This morning, I did something that should have been done a long time ago – I culled the list of blogs I follow as well as the ones I link to here. It was painful.
As an active blogger since 2006, no one knows better than I do the challenge of keeping a blog alive week after week, month after month, and year after year. Writing, even when you don’t want to is work. Keeping content fresh and topical is a killer. I tend to think most people who start blogging just have a few things they want to get off their collective chests, or think that writing is something they want to do, or just get busy doing other things. I get that.
I’ve written before about bloggers that just disappear. As a reader, you learn not to take it personally when one of your favorites just stops posting. Still it’s a decidedly unfulfilling way for things to end. That being said, you can’t hang out forever expecting that someone is going to realize they haven’t posted in months or years and suddenly get back to the grind.
While I had some time this morning, I ruthlessly slashed the blogs I had bookmarked, followed, and linked to over the last decade. I can’t tell you how many there were to begin with, but right now there are less than 10 still on the list. To put that in perspective, well under 10% of the blogs I started following over the years are still active. That’s more than a little disappointing, especially because even a few of those are on the cusp, having not posted in the last month or two.
So there you go. Life happens. Bloggers move on. Not me of course, because I refuse to be one of those who just fades away quietly. I like to think my last post will catch me in full rant and provide the internet with the full list of reasons I’m giving it up for good. I’m fairly sure that when the time comes to fold my tent here at jeffreytharp.com, it will be for a far better reason than I just ran out of stuff to say.
The butterfly effect is usually synopsized as something like “When a butterfly flaps its wings in Shanghai, a hurricane washes up in Miami.” I’m not a fancy big city mathematician, but it seems plausible that if you make one little change in a complex system, downstream events can be radically altered by that original small shift. It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to accept that it at least seems like a reasonable argument.
The fun thing is that sometimes the butterfly effect also works in reverse. Take for instance the meeting you have scheduled for Wednesday afternoon that suddenly gets cancelled. The butterfly flaps its wings and presto the entire day on Monday suddenly becomes gloriously meeting-free. If she just beats those gossamer wings a few more times, this week could be looking up.
Sure, I’m bending logic nearly to the breaking point to make that case, but it feels good. And since I’m a blogger and not a professional chaos theorizer, I’m going to go with it.
While I was home for Christmas, I managed to take care of a few odds and ends that needed doing. One of the little jobs I finished up involved needing to get a couple of documents notarized. I only mention what I was doing because it’s what triggered my best “aww shucks” moment as a blogger… and that would be getting recognized as “that guy with the blog” by someone I had never met.
Yep. Guilty as charged. For better or worse, I’m the guy with the blog. Of course in addition to being the guy with the blog I’m also a shameless whore, so I tried selling the nice notary public a copy of What Annoys Jeff this Week: 2013 in Review.
I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty awesome to be noticed. Now if I can just interest TMZ in some pictures, I think this whole writing thing is set to take off.
Sometime while I was at work today, jeffreytharp.com rolled over the 25,000 view mark. That’s pretty impressive for some random guy posting whatever pops into his head on a website that doesn’t do any actual advertising. The internet never ceases to amaze me with the reach of its long arms. In that 25,000 visits, every continent is represented (except Antarctica). Not a bad voice at all for a kid from down the Crick.
I started blogging in June 2006, wandered around through a host of platforms from MySpace to Blogger and finally here to WordPress. It started as an occasional post, morphed into posts showing up a few times a week, and now a new post shows up, generally, every day. I’ve learned more about writing from keeping this blog and its predecessors than I ever learned in school. I’ve learned more about myself that I thought I wanted to know too. I’ve learned that sometimes I pull my punches and that despite a life largely lived online, there are still elements that I’m never going to feel comfortable making available for public consumption. I use to feel guilty about keeping some part of myself separate from the blog, but I’m past that now.
After seven years of writing, I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t run out of things to say. I’m even more surprised that there are people out there who are legitimately interested in what’s going to show up on these pages next. For a guy not exactly known for his humility, I’ve found that to be incredibly humbling.
For good or bad, every word written on these pages is mine. They each reflect the moment in time that they were written. For those 629 people currently following jeffreytharp.com and for those yet to find this little endeavor, I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even though I’ve said I don’t write for an audience, I have to admit that it’s far more entertaining with everyone along with me for the ride. Let’s see how things look from the 50,000 view level.
One of the most frustrating things about running a blog is that some of the posts I think will go like gangbusters end up falling flat while others that were more offhand seem to spark the most interest. Even when posting about a normally popular topic, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for why some posts get a large number of views and others languish more or less unseen. Such is the life of a blogger – always chasing after the next “hit.” Come to think of it, that description makes it sound a little like blogging is the nerd equivalent of being a smack addict. Maybe the two aren’t as different as they seem except for the part where a blog only tends to ruin your life by sucking up all your free time and possibly getting you sued for slander or libel.
If I ever find the secret formula that’s probably just the perfect combination of topics and timing, I’ll be sure to let you know. Actually, I won’t. It will become my most closely guarded secret as I let the number of visits reach into the stratosphere. It’s more likely that I’ll continue bumping along at 20-120 views a day indefinitely, because really I’m more interested in writing about whatever catches my interest on any given day than I am writing random crap just for the sake of driving web traffic.
OK, so I’m not going to lie to you guys. I got a good laugh out of at least two of this morning’s archive posts. There’s something about hippies that always makes me want to bash heads together and grad school, well, that experience so very often has the same effect. Still, they make for good blogging so I should probably be thankful.
For those following along at home, over the last few Sunday mornings we have made the transition from my original MySpace blog to the far more “grown up” blog hosted for a while over at Blogger. That doesn’t really change much in terms of style or content, but it does help set the tone and atmosphere of where these old posts come from.
At any rate, go ahead and enjoy this morning’s update from the end of March 2007. Next week we’ll start into April and feature blogs from my last trip to Italy. I know you’re not going to want to miss that… because frankly there isn’t much that makes for better copy than an American in in a foreign country.
Let me say that it’s a big week for me personally and that as a result I’m about to geek out on you guys a little bit. Today marks the 3rd birthday of jeffreytharp.com and running this blog as an independent website. After spending my formative years blogging on MySpace a short stint on Blogger, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having a permanent place to hang my virtual hat. Having the name right there as the web address means you’d damn well better be willing to be accountable for whatever comes flying out of your mouth. Even though it’s occasionally caused some friction, it’s made be a better blogger and a better writer in general. It’s absolutely worth it.
In addition to marking a birthday, this week also saw my 1000th post go live. Since there is still more good stuff coming from the archives every Sunday, I look for that total to keep going by leaps and bounds. All my old blog posts from MySpace are now available here and I’m working my way through the Blogger years every Sunday. I’m really looking forward to finally having all my posts under one electronic roof sometime in the next four or five months.
Finally, thanks to everyone for keeping up with me from June 29, 2006 to today. I know the “about” section claims that I don’t write for an audience, but we all know differently. No one throws this much life and opinion into the ether if they don’t secretly enjoy being the center of attention from time to time. I supposed that’s not really much of a secret anyway.
19,526 visits, 1,003 posts, 314 comments, and 59 countries over the last 1,095 days. For one sane voice in the wilderness, that’s a pretty respectable record.
Over the last few days I posted a few test runs over on Blogger to see how I’d like it. I have to say I’ve been impressed by the way it handles. Very basic profile, very simple editing, just the thing I was looking for. To be honest, now that I find myself spending a little more time on Facebook (I can check it at work and Blackberry supports a pretty sweet Facebook app) Blogger just seems to do a little better job at filling the writing niche I’m looking for.
This isn’t “smell ya later forever” or anything, I hope you’ll check in at my new place from time to time. Don’t worry, when there’s a world class rant, I’ll let everyone know. No membership required or anything, so just point your browser of choice at: http://jdtharp.blogspot.com/ and you’ll have it. And no, before anyone asks, I’m not leaving MySpace or any damned thing like that. I’ll still be checking in and maybe even posting something over here from time to time. So, yeah, I’ll be around.
After some serious consideration I have decided that it was time to enlarge my horizons a bit and jump into a more serious mode of blogging. That’s not to say that my previous blog wasn’t serious, but rather as an adjunct of MySpace, blogging wasn’t what the system was built to do. I’m happily ensconced here at Blogger now, and hope that we will all find it a productive change of venue. I’ll get to strengthen my chops among the serious bloggers here and hopefully those who stumble onto my new home for ranting and raving will find a better product. Sometimes you just need to change your perspective and I’m hopeful that this will be a good one.
I just realized that the 1-year anniversary of this blog passed by unrecorded on March 19th. Frankly I’m amazed that I’ve had the attention span to keep up with it. That’s a tribute to you readers who keep egging me on. Thanks a million!
Note: This Post originally noted the one year anniversary of Get Off My Lawn when it was hosted on Blogger.