Over the past few weeks, I've been putting a lot of work into setting this blog up. It required learning new software skills to solve technical problems, brainstorming hard to solve creative problems, and collaborating with friends to figure out everything I couldn't solve myself. However, the difficulty of all that paled in comparison to asking myself some pointed questions about the purpose of my endeavors. Right now, I have this shiny new ship that's set to sail but I don't yet know which direction to steer it. So, let's try to tackle these question and see what I can come with.
What is the blog?
According to Merriam-Webster, a blog is "a website that contains online..."
I'm joking, I don't think there's any point in looking up a dictionary definition. After all I'm not trying to figure out what the word blog actually means, but rather what it means to me. There's so many different ways I could use this platform, so many different roles it could fill. A lot of my confusion when setting this site up has revolved around deciding what features to add to it to enable different ways it could function. Let's go over some of those possibilities:
A bustling town square
One fun way to use this platform would be as a lively commons filled with debate and discussion. People from all walks of life could find their way to this blog to share their thoughts and memes on the latest issues; to have viewpoints challenged and their minds changed. I already enjoy having these sorts of conversations with my real life friends; unfortunately, replicating this online will pose its own set of challenges. The denizens of the internet are not exactly known for their measured, reasoned demeanors when it comes to online debate. Regardless of whether cultivating such an environment is possible, I'm not going to realistically get more than a handful of readers so the whole idea is out of the question, at least for the next few years.
This is why I've chosen not to include a comment section. If you're reading this, you probably already know how to contact me to provide feedback and thoughts. Twitter and Reddit are both superior platforms for discussion anyways, and if I ever want to cultivate a loyal internet army I should probably start there. The blog should be more personal, more about me and less about everybody else. Perhaps it should be less of a town square and more of a...
A personal library of my greatest hits
Now this, if it worked out, could be amazing. A repository of my biggest and best contributions to the collection of mankind's knowledge. Art, essays, poetry, math; all held to the highest standard. Intellectuals from all over could flock to the blog, hoping to be the first to appreciate whatever new masterpiece I put out that week. My works could spread across the internet, leaving behind trails of insight in their wake; endlessly memed about on twitter and discussed on Reddit, soaring me to new heights of fame; ushering in a new golden age for humanity.
There's only one problem with this overly rosy fantasy, I don't really have any greatest hits. Not yet anyway. There are some writers who are able to write both insightfully and prolifically enough that they can make a living just from their blog, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet. A platform like substack that's filled with features to facilitate this, such as built in email mailing lists and paid subscriptions for those who create enough value to get paid for it.
I wanted to stay away from that because even if I am capable of writing like that, I don't think I want the pressure that would come with being paid for it. I wouldn't want to fall for the common trap where you monetize your hobbies and then start to hate them. Additionally, I feel like that limits you to a certain style of writing. One that doesn't really allow for more casual and unconventional posts. The bigger your follower count, the more demanding it is to satisfy their desires for high quality content and more stressful maintaining this will become. This is why I've chosen not to add email notifications or to advertise this anywhere. I want to be able to write about lowkey, personal things without instantly notifying a dozen people every time I click publish. This leads me to wonder, how small and intimate could I make this? What if what I'm looking for is a...
A zen garden of peace, for me and my thoughts to flourish
This idea is one of the most compelling to me. I've always wanted to keep a diary or a journal; somewhere quiet for me to introspect in peace. Somewhere that allows me to record the way I truly am, so that I can look back and reflect upon who I was. This was one of the motivations that originally pushed me to create this blog, but now that we're here I'm not sure this is the right platform for it. I want this to be something I can share with the world and direct people to without feeling embarassed about how much I overshare on here. I still think some kind of journal is important, but this does not seem to be it.
I've thought alot about how to achieve this goal. I could have private, password protected posts to only be accessible to me and my close friends. I could host a copy of this that only I use. Or, I could just do the obvious thing and pick up a pen and a notebook and start writing. I definitely intend to follow up on this goal of mine, and feel free to bug me about it, but for today let's stay on track. This blog is somewhere I can share. My thoughts, funny stories, unexpected events. Hmmm, is a blog truly the best platform for something like this? What's hip with the kids these days...
A viral tiktok vlog
As the times change, so do we change with them. Tiktok is already in the process of replacing youtube, google search, and maps, what's one more blog added to that list. The will of the algorithm must prevail!
On a serious note, I did consider some kind of vlog at some point. Video content is much easier to make, and it has the added convenience of being extremely good at documenting any of the (hopefully very many and very interesting) activities I do. Ultimately however, I decided it would be too easy. Writing forces me to think before I speak, and to condense my sprawling thoughts into something relatively digestible. The extra challenge of describing visual events in a compelling way will be good for me, and after all I can always use pictures if I need to. After exhausting all of these options, I guess we're left with:
Just a blog. My blog.
So what have we learned? I want the blog to be more focused on me than on generating discussion; that's why there's no comment section. I want writing and publishing to be low pressure; that's why there's no email list. I want it to be able to be shared with my friends and with the world. Something that's personal, but also insightful and worth reading. Also what I've come to realize is that I will be my own biggest audience for this project. This is not to mean that I won't write with others in mind, but realistically speaking nobody will read this or dedicate as much time thinking about this as I have. Maybe one day that will change, but not for a very long time.
What is it like to write, knowing that your number one reader is you? I'd imagine most authors feel similarly; few can truly predict what their readers will want so they have to write something that satisfies their own inner critic. I have no idea what my future self, the main consumer of this, will be like. Hello by the way, I know you're reading this. How's the future? I hope it's cool.
Anyways, all I know is that there are plenty of things that are important to me, that may not be important to him, and these words are my only way to bridge the great temporal gap between us. I hope that he will continue to value the same things that I hold dear, but if he doesn't I'm sure he has good reasons. I hope that by reading these he'll be able to connect to his youth and remind himself of the powerful and wonderful forces that drove him. That ambition, curiosity, and creativity that I dearly hope does not fade. When we create, a part of ourselves gets imbued in our work. That's why I feel that it's important to always be creative, even in small ways; so that little pieces of who we are do not get left behind.
I think the reason I'm doing this experiment publicly is so that I hope I can inspire someone, anyone, that resonates with what I write. I've always been an avid reader of blogs and books and articles, so I suppose this is kind of a way of giving back. Of course I'd like to keep my friends updated on what's going on, and it's fun to have a public home on the internet, but the real reason is to cast out signals into the great abyss in the hopes that others like me might pick up on them. As visakanv so eloquently put it:
That when I’m writing for the younger version of myself, and the future versions of myself, I’m writing for them. For us. All of us. I’m a me, but I’m also a we. And there is a deep kinship in that, a deep sense of belonging.
I sometimes read about people having the same experiences as I do, even down to the exact same internal monologue. People who have the exact same niche interests as I do, and who approach them with the same zany passion that I love to see. It's strange finding people online that you seem to be able to relate to, on certain aspects, more than anyone else you've ever met. This quote encapsulates what I'm trying to leave behind so that others may discover it and hopefully feel a sense of kinship.
I've learned so much and been so inspired by other writers that it only feels right to try to do so myself. This is step 1 of that process, and I just hope I'll be able to keep up the momentum. Even this post took almost a month to write if you begin counting when I first started musing on it. I hope as I get more experience I'll get faster at this; I'm sure it'd make for a nicer reading experience. On the other hand, if people forget to check this then that's just less pressure for me. Thank you for reading this far by the way. I don't know who's doing this, but I do appreciate it. I can't promise any deadlines, but it's more about the journey, isn't it.