I’m starting to feel a bit guilty for not blogging anything of length for what seems to be eons now, despite getting more traffic than ever.  (Yay!)  I’d like to change that, but I’m still resisting the urge to rant on some of the incredibly disturbing news and topics chronicling humanity’s decline in the past year, because once I start going down that rabbit hole, it’s really hard to stay positive after that.

I’m amazed at how some bloggers can perpetually churn out posts on the same depressing subjects nearly every day of the week, always existing it seems in a perpetual state of rage.  There’s no lack of things to be angry about, especially with the world being the way it is, but while it makes for great fodder to keep a blog going, I’m not sure it’s worth what it must do to one’s health.

Right now my life is still in a state of limbo, so there hasn’t been much to say until the wheels start turning again, but thankfully I think things will get moving soon, and before I know it, the life I’ve lived for nearly 15 years is going to come to a dramatic end.  Everything will change… hopefully for the better… FAR better.

When that time comes, I don’t wish to blog anymore: I wish to WRITE.  What’s the difference between the two, you ask?  Blogging to me seems too detached, too disruptive and incoherent as I stumble from one topic to another, trying to find my muse or something that will get my creative juices flowing.  But writing?  That’s about telling a story.  Maybe a story others can relate to.  Perhaps a tale that could some day be turned into a book.  The kind of writing I’ve always wanted to do, but never really found my way in.

An idea is starting to form in my head: taking the incidents of everyday living and turning it into compelling stories.  There’s something therapeutic about being able to express in words what previously only existed as turbulent thoughts knocking about my head.  I found if I don’t provide myself an outlet for what I continually think about, I start to get anxious and a bit frustrated about life.  I think writing will help that.

So, HOLD ON.  It may not be long before I start blogg– *ahem* writing again with far more frequency.

Delinking the internet and relinking the brain

This is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while:

Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, scampering off to the next page she probably won’t commit to. But it’s not just online anymore.

To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia. (Source Link)

One of the reasons why I sometimes find it difficult to write is the neverending need to hunt down relevant links and add them to my post for reference, but that always seems to disrupt my thought process, and I notice I have the same issue with reading too.  I check out a news item on Feedly, start reading the article and as soon as I see a link, my brain goes, “OOOOH SHINY LINK!” *CLICKS*

Before you know it, I have 500 tabs open in my browser generated from links I’ve clicked on, and nope, I never did finish reading the original article.

I suspect I’m not the only one either, and it’s made me wonder whether I should try a little experiment on this blog by writing posts without ANY links in them.  Will more people be able to read my content distraction free?  Or more importantly, will my own blogging start to improve as I resist the urge to add links and just focus on writing?  I suspect it would.

Being linkbaited to death: How the desperation to get clicks destroyed the internet

In the competition to get traffic to our sites, a few rules evolved based on the understanding on what makes content go viral.  One of these rules emphasizes the use of numbered lists.  You’ve probably seen them before:

“19 things to see in Paris”

“5 different ways you can brush your teeth”

“11 ways to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend”

“8 tricks to getting a successful colonoscopy “

And so on… to infinity.

Writing is now tailored for easy scanability, because the masses no longer read content so much as they power browse.  The more in-depth content is, the more likely people will click away to something else.  It’s why sites like Buzzfeed have become so popular, despite the utterly vacuous nature of its verbal content and over-emphasis on the use of animated gifs.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this site called Buzzfeed Minus GIFs, where the author quotes the site’s written content, minus the graphics.

So what DOES Buzzfeed look like without gifs?  Here’s one example:

The 19 Worst Things Ever

This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This. This.


Writing on the internet is no longer about the expression of thought so much as it is about generating easy linkbait to boost traffic and ad revenues.  Some people blame corporate marketing for this, but in reality marketers are merely responding to the signals they receive, and those signals clearly indicate a preference for the quickest, shallowest and most meaningless forms of content.

Horse lying on a couch
A horse on a couch. This has nothing to do with anything I’m writing, but market research says that I’ll lose 50% of readers at this point if there isn’t a Funny Animal Picture interrupting the text. (Hat Tip: Nummification of America)

I fell into this “sinkhole of shallow” myself on my old blog, attempting to tailor my writing so it would conform to what the audience at large was demanding.  Sometimes I would blog a post, and the thoughts would keep flowing, and I would thus keep writing, until I’d remember with a violent jolt, “Oh wait, my post here is already 1,000 words too long.  I need to condense it to 350 words for optimal search engine ranking and then break it up into a few bullet points so people can scan the content better, plus add some vaguely relevant thumbnail images, or readers will think I’m utterly and stupendously boring, or be so disgusted with the verbose nature of my content that they’ll hire Israeli hackers to bring my site down and ensure I never show my disgusting presence online again.”

But my mind simply didn’t work that way.  Writing to me was eclectic in nature, an incongruous mixture of thought that could either be short or long, visual or verbal, reflective or reactive.  It spanned a wide spectrum of topics that simply can’t adhere to a rigid structure or schedule.  Until I came to terms with that, my blogging suffered enormously and deteriorated in quality.  It wasn’t until I created A Geek in the Wilderness that I started to find my groove again, deciding it was better to have a medium to express myself freely and appeal to a minority, than to conform to the expectations of society in an attempt to appeal to the majority.

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