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Let’s Talk Like We Used To

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A few weeks ago someone commented on my new post, saying they had just stumbled across my blog, and that it was “very old school.”

I took that as a compliment, and got to reminiscing about what old school blogging really felt like, compared to today. Something’s definitely gone missing—some quality that made it vivid and exciting, and I want it back.

When I started in 2009, and for years afterward, I just wrote stuff, having absolutely no idea if anyone would relate. I wrote as well as I could, but there was a wonderful off-the-cuff feel to the process. If it was interesting to me, it might be to someone else. So I would write something about it. The incomparable joy of campfires. The rich history of a particular dent in my car.

I just let the ideas fly. People did relate, usually, although—importantly, I think—sometimes they didn’t. That was okay, and expected. I was just saying things.

Amidst all this vigorous saying of things, strangers appeared in the comments. You! You appeared, and you said things too, which made it a conversation. We talked about parking lots. Music. Meditation. Friendships. Kettlebells. The obscure details of being human.

The whole arrangement seemed so straightforward. We bloggers simply shared what we thought was interesting or helpful, and whoever agreed would congregate around, and we’d have a good talk about it, or maybe just think about it at work that day. The blog was just a microphone, and the internet only an aid to sharing our thoughts, like we had always done, in cars, in pubs, in school.

Somewhere along the line, at least for me, something got in the way of that straightforward sharing. If you’re a regular reader you’ve probably noticed I don’t post as often anymore.

Trepidation eventually sunk in around my writing and posting, especially when I started having mega-hits with hundreds of thousands of views. I felt pressure to follow up a hit with something just as good, so newcomers wouldn’t leave right away. It started feeling increasingly risky, even dangerous, to simply post my thoughts as I once had.

Writing time per post ballooned. For a few years I did little but try to write something profound every week. It had to be a life-changing bombshell or nothing. I stopped writing about niche topics that not everyone was into, even if they really mattered to me. I tried to please everyone, rather than just share what was in my heart that day.

Much of this complexity arose from my own neuroses and unchecked habits. But the internet itself has also changed. As one astute tweet put it, “1999: there are thousands of websites, all hyperlinked together. 2019: there are four websites, each filled with screenshots of the other three.”

I got caught up in the unimaginative tenets of the Age of Content. It’s got to land. It’s got to pull in eyeballs. It’s got to be shareable. Nothing too long, nothing too short. Nothing avant-garde. Facebook’s share count will tell you how well you did.

My process filled with doubt and overthinking, and that really suffocated any sense that I was free to share whatever moved me. Yet the site is still the same thing it ever was, mechanically at least. It’s still just a web log where I can broadcast my thoughts.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love you, and I love how we used to just talk. I’m going to approach blogging in the free-form way I used to. That means I’m going to be saying things more often, with fewer words, and with much less hand-wringing over those words.

I’m going to try new things, and some old ones. There may be some awkwardness. Like in a real conversation.

You’ve always upheld your end of it though. I can’t believe that I can post something, on an old school WordPress blog, in 2019, and dozens of people will comment on it. Thank you for keeping it old school.

By the way, I love it when you comment. Even if you seldom or never do, I’d love it if you’d click through and just say hi to everyone today.

Long live the blog. Long live straightforwardly sharing what’s in our hearts.

***

Cafe photo by Juri Gianfrancesco (cropped from original)

Natasa August 3, 2019 at 4:42 am

Thanks David.
Just keep on writing whatever and whenever you feel like!
I’m enjoying it every time since 2013 ;)

❤️

Dan August 3, 2019 at 9:50 am

Hi David,
Longtime reader, first-time commenter. I’ve enjoyed your writing for years and have always found it insightful and illuminating; I’m sorry that the metrics became overwhelming, but I’m happy to hear you’ve decided to ignore them. Bring on the awkwardness!

Maya August 4, 2019 at 9:16 am

I’m glad you’re still blogging. So many of my old favorites have abandoned the medium.

Gayle August 5, 2019 at 11:52 am

David
I look forward to ever email I get from you. We need you, just as you are

c August 7, 2019 at 8:47 am

That tweet is too accurate. I’ve enjoyed your writing for a really long time and look forward to what’s to come :)

Emily Halgrimson August 7, 2019 at 10:07 am

Hi David!
Your blog is great, so authentic. Keep going, and keep doing you. :)
Emily

Brian August 7, 2019 at 1:38 pm

I have actually been thinking about this here recently as well. I am rather new to reading blogs but I like to start at the beginning and work my way through the entire catalog of content chronologically. I can feel the difference as time goes on.

I feel like one main reason for it is the desire to monetize a blog. When the focus shifts from making a few bucks while talking about what is on your mind to a community of like-minded individuals to cultivating a group of like minded-individuals in order to create a money stream while talking about things on your mind, the entire tone of the writing shifts with it. No longer can you write what come naturally, instead you are writing to capture eyeballs for the adsense revenue or referral links. Everything has to be very polished in order to stand out as a thought leader in the space.

I wish you my sincerest best wishes in reverting back to the old ways after what I am sure have become habits have been ingrained.

Cheers,

P.S. this theory has nothing to do with your site except in relation to this post. I have yet to delve into the depths of Raptitude in fear of the sheer amount of brain space that this level of personal development would necessitate. It is on top of my short list though!

Nicole August 7, 2019 at 2:03 pm

I am a newcomer, I only found you a few months ago, but I am hooked and would love more, if awkward, conversations.
Thank you for sharing.

Laura August 8, 2019 at 10:43 am

I got a lot of email from blogs. Yours are the only ones that make me excited to see what you have to say today.
Thank you :)

Anthony Chevalier August 8, 2019 at 11:04 am

I usually don’t read your blog right away. I save them and wait for a few days or weeks until I feel I need something insightful to digest. Keep ’em coming!

Matt August 8, 2019 at 7:39 pm

dude. thanks for asking how much of my life i was selling off. (cuz the answer at the time was “all of it, with no end in sight.”) and then thanks for backing that up with plenty of other eye-opening thoughts about doing the dishes and being kind to my future self.
i usually don’t write comments for the same self-critical reasons that limited your output… but i’ll accept being one of the many voices with not too much to add if it helps support the ideal of open discourse & mutual support.
thanks for letting us hang out on your porch.

Jasper Wentzel August 10, 2019 at 8:47 am

Well then David, you convinced me to do it. Reading your articles for a few years, and I’m loving them as ever. This is my first comment, and perhaps more will follow. I can see how the dialogue matters a lot to you as the author, and can bring engagement to the readers as well!

Ann August 10, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Hello David!

I’m another long-time reader, first-time poster. When I saw the title in my feed reader a few weeks ago I got excited, because I had a feeling I would like what you had to say… and boy, do I feel like you hit the nail on the head. I’m looking forward to reading more of what’s in your heart and mind. Thank you!

Ellet August 11, 2019 at 5:09 am

I’m on a quest to find old-school bloggers because that realm of the internet is what I miss. Social media and fast clips and kind-of making a point in 140 characters isn’t for me. I want the random silly storytelling. Found this post by googling old-school blogging, so I’m gonna stick around and check things out. Added to Feedly!

Heather Folsom August 13, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Hi! New reader here. I think it’s kind of great that I found you through this particular post! So, hi.

David Cain August 13, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Welcome Heather!

Deborah Rolston August 16, 2019 at 7:40 am

I’ve gained so much wisdom through your writing, David. I still prefer blogs to Facebook or Instagram – scrolling just does me in. The only thing that blogs don’t give me is the sense that I can communicate back, not only with you, but with the other commenters. I guess the tool to facilitate that in long form hasn’t been invented yet. Robert Wringham wrote an article about how we should go back to internet 1.0 – I don’t think I’ve found 2.0 satisfying, so maybe he has a point.

Vlad August 16, 2019 at 10:52 am

Hi David, I’m following your blog in my old-time rss reader since 2013. I rarely read comments and that is probably my first one here.

Please post your thoughts even when you’re feeling they are not so important or profound. I’ve also started to expect those deep posts from you, and delay reading the blog till I have more time to read slowly and think about it. But it should not be that way, let’s hear more often!

Mindy Johnson August 17, 2019 at 9:22 am

Your writings are what WE/SOCIETY need. Thank you so much David

David Cain August 17, 2019 at 9:42 am

I just want to say I appreciate each and every comment that is still coming in on this post :)

Suzanne August 18, 2019 at 11:37 pm

However you feel like showing up David, I will be here reading it. Just like I’ve been doing since at least July 2009—according to notes on my blog about following your blog.

http://www.tcoyou.com/2009/07/sharing-my-blog-reader-with-my-blog.html

You were still there (and moving up in priority toward the “Every Day” folder) during the blog clean-out of Nov. 2009—which is a post of mine that made Lisis of Quest for Balance cry!

http://www.tcoyou.com/2009/11/sharing-my-blog-reader-update-1.html

Duncan August 19, 2019 at 6:58 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever shared a post (from here or otherwhere) on Facebook, so definitely don’t let that be a defining metric for yourself! Don’t rely on the ends to justify the means; they’re valid already.

Enjoy what you write, when you write, as you write.

Kathleen Dauz August 23, 2019 at 4:18 pm

I found your words so powerful in high school. I still do now. I figured it would be time to comment and herald the fact that you still post quality content. Get back to your roots and enjoy. We’re all right behind you.

Emilie August 24, 2019 at 2:13 am

Hi from France,
Thanks David for this post ! I seldom post comments for fear it will not be interesting. I will do now.
Have a nice day.

Shea August 29, 2019 at 4:33 pm

Thanks mate.
Can you recommend any one else writing in this genuine style?
Cheers.

Jason September 2, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Long time reader and first time commenter as well. Your blog is amazing, and I come back to it for perspective and thought provocation from time to time. Don’t know you and you don’t know me and we’ll most likely never meet but I fell it’s worth saying that what you are saying has worth.
Long time reader from Texas

Donna September 8, 2019 at 6:16 pm

I love your thought-provoking words. I’d even read a post about Kettlebells (which I have no interest in) just because I like the way you write… AND because annoying ads don’t pop up on your website and distract me.

Donna from Virginia

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