There are two general signs that a blog is heading toward extinction. The first is a declining frequency of posting, and the second is a proportional rise in the number of posts about the blog itself. These two don’t always go hand-in-hand; sometimes it’s just one or the other, sometimes you don’t get either warning sign. But when either of the two is spotted it’s reasonable to begin wondering how long that curious internet publication will continue to be updated.
I bring this up not to say that Frozen Toothpaste is on the way out, but because I realized that it has recently offered such an impression. My unannounced absence last week was caused by the distraction of a thoroughly awful stomach flu. I really did intend to post.
Back to the point: there’s something that you begin to notice if you spend much time on the internet. Most blogs–used here as a catchall term for all regularly updated, vaguely artistic, internet endeavors–seem to last somewhere between three and six months. Some make it longer, but five uninterrupted years is unquestionably a rarity.
For most people, the intent of a blog is somewhere between a journal and–the unlikely hope is–a valuable public mouthpiece. Given the scarcity of interested and committed readers available on the internet, the average blog ends up being a mostly private journal. And the failure rate of a new blog is about the same as it is for a private journal.
Everyone’s probably done it once or twice: you get this strong impulse–for me it usually strikes in a bookshop full of beautiful and empty pages bound together–to record your thoughts for posterity. At that moment your ideas seem so clear and forceful and fresh that you simply owe their recording to posterity.
But it never seems to last. My aforementioned and unresearched estimate of three to six months for blogs, is roughly how long journals seem to last me. I’m arrogantly assuming that I’m at or above average.
It always seems to be that journals–and blogs–begun with the urgent intensity of someone confident that the simple act of putting their thoughts on paper will clarify or improve them, you soon find that a personal conversation is hard. And whether it’s because you find yourself a poor conversationalist, a slow writer, or an incoherent blabberer the realization generally comes that the results are a little less than magical. The realization dawns that what you’re writing is not really in need of urgent preservation.
So you walk away. You give up. You’ve expelled whatever it was that caused you to create a blog or buy a journal. You’re done with the superfluous recording of everything.
It’s a rather natural process, this sudden enthusiasm and slow disillusionment. But it doesn’t make it any easier to accept all the dead blogs on the internet.