I was speaking to a friend earlier, and I don’t know how we got to the topic of blogging, but however way it ended up there, she somehow likened blogging to earning money or at least getting paid to do it. And it struck me that this idea of blogging as a way to earn money wasn’t the fault of ignorance or a lack of understanding, but the result of how media portrays the idea of a blogger.
This isn’t the first time people whom I’ve spoken to have reacted to the idea of blogging. I started blogging back in 2003 and 2004, and I remember having to explain to people what a blogger was back then. Back then, blogging wasn’t anything remotely close to earning money; and I’m sure that for a lot of people, they saw blogging as an avenue to release feelings and to express thoughts in an online space. You could write and write without expecting anyone to actually read what you wrote, and it was more like a space for a person to vent or just say whatever. It could also a place to write and get creative criticism, or write and have people relate to whatever it is you were talking about.
Of course over the last 10 years (or even more), the definition of blogging has not really changed but how people view it has changed tremendously. If before people would ask me “what a blogger is” or “what is it a blogger does”, the response people now give me is “do I earn from it” or “do I keep getting invited to events”. Looking at how it has evolved over the years, and having been a part of the earlier ones (this is in comparison to how many people now own their own blogs and call themselves bloggers), it makes me wonder about a lot of things. It also makes me a bit sad. As I mentioned earlier, the response was sort of “WTF-ish” at the beginning because it wasn’t a very commonly used term then; but now it feels as if calling yourself a blogger has diminished its essence. Of course, I say this with a grain of salt as the times have changed, and access to the internet and even blogging platforms have multiplied by the thousands, but somehow it feels just sad how people’s understanding of blogging has gone from not understanding it to what feels akin to looking at it in disdain; as if calling yourself a blogger means you’re trying to join the crowd.
Nowadays, anyone who has access to the internet and who can put together words into a sentence (no matter if the grammar is good or not or if it makes sense or not) can call themselves a blogger. This is not entirely a bad thing as it goes to show the progress of a nation, but of course, what it does is open up this love of writing to criticism. Even those who’ve been blogging for over 10 years, or those who were in traditional media and moved (or also opened themselves up) to digital media, or those who love to blog for the sake of writing, with how it’s being showcased, they receive a lot of criticism. It feels like a whole basket is being judged because of a few bad apples.
What makes it even more painful, at least in my experience, are the people who like to write and possibly have been blogging for a long time, but who don’t always receive credit or a large following. Most especially when their being called a blogger gets compared to those people who get a lot of sponsorship, who get paid, who have like thousands of followers. I’m not saying that those who’ve found a niche that people can relate to, those who have a ton of followers, or whose every word or photo or video gets hundreds if not thousands of reshares or likes or comments, are bad. In fact, I’m friends with plenty of those people, and I also follow a couple of ’em. But for those who just continue to write and whatever they write doesn’t really make a dent in the world, it seems wrong to judge their quality as a blogger based on statistics or their following.
In the end, going back to how the topic came up, you realize how society has blown up the idea of “blogging” due to those popular few who’ve earned a massive following, or those that receive a lot of media attention. Somehow, what was once a hobby, or well still is for some of us, is perceived by other people as something different. A lot of people see blogging as way to earn money – which is not entirely false as some people do earn money from it, or as a way to get invited to events and get free stuff, but what people don’t see is that for most other people, it’s a hobby, a passion, an avenue for expression, an outlet to forget everyday worries in, or a means to connect with people (within or outside their circle).
Somehow, something that was originally really simple, has ballooned. And at times, it feels just a tad like (the idea of) it’s blown out of proportion.