It’s actually a month since my blog turned ten. That’s a huge milestone, and like the busy father who is off flying for meetings in London, Paris and Rome and doesn’t make it to his child’s tenth birthday, I’ve been moving cities, signing leases, starting new jobs, meeting family and friends, and had no Internet at home until yesterday. And thus kept putting off writing my anniversary blog post.
I don’t know, who do I keep writing here for, I wonder sometimes. The two-three people who read this space actually have better channels of communication with me elsewhere. Or am I just doing this like an old Brit, in the name of tradition?
The ten years I’ve been blogging here have coincidentally been the ten hardest years of my life. It kind of feels like the worst is over now, but what do I know about the next thirty. Still, it’s hard to imagine the rest of my life going worse than my late teens and twenties.
While I’ve experienced big wins, great joy and learnt a lot, it’s hard to deny that the past decade has been an exercise in uncertainty, powerlessness, and enough crazy to fulfill a lifetime’s quota. And through all this, one source of stability and strength has been to write here. Soapbox, pensieve, personal diary, editorial… this blog has been all of that and more.
I started blogging here shortly after I’d turned eighteen. At eighteen, I’d just about quit being cocky, was obsessed with English, August, was drifting around trying to find my niche, and was wondering if I’d made a big mistake choosing to study information technology. I knew I liked to write, but wasn’t sure if I really could. Now, I’m just back to being cocky, have given up on reading anything that doesn’t have action and snappy narrative, know enough to know that I can find my crowd anywhere I go. I’ve never been able to be thankful enough for my choice of major, because of the interesting directions it has led me into. I’ve just gotten done making major changes to how I think about my career. I’ve come to the realization that I do actually enjoy writing a real lot, and want to do it a lot more than I do now. Of course, what would surprise my eighteen year old self is that I don’t anymore like the idea of writing a novel, and sketches and screenplays seem more up my street.
I’ve recapped multiple times all the wonderful things this blog has led me into – people recognizing me on the street, celebrities commenting, several career and hobby opportunities, getting to meet a whole crowd of people I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and reconnecting with old friends in a completely new way. I however don’t think I’ve talked enough about the kind of confidence writing here has given me. I don’t hesitate to put pen to paper, and the kind of writer’s block that plagues too many people has kind of always managed a healthy distance from me. It’s a special kind of pleasure to know that when some art inspires you, you have a way of channeling that feeling.
As the years have passed, I’ve censured myself here more and more. Originally it felt like I overshared here. Now I’m way too circumspect, and don’t anymore treat this like my personal fiefdom where I can say and do as I please. It is freeing and constrictive at the same time. Freeing because it actually feels like I’m asserting to myself that this part of my life is private and important. Constrictive because it feels like I can’t spill in my own kitchen.
Which leads me to think about how online anonymity has been slowly and systematically killed on the Internet in the past decade. I don’t think you can anymore just rant randomly and have complete strangers stumble across and sympathize with you. You need that initial social network to get started. No strangers are going to read you unless you’ve written something they are explicitly looking for, or promote yourself to help people stumble upon your stuff. It feels quite sad, but I’m sure there are other ways people are getting heard, that I am not yet familiar with.
I completely detest how we have all been forced into making our online personalities as bland as our offline ones, thanks to just about anyone being able to find different sides of you online. Back in the day, you came online to escape your classmates and colleagues. Now, they badger you to let them follow your presence on a variety of sites, so much that I’m actually contemplating having two profiles for everything.
In any case. Ten years is a significant duration to keep something going. I’m proud of this place, and hope to keep it going for as long as I can.