Is the blog dead?
My impression is that old-fashioned blogs are our grandmothers’ social media platform now. We have been replaced by BookTube and nugatory Instagram posts.
This is not a crackpot theory. A 2018 survey at Pew Research does not even mention Blogger or WordPress. This study of social media found:
Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.”
As the years go by, I find myself reading fewer blogs, clicking on fewer “likes,” and commenting less. It isn’t so much the quality as it about less screen time. Today I learned that Belle at the splendid blog Belle, Book and Candle wrote her last post in December. Oh no! I will miss her smart style, humor, serenity, and eclectic tastes in books. So many of my favorites have folded.
It is a pity that greedy computer moguls have created social networking platforms that rely more on pictures than words. And I’m not exaggerating too much! But I might be wrong about the Silicon Valley part. I don’t know the origins.
AND NOW HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN READING.
1. Pam Houston’s Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, a collection of linked autobiographical essays. In 1993, Houston was living in a tent when her agent gave her a check for $21,000 for her debut collection of stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness, with the advice, “Don’t spend it all on hiking boots.” After traveling around the West, Houston bought a 120-acre ranch in the Colorado Rockies. Although she spends half the year teaching, she always comes back to the ranch, which is the home of her Irish wolfhounds, two elderly horses, a bonded pair of rescue miniature donkeys, Icelandic ewes, and chickens. Houston, who has been a skiing instructor and led white-water raft trips, tells fascinating tales of nature, endurance of the cold, and quasi-primitive living. I cried and cried over the death of one of her dogs.
2. Robert Graves’s compelling historical novel, I, Claudius. This classic, set in the first century A.D., is the autobiography of the crippled, stuttering Roman emperor Claudius. He learned to keep his head down to survive the dangers of the reigns of three emperors: Augustus, who brought peace after civil wars but whose wife Livia poisoned his heirs and many others; Livia’s cruel, perverted son, Tiberius, who was a good general but uninterested in empire and spent long periods frolicking on Capri; and mad murderous Caligula, whose insane cruelty ruined more lives than Livia. Claudius becomes emperor at the end of the novel, and the story is continued in Claudius the God. Many of the events are based on episodes in Suetonius’s The Twelve Caesars, which Graves translated.
3. Dark Narnia. This is my nickname for Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the first two novels in her much lauded Wayward series. Every SF publication heralded the publication of McGuire’s fourth book in the series, In an Absent Dream, which is apparently based on Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market. (Last year I read a brilliant Goblin Market retelling, Rena Rossner’s The Sisters of the Winter Wood.) I decided to read the others first.
I like the premise: Miss West’e Home for Wayward Children is a refuge for children who disappeared for years through portals to magical lands and cannot adjust to ordinary life. These books begin like gentle fantasies and then morph into Sf/horror. In Every Heart a Doorway, a series of brutal murders are committed. In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Mcguire tells the adventures of twins Jack and Jill (two students we meet in Every Heart a Doorway) and their years working for a vampire and a doctor who can bring the dead back to life.
They’re not for me–I don’t like horror–but many SF fans consider them classics.