Why the fuck am I writing a blog?

I mean, seriously, haven’t we all moved on from LiveJournal or Blogger or wotnot? And who is the audience for this anyway – who cares about my random mental dumps? And even if there were an audience, how would they find it now that findability is broken, Google is a morass of AI gibberish, Twitter is a blasted heath, and Facebook an echoing graveyard of hopes and dreams haunted by transphobes, bitter Brexiteers, and that one uncle with the scary smile who you always try to avoid at Christmas?

The most obvious answer is – to try and get me back into the habit of writing something – anything – as close to every day as I can manage given the absurd collection of neuroses, anxieties and batshittery that constitutes what I laughingly refer to as my mental health.

But if no-one reads it, what is the earthly point? If it doesn’t generate clicks, likes, comments, and, whisper it, sales, isn’t it just vanity publishing?

To which the counter is, I suppose, why does everything have to have a conversion metric attached to it? I’m trying to think of it as a practice, like meditation, journalling or exercise, something that is good for my head and is therefore its own reward.

Basically, then, the audience is myself. The achievement is posting something and knowing I did a thing, and trying to let go of the psychological need for engagement, feedback and interaction is a way of trying to fight the dopamine addiction that dominates every-single-fucking-thing-everywhere at the moment and that may, in fact, have permanently broken my brain (and yours too, admit it).

I might at some point, if I manage to maintain this longer than I usually maintain new habits – a week or so, usually – turn it into a newsletter. But if I do that, I worry that the temptation to feel a sense of achievement and validation when someone subscribes, or to get depressed if nobody does (or worse, someone unsubs) might ruin the whole thing and lock me back into the dopamine feedback loop.

The newsletter ecosystem is fascinating, and something I dip in and out of. I don’t know that I have anything useful to say about it, other than I liked Substack but wow, wasn’t it the perfect example of how enshittification has hit lightspeed – we hardly had time to bed-in to our exciting new home before it was suddenly Nazi central and all the people I was following jumped ship and clambered aboard a bewildering array of different lifeboats and wooden doors that could easily fit two people but swim on, I’m not moving, say hi to the seabed for me!

I’m less worried about AI (aka plagiarism machines) than I am about the Nazis, but Douglas Hine introduced me to the concept of the Hand Made Web (ironically, on Substack) and it really chimed with me1. I suppose this blog is my way of trying to whittle a tiny plot of it for myself, mixed metaphors and all. I think Writeopolis fits into that concept quite nicely, as well – and OH MY GOD while looking for the link to drop in there I found brand spanking new plagiarism machine called Writeopolis! I’ve been enshittificated! This may be my internet apotheosis. I think I need to lie down in a darkened room and meditate on the apocalypse.

  1. I may loop back to the points he makes about hack work on another day, because that’s been rattling round in my noggin as I embark on writing a series of deliberately high-output pulpy genre thrillers. ↩︎

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