Four Hundred

by Steve

Crowd looking upwardsHuddled people braving the rainI could never motivate myself to write a diary. I’d start in January, a little late, never on the 1st. I might backdate a few entries. And then I’d stop after a week or so. Maybe because there was nothing interesting to write. Nothing interesting happens anyway, and even less happens in early January. Maybe it had yet to hardwire itself into my routine. What I wrote was dull, or self-absorbed, or embarrassing. Who would want to read it? Who would read it? Was I just going to leave my diary hanging around, or was I planning on there being some sort of posthumous release after a long and yet-to-be-decided career?

My first encounter with blogging was coming across Livejournal. This was blogging as an online journal. There were smiley faces and sad faces to articulate how the author felt and everything. It was far too personal for me. I liked the anonymity of the internet, that you could lurk, or post as HulkFan999 and nobody would know who you are. You didn’t have to be yourself, if you didn’t want to be. You didn’t have to be anybody.

Now there is that weird mix of transparency (This is me. This is my real name. This is what I think.) and personal branding (This is who I am presenting myself to be. This is the Me I want you to Like.). We write and, more frequently, curate according to not only what we like, but also according to how we want to be seen. I have trouble with this. I like that I’m a bit of a mess, that I’m interested in lots of different, unrelated things. I also like to keep a little bit of Me to myself.

So, I suspect that this is why after 400 posts this is still a tiny, unloved corner of the internet. And I like it that way. This place is primarily here for my benefit. The self-indulgent posts (like this one) are here for me. The ill-thought-out ones (like this one) are that way because I’d rather just throw something out there than spend ages polishing something that won’t be read and won’t matter. I like throwing up silly videos. I like the padding. I like the incoherence.

That is not to say that I don’t care about this place, or what I write. Far from it. But I’ve never wanted it to become a chore. Blogging, or building your online brand, or whatever other bullshit Online Gurus peddle is no fun and a quick route to the rotting of your soul. Reaching 400 posts with no real success to speak of, I felt initially was a bit of a waste of time. No doubt it is, but it has been a lot more rewarding than marketing myself, or my site towards some vague goal of monetization or a book deal or internet fame. I’ve probably improved my writing a tiny bit. I’ve come across a fair few more interesting and talented writers than myself. That’s worth something.

Having my stuff read by someone is certainly a motivating force. I’m vain enough to enjoy the instant feedback. I get a little giddy when my visitor numbers hit double figures. Yet I’m aware that this isn’t really the place to pimp everywhere, or attempt ‘blogger outreach’ or link building or whatever else. It feels a little odd that people I know in real life are aware of this place. I think I’m happier with a small readership.

I don’t know where this is heading. As usual, I haven’t really thought it through. Perhaps it is just down to the fact that I couldn’t find an image that incorporated a big “400”, which I planned to post with a brief note saying “Yay, I’ve reached a minor milestone!”. Or it is down to the fact that the blog will be five years old in a couple of months and I’ll probably post a variant of this post again. I suspect there has been a fair bit of repitition and will be a fair bit more. I’ve only got so much to say. Plus, of those 400 posts a fair few aren’t real posts, they are just YouTube links or something else that is equally lazy.

Anyway, thanks for reading. This has been more fun than a diary, and I suspect will continue to be.

Images from NASA and the US National Archives, both via Flickr.