When did we all become clones of each other?
[First published in my Sowing Stories Newsletter 17 August 2018]
I'm still seeing the 'blogging is dying' phrase floating about the internet.
Apparently instead of writing our hearts out and concentrating on our blogs we must go to video. Or IGTV. Video is, after all, the predicted future. Or, we should concentrate solely on Instagram. To micro-blog. (I'm a big fan of micro-blogging by the way. But it's not something I would solely do.)
When did we all become clones of each other? (I don't mean you personally, I mean 'the internet' in generalised terms!) Why are we being swayed by other people's 'rules' online?
(Incidentally YouTube and Facebook would say the future is in video when they're pumping so much money in that direction.)
Being online is another form of creativity. You write, take photographs, create films. Sometimes all three in one blog post.
Yet, after all this hard work some creatives try to push the end result down a tube of conformity. Or, we conform before we create; giving ourselves restraining parameters.
I'll give you a 'for example': the rule of making blog posts a certain word limit. (This can range from 500 to 2000 depending on who you're listening to.) I don't get that. I know people say it's good for SEO to have a certain length (I've no idea if this is true or not) but are we writing for a computer or are we writing for a human?
Creators also worry about the number of instagram likes they're getting. So again, instead of pursuing their own path, they conform and do something similar to other successful instagrammers with the result being a real sameness on that platform. My explore page is full of people doing similar types of photographs. The algorithm thinks because I've liked one picture of a mother and her child in a creative set up then that's all I want to see.
I want to see more than that. Because like everyone else I'm a complex human being with varied interests. Something the computers have not (yet) grasped.
I also enjoy seeing a feed with a story. Each individual photograph is a mini-chapter of their lives. For example Amber Gibbon's feed is a beautiful story of their lives in the mountains. I'm so invested. I got emotional when she announced her pregnancy and again when she introduced their new daughter to the horses. But Instagram's algorithm will not recognise that and show me other beautiful stories. It'll go by the objects or animals in the picture I double-tapped to like instead.
The reason for this conformity and sameness (in part - because, like human beings the answer is probably more complex) is because people want to be seen. They want a platform. They want to monetise their content or become 'online stars'. Some pursue it ruthlessly, climbing over others, not deeming them important because hey - they've got 10k less followers than them so they don't matter.
I'm not saying pursuing a platform is wrong at all. Hey - I'm doing it myself. But pursuing a platform at the expense of your own creativity (and other people's feelings) has got to end in tears, surely?
Like all things in life there are cycles to this blogging world. Blogging grew fast in this last decade and probably peaked in terms of influencing a few years ago. It became glossy and magazine-like. There was money to be made. Posts became little more than PR pieces for brands. Adverts and collaborations became front and centre. The creativity that got the blogger in front of an audience was compromised for the adverts.
And people wonder where their audience went.
But there is still a large group of bloggers intent on creating beautiful content. This is why I do not believe for one moment that blogging is dead. Because this would mean writing is dead. That creativity is dead. That reading is dead. And we all know that's not true!
In this recent blog post by Zoe London she asks 'Is Blogging Dead?' The short answer is no and Zoe goes on to describe seeing your blog as a digital book. A great way to view it, I think. I've always likened mine to a digital magazine of my interests and writing. (But this is not a rule!!) Seeing it as a book or magazine opens it up to different subjects and different chapters. It's an exciting concept.
Other articles of interest
I've given a lot to blogging over the last eleven years but it's repaid me over and over. Through blogging I've discovered interests and subjects I'm passionate about along with my writing voice. Plus I've built up a large body of work to use for my possible book and I've started a business.
And not only that - it's also given me a lot of joy.
I've been working on my Sowing Stories E-Course - a course about blogging and creativity online. I've streamlined the content and made it self-paced so can be purchased at any time. (However, if you'd like the fuller course with Facebook group support from me then do drop me an email.)
If you want to pursue your creativity and writing but aren't sure where to start then come take a look.