Saturday, September 18, 2004

Another day, another 'Dear John' post

There's nothing more sad, really, than a blogger's ultimate post. Despite the multiplicity of voices that this form of expression enables and supports, when a once-enthusiastic self publisher of the Information Age hangs up his or her hat the format is remarkably similar, resembling a cross between an obituary and a breakup note:

Part One- The Restatement of Blogosphere Cred: "When I started blogging, you noobs didn't even know what a 'blog' was."

Part Two- The Inevitable Mission Creep: "I started this blog as a place for my id to run free, but now all I get are angry emails/comment spammers/a feeling of dread whenever I let this place go for 24 hours without posting."

There's a variant to Part Two (The "Andrew Sullivan Wannabe Clause"), in which bloggers who really thought they'd be able to support themselves through online donations are given a rude awakening after several months of paying ludicruous bandwidth overage fees and with no one purchasing them even one item on their Amazon Wish List.

There's another variant to Part Two (The "Neil Pollack Invasion Clause"), in which a writer in between paying projects becomes enchanted with the blog format, only to leave it gasping for life when it becomes evident that he or she is giving away free intellectual product.

Part Three- The Recounting of Good Times: "I'll never forget when I totally Fisked that piece by Bob Novak; or remember when everyone put 'Fair and Balanced' on their mastheads? That was cool."

Part Four- The Exhortation to Keep Fighting the Good Fight: "Even though I'm giving up on blogging doesn't mean you should, too. I mean, who am I going to read if everyone bails?"

Part Five- The We Can Still Be Friends Bullshit Closing: "While I may post here from time to time in the future, don't count on it. I will, however, keep the link to my Amazon Wish List up-to-date, just in case."

Actually there is something more sad than a blogger's ultimate post - a blogger's penultimate post, warning of the inevitable ultimate post, such as the one Tom Tomorrow's blog has been sporting for a couple of days. I mean, it's bad enough that you'll be leaving us soon enough, but can you at least wait until you're actually leaving to break the news? Or is the advance warning a kind of cry for affirmation: convince me that what I'm doing here isn't a waste of my time and energy and I'll keep the bloggy goodness coming - for a few more months, at least.

I dunno. It's not that I blame people for abandoning the medium. But is tossing a new post out every day or so really all the hassle that some bloggers make it out to be? Neil Gaiman seems to find the time for his blog, despite the fact that he is nothing less than a God On Earth (tm) these days, so even the successful contracted writers shouldn't get an easy pass on this. Starting a blog is like buying a houseplant - all it really needs is regular watering and a fresh plant food stick every fortnight and it's going to thrive, or at the very least not die. And yet how many of us manage to kill even the hardiest of the vegetable kingdom through ignorance or neglect... or resentfulness, as even the barely-palpable tugs of responsibility that a ficus tree or a blog entail come to chafe over time until they become intolerable and force a drastic decision to be made that in the end benefits neither the blog/plant or its owner.

All right, maybe I do blame people for abandoning the medium! Just water your danged blogs, people - is that too much to ask?

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