Monday, 30 December 2013

Blogging about Blogging

A couple of months ago, a blogger that I really like announced that she was going to stop posting and somebody else wrote in the comments box, "Blogging is dead."

That made me sad.

I first started reading blogs about six years ago. I was back in my home town after my second year in France and I'm sure that reading the blogs that I found mainly through the now defunct Assistants in France site influenced my decision to move to Italy and start blogging myself a year later. At the time, most of the blogs I read were written by people like me: former assistants and study-abroad students who had settled in France or Italy and were sharing their experiences. While my reading list has expanded to include other countries and people who took the expat route from a different starting point, this is still the kind of blog I like best - the ones where writers mix the stories of their everyday lives with cultural observations and anecdotes their adopted country. What motivates me to write my own blog is the pleasure of contributing to the mix and knowing that people with the same interests might enjoy reading what I post.

It seems, however, that bloggers like us are a diminishing breed. Of the blogs on my reading list, many are no longer updated at all, while others have morphed into a different genre as the writers' situations and interests change. In Paris, in particular, many of the new blogs I read are highly professional in style and more like travel magazines than personal diaries. Don't get me wrong - I love those blogs too, but I don't have the time, the contacts or the experiences to produce something like that and I wonder my little blog, with the others like it, will gradually fade away as other styles take over. There's less incentive to share your life online when nobody else is doing the same.

Another thing that sometimes inhibits me from posting everything I could is privacy. I don't think anyone could track me down via my blog, but someone who stumbled across it could quite easily recognise me, and I'm shy about what they might think. While on the surface it might seem illogical, I'd rather complete strangers knew the details of my personal life than people I might actually meet in another context ... especially as I might never know they'd been reading. (This is different from meeting up with other bloggers, as that's generally a fair exchange of information!) I suspect my blog might attract more readers and commenters if I was more open about who I am and what I do, but I'm not quite prepared to make the sacrifice of putting everything out in public.

Finally, like many foreigners who've been abroad for a long time, the more I integrate into life in France, the less I notice little everyday details which might be interesting to people who don't know the country, or who do and are in the process of integrating themselves. My experiences are more personal, and that brings up the issue of privacy once again.

I don't want to stop blogging. In fact, if anything, I would like to write more, so if you're a regular reader or you've been browsing the archives, it would really help me out if you could post a little in the comments box to say what brings you here and what kind of posts interest you the most. And for those of you who are bloggers yourself, how would you answer the big existential question: is blogging dying, or just changing? I'd love to know what you think!


  1. I think I have the same approach to blogging as you: I like reading about fellow expats and like adding to the mix. I'm in the same situation too where I don't notice as many things as when I first arrived in France, so the blog-worthy "real French" experiences are perhaps less frequent, but then again the more you integrate into the culture the more you can discover new aspects of it. As for the future of blogging, it's true that it's become much more a platform for personal advertising/advancement than just "here's my life" as it was back with Livejournal got started. One of my friend's blogged anonymously, but still shut down her blog when applying to work in law firms because she was worried they would come across it and identify her. As the medium has aged, it's become more professional, and less the realm of amateur internet users. It would be a shame for all blogs to become like glossy magazines, with "content" instead of posts. I don't think it's a bad idea to carve out a niche of the internet for your kind of blogging.

  2. I have noticed that some of the blogs I read have, over time, become more 'professional' and I suspect they now have an eye on making an income from their blogs. People do like 'evesdropping' into other peoples' lives, so I do think there is still a place for the more personal kind of blogs like yours. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts!

  3. What brings me here? Well, you are genuine and I enjoy reading your take on cultural differences and the way you see my mère patrie!

    I started blogging in 2005 and I don't think I will stop anytime soon. I love writing, readers seem to enjoy the blog... nope, blogging isn't dead--why would it be? I have control over my privacy (unlike with Facebook for instance) and articles are just snippets of life.

  4. The blogs with personal stories are my favorite ones. I also think it is possible to be personal with your thoughts, writing, and observations without revealing all your personal details.

  5. your blog(s)...always looking for interesting stories about living as an expat ...keep it up.

  6. I just recently starting reading your blog. At least once a year for the last 4-5 years we get a rash of these blogging is dead kind of thing. BAH I say. Individual blogs might die but blogging is far from dead. Obviously it is no where it was at its height in the mid 2000s but who cares. There are still interesting people telling interesting story. Keep blogging and people will keep reading.. except don't read my blog it is horrid :)

    1. Welcome to Paris At My Feet, Tim. And of course I'm going to check out your blog - that's the effect that telling people not to do things always has!

    2. I stopped blogging a while ago as I stopped feeling inspired, but I still read plenty of blogs, including yours.

    3. Gemma, are you who I think you are? (Does the name clinto mean anything to you?)

  7. I haven't really kept up with blogs since I moved to Australia partly because my PhD and teaching take up a lot of time, but also because I didn't want to know about Europe or France anymore. I was extremely depressed living in France and so incredibly happy to be in Australia. I never had the same experiences as other expats who had satisfying and normal relationships or who actually earned more than poverty level and could afford to do the things I couldn't. It is still very hard for me to think about my time in France and how I ever managed to stay that long in such a bad environment.

    Yet I still teach French and love doing it. I still love to think about travelling in France even though the thought of living there again makes me miserable. I miss living so close to other countries and languages. Australia hasn't been the greatest lately (when will Abbott be gone??) but it's still better than the US.

    I'm friends with quite a few bloggers and ex-English assistants on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. I guess it's just easier and faster to use those two sites rather than checking Feedly, especially since I have to use them for my own website (whose ads help keep me just above poverty level for once in my life.)

    I don't blog much anymore since I don't have time and I haven't felt the need to post anything personal rather than something related to languages or travel. I suppose I don't want my students reading personal stuff, or even my family, since most of them don't really know about my depression and low self-esteem issues. They all think I'm incredibly happy and that everything about my life is awesome and I'd rather they continue to think that even when I know I am not ok.