Saturday, 8 October 2016

Hibernation

These are strange days. There is movement wherever we look. Whether it’s self-destructing participants in the so-called ‘global race’, or the actual mass migration of displaced human beings, walking the finest of lines as they cross land masses to what they hope will be a better life.

24hr reports and views hold us in a weird limbo. At once frozen, yet constantly agitated. The earth turns (did I read 650 mph?) and social media carries the thoughts and reactions of countless millions, at a speed that may well be outpacing the planet.

When I was first introduced to the concept of the blog, with the launch of Blogger, around 1999/2000, the possibilities were abundantly clear. Five years ahead of Facebook, anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection could log their thoughts, opinions, interests, causes, etc, and belong to a network of like-minded online diarists. It was a truly exciting moment.

I didn’t actually start my own blog until July, 2009. Square Sunshine steadily grew a following. Mostly people who were interested in the observations of a grandfather. Later, others who liked my tentative efforts at photography and poetry. Back then I always had something I wanted to share. A funny moment, a special occasion, a sobering discovery. In turn, I could pop over to my favourite places and learn about a whole range of life experiences. It genuinely felt as though I had moved into a new and friendly neighbourhood where interesting and informative individuals passed the time of day (or night) chatting over the cyber fence.

Then, after a while, my posts became less frequent. I often found that I had little of consequence to say. Years ago, the weekly column I wrote was mostly inspired by our young daughter. I had thought I might take a similar route with the blog, only this time prompted by the antics and activities of grandchildren. It worked for while. But, as I’m so inclined, I found myself distracted and eagerly filled in the blanks with anything and everything that took my fancy. I feel it was at this point when Square Sunshine lost its focus. Eventually the posts were sporadic, and often out of kilter with what visitors had perhaps come to expect.

I called it a day at least twice. I played around with the design, the look, the feel, the style. I posted enthusiastically but quickly ran out of steam. The lengthy periods between posts were beginning to look like neglect.

All the time, I was still dropping in on my favourite blogs. Not necessarily commenting, but passing by and giving a wave. What I noticed was, that old neighbours were shutting up shop at an alarming rate. Some blogs disappearing entirely, some halted abruptly with no explanation. I know of at least two regulars who died, their blogs left as a tribute. That or grieving relatives had no access to the relevant passwords.

This summer I resolved to give it one more go. I redesigned the header, tidied up my sidebar, and began posting every few days or so. When I called in on old neighbours, a handful were home, and producing greatly entertaining tales. Others were either out, not answering the door, or had moved from the area.

From my point of view, blogging, at least in the form that I consider to be typical of its heyday, is waning. It has been for some time. In part, the medium has been, like districts of our great cities, quietly ‘gentrified’. Increasingly, blogs are slickly presented, but a little 'flat-pack' in calibre. Too often a visual bombardment of heavily filtered pics and neurotic narratives. Certain traits have invaded blogland like Japanese Knotweed, obscuring and obstructing the neighbourliness and sense of community.

Me, stringing sentences together. © Robby Bullen - Cartoonist

I’m not going to say I’m shutting up shop and moving on…again. But I am going on a *virtual* winter vacation, in an attempt to get some serious writing done.

No doubt I’ll continue to bump into some of you on the crowded streets of Facebook, or maybe in the picturesque lanes of Instagram. One place you won’t find me is on Tweet Street. 

Thanks to all who have dropped by. It's been great to have your company. Take care, and have fun.   

6 comments:

  1. I share your feelings Martin.You will notice I hardly ever speak on mine these days. I keep thinking there must be a new dynamic use to be made of this splendid medium...i just dont have a clue what it might be!

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  2. I concur with all you have said Martin - a strange place this blogging world and so many changes in the past 5 or so years - definitely losing the community feel, or maybe it is like the real world, when you lose some friends as they go in different directions, it is difficult to make new ones as you get older. Enjoy the 'serious' writing and see you round and about :D

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  3. Although I'm still blogging, I rarely get time to read lots of other people's blogs, so I couldn't honestly say I was part of the blogging community, and I'm surprised to still get comments, bearing in mind I hardly comment on others. I feel as though I'm on borrowed time! :) I always enjoy your writing, Martin, so I wish you joy with trying something more substantial. You and me both ...

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  4. Eloquently put Martin, and I couldn’t agree more. I seem to have lost my way a bit too. Having said that, I do enjoy reading your blogposts, sporadic though they may be, and I’m very glad that we are Facebook friends too!

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  5. I drift away from the blog occasionally, but usually drift back again. Good luck with your writing, Martin. Here's wishing you a productive winter of writing.

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  6. I agree with what you say, Martin. My own blogging has slowed way down, and I'm never quite sure why, although lack of time is the most obvious reason. I've decided not to put pressure on myself, and to write / share when I feel like it and can. This is the first opportunity I've had for two months to read others' blogs. As you say, lots shutting up shop. I think Instagram has taken over in many ways. So - thanks for waving recently on my blog, and have an excellent winter!

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