A true blogging pioneer is calling it quits. That’s right, Andrew Sullivan says he’s just plain burned out from cranking out his wildly successful blogs for the Dish. In less than two decades, blogging and social media have transformed how we express ourselves in an unprecedented way. Sullivan played a critical role in advancing blogging, a genuinely new form of writing. But now the writer reveals he’s suffering from a digital age malaise of sorts. In his announcement Sullivan states: “I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while.”
Wow. I didn’t see that coming. But I can’t say I am entirely surprised. Sullivan is, after all, a writer at heart. He has brilliant credentials with powerhouse publications like The New Republic and The New York Times. But blogging isn’t terribly satisfying for many of us who like depth. He notes: “I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.” Touché, Mr. Sullivan.
After generations of writing long, well-developed text, twenty first century communicators made a quick about face and started sharing their ideas in short blurbs they cobbled together in minutes between meetings or before their next Starbucks run. Like Sullivan, I too have my issues with today’s new digitally driven trend. I’m a writer by nature and, while I enjoy blogging, I get frustrated that so many communications these days are reduced to the written equivalent of sound bites. Blogging is good because it enables people to share ideas at unprecedented numbers. As a communicator, I’m glad that there is a new form of communication to help us get our messages and opinions out. But it’s frustrating that this comes at the cost of efforts that tackle more complicated issues deserving of time and space.
As one researcher quipped, we are quickly becoming a society of “Twitter brains.” Too many underdeveloped ideas distilled to their absolute core coming flying at us at warp speed on the Internet. We get a lot of information these days, but is it quality information? Is it content we get meaningful to our lives? Effective communication is about balance. Blogging has a role in our new digital society, but we can’t abandon cultivating ideas and shaping them into substantial content.
I plan to continue blogging… but will always be mindful that many ideas need time and space to incubate. In our crazy paced digital world, we can’t afford to give up on our analog basics. I hope our educators continue to teach our youth to take the time to reflect and develop ideas. Otherwise we are left with nothing but noise. Working with clients, I am likely to continue to recommend blogging… it’s a digital age necessity for most. But count on me to be there insistent that there must be substance behind the sound bites.