Remember a few years back when there were so many more really solid blogs on life in Mérida? When YouTube was packed with videos exploring neighborhoods or touring a special home? As social media rose and became mainstream, we saw fewer and fewer blogs and videos. One blogger has taken her site down and writes exclusively on Facebook now, viewable only to her Facebook friends. Another has used Facebook to question the validity of blogs. “Does anyone read blogs/websites anymore? It seems that everything is on Facebook now,” he said. “Just wondering if I should save myself some time and stop with the writing already.”
Go to Google and type “Is blogging” and the sentence completes itself. “Is blogging dead” and “Is blogging worth it” autofill the line, evidence that I’m not the only one wondering about which platform to pursue. Articles like this show up, weighing the immediate stream of information from Facebook and Twitter against the more thoughtful, if not ponderous, blog form.
Habits change, and the value of blogging (or vlogging) is always in question. Blogs have been declared dead, and then “back,” ever since blogs began.
If social media really starts to discourage and overshadow the personal expression and storytelling of the blogs, I’m just going to have to go into a period of mourning. I can think of at least one blog that I’ve been following since the late 1990s. I’ve grown old with this blogger! The social-media alternative back in the 1990s was an AOL chat room, but his blog has remained and its rich archive has grown.
On Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, your contributions belong to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter and can disappear or go into hiding at their whim. On WordPress, you’re at the mercy of Google’s algorithms if you want to be noticed. But I still think WordPress blogging gives me more control and satisfaction, as well as a sense of owning something I created. I can post my own sidebars, advertisements (which hardly anyone clicks on, but at least they’re mine). I’m on Facebook and Twitter more than I care to admit, and I get a lot out of it, but it could never take the place of a well-crafted homespun blog. I write Imagine Mérida for a creative outlet, and along the way have crowdsourced our house hunt. It turns out that we’ve made lasting friendships that began in the comments section.
If blogs keep dropping off as they are, think about the consequences.
Newcomers to the city won’t have the benefit of these online diaries that expats created. Even small topics, like a new bloom in the garden, or a dispute with a neighbor over a wall or an overhanging tree, provide texture and insight that quick hits on social media can’t. Facebook gives us immediate information on a concert that’s coming up, a stray dog that needs a new home, where to find Diet Dr. Pepper, a notification about a fundraiser, but bloggers’ essay-length posts dive deeper and invite us into their homes and lives. Would I have gotten to know expats, and would they have gotten to know me nearly as well, in a Facebook group?
Some of my favorite bloggers moved on to other projects. Some have left their body of work online while others removed their old posts, which saddens me. I still remember the Mérida bloggers’ conference in 2011. I thought for sure there would be one in 2012. We were talking about expanding into Cancun, but it never got off the ground. One weary blogger indicated she was passing the torch over to the new group of scribes. And indeed, she’s gone silent, for reasons of her own. And readers, and their ever-diminishing attention spans, are being trained to click away after the first 140 characters.
In the meantime, take a moment to review the links to the right and support your local blogger! (I’m redesigning the sidebar to bring the blog roll to the top.) Enjoy what this community has created; dive in to the archives. You’ll be entertained and amazed. And why not reward the blogger with a nice comment. We thrive on conversation.
Image: iStock Vectors