Blogs are dead. Long live the blog.

blogiconRemember a few years back when there were so many more really solid blogs on life in Mérida? When YouTube was packed with videos exploring neighborhoods or touring a special home? As social media rose and became mainstream, we saw fewer and fewer blogs and videos. One blogger has taken her site down and writes exclusively on Facebook now, viewable only to her Facebook friends. Another has used Facebook to question the validity of blogs. “Does anyone read blogs/websites anymore? It seems that everything is on Facebook now,” he said. “Just wondering if I should save myself some time and stop with the writing already.”

Go to Google and type “Is blogging” and the sentence completes itself. “Is blogging dead” and “Is blogging worth it” autofill the line, evidence that I’m not the only one wondering about which platform to pursue. Articles like this show up, weighing the immediate stream of information from Facebook and Twitter against the more thoughtful, if not ponderous, blog form.

Habits change, and the value of blogging (or vlogging) is always in question. Blogs have been declared dead, and then “back,” ever since blogs began.

If social media really starts to discourage and overshadow the personal expression and storytelling of the blogs, I’m just going to have to go into a period of mourning. I can think of at least one blog that I’ve been following since the late 1990s. I’ve grown old with this blogger! The social-media alternative back in the 1990s was an AOL chat room, but his blog has remained and its rich archive has grown.

On Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, your contributions belong to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter and can disappear or go into hiding at their whim. On WordPress, you’re at the mercy of Google’s algorithms if you want to be noticed. But I still think WordPress blogging gives me more control and satisfaction, as well as a sense of owning something I created. I can post my own sidebars, advertisements (which hardly anyone clicks on, but at least they’re mine). I’m on Facebook and Twitter more than I care to admit, and I get a lot out of it, but it could never take the place of a well-crafted homespun blog. I write Imagine Mérida for a creative outlet, and along the way have crowdsourced our house hunt. It turns out that we’ve made lasting friendships that began in the comments section.

If blogs keep dropping off as they are, think about the consequences.

Newcomers to the city won’t have the benefit of these online diaries that expats created. Even small topics, like a new bloom in the garden, or a dispute with a neighbor over a wall or an overhanging tree, provide texture and insight that quick hits on social media can’t. Facebook gives us immediate information on a concert that’s coming up, a stray dog that needs a new home, where to find Diet Dr. Pepper, a notification about a fundraiser, but bloggers’ essay-length posts dive deeper and invite us into their homes and lives. Would I have gotten to know expats, and would they have gotten to know me nearly as well, in a Facebook group?

Some of my favorite bloggers moved on to other projects. Some have left their body of work online while others removed their old posts, which saddens me. I still remember the Mérida bloggers’ conference in 2011. I thought for sure there would be one in 2012. We were talking about expanding into Cancun, but it never got off the ground. One weary blogger indicated she was passing the torch over to the new group of scribes. And indeed, she’s gone silent, for reasons of her own. And readers, and their ever-diminishing attention spans, are being trained to click away after the first 140 characters.

In the meantime, take a moment to review the links to the right and support your local blogger! (I’m redesigning the sidebar to bring the blog roll to the top.) Enjoy what this community has created; dive in to the archives. You’ll be entertained and amazed. And why not reward the blogger with a nice comment. We thrive on conversation.

Image: iStock Vectors

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Comments

  1. I apologize in advance as I have never been on (in?) a blog and I will probably show very bad etiquette. I’m not sure who’s who, but like one of you we are planning on making Merida our home in one year God willing. We will be down there for ten days starting May 8 for some more tweaking of our plans, but any advice from one (or more) of you guys will surely help. In any case, we’re Carlos & Omar and we’ll be at Villa Verde. I don’t know if I will ever find this blog again, so if you reply you may want to do so at my email address. … Thanks!

    • I’ll email you, but I want to share this with everybody. My advice is to figure out first which neighborhood is for you. We chose walkable Santa Ana, but if you want a more classic home, you’ll find more in Santiago. You’ll get more bang for your buck south of the Plaza Grande, but it’s a lot more congested. Already, lots of expats are gravitating to newer neighborhoods north of the Centro. You’re really buying location more than anything else, so envision how you’ll be living your lives here, and match the neighborhood to your vision!

      You’ll love Villa Verde, and Michael and Robert will have lots of insight for you as well! Keep in touch!

  2. I enjoy reading blogs, I read many… It’s fun to read other people’s perspectives on life.

    Sometimes I have more time comment, but I do read :)

    Today, have been cooking a lamb stew with lots of root vegetables, boiling eggs for deviled, and cooking potaoes for “llapingachos”, getting that head start for tomorrows dinner.

    • I had to google “llapingachos,” and I’m glad I did. Sounds like a wonderful dinner in store! I’m just roasting a rack of lamb, with asparagus on the side. Coconut/lemon cake for dessert.

      Oh, and after all this talk about blogs slowing down, my friend at Casa del Maya yesterday wrote one of the best posts I’ve seen from Merida in a long time, and the kind of every-day life observation I crave: http://casadelmaya.blogspot.com/2014/04/i-did-it.html

      • That was a great post!
        It has crossed my mind to wear a mask next time I go to those meat markets. Even though the visuals are as bad as the uh, smell. Imagine pointing and choosing which leg of the lamb you want for your dinner. And do you want to include the feet? :)

        • I think I’m down for buying a chicken, but I’m not even confident buying cuts of lamb or beef at Whole Foods, much less el mercado. Happily, lamb and beef never comes with the hoof.

  3. Joanna makes a good point in that it does take considerable effort to maintain a blog. I think that some bloggers, when they see comments like “lots of low end” or “incredibly boring diaries”, and who might not have a large following, could feel further discouraged by disparaging remarks even when directed at no one in particular.

    • Myself, since starting this blog, I’ve received heckling, disparaging remarks, and they were definitely directed at me. “Maybe you’re not cut out to live in Merida,” one person said to me (in person) in reaction to a rant or two I shared online. A couple of prominent expats are very uneasy around me now. Let’s just say I’m not pals with exactly everyone in the real estate community after I described my early frustrations with the system, and when I blew apart some of the ridiculous propaganda that misled me about Merida. But I kept going because, on balance, I received friendship and support from most everyone else. And writing these posts, articulating my feelings, actually helps me process what I’ve learned. You put yourself on the line when you share your perspective, and sometimes you’ll get something other than a cheering response, and that’s OK.

      You might be surprised — some people may actually come around. There’s an early-days Imagine Merida heckler whose true identity I don’t know. But we have a mutual friend who says she’ll make introductions one day. She says we’re sure to be friends. Time will tell.

  4. Very nice blog and good job at keeping your posts current. Its not an easy job. I also live in the Yucatan in Progreso. I feel I spend most of my time in Merida. When I started working from home I felt I needed something to focus on where I could be allowed to be as creative as I wish to be. So, I started a blog
    about art, shopping and dog stuff . The blog keeps me entertained with only putting things in it that are important to me as selfish as that sounds.

  5. What a timely post Lee. I have temporarily stopped Writing From Merida because I have a self-imposed deadline to meet. I need to complete the first draft for half of my new book by June 1st.

    I suspect that blog followers do not realize how much time it takes to maintain a good blog. The only way blog writers can tell if readers are enjoying their efforts is by receiving traffic and comments that validate this. Along with most other bloggers, I believe there should be healthy interaction between blog writers and readers,

    Your post asks why there are fewer blogs? I think some blog writers have stopped writing because they become discouraged when they don’t receive the feedback that motivates them to continue. Bloggers spend the energy they do because they feel they’ve got something to contribute and want their voices to be heard — but if no one appears to be listening — what’s the point?

    I miss writing my blog. For me, blogging is a writing exercise that I enjoy a lot. Everyday I am tempted to set my book file aside, and open a new one so I can write a blog post. But spending time on the book is more urgent for me just now. I hope to be back to Writing From Merida — soon.

    And yes, another bloggers’ get-together would be great inspiration for all. Maybe in September?

    • The main thing is you’re still pursuing creative output every day. Whether it’s a blog post to be immediately read, or a manuscript to be read down the road, just keep writing! As for another bloggers’ get-together, that’s certainly an interesting idea. Maybe a meetup rather than a conference. But I think about the last one, and try to remember who was in the room. Lots of them won’t be there this time. Plus, September is hurricane season.

  6. Interesting post, Lee. I hope blogging isn’t dead because I think it’s a terrific way to learn something new from people who don’t have to sell advertising. And for me it has been a delightful way to meet kindred spirits. As for FaceBook, I don’t like the lack of control and the fact that they require you to disclose your full identity. While I’m not hiding in the shadows, I like that I can write a semi-anonymous blog. I have a well-known online identity, but it would be hard for strangers to tie it to the real me. That is hard or impossible on FB.

    There are blogs I miss, but new ones spring up to take their place. Sure, there’s a ton of blogs out there that have all of two or three posts, but the medium overall seems to be alive and well. I don’t think tweets are even cparable.

    Thanks for writing your blog; I enjoy it quite a bit.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Mérida

    • PS. Sorry for the errors in the comment. That’s what I get for trying to comment via iPhone.

    • Thank you, Kim! Blogs aren’t really dead — it’s up to people like us to keep them alive. But it’s like print media. It’s not really dead, but it’s competing with new things these days. I’m sad that some people who I know have interesting stories to share have chosen to be silent. Some say they’re busy, some are discouraged by snarky comments, or a perceived lack of engagement with readers. I’m just running out of things to say, not having been in Merida since early February. Not that we don’t read, think, and talk about Yucatan practically every day.

  7. I guess I am behind the curve. I just started my blog about 6 months ago and now you’re saying blogs are dead?! I certainly hope not! I have connected with some interesting people (including you, Lee), have had the opportunity to meet a couple bloggers face to face, and even made contact with a cousin I didn’t know, all through my blog. Maybe my blog simply isn’t that widely read, but I have yet to receive a single unkind comment.
    I admit to being a dinosaur. I refuse to join Facebook, I’ve never “twittered” (I’m not even sure what that is), I don’t a smart-phone, an i-pad or any other high-tech stuff. But I do enjoy recording my travel experiences on my blog, and enough people seem to enjoy what I write, that I hope to continue writing for as long as there is such a thing as “blogging”.

    • I’m not really saying blogs are dead (don’t pay attention to that silly headline). They’re just being usurped by social media, which caters to shortened attention spans. The artfulness and thoughtfulness of, say, your blog, couldn’t really be matched in social media, and it’s not even clear who owns your text and images once they’re on Facebook or Twitter (where the verb form is “tweet,” by the way). By all means, keep blogging and keep the form alive!

  8. Your theme today is certainly timely. I ponder the loss of these blogs every morning now. I used to pride myself on being on the cutting edge. Now, I most often find myself a dinosaur clinging to the past … I was about the last to give up newspapers and now I so want to continuing spending my coffee hour with my blogs.
    I cannot help but disagree with the thoughts that, once settled in Merida, the thrill is gone. In our experience, once settled here there is so much more to write about. Who knew there was a US queen size mattress and a Yucatecan queen size mattress, for example? Have you ever tried to return a chair badly damaged during delivery by the store? As I eschew social media, it appears I will be left behind. Big sigh.

    • Exactly! These are those daily details that would fill a blog. Maybe once we’re jaded, these events don’t seem blogworthy anymore, but they’re certainly useful to the dreamers like me. I’ve been filing postings for three years mainly with musings about the possibilities of life in Mérida. That said, two major bloggers just met in Merida this week. One of them has been been touring Mexico, and along the way has met at least two other bloggers. There’s still some life in the blogosphere. And I’ll stick to social media as long as it allows me to keep up with old friends.

  9. I love your blog as you know and read it even if I do not respond. What is difficult for us, being fellow Merida expats, are the multiple unprofessional blogs being written by the negative and the near hysteria based, bad writing and shallow opinions based on what they THINK another culture should be- which is often based on their U.S. or Canadian suburban values. I would never want a “blog censor” but the sheer amount of crap out there that seems to be a source for venting personal “raging”, prejudices, preconceptions, etc are ridiculous. You are the “high end” and unfortunately there is more and more and more of the “low end” blogs that are veiled “rants” or incredibly boring diaries. Writing is the key, intelligent observation is the key. Personal ego or stone throwing and anger are not… Please continue to do what you do for us, all of your fans!

    • I see hysteria and raging more on social media and message boards than I do on the blogs. And some of the really malevolent writers have moved on. What I object to, just a little, are the blogs that convey a magical existence in Yucatan, and patronizing depictions of native people. It lulls people into the fantasy that nothing can go wrong here. Remember the college student who was doing a really terrific photo blog of Yucatan? Midway through, the blog stopped because she let her guard down and her camera was stolen. A bummer. I suspected she had believed the hype. It’s wonderful here for many reasons, but trying to push the idea of shang-ri-la is too much. I see much less of that these days, I’m happy to say.

  10. Yours is one of three blogs I read. I am SO discerning ;-)

  11. Oh, I don’t know if they are dead or not. It seems like many on my Blog list are, but who knows? For some silly reason it was much more fun writing about Mérida when I didn’t actually live in Mérida. We are much busier than I ever imagined. I think it is great that a few of the local bloggers still feel the creative urge, but I’m not so sure mine will continue. I’m feeling a bit like Cathy in that I’m not so sure I want to parade my personal life around the city. It felt different when I was not here. We are quickly meeting a lot of people, both expat and Yucatecan. It’s a small, small, small town. A quick browse of local forums will show you that an innocent comment or question can result in an avalanche of negativity and judgement. I’m feeling that I want to maintain just a bit of anonymity now.

    • All that sniping on Facebook just shows that not all expats are as busy as you’ve become. We’ll have to meet and talk about how you’ve designed your new life! I’d love to know more about daily expat life there, so I do hope you’ll find a way to weave your story in a way that protects your privacy and everyone else’s.

  12. Nice to see one of Greenwood’s illustrations at the top of your blog. I understand why your feathers are ruffled.

    • That’s my favorite of all the ones he did for the Modern Yucatan Dictionary (available now on Amazon, kids!) — and I think it was a last-minute addition! It really captures the spirit of the grackle!

  13. I am not sure if the blog is dead or not, but blogs whose only purpose is to document an expat’s new experiences seem to have a definite lifespan. 3 years max. After that you run out of parades and bicitricletas to oooh and ah over, it’s all normal. It’s the same with forums.

    My blog went on a 6-month leave of absence due to my health issues. I am back now though the focus of my blog has changed to be more about DIY (do it yourself) than being about living in Mexico. I do post about living in Merida since that affects what I do and how I do it, but it’s not what my blog is really about.

    Anyone can start a blog, but most people soon realize that it’s a lot of work to do it well and lose interest because they have other things that they feel are a better use of their energy. I like to write and so blogging is a creative outlet for me. Even if I left Merida I would continue to blog, my blog is not location specific.

    I believe that blogging is not dead, but it may be undergoing a transformation. Facebook and twitter are better for short notes and photos, but the blog format allows you to go into depth.
    There is a lot of great information out there in blog format and I have a lot of blogs on my news feed but not all of them post frequently. Then there are blogs I read for the entertainment value alone.

    regards,
    Theresa

    • I agree with you about a blog’s lifespan. Three years seems about right. When I start decorating the home, I’ll have more to talk about. Right now, the house is occupied and I’d just as soon not cast a spotlight on a home with a family inside. Imagine Merida is certainly due for a reincarnation.

  14. Ex-yucatango says:

    Lee, thanks for your thoughtful post. I can’t speak about other bloggers who have stopped, but in my case it was not that blogging is dead. I love blogging in a professional context.

    My issue was writing publicly, in any format, on a topic that attracts nasty comments. My professional blog has 2,041 comments. I’ve had to delete one comment for being slightly belligerent. My tiny Yucatan blog attracted far fewer comments — and far more belligerent ones.

    Eventually I felt like I couldn’t say anything or post even the most trivial photo without attracting righteous crusaders for some cause or haters of Mexico and all things Mexican. As is obvious in online discussion groups, some expats aren’t the most accomplished at emotional regulation and also have strong opinions about how things “should” be. This made my blog less and less fun.

    So now I’m writing about my adventures on Facebook for a small group of people who I know at least slightly. If someone gets judgy or nasty, with one click I can prevent them from not only pestering me but also from seeing anything I say. You can’t do that with a blog. This will sound harsh, but I’ve decided that strangers don’t automatically have a right to read what I write about my expat life, even if it might help them, because in the past they’ve abused that right.

    • That’s such a pity. I felt a loss when your blog went away, like watching an artist destroy their own painting, but I understand your reaction. I used to get strange comments early on, but now I seem to be under the troll radar. Go back in my archive and you’ll find more more rancor, both from me and the comments. Things sure change quickly, don’t they.

    • Dear Ex-yucatango, No one misses your blog more than I. It helped guide me in my decision making (I’ve purchased a home in centro but haven’t moved there yet) and your photographs were always awe inspiring. Glad you’re still with the living and at least sharing with folks who deserve it.

      As for Imagine Merida…I consider it one of my touchstones and a bit of a life line to Merida along with Theresa’s DIY.

      All of you inspire folks you’ll never meet.