Some more on blogging
What struck me first of all was this:
Blogs are, by their nature, ephemeral. And in a fundamental way, I think that political blogs are unhealthy. They force us to consume a lot of politics and then they attract (in my case) conservatives who, nine out of ten times, add nothing to the conversation. They spout talking points that I have usually addressed many times before. It's exhausting.
I would agree with much of this where political blogs are concerned. A blogger can indeed be forced to "consume a lot of politics" if he feels he has to say something about every big political story that comes along. I think that approach is a mistake because it's trying to imitate the role of a news site like TPM or Crooks and Liars, something a blog can never do. There are many news stories I never mention because I have nothing of any special value to say about them; if I do post about a news story, it's because I have some observation about it which I haven't seen others make, or because it involves some field like the Middle East, or certain forms of technology, where I have background knowledge that others might find of interest. If I can't add anything to what regular news sites are already saying, why bother?
There's also a risk of monotony when too many posts are of the form "here's the latest dumb thing said by a right-winger" (granted, they do give us a lot of material!) or, worse, of sameness. During the struggle to pass Obamacare, there were days when it seemed like every political blog had the same video embedded and was saying pretty much the same things about it.
The problem of right-wing trolling of comment threads is one I've addressed before, and there are grounds for thinking that dragging bloggers into those exhausting arguments is actually their main purpose. It's why I use moderation, and occasionally remind certain people that a blog is not the same thing as a debating forum.
I would disagree that blogs are ephemeral, though. As I said in the earlier post, when a blog stops being updated but is not deleted, it becomes "a frozen monument which may endure as long as the internet itself does." That could be quite a while, since the internet (or some vastly more advanced elaboration of it) will probably exist as long as the human race does. That blog you abandoned last year might last longer than the pyramids.
In any case, not all blogs are political, and not many are entirely political. I've emphasized that my own blog isn't a political blog; it's a blog about anything I happen to thing is worth writing about, and politics is one of many subjects which comes up. This is the value of the "idiosyncratic" quality I mentioned. If I can get even one person thinking about something outside their normal range of reading, I feel like I've accomplished something.
And as Frank says:
A better question than "Why have they stopped?" is "Why did they take it seriously for so long?" And I think the answer to this is extremely positive. It shows self-actualization; it shows commitment; it shows passion. Bloggers really are the best of what we are.
For some people, their passion is politics. (Not me -- to me, politics is an obnoxious but necessary activity of self-defense against malignant forces which threaten our society and me personally, though in that way it's very important.) But whether it's politics or whatever else, the best blogs are the most individual. "We spin our webs as a reflection of who we are." It's a way of asserting one's individuality and one's very existence.
It can seem futile sometimes, but remember that in most cases when you make a difference, you won't be aware of it. Way back before blogs were thought of, I once received a letter from a person who told me that some of my writings had convinced him to abandon his belief in fascism. How many other people have I swayed somewhat or at least encouraged to start asking questions, that I know nothing about? It's rare that a person changes a strongly-held view as a result of a single brilliant argument. More often it's an accumulation of many influences of various kinds. If you can provide a few of those influences for some number of people, then you made a difference, and your work was not futile.