I have no idea who I'm writing for

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 24, 2021, 8:34 PM | comments: 0

I've been blogging since before it was called blogging. Since I own the data and the software, I can go way back, and see how immature I was in my 20's. Or see how I predicted Yahoo's irrelevancy. I social media-ed before anyone called it social media. When Facebook went generally available beyond college students in 2006, I already had a site called CampusFish that allowed you write and post photos in albums, and even via MMS from your phone (as in flip phone, pre-smartphone). It even did post-back linking, the glorious, no-one-owns-it precursor to the walled gardens of modern social media. And I asked people to pay $12 lousy bucks per year for it, and about a dozen people did for a few years. I felt pioneering but with no business plan or specific intent other than to see if I could build this stuff.

Before I started CampusFish in 2003, I wrote a few times per month about my general observations on coaching volleyball, visiting amusement parks, and sometimes work. After CampusFish started, I still did the long-form writing, but also more drive-by and photos. I was writing for me, making a record of what was on my mind. The cadence got to be pretty intense by 2009, which makes sense since I got married, had an epic layoff, moved to Seattle with a pregnant lady and four cats and started working at Microsoft. Somewhere in that time, maybe the year after, I shut down CampusFish and moved here to my vanity domain, and since then, I started to write less. A lot of it was about parenting, projects that never made any money, parenting, work and more honest, vulnerable talk about mental health. I also started to write more about politics, not because I was enamored with anyone left-leaning, but because I couldn't believe we as a nation elected a horrible human being who turned out to be an autocratic nationalist with no interest in the Constitution.

But in recent years, I find myself wondering why I write anything at all. Well over a thousand people land here every month, and I have no idea what they're after or why they bother to read what I have. And they are reading stuff, as the 15% that are return visitors are spending 1 to 4 minutes here, on average. I'm not really writing for them, but I'm not even sure if I'm writing for me anymore. I write about stuff multiple times, and frankly, I don't want to hear myself talk about how screwed up healthcare in the US is for the hundredth time.

A friend of mine stopped maintaining his personal blog a few years ago, and now he just posts shit on Facebook, which makes me sad (for similar reasons as the commercialization of podcasts makes me sad). And the people that I care about that are still posting on Facebook are either gone behind the fucking algorithm or stopped using it. For me, I'm using it as a record of activity for me, and memories, and not much else these days. And I will be sad when even my fellow Gen-X'ers abandon it as well, because I don't know how I'll keep in touch with people from college, jobs and different cities that I lived in. I want to keep those connections so I can see them again when we visit, or when they eventually visit Orlando.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I'm in a pretty solid cycle of starting to write something, and then abandoning it because I don't think anyone will want to read it, and the content doesn't serve me either. I love the blog format though, because while it's a little narcissistic, it's not like the train wreck of filtered duck-faced selfies that social media has become. But those sentences right there imply that I believe I'm better than all of that, and have something to say. The truth is, I'm not sure.

Maybe I need to get back to the care-free days of just posting random crap, and for that matter, make it possible to upload photos again for photo posts, from out in the world. Because when Facebook does finally die, I'll still have this.


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