I freakin’ love the Internet. Seriously, I’m enamored with it. When I think about the staggering amount of time and effort people have poured into building the Web, I sit there slack-jawed, then update Twitter to say as much. The vast, almost infinite complexities that all seem to ebb and flow in perfect reciprocity to create a beautiful balance, allowing me to download high-def BluRays in the time it takes to order a pizza, then beam that shit directly into a television three rooms and two stories over, is probably one of the greatest achievements our species has ever managed to slap together. Last week, a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen in years, tweeted a link to a video of her eating a cookie while watching Home Alone 2 for no other reason than because she could. And I watched it. And it was amazing. The slab of glass I’m typing this article on not only holds the entire sum of human knowledge, but can also provide me with walking directions to Shanghai, and unlimited pornography(!). Do Amish people know what they’re missing?
With all of this power at the behest of my grubby, coffee-stained fingerprints, I felt like I should give something back, to contribute, to put my few mark on this, the greatest of systems, however small that mark may be. So, a couple of years ago with no plan, ideas, or voice, I started blogging. First on a hastily-designed Blogger account, and then on a terribly produced dot-com, before ending up here. Of course, whenever anyone does anything online, he thinks his project is going to set the Web on fire (and anyone who says otherwise is a goddamn liar). I was no different. And today I can confirm that although it’s been fun, I have have fallen stunningly short of that goal.
The internet is nothing if not a valuable teaching tool. I’ve been writing on the Internet in some way or another for a while now, and in that time, I’ve learned a few things. Mainly, I’ve learned that nobody likes me, my parents did a terrible job raising me, and everything I have to say is invalid, because shut up. Basically, there are times when writing for the Internet can be pretty terrible. For starters, there are…
Obviously I don’t mean you. No, you’re one of the good ones. We’re cool. But not everyone can be as awesome or attractive, sexually speaking, as you. Look, launching and maintaining a website is a lot of work. Especially for a content-based site like this one, where constant updates are necessary if you want people to keep coming back. But even a daily refresh doesn’t come with guarantees. When you put something up on the Web, you’re competing with literally every other media outlet on the planet. This blog entry is in direct competition with news organizations, other blogs, video sites, cat memes, social networks, and all of that aforementioned porn. And because this is a pretty small online hangout, our good friends over at Google don’t exactly kick this page to the top of its search results. So unless some article or entry really sets the world ablaze (this one, maybe?) or a person punches in the exact keywords to find a specific page on ANA, posts, no matter how full of potential, are destined to flounder in obscurity before dying a slow, agonizing death. Words are meant to be read, after all. Or else they evaporate faster than my teenage romances.
The trouble with writing online is even if you write the best thing you’ve ever written, there’s no guarantee anyone will read it. And of the people who do click through the link, fewer still will read the whole entry, because that porn isn’t going to just watch itself. Maintaining a decent readership is a difficult thing to do. It takes time, skill, and dedication to build a following, which wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that there’s…
A funny thing happened when anyone could suddenly start writing online – people believed they were freaking Shakespeare, and everyone was hanging on their every word. An avalanche of LiveJournal sites and MySpace blogs permeated the Web, relegating anyone without a spiffy job title to the role of Basement Blogger, angrily bashing the keyboard in between scoops of ice cream (or something, maybe). On the other side of the spectrum, experts built up miniature empires online, taking with them all the eyeballs and most of that precious advertising revenue. Now it’s ten years later, and even ad revenue is starting to dip. Where does that leave us would-be, wannabes? Out in the cold, duh.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing these entries. I love thinking about new content to post. And I love getting feedback from the people who do stumble across an article and chime in. And it’s a good thing I do, because I sure as hell won’t be getting paid for it anytime soon. At best, maybe – maybe - someone will see a blog and offer the person behind it some type of job. But with the litany of writers online, those successes are few and far between. And that’s too bad, because with a lack of readers and no income, there’s also…
For better or worse, the weight of these words is offset by the reader’s perception of the author. “Of course,” you’re probably saying to yourself. “That’s the way it should be.” You’re quite right, fictional reader I’m using as a fairly obvious narrative device. For the most part, something written for The New York Times should be taken more seriously than a post on an AngelFire site (throwback!). But I’d like to think that these posts sit firmly in the middle somewhere, in the grey. They aren’t prize-winning posts to be sure, but they aren’t the angry musings of a ninth-grader either. Without a following or a paycheck, however, most people find it quite easy to dismiss anything they find online as unfiltered, unwanted noise. You could spend hours, days, hell, weeks completing a project: an article, song, movie, whatever. And then you post it online as a way of saying, “Hey, I did is thing and I think it’s kind of cool. What do you guys think?” and you get spammed, written off, or, just yelled at in Comments sections until you develop a drinking problem. It’s a tough spot to be in, because nobody on the other side of the screen cares about how hard you worked compared to the impressive size of your Twitter following. So I guess what I’m saying is, give modern day bloggers a chance, because writing on the web can be a pretty hard gig.
So spending your days and nights writing articles for the internet kinda sucks. But for all the complaints, it isn’t all bad. Hell, maybe blogging is the new punk. You say what you want, few people listen, and you don’t get paid. It can be tough, even depressing. But there are moments when it’s pretty damn great.