Facebook, Twitter are preferred avenues for expression; English blogging deteriorates!
The once vibrant English language blogger community of Chennai is nearly gone. Some blog once in a while, but the action seems to have shifted to social networks, primarily Twitter and Facebook, where ‘instant gratification’ is the name of the game.
“The number of visitors I get these days are not much compared to what was even three years ago,” a popular blogger confides. “Maybe my writing is not what it used to be,” he laughs. “But undoubtedly the traction is more on Facebook these days. I ask my friends who read my post there to leave likes. Seems to work better that way.”
Another blogger, Lavanya Mohan, who says she grew up in the healthy environs of the blogging community after starting her first blog as a 14-year-old in 2004, says the slowdown has been especially severe since 2010.
“Until even 2010, young writers could begin their writing in a healthy environment where blogging was the way to express yourself and find like-minded people,” she points out.
In recent years even Lavanya has slowed down the frequency of her posts. “At the peak of my blogging in the years 2008, 09 and 10, I had around 48 long posts a year along with several short posts. But of late, it is just one or two posts a month.”
Humour blogger Balajee.G.E, who writes the popular ‘Local Tea Party’ blog, says blogs going niche has coincided with the likes of Twitter and Facebook offering easier ways to publish. “Blogs tend to have a backend interface to manage and can be cumbersome. Also other forms of expressions like Memes and GIF images with text are becoming popular and going viral.”
A few others say the slow demise of blogging is a blow to writing itself. Blogs are imminently more searchable. Though a Facebook post might gain likes and comments almost instantly, the real-time nature of the timeline makes what is written temporary. The long tail effect — where an old article or a blog post suddenly comes back to public view — is ruled out.
Some of these changes have also had an impact on the writing style of bloggers. Lavanya, who has dabbled with humour, says anonymity was a boon in the past. “A grumpy office colleague or an everyday incident might inspire a humourous post,” she says. “But in this day of Facebook, it is impossible to write something like that out of fear of offending someone.”
Serious writing for blogs
Though English blogging has taken a hit, the Tamil blogging scene remains vibrant. Popular writers like Jeyamohan and Payon regularly post on their blogs and also use it to interact with their readers.
Payon, whose humorous short stories have found a good audience online, explains how blogging helped him and his writing be taken seriously. “To keep writing, make myself write longer pieces, and to earn more credibility as a writer, I bought a domain name for my pseudonym and signed up with a hosting service. I started writing regularly on my website and posted links on Twitter, got a decent number of readers to follow my RSS feed. My blog has a simple design and it helps. Many people I know read my writings on my blog. I’d say the more serious people prefer reading me on my blog than a Facebook page.”
Writing on Facebook and on one’s blog are different, even from the manner in which writing is approached. “On my Facebook page, any post above 10 lines is often ignored. That’s Facebook for you. If it’s gossip, people would willing to read longer posts,” the writer says. “The problem with writing on Facebook is that you turn into something like a circus monkey performing for “likes”. You do it without immediately realising it. There’s no dignity in that. People compile their Facebook posts into books, but I think a blog is a more respectable place to write. Also you’re conscious of what you write. A blog is where you write for yourself and you’re more spontaneous. So you get genuine, serious readers on your blog, which is good for you.”
Rise of new formats
Popular online personality Krish Ashok, who has a good following online and publishes in different formats – memes in a Tumblr blog, audio on Soundcloud and videos on YouTube – says the situation should be viewed more of content creation than just blogs that were popular at a time when writing was the easiest format to publish online.
“User generated content has undergone a revolution both in terms of both volume and diversity over time. It’s important to remember that text based blogging was mainstream at a time when both amateur/indie music and YouTube didn’t exist. In my own case I’ve never really seen myself as someone who writes. I started doing memes on Tumblr, jokes on Twitter, podcasts and music on Soundcloud and videos on YouTube,” Krish Ashok says.
The new publishing service Medium that combines the long form advantage of blogs and the viral nature of Twitter promises to usher in a new era where long form writing could thrive. Lavanya says she is tempted to write something for Medium though now she mostly reads the post recommendations there.
Courtesy : thehindu