A Bursting Story
I feel I write the best when there’s a story inside of me that just decides to wrestle its way out. It escapes and compels me to write. I’m sure other bloggers can relate. That’s what is happening right now. You are reading, as I write with barely contained vigour, in a car driven by a perpetually hurried driver, the result of one such wrestle.
Though it goes without saying, this is a product of my own personal thoughts. They shouldn’t have any bearing on your opinions. Unless of course, you choose to agree.
The opening paragraph here wasn’t just to grab your attention though. I have an ulterior motive. That being, I want to show off my (narcissism alert) substantial writing skills. I don’t mean to just wax lyrical about myself though. I am earnestly trying to set up a metaphysical exposition that ties into the theme of this post. A theme that, for me, is intensely personal, and for others, might call into question, their entire (online) existence.
The Truth About (Most) Bloggers.
I’m aware, I’ve called myself to the stand here. Since I’m here though, I promise to convey the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God, J. K. Rowling and Atticus Finch. The best way to start the truth is obviously at the beginning. That, here, is the word blogger. A word, in recent months, I’ve grown from being indifferent to, to absolutely detesting.
The official Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘ person who regularly writes material for a blog’. That in itself, begs another question, probably the most important question, what is a blog? The same website has the following definition:
A regularly updated WEBSITE or WEB PAGE, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is WRITTEN in an informal or conversational style.
You can clearly see some of the words have been stressed upon by yours truly. The crux of my problem, lies with these words. I must now go on a bit of a tangent. It’s needed, however to set up my next exposition.
A Little Back Story
In early 2018, I decided that I wanted to grow my Instagram audience. It had become very apparent to me, that in contrast to my then 10,000 likes Facebook page, the 300 follower Instagram was getting much more meaningful interaction. By which I mean, relevant comments and ultimately, referral back to the two website I write on, nusairteli.com. Cut to a year later and I’m in several engagement groups with countless ‘bloggers’. The only problem is, most of them aren’t really bloggers. They are Instagram users or influencers who write minimalist captions under mediocre images they’ve hastily taken after loudly exclaiming: ‘Oh, it’s for my blog!’
Only sweetheart, your Instagram account isn’t a blog.
It is just that, an Instagram account. A feed where people can see your photos, skim through the grammatical war-zone that is your caption, and maybe like a few posts. All that, should they choose to follow you, and thereby allow your influence into their (usually material) decisions. So what does that make you then? An influencer, a person that influences another.
Now that’s I’ve quite literally changed your worldview, you are no doubt wondering something. You must be wondering how you can go from merely referring to yourself (with a very Bollywood hair flip) as a blogger to actually being one. Well the answer lies in with works I stressed upon earlier. Website (or web page) and written.
Yes, technically speaking, Instagram is a website. However, it isn’t a blogging website. Yes social media tends to blur the boundaries between what it really is, to what it wants to be. However, it remains, in fact social media. A platform to share your thoughts and words. A platform you share and maybe build an audience on. One can argue that, yes, you’ve managed to build and keep a weblog (the precursor to blog) on it. It isn’t your site however, and you share it with a billion other people.
You have neither designed it, nor curated it. Just the section that you are allowed control over. Even if you managed to convince me that having an Instagram account green light’s the website aspect, the other criteria most ‘bloggers’ will most likely fail at.
Earlier, you saw me refer to the captions under most ‘blogger’s’ posts as a grammatical war-zone. That is only true if said caption bares some semblance to a collection of sentences that may or may not convey a message. Whether or not that message is relevant to the picture posted is an afterthought really. Most of the time though, it’s a hodgepodge of a hasty copy-paste job and rewriting of marketing material and packaged instructions.
It’s becoming increasingly rare for a caption to actually tell us something. Well, something a commercial already wouldn’t. It’s ironic really, that we as humans can give our opinions pretty much everywhere, and so eloquently too. Everywhere, except the one place it actually matters. Instead, you get a few hundred emojis among various goods and bads. Emojis replacing verbs and adverbs. Replacing full stops and commas, and ultimately also replacing tone and tempo.
Any nuances in language are lost. I guess this is mostly my inner grammar Nazi escaping in fits of rage. However, it frankly annoys me, how any person with a smartphone can now call themselves a blogger. It has inherently allowed the core aspect of what once made a blogger to fade away. Replaced by instead, busybodies fluttering about to make themselves feel useful.
In The Interest of Fairness
To be completely fair, Instagram doesn’t really allow much room to write long-form. I mean, it is after all, a platform for social interaction. Each caption has a 2000 character limit. By which I mean, it counts each individual letter and symbol separately. To illustrate, so far, this post is 937 words long but 5515 characters (including spaces). As a general rule of thumb, most of us devote at least 30% of that, to hashtags. A necessary evil as they boost visibility. So now you have 1400 characters left.
Not Exactly Enough for that Epic
No one however expects that on Instagram. The app even does away with indentations, as to minimise the caption size as seen from the feed. Thus, in its essence, Instagram as a platform, discourages writing, this very fundamental criteria that makes a blogger.
If you’re wondering why I have fixated on Instagram and not other apps like Facebook or Twitter, I only have one question. Name one ‘blogger’ that you see active in Facebook and is purely there. The uhs and the hmms that you have just made have answered your question for you.
I’m not sure how this misidentification came about. However, everyone is seemingly, feeding into it. Companies looking for publicity, news media to create hype, so on and so forth. While yes, there is nothing inherently wrong with being an influencer, it does however validate the death of an art form. A talent. A skill. Something that should be passed on yet, like so many, is being replaced by more convenient, mass produced alternatives. For me, it’s a tragedy, dramatic as it may seem. A tragedy none the less, that I can not stand by and let happen.