According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, as discussed in The New York Times yesterday, blogging is declining among those age groups that originally led to its popularity. Apparently, between 2006 to 2009 blogging activity among those between the ages of 12 and 17 feel by half. Even among my own age group, the 18-to-33-year olds, blogging activity has dropped by 2% in the past couple of years. Considering that almost 505,000 post were published just today and just on the WordPress blogging platform, 2% can add up to a lot of posts.
The article goes on to say that these younger bloggers have moved on to using Twitter to share things they find interesting and Facebook to share their “original” thoughts with the world. Using a blog has just become “another step” in communicating ourselves that these kids find unnecessary and unappealing.
But though I sound demeaning when discussing these 12-year-old bloggers, their ultimate reasonings for drifting to other mediums of communication are ones I can certainly relate to. The article says:
Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.
Oh, how I’ve felt this! God knows the posts I’ve written apologizing for not writing, asking what the audience expects of this blog, and bemoaning the very purpose and goal of my writing. That stupid little statistics window that pops up every time I log in can be one of the greatest encouragements for what I do or the biggest blow to my sense of purpose. It never fails that the the writings of mine that I feel are either (1) really substantive and well thought-out or (2) the most beautiful pieces of writing I’ve done are always the least read pieces I put out there.
And yet I write. I can’t stop. I’m a communicator at heart and, at least for now, this is my main outlet for communicating the millions of thoughts in my mind that must be shared, must be “connected” with another human being, must be pushed back against and refined.
And this is why this article, though initially depressing, suddenly became thrilling. First, the article stressed that blog post creation was on the decline, but not necessarily blog post consumption. And secondly, it appears that a hope I anticipated back in August is finally coming true.
Last Fall I wrote an article for Patrol magazine where I argued that my (our?) obsession with receiving auditory and visual information was not to the detriment of written information, but was perhaps only making us more “well-rounded” as a species, as it seems that word consumption is on the rise. But concerning this writing, I said:
So perhaps, in the end, the problem will eventually not be information quantity, but information quality. We’re in this weird period of flux in our society where the curve has spiked, but we’re still waiting for the standard deviation to kick in; for Social Darwinism to accomplish its work and kill the weakest, bringing the best to the top. I just hope, in the meantime, we don’t become so fragmented as a society, culture, and world that we no longer hold enough of a common identity to have some sort of communal understanding of what quality even is.
And I think this is what is happening. Social media is helping maintain our collective identity while the “weakest” bloggers out there (the 12-to-17-year-olds) are falling away. Further, according to this article and the study, blogging among older individuals has blown up. “Blogging” is becoming the place for substantive discussion on things that matter on large scales, and not just about sharing thoughts on (OMG!) Justin Bieber.
My hope and my encouragement is that I might stay the course, and perhaps someday be found worthy to be counted among some of the “fittest” in my writing and blogging. We shall see. After all, last year was an okay blogging year for me.
So what about you? How much do you read blogs by non-experts and friends? Do you find yourself reading less or more blogs?