Zero Subscribers

For fun I clicked on the Feedburner link on the sidebar to check out whatever information Feedburner might provide to me. I honestly forgot what it provided besides a way for people to subscribe to my blog. Turns out that's it, though it also would tell me how many subscribers I have, how many have been added, how many have fallen off, and how much has changed since the first time I blogged on Squarespace. 

Turns out I have zero subscribers. I've always had zero subscribers. Since the dawn of time during this incarnation of blogging, nobody has made an effort to actually subscribe. Granted, I don't blog anymore, I'm surprised by a total number of zero.

I have 72 followers on my Medium account, but those followers are kind of like Instagram followers; lots of people you know or work with, or kind of know and automatically follow when you see their name. 

I was a prolific blogger beginning around 2001 through 2009, when I was writing for a baseball website. I wasn't good, but I wrote so many posts, daily. My personal bloggings were like a monkey banging on a keyboard, but I felt like it helped me find a voice that eventually turned into writing about baseball. It wasn't a paid thing, but it fed my creative outlet and I found it to be really rewarding. When the baseball site shut down, I kind of folded on my own writing as well. I had some starts and stops, where I'd write for days, weeks, months even. Then I'd hit a wall, not write for weeks and months.

Now I'm at the stage where I haven't regularly written in years. I do think blogging has an individual shelf life, especially if it's for free and not really geared to building an empire of likeminded minions. I loved writing about the Boston Red Sox, and I was really good at it(in my mind, anyway), and the peak was an unpaid role at a defunct website. Maybe I was burnt out? Either way, my writing stopped. In November I wrote a few posts because the itch was there. Then it was gone and this is my first post since then. When I wrote I felt like I had a point(about life, or the Red Sox), and wrapped it up succinctly and it was out of my head and into the zero subscriber universe. 

I've been curious about how blogging survives these days. On Medium the platform estimates the length of time it'll take to read a post. The strange part is it might say it takes 32 minutes to read a post, but it's already been shared by someone 6 minutes after it's been posted. It seems a person or topic might get shared instantly without actually being fully digested. This is especially true with deep dive analytical articles or investigative reporting. I'm not about to say people aren't reading articles or posts, nor am I saying to read between the lines. It's an observation that I've seen and it makes me laugh because it'll take me three days to finish a long read.

This is probably because I have too many tabs open at all times. There's a report somewhere that says something like 2% of humans can actually multitask, and the rest of us are just sabotaging our work ethic. I don't have the link, but Google Is Your Friend.

I don't have a plan to wrap this post up nicely, but I had thought of writing this post initially because every year I renew my Squarespace account and re-up my ownership of Mickerdoo.net. Someday I'll need to cut it for financial reasons, or i'll convince myself it's totes worth it to keep the dream alive that I'll pick up my hobby of writing again. So, I will just wrap it up by wishing you a belated Happy New Year. One of my resolutions is to write more during my free time, because at one time it was a super fun thing to do. 

Benefits of Taking A Break

I don't think I'm the only one in the universe who has decided, at one time or another, to take a break from social media. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or all of the above and whatever other social media I didn't include. 

I first stepped away during Lent two years ago, and then stepped away last January for about 3 months. The first time it was just Facebook, and it made me appreciate Instagram in a whole different way. With Instagram, there's less discussion. People post, people Like and/or Comment, and that's about it. Unless you're a Kardashian, there aren't many real discussions. It's just, hey, here I am, someplace awesome, and I'm sharing it with you. I would rank Instagram as my favorite social media app.

The second time I stepped away, it was a full stop. No Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, anything. I didn't have any profound discovery, except that I realized I didn't miss a whole lot from not constantly checking in on the world. I disconnected so fully, I signed up for email blasts from breweries I followed, and things like Humans of New York and photographers that I enjoy the work of. I added birthday reminders to my Google calendar, and news apps to satiate the need for random articles. 

The second social media break proved to be hugely helpful in finding new outlets for interesting things. For instance, I relied heavily on Flipboard, an app that aggregates news articles based on your interests. It's great for commutes or waiting in a doctor's office. Fairly short articles about things I like. It's the first thing I check in the morning. More recently, I discovered This.cm, which isn't a typo. This.com will lead you to a non-descript website that offers you to take a survey. This.cm is a aggregator of articles that have been shared by members. In September I signed up for their Top 5, which is  daily email featuring 5 long reads that might be featured in the NYT, WSJ, or something similar. This week featured an article by a New Republic reporter in the middle of a Trump rally. Another article, this one from Texas Monthly, recounts a woman who was injured in a mass shooting in 1966. Lastly, there was a link to a long Sports Illustrated article about Sidd Finch, an older article but updated recently. I haven't read any of these fully yet, but over the course of a few days I will. I highly recommend signing up for This.cm. 

I also signed up for SBNation's MLB daily email. It is awesome! Imagine all of the great stories surrounding baseball, linked and emailed every morning. It's a game changer. Aside from FlipBoard, this is the first thing I check in the morning.

Like my last post, I don't have any point to today's entry. That's probably going to be the norm. As I work my way into writing more often, maybe cohesive ideas will congeal. Until then, here's "Axel F" from Beverly Hills Cop. I hope you get up and dance.

Getting Back Into It

For the better part of four years I wrote daily, mostly about the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball. I wrote along with a group of writers that tried in vain to create an online presence for one of the oldest baseball magazines in the country. I'm proud of what I wrote, and how much it contributed to my style and growth as a writer. I like to think that those four years were the groundwork for whatever future writing I might do. I also like to believe we were successful in cultivating a online community, even if there was an end.

And that's sort of where I'm at now. I haven't written daily since roughly October 2012. I've started blog posts and deleted them. I've had grand ideas and then pushed them aside. I've thought about re-starting my original concept of celebrating a baseball player's birthday on any given day, and that too hasn't materialized. I've recently considered that perhaps I'm just finished with writing about baseball. I love watching it, and reading other people's views. Last year I tried a different approach to writing about baseball, but gave up around the same time the Red Sox did.

Part of the problem is I'm not interested in being provocative, or offering blog posts that opine on everything that's going on in the world. Though, part of me does want to do that. Part of me wants to write a scathing post about how awful Donald Trump is, or how the Sanders / Clinton battle will play out.  I'd probably just link to other people's article. I'd probably regurgitate someone else's viewpoint.  I'd probably share something that has already been shared on Facebook or Twitter and reposted, blogged about, and linked a thousand times over. Social media has changed the way I write, because chances are someone has already said what I want to say, and have already shared it way better than I could possibly share something.

This has become a stream of consciousness*, because I don't have a point, ultimately. Though, I just googled the definition of stream of consciousness and haven't figured out if I used that phrase correctly. I'm going to hope I did. 

Since I don't have an ultimate point, let me share a couple of things.

Disturbed doesn't fit in my musical flavor palette most days, but I came across their version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence", and I think it is a fantastic cover. I suggest turning this up and rocking out.

I'm pretty sure I've linked to Josh Wilker's Cardboard Gods website. He's written a few great books, and writes on his website regularly. He writes to cards he has collected throughout life, and every post is worth reading. I recently read his Ray Fosse post, and it reminded me what I really enjoy about his writing. Ray Fosse was infamously injured by Pete Rose during an All-Star game, and Josh wrote about it a bit.

My favorite line: "This is the danger all of us face, I guess: bitterness. We fall into a pattern of perpetually forgetting the sun is always shining, the sky is always boundless."

* - I actually didn't spell it correctly when I first typed it. I thought it was Stream of Conscious, no -ness.  I hope you don't think less of me.