Four years ago, it was different.
It used to be a means of disseminating information, to reach out to people far and wide.
It used to bring forth healthy and interesting discussions, to exchange views and opinions.
It used to pull people from all parts of the world closer, and to gain new friends in the process as well.
It used to make you smile and shed a tear or two, and for all the right reasons.
It used to be so much more.
Most of the writings were honest, coming straight from the heart. It was valid, although not necessarily accurate. It made you feel like you could have given him a virtual pat on the back for having written so well about his duel with death, or to nod in agreement to her entries because they made so much sense. She recounted how he had got down onto his knees to pop the all-important question with such passion, you cannot help but feel the magic right there and then. And you just had to laugh along as he poked fun of himself, having told us the most unfortunate day of his life.
The valuable discoveries of the Internet that they stumbled upon were made known to their readers. Geeky some of them may be, but the links fit right into our modern world of today. And so we learn, and store what we assume may be yet another trivial piece of information into our heads, only to be regurgitated when the opportunity calls for it:
“Hey, I read that on slashdotorg just yesterday!”
To sum it all up: it made for good reading.
But things have changed – within the local blogging community at least.
Now, this fad will soon become a pointless waste of time.
What is it with the attitude? Short of cursing and calling each other names, now they are resorting to writing about each other, responding in a war of words. And oh, the language! Just because there is no censorship involved does not mean that you can write whatever you please.
“This is my blog, I can write whatever I want – so if you do not like it, go away.” (This is putting it mildly.)
A lot of people say that; so are we becoming irresponsible writers? We become immensely powerful wielding the keyboard (no one uses a pen these days) because no one can stop us. No one dictates what we write, sure: but along the way, some of us have clearly forgotten about our responsibility to our readers.
Why the sudden emphasis on traffic and page ranks now? Does it have to mean so much to you, to log close to a thousand visitors in a day? We have all turned into such narcissists and attention-seekers, the desire to thrive under the limelight is burning more than ever. In fact, you can see people ‘aligning’ themselves with the key players, and this sometimes reminds me of that other reality show. Muddy trails are left everywhere; people are even thinking what keywords to include in their entries so that they can turn up with a better page rank on Google. Obviously, the dictum “I blog for myself” no longer applies here.
Ah, the evolution of blogs. Blogs now are not blogs, in the strictest sense. Look, it contains the word ‘log’ in it. Along the way, the line between a personal website and a blog has blurred so much, I have trouble telling which is which. What gives? (I used to go by this. Now it gets worse, so I do not know what to think anymore.)
One thing I find highly amusing: back then, I had a difficult time trying to get hold of a free hosting provider that offers no advertisements. No blinking banners screaming at you, or annoying popups that just keep… popping up at you (remember Geocities, anyone?) Now, everyone is rushing to include advertisements onto their websites because, well… who would not want to get paid for it? It is funny, because I had to save up to get my own hosting and domain name so that my readers do not have to come across various marketing campaigns here, such as “Get Your Free Shampoo Trial” or “Notebook Online Sale”.
(For the record: no, I will never put Adsense on Rantglass.)
Then again, having a blog/journal/i-really-don’t-know-what-to-call-it-anymore is the quickest way to fame. And why not? Just write, and hit the ‘Publish’ button. Everyone will undoubtedly know who you are, provided you play the game well.
Some get burned out, and fade away almost immediately after having experimented with it. Everyone else is doing it, so why not I give it a go, too? The numbers are going up all the time; but how many of them are actually readable, and will be there for the long run?
You know what I fear? The thought of the government imposing restrictions similar to the ones in China. Can you imagine having to renew a license for your blog every year? How about having your writings scrutinised for any possible verbal attacks against the government? Fancy having internal security officials knocking down your door next?
But with the direction we are heading to today, coupled with the negative reactions received about all this… you never know. We could be getting publicity for the wrong reasons.
So yes, I do get disillusioned sometimes. If anything… I am disappointed that it has turned out this way. I know it sounds harsh, but thank goodness for the gems stashed in the corners of cyberspace, or I will have to proclaim the state of our local blogging community a shame and a failure.
This is four years – then, and now. Who knows what the next four years have in store for us?
Oh, yeah. As usual, you may direct all hatemail, flamethrowers and whatsoever, to my email. I lost my troll repellent though.