“Is blogging still relevant today?” Was a question that popped into my Instagram direct messages a couple of weeks ago. No one, including myself, had asked me this in such a simple and direct way in a long time. But thanks to this question, my thoughts organised themselves into an immediate; Yes! More than ever. A different opinion perhaps than I had two years ago. She asked me because she had been wanting to start her own blog for a long time but was afraid that she was too late.
I have been battling with a similar question myself, of how and if I wanted to continue my dearest digital project Love Aesthetics. My blog has slipped into a slumber ever since Instagram took over as the default platform to share through. And I think that most blogs of the wave that once revolutionised and ‘democratised’ the power dynamics of the fashion industry did.
It has slowly become unnecessary to even open your internet browser. Nobody visits individual websites when everything you want to see appears on a neat newsfeed that you can endlessly scroll through. When I asked you guys (through Instagram, ironically) which digital publication you read, the most common answers were: “I have no clue”, “please share”, “don’t know”.
So getting back to the question, let me get into explaining why I think blogging has never been more relevant.
One billion active users
Keeping an online log is essentially web logging. It is what one billion people did through Instagram alone in 2018. Let thank sink in, one billion; a thousand million active “users”. And by “users”, “consumers” or even creepier “followers”, of course they mean PEOPLE, who shared about 95 million pieces of content per day. In the light of those statistics, web logging a.k.a. blogging has never been more relevant.
Stories are what makes us human
But really, stories from a personal perspective have always been relevant, they are what make us human. Our brains are wired to respond to personal stories. It is our natural and most efficient way to transfer information, much more than purely facts and figures. It is through stories and empathy that we understand more deeply. The internet is just a means of telling these stories.
Massive media consumption
Instagram has poured storytelling into bite-sized squares or rectangles with a maximum of 800 x 1000 pixels with 2200-character captions. It makes it easy to participate and create. But it is also designed for quick consumption in massive amounts. Take a look around you next time you are in the metro or waiting in line somewhere, look at the speed of those thumbs going up and down, scrolling away, images on the screen flashing by and eyes that don’t even have time to blink. We are “consuming” our “feed” like fast food.
To be honest, at the end of that scroll, I am often still hungry. Even though I just scrolled through hundreds of images that are at a genius level, yet another incredible sunset, life accomplishments and was given a peek into beautiful personal moments – it all went by so fast that it was hard to digest, appreciate and truly let it sink in. Although fast-food can be delicious sometimes, I crave something that I can sit down for and chew on for a little longer.
The basics of propaganda applied
And then there is the actual danger in spending most of our online time on one single app; in this case Instagram. Giving one single platform the full monopoly position for our digital information intake is dangerous when you consider that our brains constructs new thoughts and opinions according to the information and input they receive; the things we hear, see and read, taste, smell. For example, if you keep seeing the same shoe over and over again, you are going to first recognise it, then there is a chance you are going to start to like it (specially if it is worn by people you like, trust or want to be associated with) and ultimately you will purchase it. The basics of advertising and propaganda.
So when you open the app that is Instagram, an algorithm decides what pops up in front of your eyes. And with that, the algorithm will indirectly inform what your next thought will be, what your next likes and preferences will be, where your money will be spent next, where you will travel next, what your opinion will be, where your next political vote will go to.
To be dependent of an algorithm for most of your intake of information and increasingly also for social validation you are in a way becoming a robot, a cyborg if you will, because the input of references for your brain is decided by a software system. Advertising has become so incredibly sophisticated and subtle, it has truly infiltrated into our lives and is manipulating our daily behaviour.
For the gram
What is posted on Instagram is also influenced by the algorithm, as creators are encouraged and rewarded to produce content that performs well. A little bit of independence and autonomy is lost when people start specifically making and tailoring their work to fit the format of Instagram. That’s why I think that now more than ever, our digital media landscape needs more independent publishers. Publishers that stand on their own, produce content in an independent and autonomous way. Whose art exists outside of the rating system of what is popular on social media. There is no progress in continuing to create more of what is already popular.
Independent digital publishers
For creatives that means not building their digital head quarter on rented land where the strict rules of a landlord apply. (Instagram : your landlord. The algorithm, pre-made image formats, fonts, popular times to upload : your rules and restrictions.)
If you can create a fresh, interesting, thoughtful, valuable piece of digital media from a specific and personal perspective – do it.
It is not blogging in the old way that I think is relevant, because all those small daily updates, outfit snapshots, what you ate last night, have transferred to Instagram beautifully. But in-depth independent digital publishing from a clear point of view is needed in the current digital media landscape.
My last post
This is my last post on Love Aesthetics as it is now. I’m architecting my new digital home (Literally. I got so into it that I can add coding and website-building to my arsenal of skills.) Can’t wait to have you over after this big redecorating-sesh.
I would really appreciate it if you’d leave your email, so that we can be in touch directly and not just through something that Mark Zuckerberg owns. No worries – I will not clog up your inbox with spammy e-mails or empty newsletters, just a love letter now and then. (There’s a buttery-yellow sign up form on the bottom of this page <3 )
Little disclaimer, I am not trying to bash Instagram. I LOVE Instagram. I’ve made so many friends through it, discovered so many talented people, it gives us the opportunity to look through some one else’s lens and get to know people in a super intimate way. It has given so many creatives opportunities to live from their artistic work. It is my favourite app. Instagram is true magic, it really is. It is a fantastic place for conversation. I am just advocating for something more as an addition than just that app to communicate through. Instagram is like the digital equivalent of a street, which is a great place to briefly meet people. But you still need your own house, headquarter or boutique.