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Newsflash: You are not the soft, chewy center of the universe

What're you lookin' at, bub?And neither am I. I’m referring to this article in the New York Times about blogs and bloggers who never get any traffic, attention, or perhaps do, but then decide to quit blogging for whatever reason (whether it be a shift to using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace, or a shift to wanting to be more private and less living in public). I’m surprised that everyone is reacting to this as if it’s really something we didn’t all already know.

I like how the article starts off with the story of someone who started blogging in 2004. You’re already past the curve in 2004. In 2004, ABC called bloggers the people of the year while tons of bloggers said that they should be Time’s person of the year, after Steve Rubel first posited the idea. Of course, Rubel only started his blog in April of 2004 (I’m pretty sure this is his first PR heavy post), so his desire later that year, once he developed a following, to be acknowledged as part of the people of the year was definitely a self-centered one. Of course, that didn’t happen. George Bush was the 2004 TIME person of the year.

In 2006, TIME awarded the title of person of the year to YOU, meaning not only bloggers, but all the social media like YouTube that was suddenly exploding online. Now in 2009, it’s all about Twitter and Facebook, following and followers, and yet all these newer forms of new media are falling into the same vanity traps that have plagued all bloggers and public speakers from the beginning of time.

You are not the soft, chewy center of the universe. You may really like what you’re saying, but there’s no guarantee that everyone else will. Even if they do, it’s much more about what you’re saying and the information that you’re generating than it is about you.

Blogging started, in earnest, at the the turn of the century and peaked somewhere around 2004. All the people who started blogging since 2004 and have thought that it’s the fast track solution to fame and fortune are fools who are missing the point. Granted, a blog can be a very positive thing to help you on the road to success, but the blog itself, except in very rare cases, is not going to be that solution in and of itself.

I’ve been blogging since 1999, first on LiveJournal (all deleted so don’t bother looking), then on a site called Kopfschmerzen (also deleted), then on 3650 and a 12-inch, then on My iPod Blog, which debuted the same day that Apple announced the iPod, and then here on Sample The Web, where I’ve stayed. I didn’t go “professional” with my blogging until I started writing for Apple Matters in 2004. Then in 2005, I started working for Weblogs, Inc. and was lead blogger for The Unofficial Apple Weblog for a while and contributor to numerous other WIN blogs.

The blogging led to some big online jobs, like being the Director of Netscape and the Editorial Director for Mahalo. There’s still not a lot of people who know who I am. This blog has its slightly popular phases, but I only average about 30,000 uniques a month nowadays, and a good percentage of those visitors come from a few evergreen posts that rank nicely in Google.

That doesn’t matter though. I blog, because I’m a blogger and it’s what I do. It helps me think about things and—perhaps more importantly—it helps me to stop thinking about things. Writing for me is therapeutic. It’s also a good way for my friends and acquaintences who live elsewhere to keep up with me and how I’m doing. If you don’t have a driving need and desire to blog then don’t start blogging. Otherwise you’ll fail at it, because it’s not the golden ticket the marketers told you it was. If you’re a smart, talented, hard-working person though, it can definitely be a nice on-ramp to better things.

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  • Leah 6/7/2009, 6:39 pm

    I love the line “You are not the soft, chewy center of the universe” more than anything you have ever said before.