Why write a blog or essay in 2024

I’ve read a lot of essays and blog posts over the years, and every time I read a good one I think “I should have a go at that”. The desire has been growing on me again during the past few months so, rather than just get on with it, I decided to do a little internet search.

The question “Is it worth starting a blog in 2024?” got plenty of results. Apparently blogging is absolutely not dead, and with the right approach (often involving signing up for someone’s course) it’s still both worthwhile and lucrative for anyone who is prepared to put in the effort.

Unfortunately non of the results helped, mainly because they weren’t really answering my question. I wasn’t surprised. Like much else on the web these days, search engines are there to make money. So are the articles and posts that take great pains to ensure that they appear at the top of any worthwhile search. After all, when was the last time you clicked through to page 3 of your search results, let alone page 50.

A better question would have been “Is it worth allocating my own personal resources of time, energy and brain space to crafting mildly amusing essays that explore the world from the perspective of a blind middle-aged man and posting them on a personal blog for anyone to read, should they be interested?”

I expected no results to this query, but what I actually got were lots of articles about time management and numerous offers to yet more courses that guaranteed to launch me on the productivity treadmill. Despite having no illusions about the advert driven modern web, and realising how much of a personal decision this is, I was still a bit disappointed. I suppose it just goes to show how far down the path of “Technology as mother” we have come.

So since I have a decision to make entirely on my own, let’s start with the reasons against. I think they fall broadly as follows:

  1. The essays I read always seem to be written by people who’ve lead exciting lives filled with travel and adventure. What could boring old me possibly have to say about anything?
  2. As the father of the modern essay, Michel De Montaigne had a blank slate to work from and a whole new audience of virgin readers that stretched out through space and time ready to devour everything he had to say. The world of 2024 is simply drowning in written, spoken, and visual content. The chances of me coming up with anything fresh, let alone enticing some poor over-stimulated human to take time out of their busy schedule to read it, rounds to zero, no matter how many decimal places you use.
  3. The explosion of Chat GPT and other LLM’s is making the art of writing redundant. Starting an essay blog now would be like setting up a horse-drawn cart manufacturer next to a Tesla plant.
  4. To write good essays you have to be extremely knowledgeable and have a whole range of political, philosophical and literary references at your fingertips. Without that you are just wasting your time.
  5. The time taken to write essays that no one will read for a blog that produces no financial return is totally self-indulgent and verging on the immoral in a world where there are so many more worthwhile things to be doing.

I think I’ll stop there. I haven’t exhausted the negatives, but if I keep going I might put myself off. Let’s take a look at some of the positives instead:

  1. The act of writing forces me to explore my ideas, opinions, and what I think I know. It’s the easiest thing in the world to think you understand something while actually not having a clue.
  2. Publishing essays to a blog encourages accountability, intelligibility, and maybe even a bit of style too.
  3. Practise makes perfect. If ever I want to write a great essay then I’d better write a whole load of bad ones first.
  4. In the age of AI it strikes me as essential that the humans keep talking.
  5. Maybe this is the path to finding my niche and finally discovering what I’m supposed to be doing with my life after all.

The reality is that all of the negatives above are true. And with the possible exception of the rise of AI, they have been true throughout history. There have always been enough pictures. The world never needed another novel, nor even another joke. Fortunately it got them anyway.

As for the positives, they are all true too, though they are all about me. Which leads me to pro number 6. which I left out:

  1. Because I want to – and maybe that’s all that really matters when it comes down to it.

So on that note, I suppose all I can do is give it a go and see what happens.

If you have any comments post them below – though please keep the course offers to a minimum.

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