Real Talk

The Evolution of Blogging: I Wish It Was Personal Again

August 9, 2017

When I think back to the magical world of blogging I first uncovered years ago, it seems like a completely different medium than what it is today. It felt like every post was a hidden gem – the blogosphere was untouched, unsaturated, and always hiding something new, waiting to be discovered. To be honest, I really miss when it was that way. It was deep and insightful, innocent and pure, cultivating connections and inspiring self-reflection. As time has passed, though, I personally feel like it has lost a bit of that magic.

Growing up, I loved to read. I was always buried in a book, my nose glued to the pages. I loved getting wrapped up in a story and escaping into someone else’s life. At the time, those fictional stories were much more interesting than anything I would ever come across in real life. All I did was go to school, come home, and watch TV with my sister. Escaping into another world, an exciting world, was my favorite part of the day. (Enter: my Harry Potter obsession.)

As I got older, life became more complicated. I still loved the escape of a good story, but I fell in love with stories about real life. It started with autobiographies, but I quickly realized I didn’t really relate to any of those. Then I became obsessed with watching YouTube videos – I loved  getting to know more about the lives of other girls all over the world, girls I could actually relate to. They gave advice about things that were relevant to other teenage girls. They shared what they were doing during the day – going to the mall, grabbing dinner with friends, watching movies and hanging out. The same things I was doing, but with fancy editing.

The vloggers I really adored, though, were the ones who got vulnerable, raw, and real. I waited for the videos about the topics that really meant something to me. Every once in a blue moon, one of my favorite YouTubers would sit down and talk about dealing with depression and anxiety. What it was like to have no self confidence. Getting bullied. Feeling overwhelmed and not good enough. These were the things I was also struggling with, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to about any of it. Those videos made me feel less alone, and those girls felt like they were my friends. I became even more invested in their lives, because I cared about them.

When I got to college, I discovered actual written blogs on the Internet, and I started to wean off of YouTube videos. I quickly realized how much more I liked reading blogs than watching YouTube videos, just because it was so much more convenient and efficient to read something than to watch something. I could pore through blogs for hours and get through a ton in a relatively short amount of time. The only thing that was ever in my way was my own reading speed. I read blogs like books – instead of books. I read them the way I watch TV series – always waiting for the next episode of someone’s life. And why I really loved blogs was because I could read so many different stories, other people’s real life stories, quickly and easy. It was free, and it was all at my fingertips.

I connected on a deeper level with more bloggers than I ever did with YouTubers. People shared their daily lives, but they mainly reflected on their thoughts and emotions. Deep things, that are often best articulated when written down. The things most people feel too vulnerable to share on video. I fell in love with people’s writing – their words and personalities.

I loved reading these blogs because it was like reading someone’s diary. I’ve always been fascinated by other people – it’s why I studied Psychology. Like the YouTubers I so adored, I also started to feel like these people were my friends. I was emotionally invested in their lives. I wanted to know what they did that weekend, the scary dream they had, and the details about the cute boy at the coffee shop. All of it. I didn’t care if there were pretty pictures. Oftentimes, there were no pictures at all. If there was a blurry phone picture, that was above and beyond. I was there for the words.

Every night, I would curl up in bed with a mug of tea and head to each of my favorite blogs. I was always so excited to catch up on what was new, and my heart would sink if there was nothing new for me to read. In the morning, I made another cup of tea and checked the blogs again, or I finished what I hadn’t the night before. It was my “me” time – my guilty pleasure that kept me sane. It comforted me. A little dose of my “friends” each night and each morning before I tackled the other things in my day that I wasn’t quite as thrilled about.

Looking back, I don’t even know what those blogs were technically “about.” Nowadays, it seems like we’re all supposed to label our blogs and put them in a category. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I also don’t think it’s necessary. There used to be a time when none of that was relevant. Everything I read was pretty much what we would call “lifestyle” blogs in today’s blogosphere.

The reason I am writing this post is because of a question I have been pondering a lot. Are there even any old-school “lifestyle” blogs anymore? Like the ones I used to adore so much?

Yes, there are some. But they are rare gems, sadly. Those were the ones that were most magical, in my eyes. Diary-style blogs. They didn’t have a specific theme – the theme was the person’s life. That person would talk about whatever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to. Does anyone else remember those days?

As I grew more interested in health and nutrition, I started reading more wellness blogs. These were lifestyle blogs, but with a wellness spin. These blogs weren’t really about what the person did that week or deep reflections on life events and emotions. These blogs were more about explaining their routines and giving advice or information about different topics in the wellness space. A “lifestyle” blog meant that the topics covered would include anything related to lifestyle – food, fitness, business, relationships, home decor, and so on. These were labeled lifestyle blogs because other types of blogs were becoming popular – blogs with clear definitions. FOOD blogs. FITNESS blogs. These blogs had one clear topic that people expected. Those readers, though, didn’t necessarily care about the person behind the recipes or workout routines. Sometimes they did, but often they just wanted the information. Or if they did care about the person, it was usually just in the context of that person’s relationship to food or fitness or whatever the blog’s theme was. As in, they cared that the person went on a long run last weekend, but they didn’t want to hear about her losing her job and contemplating the meaning of life.

I watched as the blogging space changed, and slowly but surely I noticed many of my favorite blogs dying. People stopped writing about the random things they did over the weekend. They stopped pouring their heart out in 3 AM posts about the guys who stomped on their hearts and their struggles with their insecurities. Readers weren’t invested in that anymore. People just wanted information for themselves. They didn’t care about the person just for the sake of caring about the person. It turned into, What information can I immediately get from this person for my own benefit? 

I watched the magic slowly fade, and I also watched as Instagram grew. The Instagram feed took all of the personality out of it, in my opinion, and I was sad. It was too curated, and people were more interested in posting what they ate for breakfast than sharing their late-night life revelations. Eventually, though, Instagram Stories came. Suddenly, I had the chance to see what people were really like. Where were they going? Who were they with? What were they up to? I don’t follow people for their breakfasts or workout routines. I’m sorry, but I don’t really care. I follow people because I love their personalities. I love them as humans. I care about the people behind the food.

Of course I love what people post on their feeds, but that’s not the core reason I care about their accounts. Obviously I get excited when someone posts a killer recipe, but I’m more interested in their food in the context of their lives. Oh, my friend went to that BOMB restaurant in Philly? THAT’S SO COOL. My other friend met up with her cousin and they got some donuts?? YAY. I love it. I love it that they are happy and enjoying life. That is what I care about. There is nothing I love more than when someone finally posts her FACE. That is the person I love. THE HUMAN. Not the food.

I love Instagram Stories for giving people the opportunity to share more of their lives, and for giving people the opportunity to learn to care about the actual people behind the account. Because yes, those are real people.

I’ve talked many times before about how important human connection is. Relationships are everything. Even though Instagram Stories has helped bring things back into balance, it still saddens me that the personal factor has become so lost in the blogging world.

One of my best friends and I were talking about “Life Lately” blog posts. She said, “Do people even care about those anymore? Would they even read it?” This is the thing – most of us assume people don’t care. Most people expect that if they post something more personal, they’ll lose views and followers. And that kills me. Because I do care. How sad is it that we live in a world where people don’t care about others and will unfollow them if they choose to share about themselves, on their own accounts?

Whenever a blogger writes about her life lately or randomly posts about how she’s feeling or what she’s doing, I get ridiculously excited. I crave those posts because I miss them. I think of these people as my friends. I want to know what’s going on in their lives. I want to know what they’re up to. Not because I want some kind of information for my own benefit, but because I just genuinely care about them as people and I’m interested in their lives. The same way I want to know what my sister is up to or how my cousin is doing. You know what I mean? No other reason other than that I just care.

Maybe I am in the minority. I keep wondering if I am. Am I the only person who misses sitting down at night, heading to my favorite blogs, and seeing what new thoughts people had today? Posts like that are why I started my own blog. I originally wanted it to basically be a diary. I wanted to just talk about my feelings. As much as my blog has evolved, I still put up posts about my feelings whenever I have something I really want to say. I will never let that part of my blog completely die. Even if no one ever wants to read it.

I wish there were more diary-style bloggers, to be honest. I miss them a lot. I loved reading them. They got me thinking about life. Real things. Not just how to bake a cookie or what workout split is best. They made me think really hard about myself, my values, my beliefs, my relationships, and everything in between. And there’s something so much more comforting about reading something from someone you feel like you know, rather than just out of a book.

If any other bloggers are reading this and are wondering if anyone would care if they posted more about themselves, I wish you WOULD post more about your life. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want to know more about you. That is why I follow you and love you and connect with you. For your personality, your heart, your soul.

The people who don’t care about you as a person are the ones who get upset if you post a personal post, or who stop following you if you start to post more about yourself. In my opinion, those people don’t really matter. The people who matter? They will support you and love you and crave your life updates about getting your car towed and running into a cute guy at the grocery store. They will care. I will care.

So I want to leave you with a question… do you miss personal blogs? Would you read a blog that was entirely a diary of a person’s life? No theme other than that person? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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