Rebuilding the village

I read Jim’s post that he put up tonight and was extremely interested in it. He mused on the fact that blogging – for the e-village that he had set up for himself – by those that he regularly used to visit was continuing on a steady decline. I couldn’t help but think that I had, unfortunately, contributed towards the sense of loss that he seemed to feel. Well, seemed to feel as I read the post.

I lament, too, my contribution to this. I lament the loss of this blog. It still exists, sure, but it has been a very long time since anyone ever came here with a sense of urgency. Every now and then I try to revive it, but it never seems to work. I know why I have let the blog slip: other commitments. I wouldn’t say that this post is so much an ‘excuse list’ as to why I hardly blog (which I know annoys the Ombudsman the most), but perhaps a counterpoint or a supplemental reply to the post that Jim put up.

First and foremost, I am no longer ‘dedicated’ to university. Once upon a time, even with a part-time job, I was more focused on university. Hard to believe, I’m sure, as I make it a personal policy of mine to bag out university and the student life whenever possible. But I did used to take it seriously. And with that meant taking on the ‘student life’ somewhat. I didn’t engage in the extra-curricular activities that universities offer thier students (unions, collectives, societies, etc.), I used the time that I would otherwise have for those things for my hobbies. One of those hobbies (politics) combined well with another one (blogging).

Important to this time, I ended what was a three or four year run doing another hobby. There are few ways to word this so that it doesn’t make people think I’m a complete freak. It was a weekly writing competition conducted in small groups where you write from the position of a character who was in some sort of contest with another character for the week. Doing this meant writing a ~4000 word piece every week. When I ended this, it meant I had a lot of free time on my hand and, thus, I returned to blogging as an outlet for my want to write.

I hardly need to remind people of the regualr posting and popularity this blog received through 2007 and 2008 due to the US election cycle. I would attribute at least a small part of that success to myself. I was genuinely interested in what I was writing about and I think it showed somewhat in what I was producing. It was a geniuinely fun time for me to come home, digest the latest polls and events for the day, and give my own take on them. I never claimed to be an authority, but I seemed to be doing something right as I did it.

I have also always enjoyed telling stories. I especially like telling my holiday stories. It provides an outlet for my own elitism that means I don’t have to drive through the South-West suburbs in a ridiculously overpriced car, wearing ridiculously overpriced clothes, speaking to the ‘locals’ in such a way that demonstrates the further education I pursued. Not only did this blog give me a way to be an ass to the world from teh comfort of my own home, but it was much more safer.

But I like to tell those stories in vivid, excruciating details. It keeps my brain active, solidifies memories and, hopefully, provides five minutes of interest to a reader. Thus, my extensive (and never finished) recolections about my trip to Menindee with Mr. Rabbit, my Contiki tour to the US, and my Queensland trip with Andrew.

Then some things came onto the scene. Facebook entered my own little world. After this, Twitter. Anyone who watched my developing use of, first, Facebook will know that I was a complete addict to it. I would update my status some five times a day even if I was doing nothing. Now I’ve changed. I try to update the status once a fortnight. And I only check on a few friends, rather than the news feed.

I wouldn’t say that Facebook ever took over from this blog because the purposes are very different. But the games and the interactive nature of Facebook kept me away from the blog long enough to fall out of my groove with blogging. And I never was really able to get back into it.

When I went to Twitter, however, things were different. I started out using it as a way to just vent things. Then I started to use it a little more intelligently. I would connect with people that I knew it real life. Then I would supplement my intake of news and current events through following certain accounts. And, finally, it now serves both those purposes as well as a way for me to just say random things that pop into my head.

In a sense, Twitter has replaced this blog for me. Whenever I used to get random thoughts, I would come and write posts. Whenever there was a current event or piece of news that I wanted to write about, I would read the website I first read it, interpret what I read, and rehash it with my own opinion. Now, with the click of a button, I retweet the source of the news for people who are interested (which were the same people I was blogging for – people interested in that particular event) and I don’t have to do any hard work.

I will say one more thing about Twitter: It has killed my capacity to write extended pieces. I cannot, for the life of me, write long-winded (to the point of redundancy) pieces anymore. I have tried and I give up after about 500 words and a lot to struggle and effort. This blog used to give me the chance to fine-tune and hone my skills in that regard. When I stopped writing those sorts of pieces on this blog, I stopped writing them altogether. And, thus, my skills have really dropped off. Much to my disappointment.

I would also like to blame one particular event that happened to me that actually started the slide. For while Twitter has taken the place of the blog, there was a long time between the supposed end of the blog and the start of my Twitter account. In 2008, at the time of the US general election, I went on my first teaching prac. Go back to November of 2008 and you will see that never has this blog been the same since then. I have managed a few good months, sure. And I put up some decent posts between then and now. But when I went on prac, and I realised how busy I would have to be to be a teacher and a university student and a part-time worker (because I’ll be damned if I’m taking any time off), I shifted my priorities. That’s why Twitter took over the blog: Because it takes me 10 seconds to do the same cognitive (to me, anyway) job that it would take half an hour to an hour to do on this blog.

I’ve done three successive pracs since then, and have now started teaching 4 days a week. Come term 4, I’ll be teaching 5 days a week. I’m still working at the golf course and I’m still at university. I’ve even started up that weekly writing competition again. I’ve also started to expand my social group so that I’m actually doing more things now. So my time, really, is pressed thin. I don’t get more than five hours of sleep a night. And five hours is a good night.

I choose to live like that, sure. I’m not using it as an excuse. And I’m not getting worked up or anything about it. I just thought that I could contribute to Jim’s attempt to rebuilding his e-village by actually engaging in a few of the points that he is about to venture out and try to start up again. Again, I’ll make a promise to try and revitalise the blog. But while I have Twitter, and work so much, and do so many things, I can’t even believe that promise myself. I find it a struggle to find a constant stream of original content to even blog once a week. Sure, things are happening in my life. But I have that problem of not being able to write in the style that I want to write in (long and detailed). I should probably just try again and start building up those skills from scratch.

Which means blogging more often. So watch this space.



6 thoughts on “Rebuilding the village

  1. Actually, Thomas, I think of Neil as the godfather of our little village! From my perspective, it was interaction with him that started the growth.

    Your US election pieces were some of the best blogging that I have seen. It would be nice to think of an energised, blogging, Thomas. Although how you might fit writing into your life style remains an interesting question!

  2. Believe it or not, I check this blog daily! Even in the last few months, with weeks in-between entries, I have still lived in hope.

    I am more interested in hearing about this expanding social circle…

  3. Don’t get too excited about new social acquaintances, Ombudsman. A couple of people from uni that I loosely hang around with. They are very ‘on the nerves’ so I wouldn’t subject them to the rigors of our group lol.

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