Monday, December 15, 2014

Ghosts of Bloggers Past

When I started blogging about 11 years ago, I had no idea what was in store. It was virtually like jumping off a cliff. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, and was apprehensive as hell. There were no blogging forums, no blogger groups, nothing. Quite a few people didn’t even know that such an activity existed. Surprising because I’m told blogging, or ‘weblogging’ as it all began, had been around circa mid-90s.

Anyway, I was way into blogosphere by around 2005-2006, had made many online friends and was on a high. A few years later, as my blogging dwindled to a few posts a month to almost a few a year, the blogosphere as I knew it slowly disintegrated into fragments. Other social networking avenues opened up – we all know what those are today.

Blogging became a business; a platform to promote not just writers, but also products. It was the ultimate marketing move by Internet marketing Gurus, in what could be called a blogging coup of sorts. Blogging was no longer about expressing one self. It was no longer about jibing into one another’s thoughts, or even bouncing off philosophy or sports, or any other field off one another. It was no more personal. It had gone global, onto a new level.

When I look back, browse through some of my old posts, really old ones from even my previous blog, I saw a warmth, felt a wave of nostalgia that is very difficult to express. Part of it could also be due to the fact that most of us back in those days, belonged to the same age group, give or take a few years here and there. We had common aspirations, common ideas about the world in general, and we were all peeping into the big bad world through the same set of eyes. We could relate to one another.

When I started writing fiction on this blog (well, mostly), it was with the intention of really trying to hang on to whatever was left of my self, my identity in this online world. I didn’t want to let go so easily like so many of my contemporaries had done. I remained, stayed behind, trying to find acceptance in a growing tribe of younger bloggers who were far more sorted out than we were. Their ideas were radical, they had a certain ‘in-your-face’ kind of an attitude which, by all fair means, was necessary to establish their own identity in this rapidly growing opportunistic forum. But, somewhere down the line, I felt myself slowing down, with not much energy in me to cope up. I was, as clich├ęs go, ageing. Most of my contemporaries had found solace in the fast moving world of either a Facebook or a Twitter. They had made new friends, found new avenues to express themselves, not always through the online medium.

Offline, I was pretty much where I was – a day job, a family, all the trappings that came with a life like that, which I chose, of course. The blog was slowly starting to become a fading memory. Until things started picking up again circa 2010, when I started penning a new set of stories, and slowly the audience for those stories started increasing. It was a temporary high, of course. I knew it all along, but gave it good with whatever I had. It resulted in a book, and then some. And I had vowed all along, never to give up on blogging. My blogger friends were now a much more younger and energetic crowd than my middling years, and the thought was sometimes frightening to say the least. This time round, I didn’t even have enough tricks up my sleeve to fit back in. I knew that they were far too different than me to be able to connect. Fiction itself had taken a new avatar. Some of these writers are brilliant. They have an almost methodical approach to their blogging – almost surgical in the precision, if I may add. They time it well, they sign up for promotional programs, they are the new kids on the block who are going to shape the future of this online medium. More power to them.

I’m going all retro because recently one of our old bloggers started a closed group for bloggers of yore, called ‘Ghosts of Bloggers Past’ on Facebook, where we all stood and started calling out our old comrades. It was slow at first, but eventually we came out of our respective burrows and pretty soon, it was a fairly deafening gathering. It felt good. For a moment, we were back in the late 90s and early 2Ks.. we were our younger selves. The feeling was almost tribal, for want of a better word. The group reverberated with the calling and shout-outs of familiar names that we’d once upon a time called each other even in our sleep. Then the noise wound down, slowly but surely. It was a great high while it lasted.

I’ve said this before, and I say this now. Blogging might take on a different meaning for me now. But I’m never gonna forget that hot afternoon of 2003, when for the first time I entered my username and password and signed up for this cyberspace ride, to boldly go where not many had gone before. And even though it’s never going to be the same for me, I will linger on in the far corners of blogosphere, maybe as a star, looking down on a new blogger, as they come online and type in their first nervous words out here. And I’ll smile and say – welcome aboard. Fasten your seatbelts. And brace yourself for the journey of your life.