The past few months have seen a resurgence of the “indie web”; a blogging renaissance, of sorts. A variety of publishing, tech, and media folk are writing for themselves again, on their own websites, about stuff that doesn’t fit in with a “content strategy” or “brand aesthetic.” “Some six weeks ago I began to contemplate a few changes to my small nook on the web,” writes Craig Mod. “As tends to happen, minuscule changes to font sizes trickled into deeper typographic investigations, barreled into layout grid updates, resulted in a total gutting of the site, which conspired to an overall simplification and reevaluation of the purpose [my blog].” There it was kind of neat to see someone smarter than me doing something I was sorta doing, too. “For me,” adds Lockhart Steele, “the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.” Cool stuff, but while they were looking for new beginnings I’ve been seeking closure.
It was fun to momentarily revisit ideas of a blogging schedule or some sort of personal editorial mission, but that sort of plotting comes in contrast to a summer spent distancing myself from my online self. I gutted my Facebook profile, abandoned (another) Twitter account, and consolidated all my online tentacles under this digital roof. So much has changed — at least for me, blogging just can’t be the same now as it used to be. Then again, thinking back on how much of a self-obsessive headache its led to in the past, this is probably for the best.
I recognize that writing helps me understand what I’m feeling, but the less my focus is on me, the more manageable life feels. And as far as the social web is concerned, I tend to get hung up on the sticky residue of the past, with old relationships being maintained online despite no real personal connection. This instinct to “participate” is fueled by the validation of others, noticing, liking, favoriting, or commenting, further solidifying the habit of impulsive clicking to gauge personal value. None of us are entirely our online profiles, of course, but our social media profiles often reflect our character, our personalities, our senses of style, and our values… And it’s because of this that the online self is so quickly and so often misinterpreted as the actual self, seeing as though we’re so often looking to screens for confirmation of who we are as individuals. “Being present” in this sort of arena means being forever trapped in what just happened. Walking away just felt right.
So, then, why get all overly-dramatic and write online about how I’m (once again) becoming less invested in whatever this has become? Because that’s what blogging is, I guess. I’m just existing, trying on identities, and slowly feeling increasingly more comfortable with myself, while learning to accept that it will all be replaced before I know it. This past weekend I turned thirty-one and I finished writing myself something of a manifesto: a method for living, hand written in letter form to myself, that I signed and placed in my wallet for easy reference. I hope the words on those pieces of paper help me live well, not entirely unlike this post, which is just a navel-gazey document of a moment that I want to come back to when I’m thirty-two, where with any luck I’ll be a slightly better version of who I am today. As far as any “blogging renaissance” goes, during this next year I’d like this space to be a document of experiences and travels and thoughts and ideas, existing beyond a self-serious purpose or “strategy.” Simply being here is fine by me.
…Though in keeping with internet tradition, there will probably be plenty of cat photos, too.