For a long time, the accepted answer has been that “bloggers do things [and document what they do] so that you don’t have to“. In this worldview, bloggers are net-savvy individuals cursed by a craving for foolish adventure, but somehow redeemed (partially, at least) by their sense of openness.
But as a blogger, I get to see a lot of blogs: and I have to say that many (if not most) of the blogs I have seen emerging over the last 2-3 years are cut from a quite different cloth. Almost entirely gone is the sense of adventure (whether physical or cerebral): that entire urge seems to have lurched sideways into the “bucket list” fake world of Facebook. Also gone is the sense of vicarious and arbitrary participation, a kind of living-by-doing (and then documenting) ethic: this too seems to have been reduced in the Internet’s metaphorical sauté pan down to the rather mindless level of sharing pictures of restaurant lunches on Instagram.
The things that seem to have replaced both of these are instead shallower and rather less intense: barely-informed opinions, defensive snarkishness, an absence of any obvious critical thought, and jaw-juttingly defiant I-am-right-ness. You might disagree, but it seems to me that blogging has in general become a platform for the angrily unengaged: an opinionated echo chamber of prodigiously tiny dimensions, with no sign of any humility or experimentality.
In short, the blogger world circa mid-2017 seems to have lost its collective mojo: the pinnacle of the art has instead become a focus on Google Ads and paid-for reviews. Yeah, yeah, I know, you might think that I think that “it was all green fields here when I started blogging a decade ago“, but that’s honestly not the point I’m trying to make. Rather, it seems to me that in recent years society’s implicit contract with bloggers has changed: the more ambitious have moved on to propagandic vlogging (e.g. Stampy, Dan TDM, Zoella, PewDiePie, etc) or satirical tweeting (e.g. the ever-amusing Wor Cheryl), and it’s only the Adamsian B Ark left, sorry.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I too am thinking of moving on from blogging: I’m at heart a very positive, creative and generative person, and I’m not currently finding blogging as supportive a platform for the positive, creative and generative things I want to do as I would like. As some will remember, I tried to step sideways into crowdfunded television a little while back: though that didn’t prove successful on that occasion, it’s perhaps still broadly the kind of direction that would perhaps make more sense in the current context than what I’m currently doing.
Incidentally, what I intensely dislike about the television historical documentary genre is its brutal formality, its almost koan-like edited rhythm of talking heads and nicely-shot places of faded beauty. Me, I want to make the road to history visible, not just a soft-focus glamorized version of the destination: personally, I’m fascinated not at all by the sofa-like comfort of that-which-has-been-found-and-understood-and-softened-into-a-societal-lullaby, but instead by the struggle of making history.
For anyone who wants to see the kind of documentary I’d like to make, I’d strongly recommend Icarus on Netflix. This is a completely awesome piece of film, like a forensic surgeon’s keyhole endoscope peering inside the rotting carcass of Sport – dead from the neck down, though its head seems blissfully unaware.