Virtual Voices

Personal blogging is dead

Culture

If you have personal blog, shut it down. Nobody cares what you are musing about and few people can find it. This is the advice of Paul Boutin, writing about the end of personal blogging for Wired Magazine. Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook have made personal blogging obsolete, he argues, adding that posting personal pictures and your "random thoughts" musings to be read by those surfing the blogosphere is a waste of time and bandwidth.

Blogging has now become professionalized and formalized into cheap ways to launch a website. Originally, weblogs provided a platform for the common person to journal online for any passerby to read, but now it has become a place to sell advertising, as magazines, newspapers, professional organizations, well-known public figures, and so on, have redefined the genre and taken it over. I started blogging back in 2003, but most of the folks who began when I did have terminated their blogs and moved on to Facebook and Twitter.

Boutin writes:

Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It's almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? . . . Scroll down Technorati's list of the top 100 blogs and you'll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can't keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.

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Nowadays, who's left in the blogosphere to comment on your posts are hecklers and trolls, what Boutin calls "the Net's lowest form of life: The insult commenter." If you unwisely pour your heart out in a post, some anonymous troll with an obscure first name or bizarre screen name, like "tk04zr," will gladly offer venom like: "This post is weird. Why don't you just leave the country then." Because of the haters back-stoking in cybersludge, many of the professionalized and media blogs have to moderate comments. When you post a comment on CNN's website, this message pops up:

Comments are moderated by CNN and will not appear on this story until after they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting.

Christian blogging has really deteriorated over the last few years, with folks posting slanderous personal attacks on leaders they do not like, or those armchair theologians who seem to believe that their commentaries on Bible passages are worth the rest of us reading, or that sad person who thinks it's clever to be nothing but a contrarian, or the end-times fanatic who sees every news story as one of "the signs."

As personal blogging approaches the fate of the rotary phone, whenever I get an email announcing, "Hey, we just started a family blog" or "Hey, I now have a blog posting my thoughts," I roll my eyes and assume the person is likely new to the internet. I'm often tempted to write back: "Cool, welcome to 2000. I'll be sure to check it out on Xanga."

Blogging is definitely here to stay, in general, although its future is clearly headed in the direction of online magazines. Boutin is correct that Twitter-which limits each text-only post to 140 characters-is what blogging was in the early 2000s. Happily, Twitter brings something to the internet that is recommended in James: brevity. Personal blogging had a good run.

And be sure to add WORLD's feed to your Twitter account.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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