You know, when I think of the rise of blogs and how they’ve contributed to destroying our media institutions, blogs are kind of bad. Literally any dipshit with an opinion can opine on a subject they know nothing about, and it can be designated as significant as an expert in the field who has diligently researched the topic. Having said that, they also do the opposite – they can empower people who are experts into platforms where they can really promote their ideas, free from the stifling confines of BIG MEDIA. I want to say though… It’s probably still mostly the former? Having said that, I’ll now talk about why blogs are good, personally.
In aggregate, blogs are probably bad, because of the harm they’ve brought to investigative institutions. However, they’ve really done a good job at empowering individuals. Anyone in theory can start up their own website and write some shit. The barriers have never been lower. There are free hosting platforms now. You can buy your own domain name for like 10 bucks. If you want a little more freedom, there are still plenty of cheap hosting options – I run this blog on a shared hosting platform that costs me a dollar a month. I put in like 3 years worth of credit in advance and haven’t had to think of it since – it’s great. The only maintenance I do is upgrading wordpress and its plugins every couple of months. If you’re even more into running your own shit, you can pay for a 5 dollar VPS that can host anything you could possibly want for a blog. Also, this is all beside the point, which is this – blogs are good because of their informality.
Formally published institutions are good because they lend some legitimacy to your work and also ensure a certain bar – real professionals will review your work to make sure you aren’t actually shit. Blogs do the exact opposite – you can write as you like. This is great if you’re an amateur – even better than writing for published institutions. Why? Because of volume. How do you write for an institution? You need to have credibility, meaning you need prior work. You basically need to be good already in order to write for an institution. For a blog, you can get your practice in and publish at will. In theory, anyone with an internet connection can see what you wrote. However, in reality, as a small time writer, no one is going to be reading your shit. So you still get the feeling like you’re putting out work that’s good enough for public consumption, but without the actual pressure of money being on the line. If someone’s paying for my writing, I’m going to carefully pick at every little tidbit to make sure my shit is impeccable. I might even be embarrassed that this work is published under my name. I know there’s going to be a broad reaching audience criticizing my shit. If I publish in a blog, well, no one is going to know unless I start getting gud.
Furthermore, the most important thing for an early writer like myself is the volume of writing. I haven’t written shit yet. Going through the wordcount of all my posts in this blog, I don’t even top 40k. That’s a pittance. 2-3 paragraphs for me is about 500 words. That means I’ve only written roughly 160-240 paragraphs. There’s a ton of room for improvement. I like to equate it to learning to speak a new language – You can’t speak a new language if you never say anything. You’re going to make a ton of mistakes throughout your speaking process, but if you put in enough hours talking with other people, your speaking skills really have no choice but to improve over time. Consider the FSI recommended number of hours to achieve a decent level of fluency (Not native level, more like casual) in a language. For Spanish, they recommend about 480 hours of study. Try cramming in a 20 minutes a day speaking Spanish with native speakers. That’s ~120 hours in a year with no other practice, though you should be doing other work to increase your overall fluency. But in a year of 20 minutes a day, you’re a quarter of a way to being comfortable using Spanish in every day conversation. Fuck, I don’t even exercise 20 minutes a day. So many small wins could be operationalized here. It’s like I’m giving away free gains.
The pareto principle, AKA the 80/20 rule comes into play here. For things that aren’t my main focus, I can be getting roughly 80% of the benefits for 20% of the work. Not acting on that low hanging fruit is akin to not picking up that 20 dollars on the sidewalk because it requires work. Like, sure it requires work, the the level of work required is vastly outweighed by the benefit given in that fractional amount of work. For reference, I make like thirty bucks an hour. I really need to start internalizing what is and isn’t an efficient use of my time. Not to say that everything needs to be min maxed, but the point of reflection is to see areas in which my life can be enriched in ways that I desire, with an expectation that the amount of work required is less compared to the benefits I’m reaping. After all, there doesn’t seem to be much point in putting in work into something that only gives back exactly what I put in – could you imagine if a farmer only received the exact amount of calories or money they put into growing vegetables? What’s the point of doing the work if it doesn’t benefit you in some way?