KingMidget's Ramblings

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Today’s Second Disappointment

Last weekend, I wrote about my email exchange with Talking Points Memo.  The Editor of that site and I ended up having a longer email exchange that got more polite and constructive.  But now there’s this.

My favorite blog of all is Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.  For more than a decade it has been exactly what I needed in a blog.  Simple interface.  No clutter.  A fascinating mix of topics — politics, science, current events, snark, beautiful pictures, controversy.  Just a great roller-coaster of topics on a daily basis.  While Sullivan takes occasional vacations when he doesn’t blog at all, he is basically the backbone of this endeavor that operates 365 days a year, year after year, at a phenomenal level.

I’ve wondered for years how he does it and earlier this week he posted a note to his readers that he was taking a break, that he could do it no more.  That he may or may not be back to blogging at some unknown time in the future.  Yes, of course, he would keep writing, but he would likely no longer keep up the daily grind of his blog.

His blog was quiet for exactly one day before he started posting all of the reactions to his announcement that he was quitting.  All of the other bloggers and commentators, then the tweets, then the emails from his readers.  And, bam, only two days later, he announced on his blog that “As of tomorrow, we’re going back to regular blogging.”  Today is that tomorrow, and they are indeed back.

Why does this disappoint me?  That my favorite blog isn’t actually going away?  Because it reeks of manipulation and a massive ego trip for Sullivan.  He needed to get some validation for what he is doing and he did it by threatening to take away the blog so he could see how much people still loved him and once he got that confirmation … just kidding.  It wasn’t enough that he has tens of thousands of readers and millions of page views each month.  He needed something more to keep the candle burning.

He went to a pay version of his blog two years ago.  The paid subscribers and revenue for the second year increased only slightly over the first year.  February is when it is time fororiginal subscribers  renew their subscriptions — there’s a minimum charge for the subscription, but a lot of readers pay more than the minimum.  The really cynical part of me anticipates that in a couple of months he’ll announce that his readers have re-upped for the next year and the year-over-year growth of revenue is significant.  He won’t admit it, of course, but the connection will be there — readers will have paid more in response to his threatened departure.

If I believe in signs, I would say that what happened with Talking Points Memo and The Daily Dish this week is a sign for me to continue my pull back from the digital world (which oddly enough was one of Sullivan’s main reasons for wanting to take a break).  I spend far too much time reading things on the internet.  Blogs like those two are part of the cycle of repetitive behaviors I engage in that distract me from my own writing.  So, maybe I’ll take this sign and believe in it.

7 responses to “Today’s Second Disappointment

  1. sknicholls January 31, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I don’t know if I would jump to the conclusion that it was all ego related and he required validation. Blogging almost daily is exhausting. He might have needed a response from his audience that simply says, “We’re listening.” It irks me that social media is constantly condemning people’s need for validation. That’s part of what makes us social creatures. Without it we are merely trees, not a forest. What’s wrong with being a beautiful forest? I’m not saying people need to march to the same drum beat, but a drummer is pretty useless if he doesn’t have an audience to hear his music.

    • kingmidget January 31, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      You may be right. Your comment about social media is interesting … the entire point of most social media is to get validation. I think the problem is that there are all sorts of ways that Sullivan already gets validation. Tens of thousands of subscribers, millions of page views each month, robust comments from his readers who help carry on a dialogue that plays out on his blog. All sorts of validation that he gets.

  2. Trent Lewin January 31, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Well, you never know about the motivations of people… I hope that’s not why he did that… but then I don’t know the site or the man.

    • kingmidget January 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      I was surprised at how quickly he “came back.” I would have been more surprised if he never returned to blogging, but for his break to last basically a couple of days just seems to suggest he wasn’t really serious about it. And, of course, this isn’t really that big of a deal.

  3. JunkChuck February 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

    As of the last time I looked, he seemed to be going away for good. Maybe it was true indecisiveness, not neediness?

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