“It’s not a blog, it’s a website.”
So resolute was I, on its classification, that I would correct anyone who dared mistake my Internet site, replete with my juvenile-esque antics and mid-20’s, precocious as only a fledgling adult in the throes of her first real bout of freedom can be, with those banal, self-centered “weblogs”. AubreySabala.com may have been many things, but a blog it was not.
Its genesis was the combination of happenstance & laziness, as many serendipitous life catalysts are. Always a writer, when I left for college, away from my friends & family in Ohio, I would send my closest friends mass emails of what was going on in Chapel Hill at my new home in Granville West at UNC. This practice continued well into my early 20’s; I found myself traveling internationally in my first full-time job after graduate school. I’d regale my friends with “hilarious” musings of falling asleep in my soup due to jet-lag in one far part of the world or another (I think that one was Auckland), and would send a mass email as a convenience. Yet I’d inadvertently miss someone on the distribution list, and wouldn’t it be just so much more efficient for world-traveling me to simply post it one place and let everyone just go THERE to read it? Add a week’s lag time in between projects at the Interactive Agency at which I worked, a boss who suggested I have my team teach me rudimentary design (Adobe Illustrator) & coding (Dreamweaver) skills, and with the help of limitless server space, AubreySabala.com was born.
It was 2001, for those keeping track.
It was a good time. A naive time, surely, but in the aftermath of the first web bubble, many other aspiring writers and tech employees took to the web to share their stories. Their day-to-day lives. Their favorite song; Spotify still nearly 7 years a dream, we’d find a tune on Napster and share the MP3 with other aficionados. These kindred souls were named Helen Jane and Sarah and Joshua and Ev and Heather and Heather and Jason and Jason and Anil oh hell, how we loved to read each other’s posts. We’d comment on them and link to each other and little by little, day by day, post by ridiculous post, we learned a little more about each other, sharing our lives authentically, without caution, the way that a child embarks on running through a field. We were blind that these posts, our words, could come back to cause us harm. Until we weren’t…one of our own – Heather (known online as Dooce) – lost her job for what she said on her site. Perhaps this blog(roll) of safety had its pitfalls.
And still we proceeded on. We made friends. We found lovers. We got new jobs, started companies, quit our jobs to write full time – turns out this “blog” thing could provide fodder for advertisers! – and started communications platforms, 140-characters at a time.
Our posts got shorter.
We updated our status, not our friends, losing some of that community and collective authenticity we may not have ever known we had.
Movements took place; the equalization of this web, the platforms providing a lower barrier to entry to share what was happening around the world, and not just due to character count. The generation behind us all grew up with computers…any semblance of privacy was removed the first time they saw US Weekly or the travesty that is TMZ.
Celebrities embraced this…finally, a place they could control their updates, independent of their publicists and their managers and if they wanted to curse like a sailor in 140-characters or less, TRY AND STOP THEM.
And we all followed.
People stopped writing. Sure, they were LOLing and communicating on these tiny, handheld phone computers we are all now tied to, but perhaps we should say goodbye to long form, at least how it pertains to blogs.
Or maybe not.
Just this month, a new resurgence has begun, where some of the “originals” have taken proverbial pen to paper (more like middle-aged fingers to MacBook Air) and proclaimed the return of the blog. And I couldn’t be happier, both because I was beginning my own reversion – for many reasons, which will be written about in long form shortly! – but because I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed the connection, the community, the authenticity that comes when people shed the expected facade and start acting – and writing – like the real people we are. I’ve made my living guiding people to give the right answer, say the right sound byte, respond in the publicist-approved way, and it is just as exhausting on both sides of the camera. I’m ready for us to be flawed and imperfect and real and say the right or the wrong thing, ubiquity & consequence be damned.
Thirteen years later, I think it’s time to say goodbye to my website, and hello to my blog.
Welcome, friends. Blog roll, anyone?