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 clichés 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.



Shreya said...

The thought of your in the a star....welcoming new bloggers...that just made me smile :)

Blogging has been special to all of us and helped us in it's own weird way. Loved this post!

Uma C said...

Not sure where I figure, in the old-is-gold era or ring-in-the-new, because I joined the blogging bandwagon in 2011, yet could relate to this post in so many ways than one. I miss the earlier warmth that seems lacking now that blogging has become more clinical, miss the old comrades who no longer blog and have the unsettling feeling of trudging along with new set of bloggers, all of this seems so familiar. Like Deja-vu. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

You have written for pretty long now. 11 years is like a lifetime for me! I couldn't blog continuously for even 3 months. though I would love to. When you have a full time job, everything else has to wait.

Keirthana said...

Wow, a great ode to blogging. Actually when I started blogging, I came here looking exactly for what you had when you started - something of the sort of expression of self and making friends by way of shared thoughts.

But one look at the guest posts, giveaways and promotions told me that I should have been born a generation back. Still I wanted a small part of it. Vowing to write for myself and for things that I connected to, vouching not to promote anything without feeling any connection whatsoever, I stepped into the cyberspace and I feel I have done quite good. I don't care much for audience. Few regulars are fine by me as long as my writing is based on my self rather than marketing a thing which I don't know two hoots about.

This was a great post :) Glad to have you as the guiding star in blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Hell of a journey. Can't imagine running for that long :) It is strange how blogging brings people together without knowing who they are in real life. Isn't it weird? But still when it happens, it feels normal.

A said...

I'm happy that I found your blog :) Better late than never!

Revacious said...

Haha phatichar, quite curious now. I'm trying to imagine how blogs & bloggers looked in "your time".. Everything ages so fast online, no?

Revacious said...

And I noticed I was humming Beatles' In My Life while typing out my comment ^_^

Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

It is nice to know bloggers like you. All bloggers share an invisible thread of common interest and respect.

phatichar said...

Shreya: :) Thank you. Yes, and it has been so seamless. Even now I feel like I started blogging only recently. You never stop learning, you never stop being awe-inspired by the fraternity. And of course, so many new friends to make each time. It's endless.

Uma:True, it's definitely not used to be what it was earlier. But it all boils down to the bloggers' priorities. If they want to use the platform for visibility, why not? The online world is like this huge canvass; one may use it for any purpose. Even back in those days, there were bloggers who blogged about technology, medicine and other faculties; had their own groups. But personal blogs were more or less about connecting, about reaching out, about generally expressing one's thoughts and relating to another's. That has changed over the years.

Anupama: Different strokes :)

Keirthana: Thank you. :)

GBTP: Yes, it does. :)

A: Thank you. Touched. :)

Revacious: Yes, blogosphere is the interstellar of online world. :P And Beatles, yeah that was apt. They kind of have a song for every mood. :)

Anita: :) Totally agree. Thank you

Priyanka Dharamsi said...

I cannot tell you what exactly I feel right now..
Feels SO good to read and learn all this. Thank you for the words here. Specially, the last ones. I'm on a different high. :)

Bikram said...

Paaji 11 years WOWOWOW.. tusin great ho... that is a long long time indeed.. and to write such lovely stories is awesome sir.

and I am so glad i do get to come here now and then and read all .. I learn all a lot

Wishing you and everyone around you a very very happy new yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Kanthu said...

"To boldly go where not many had gone before." You had me here. And c'mon, don't talk like you're a senior citizen. You are one of the coolest and hip person I know. And much thanks to your blog for that. Here's to more of your writing. May you always shine upon us. :P
Cheers. :-)

phatichar said...

Priyanka: :)

Bikram: Wish you a very happy new year as well, yaara.. take care.

Kanthu: :)

Anonymous said...

Good to see you've kept up all these years. Keep going, it's writers like you who will last in the long run. This was a really nice post!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if my previous comment made it through or not, so writing again: Nice to see you've stuck through it all, for so many years. Keep going, writers like you will always be valued!

phatichar said...

Sumi: Thank you for the kind words & encouragement.

PS: Your comment came through, as you can see ;)

phatichar said...

Sumi, this proves that I've been away for a long time. I published your second comment as well. :)

Rahul Arora said...

Hi phatichar. Nice work. I have just started yesterday. Although not too young . I am nearing 30. But yours is a foresight for me. I would luv to get an honest review from a veteran...Pl. whenever you are free.., thanks..

phatichar said...

Hey, Rahul. Welcome! I'll certainly visit your blog and take a look. Come on, age is all in the 'please don't mind', eh? Stay cool. :)