Blog About Blogging: The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

I like my blog. I came up with the idea of starting a blog in the fall of last year. I loved to write and had a lot of ideas for what to write about. What could be better than hosting my banal opinions and mildly disturbing personal recollections on the internet to give people a break from all of the stock trading and cat picture captioning that was going on? And so, I chose a blog name (that made little sense), picked a color scheme (which has been known to induce mild to severe nausea), and had at it. We are now nearing nine months into this little blogging project which has come to be known as Bag Stranded. The incubus is nearly ready to make its way out of the safety of the womb and through the birthing canal. But, just as a newborn calf finds it difficult to stand on its shaky legs, still slick from amniotic fluid, so my blog still is sure to struggle. It will probably also end up in a cage with its legs shackled to make some nice, tender veal.

After all, I am part of the literary and illiterate amalgamation known as “the blogsphere.” If you are looking for a definition of what blogosphere means, it really depends on the context. When muttered through the jowly rasp of political pundits, it is the aura of negativity which pervades the internet and its highfalutin opinion-istas™. If you listen to the ads that pop up when you search for pictures of Brittney Spears tactfully exiting a limousine, the blogosphere is a fantastic way to tap into the virtual money just floating around the web. It might also be a thin layer covering the earth just above the stratosphere. It’s made up of 5% methane and 95% mediocrity.

Most of the people that I know have a blog, which means that they take part in this worldwide frenzy of over-sharing information. Most of these blogs involve an arrangement of family pictures, descriptions of the cutest thing a certain child did ever, and graphic pictures of a post-op bunion removal. I have my own one of these blogs. I keep it private at the behest of my wife who insists that some internet fiend will use pictures of our children towards some evil end. I could write a book, or at least a blog, about my wife’s assorted paranoia. This one, however, has recently been proven fairly founded.

I recently read an article about a St. Louis family that happened to have their family’s Christmas card photo show up in the storefront window of a department store in Prague. Apparently, it is a mystery as to how it ended up there, but the mom posted her pictures on her blog and apparently, they were lifted, blown up, and used to sell button-up denim jackets. Now personally, I think that it would be pretty boss to have my family act as an unbeknownst sponsor for the Yugo. After all, the Smith family (the Missouri ones, not mine) had since received 180,000 hits to their blog since this cross-country discovery. That is pushing some traffic.At the rate that I am going, Bag Stranded will reach 180,000 hits sometime in early July of the year 2049 (This is true, by the way. You can see my work here.) To me that is very depressing. When I first began to have reservations about the amount of traffic on my blog, my wife asked me what my purpose was in doing the blog. Before I could respond to her, she responded for me by telling me that I should just be doing it for myself, as if writing was comparable to sitting down for a session with Dr. Phil. For me, writing has been and always will be an outlet that I use to seek personal gain, notoriety, and attention from others. Nothing more.

I started writing when I was in 7th grade after I wrote a scathing and humorous review of my life in 6th grade. I cleverly titled it “Sixth Grade” and its two-page length has been the standard by which I write these columns today. It received rave reviews, which means that both my mother and my 7th grade English teacher loved it. That teacher read it in front of the class as an example of superior writing ability. I have spent the ensuing second half of my life trying to sustain and maintain that feeling of being revered for some talent other than being able to eat things other people wouldn’t.

And so, fast forward to the present, and I find myself pursuing the same futility. Last Saturday night, I spent a few hours searching the web for different ways to boost the traffic on my blog. I joined a few different websites where bloggers met and apparently networked together to show their wares. The promise of thousands of people flocking to my corner of the internet was real and I could feel it. I could sense the admiration of thousands waiting to leave a congratulatory comment below my column about how hot dogs have influenced my life.

I realized the next morning the harsh cruelty that goes along with online networking. My blog received no new hits. I did however receive a message from someone saying that they really liked my blog and that I should check theirs out. On clicking their profile, I discovered that they had sent the same message to roughly 75 other new users within a four-minute period. Each of these 75 users wrote back to thank the greeter for his kind, copied and pasted words. And his blog sucked.

There are thousands of bloggers that use the site that I joined. There are millions of bloggers with tens of millions of blogs all around the world. Most of these blogs revolve around teaching other people to blog and make money off of blogging. It is a self-propagating entity and it frightens me more than a redheaded ventriloquist dummy with a meat cleaver. The originality and presence that I struggled for is a hopeless cause. With so many people and so much blogging, a little guy like me, just trying to be funny, gets seriously lost floating around in the blogosphere. There isn’t much oxygen up here, by the way.

I am not the only one who has experienced, as of late, the doubt that comes from pouring your heart and soul into an unfeeling machine for the scrutiny of the handful of people that stumble across it. Several friends have felt the same disparagement. Blog regret: it is an epidemic. And so, I am not sure what to do at this point. Should I keep writing, using it as a form of therapy, and wait for the year 2049, or the Rapture (whichever comes first), for Bag Stranded to make it to the level of slightly Slovakian looking families and their blogs? Or should I bag Bag Stranded and save myself from the inevitability of whoring myself out to the internet public just for my next hit of recognition? All this questioning and self-doubt has made me a bit hungry. I could go for some nice, tender veal. Perhaps sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. No one else would ever eat that.
Post Script: This column is not a call for a flood of commentary to give your support to me to not quit my blog. I have tried asking for that before with little success. Feel free to comment, of course, but don’t feel impelled. If I were a reader of Bag Stranded, I would probably be tired of me already and would not respond to my vague threats of quitting. I might even encourage me to quit. Good thing I don’t read Bag Stranded.


mh said...

Well, I am only one person, so it would be a little unrealistic to think I can give you the desired 180,000 hits any time soon. But- I very much enjoy reading your blog. As long as you keep writing, I will keep reading.

Anonymous said...

I really like your writing style and your underlying humor. It is my kind of humor...subtle, yet intelligent. I can tell through your voice that you really enjoy what you do. I have also gone through the blog agony of defeat. I thought that people would flock to hear what I had to say. The lack of hits has been depressing. Still it is a great release and an opportunity to share your thoughts with others. Had you never entered this infinite blogging sphere, I would have never met you and gained pleasure from your witty words. I, myself, handed sheet after sheet of scribbled on poems, stories, and articles to my 7th grade teacher who (just like my mother) applauded them and pushed me to do better. That is why, in fact, I became a 7th grade teacher myself for many years. Keep writing. It is worth it!

David Baker said...

If nothing else, keep writing because you'll never become a better writer if you stop. Think of it as practice. Think of it as a humor writing resume. This whole Internet thing is a sham anyway — people who put lame captions over pictures of mice having sex are the ones getting the views — but that doesn't mean you should stop writing. Maybe it will be a springboard to some other writing you want to do. And you've only been doing this for 9 months. That's not very long at all. Soldier on.

doug said...

My friend, you belong to an exclusive group of people who will find success not through fads or dying catch-phrases, but through sheer stubborn will and determination to never give up.

I, on the other hand, belong to a larger group of people, and plan on exploiting your inevitable future success by claiming to know you before you were famous, and selling t-shirts that claim as much. Maybe I should add a catch phrase--they'd sell better...

Keep going!

Joe said...

I have your blog "bookmarked" on two different computers and on my phone, if that says anything. Your writing is amazing and very entertaining. You never know what will become of your blog. Have you ever heard of She makes so much money off the advertisements on her blog that she and her husband quit their jobs and run the blog.

On the other hand blogs take a lot of time for the few or zero comments received.(I have a "secret" blog that I update and do not advertise to help hide my nerdyness.)

Do what makes YOU happy.

Brian R said...

I think the problem with blogs is that the models for reading them aren't yet refined enough or in wide enough use to be truly valuable. I use a google reader, but only a few of my very techy friends do to.

Once everyone has a blog reader, and once e-readers like the kindle are ubiquitous then I think it will be much easier to actually create a user base.

So, I guess I'm saying that 1) It's us, not you, and 2) 2049 sounds about right.


Camille said...

I feel so bad that my readership is not enough for you. Why, why must you always be searching for someone else? Is my love worth nothing? What am I? Chopped livah'

Cam--I love your blog. I would be sad to not have it anymore. It's not about the quantity of readers, it's the quality. We appreciate your talent and get a kick out of your unique, intelligent yet self-disparaging humor. If you quit writing, you'll have to answer to a small angry hoard.

Cameron said...

Thanks to everyone for your kind remarks in my moment of wavering. The most stirring of these had to have been Camille's threat. I do not want to answer to a small angry whore. Oh, wait. That's not what you said? I should stop reading out loud.