protected fairly easily. The frequent and sometimes rather athletic sex life of one young New Yorker became one of the books I referenced in the above post. We can talk further when you're next up here if you like.
I used to really like Facebook until they changed the time-line thing. And then one day, I clicked on an article that someone posted and before I knew it, people were "liking" what I had just read. And I felt totally exposed! I now just post my latest post and don't really hang out there. My mind could not keep up with the fast pace of Twitter. So, I shut it down. I was being stretched too thin by Social Media.
What I love about blogging is that I use it as a diary for my children. That's why I started it in the first place. My kids will never read my Facebook updates or my Tweets so why should I continue with those.
I really do hate to see blogs vanish. I think if everyone considered them as journals and not try to get major attention, they would be much happier.
Your Friend, m.
Hey buddy, the intelligentsia among us blog every day, and read your blog every day :-)

I have been blogging less than two years, but have also seen an awful lot of people come and go. I'm not as prolific or consistent but don't like to leave too many days between posts. I now really only use facebook to share my latest blog post link. I like the depth of blogging so much more. Glad you're sticking with it.
Don't be disheartened: there will always be those who carry on ploughing their own idiosyncratic furrow, regardless of pleasing their readers or narrowing their subject matter (yours I presumptuously include among them). There's plenty of mileage left in the old dog yet. Mind you, I'm a fine one to talk, having had a long breather owing to health issues. But I'm back now, if only for a bit.
David, as you must know, your absence has been a cause of concern to many of us and I'm delighted if you are staging your much anticipated return!
My path to your blog was somewhat contrary to the norm, in that I began reading as a result of meeting you in person; rather than the other way around. But as a newbie in the blogosphere, I enjoy reading it and look forward to continuing to do so for a long time.
Do not shut down: do not dare to question this.

I read your regularly; sometimes I don't leave comment as I can't think of anything really to say.

I too bemoan the passing of blogging - I suppose writing is just too much or too boring for some. Perhaps it is about time and effort.

I persevere.
Thank you, Michaeal -- I have no intention of shutting down. I'm still meeting new friends, finding out things about the world I never knew and having WAY too much fun.
I read you all of the time, but never comment. But as a theatre director, I find your insights into the arts fascinating and relevant to my work. Glad to hear you are not thinking of abandoning this blog.
I stopped blogging because I wasn't very good at it. It was hard to keep fresh and focused, and others like you do a much better job. I think Facebook also killed blogging (though I don't do Facebook either.)

Mike P
(formerly MikeintheMiddleAges)
Mike, I remember reading and enjoying your blog. Thanks for commenting -- It's good to hear from yo again.

I know how you feel, Will. You and Nicky are the only regular commenters on my blog which, sadly, has never been the "intelligent personal blog" I might have dreamy of when I started. There are times I wonder about continuing. But, I am nothing if not a creature of habit and I have been blogging for almost 9 years now - an astonishing realization, really. I feel badly that I do not comment as often as you do. Sometimes, as one of your other commenters wrote, I don't think of anything in particular to say. There's also the fact that I read most blogs via RSS feed which means an extra step for me to read your posts and I am nothing if not a proscrastinator - and a lazy one at that. Lastly, I don't use Facebook, never have, and probably never will. It seemed way to dangerous a medium for a closeted gay person trying to keep two sides of his life separate.
I'm trying not to let it die, I wish I did more of it actually, but I work too much and then when I have time off, blogging seems like work. Oy.
I am sorry. I will do better, I promise. It us the fault of The Facebook.
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