Thinking about blogging (or vice versa)

Lately I’ve been thinking about my blog. It seems that after a long time, I’ve gotten to the place that I yearned for when I started. Most of the comments I get are thoughtful and illuminating, which leads me to the conclusion that my readerbase has matured.

But what makes me stop and ponder is my posts. My tone has changed–it’s older and more deliberate, as if I’ve realized that I don’t need to run my mouth off. If anything, I attribute this to the passing of the blogs I used to read, some of which have closed shop entirely. I read those blogs because they were informative, analytical, and sincere (most important). But since they aren’t going back, no one’s going to help me write my own thoughtful posts. So I started doing them.

Honestly? It’s not that hard. I had been awe of the bigger editorial blogs before. But what they had been doing was no Herculean feat–they simply thought clearly about what they watched and read, then wrote down their thoughts. I only realized this when I started writing similar posts; what limited me at that time was that I was thoroughly convinced that I couldn’t do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I resolved to write what I thought would be interesting to me and my readers, things started picking up.

Am I thankful for their passing? Of course not! People keep on saying that anime blogging is dying and implying that this is a good thing, which I disagree with. But If I wanted change, I’d start with myself.

* * *

I admit that I’ve cut down on reading anime blogs for some amount of time. There are a variety of reasons, but the most important one is that I don’t need to keep up with the lot of them. This does not mean I actively hate or dislike them; it means that I’m dedicating my time to things I value more. That said, the lack of quality in anime blogging is another reason, and I’ll talk about this soon.

The role of anime blogging has changed over the years. A decade ago, when a fansub would come out weeks after the raw aired and not be considered late, people read anime blogs because those who could understand Japanese could post episode summaries to make the wait less painful (or arguably more so, for the plot-thick ones). A few years after that, when fansubs thrived, but still before the age of simulcasting, editorial blogs started popping up, because more astute people could watch anime and lend their valuable perspective to shows. I remember in 2008-2009 about all those rivalries between episodic and editorial blogs. Now, with legal streaming and Twitter, and the big blogs dying or fading away, what’s the niche that anime blogging’s supposed to fill?

For me, it’s a place where you can be true to yourself.

I stopped going to anime forums and imageboards. I lurk and occasionally post on ADTRW, which is the most reasonable anime forum I’ve visited with its high signal-to-noise ratio (lol 4chan), manageable activity (lol Animesuki), and quick action against spoilers (lol everything else). But it won’t take over Twitter or blogs as far as anime discussion is concerned. The problem with forums is that it’s a community of people, whom you may or may not agree with. If you post an unpopular opinion in a forum then expect to be condescended on. If you want to keep on posting there, then you’ll have to adopt the forum’s culture, which puts a damper on what you can say. With a blog, you have full control, and it’s not like there are roving bands of Internet Warriors out to get you if you post something “wrong”.

With Twitter, 140 characters is too short to say something more than basic impressions, and carrying a conversation is absolutely clunky. So that leaves the blogs.

What do I look for in a blog? I look for interesting and relatable people–maybe they’re funny, smart, or sincere. Actual writing quality is secondary. If I care about the author, then I will read them, period. Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers have taken to the cynical, I’m-too-cool-for-this-shit approach. They’re full of themselves and follow a hip way of enjoying depraved Japanese cartoons by being snarky and having an opinion on everything (see: season previews where they deride 80% of the upcoming shows). Admittedly, these bloggers have a readerbase that’s significantly bigger than mine, which probably means that they are decently successful at least. But have you read the comments they get? No, thank you.

Snark is hard to pull off, and it’s easy to come off as a pretentious ass. It also discourages bloggers to be sincere, because they have to keep up their cool image of being MAD ABOUT CARTOONS. Their fans would throw a fit if they admit that they like anime! But if you’re writing for the /a/ crowd, sure. Just don’t expect me to read you.

I’m not saying it’s bad to mock anime. It can be funny and entertaining. But please, make it clear that it’s all kayfabe. That, and illuminate us with what you think is good, or what you’d really like to see. If you keep on doing it without showing me what you like about the medium, then I’ll be disinclined to read you. When a person dislikes everything and doesn’t tell you what he likes, it sends the message that a) he fears that he’ll get mocked for his tastes, or b) he hates everything and wants to ruin everyone’s fun. How do you trust someone like that?

Next: Anime blogs I still read (some of which may have stopped being anime blogs entirely)

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20 Responses to Thinking about blogging (or vice versa)

  1. Shinmaru says:

    If I ever sound like I don’t like anime, then I know it’s time to retire.

  2. animekritik says:

    In kind of related news, I can confirm I will not be watching any of the anime in the upcoming season. Drats.

  3. NovaJinx says:

    But what if you _are_ sincere and still come across snarky and bitter?

    What then?

    • schneider says:

      Then the sincerity comes out in your posts. It’s nigh-impossible to fake. If you really feel that way, then there’s no need to change anything. It’s the people who fabricate their vitriol whom I’m against.

      I like to think that no matter what you write, you’ll always have one reader: yourself. As long as you please that one reader, you can always expect more to come.

  4. Jura says:

    Adopt the forum culture thing on forums thing must be on only certain forums, as I never had to adopt to any culture or views, but then I don’t go to those sites you mentioned. Naturally there would differing ideas and you may have to…you know…have a discussion.

    • schneider says:

      A more general problem with forums is that a discussion quickly dies if there aren’t people to talk about it. For instance, let’s say you want to talk about a show that no one else in the forum is interested about. End of story. Forums are only as diverse as the people who make it.

      One particular thing I am very fond of with my blog is that I still get comments on my old posts, because some person found them via Google, allowing us to have our own pocket conversation. It’s pretty elegant–I talk about the stuff I’m interested in, and like-minded people are drawn to my blog… eventually.

  5. Digibro says:

    Exactly why I stopped going to forums back in the day. On my blog, I was in charge of the discussion, I was setting the tone, and people were responding to my ideas. No one could condescend and dismiss my ideas (because I could delete their comments so w/e). Discussion was always what I wanted to talk about, the way I wanted to talk about it.

    This has worked out beautifully for me, even if I do my “blogging” on youtube now. The format is pretty much the same, just less organized, and insane since I’m on such a large scale now.

    • Jura says:

      “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently” -Friedrich Nietzsche

  6. This is all excellent advice for someone such as myself who hopes to have just the sort of audience that Continuing World does.

  7. Martin says:

    “Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers have taken to the cynical, I’m-too-cool-for-this-shit approach. They’re full of themselves and follow a hip way of enjoying depraved Japanese cartoons by being snarky and having an opinion on everything (see: season previews where they deride 80% of the upcoming shows).”

    Yeah, they’re called Colony Drop. :p In all seriousness though, I do worry that the personal blog is dying out – not because of those embittered ex-fans with a chip on their shoulder who feel the need to emphasise how superior they are, because there’s always been that element in the fandom…and all fandoms really. What I worry about is how the new crop of social media, namely Twitter and Tumblr, are replacing the old style of blog (which, if my internet history is correct, began with the likes of Livejournal).

    Because, as you rightly point out, there’s still a place for this sort of platform. It’s for those of us who want to set out our thoughts on something at length, and find the alternative means of online discussion too limiting. Yes, the way that the subject matter is being consumed/experienced is changing, but I think that the more ‘instant’ and ‘accessible’ nature of the products lends itself well to this. Streaming sites and faster downloads have indeed made the old episodic style blogs redundant – I reckon the ‘editorial’ style writing, or the tag-team style ‘discussion around the watercooler’ writing, both serve as a great way to air your views…plus they form a neat way of identifying interesting things amongst the mass of ‘stuff’ that we’re all surrounded by.

    tl;dr version: it’s good to see you’re still writing, and thinking long and hard about what you’re writing and why. Coincidentally, I recently went through the same process after a long period of sporadic updates and relative inactivity. Welcome back!

    • schneider says:

      Anime fans on the Internet have an aversion to being personal. I think it’s because of the pervading attitude of ridicule, no matter how playful or fake, makes them scared to reveal a bit of themselves. There is no greater courage, I think, to speak truthfully of ourselves, to not be cowed by jadedness or apathy, to like what we like and offer no apologies.

      I like the slower pace of blogging very much. Even if in-depth discussion happens in a forum, it’s hard to track and even harder to search for when the years pass and you want to read up again on the conversation… And don’t get me started on Twitter.

      Also, I never left! Hope to see more from your blog soon.

      • IKnight says:

        There certainly is a fear of being personal, partly stemming from the fact that the internet is a nasty place, but sometimes I think also from mistakenly thinking too much about words like ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ and wanting to be or to be seen to be the latter. But is there not a strong pull towards the personal, too? Look at all those Diary of an Anime Lived posts, look at the cult of The Feels, at the exaltation of the moment (Twelve Moments of Anime…). Of course people can do what they like with their blogs, but — speaking purely as a reader — the places I like most avoid being too touchy-feely.

        I have a lot of draft posts in my old archive which I never posted because on reflection I realised they were just about me. I probably posted a bunch I should’ve reflected more on, too.

  8. Artemis says:

    I guess I don’t mind a little snark or sarcasm every now and again, but too much of it and I feel like I’ll get cynical and bitter. Sure, there’s plenty of bad anime out there – with hundreds of thousands of titles, how could there not be? But if anime didn’t make me happy, I wouldn’t write about it.

    • schneider says:

      With all the effort that goes into a post (no matter how short or trivial, even hitting the Publish button requires some bravery on our part), jaded fans must still strongly believe in something!

      There’s enough bitterness in the sphere, no need to contribute.

  9. Paula says:

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post. Thanks
    for providing these details.

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