Blogs are for Old People

February 25, 2013 at 11:37 pm (By Tim) (, , , )

This topic came up the other day on Facebook. Annie posted this, and in the run of comments, I said something like the following (edited):

Blogs have become a thing of the past for several reasons. I was made aware of one last year. I teach at a choir school, and I mentioned to the kids that I was thinking of starting a Music Appreciation blog for the school. My class broke out laughing and said in unison, “a BLOG?” launching into what sounded like a version of the “Internet Commenter Funeral” before I shut them up. One of them could even quote verbatim a blog insult he thought we both might know. At least I THINK he was. I shushed him up too quickly to have heard enough to confirm my worst suspicion. Anyway, that’s the image middle-schoolers (and my own high-school-age sons) have of blogs: Places where idiot adults go to insult one another. As one of my sons said, “Daaad, everybody hangs out on Facebook with their friends. If you really feel the need to discuss issues of the day with people you’d probably edge away from if you saw them in a crowd, there always are forums. Blogs are for old people.”

Annie then came back with two typically perceptive updates:

Young people always have to differentiate themselves from “old people,” but we always come crawling after them. Now that we too have infested Facebook, where will they go next?

The other thing about blogs is that that ecosystem has reached climax forest stage, where the big trees (such as Althouse, and you can name others) get the light before it can reach the forest floor, and seedlings languish and die unless they can get birds (tweet tweet) to carry them to new, open space.

But the thing that really got my attention was this link (via Tom Strong), wherein Josh Miller (who is,  from what I can tell, a fairly recent Princeton grad) reports on his tenth-grade sister, home in California:

View at

Something from it:

For me, Twitter is predominantly a link discovery service — admittedly, that is a simplified view, but it’s helpful for these purposes — so I followed-up on her Twitter comments by asking where she discovers links. “What do you mean?” She couldn’t even understand what I was asking. I rephrased the question: “What links do you read? What sites do they come from? What blogs?”

“I don’t read links. I don’t read blogs. I don’t know. You mean like funny videos on Facebook? Sometimes people post funny links there. But I’m not really interested in anything yet, like you are.”
She didn’t know what BuzzFeed was, and doesn’t visit fashion blogs! (Of course, the older brother thinks that would be a given.) I was floored.

Now, despite being a bona fide old person, I have a tenth-grade son, and I can categorically say he does not have the same tastes as Josh Miller’s sister. He’s an East Coast kid, and his own bona fides are as a prep school student. His internet time is limited by his need to get the grades to get a scholarship to one of the Ivies, or maybe NYU, if the musical theater thing works out for him. But he does have at least a little time to look at funny videos, link them occasionally, and be interested in things. Josh Miller’s sister is distinctly a Santa Monica kid and a flat-affect hipster by my son’s more earnest St. Grottlesex standards. Nevertheless, their online lives are similar enough to point to a future that does not resemble the past of us Old People, even those of us tech savvy enough to have spent too much of it on the internet looking for something it could not deliver. Seems the internet and the neurons of 16-year-olds are finally moving toward a future they were both meant for.


  1. lehg said,

    I’m stuck on the “shut them up” and “shushed him up too quickly” parts of this post. Too familiar, both in terms of being done unto and having done unto. If and when I get over both of those things, I’ll get onto the rest.

    [Also, so shoot me:

    I distinctly recall at least trying to point to this inevitable dynamic years and years ago. And, every now and again, up to and including very recently, trying to point out the results of not recognizing not just the consequences but also the result of ignoring the dynamics over many years.]

    It’s pretty much crappy, how things have turned out. If only that were less entrenched! The fact is, however, that things ARE entrenched, all the way down the line from each and every starting point (and there are a number). When folks are determined not to fix things, fixed those things will not be. Full stop. Pissing contests tend to be sui generis, which, by definition, is not all that helpful at large, regardless of the supposed starting point–whether philosophical, political, ethical, moral, artistic, partisan or principled.

    This is the piece so often overlooked.

  2. lehg said,

    Also, FWIW, in the spirit of everything that goes around, comes around, and that everything that comes around, goes around…

    [and then goes around and comes around comes around and goes around, goes and comes, comes and goes, & etc]

    …it’s been interesting to occasionally overhear what the next half-generation or so of folks have to say.

    Bittersweet lmao: Some of THEM reference a return to blogs. Of all things.

  3. TTBurnett said,

    I shut them up in the first instance because they were starting to use foul and/or abusive language. Such language is not tolerated in the school, even in jest. It’s that simple. See the link to the “Internet Commenter Funeral” for an example of where it seemed they were going.

  4. lehg said,

    Thank you for the clarification.

  5. karen said,

    Maybe Tim should have said: shut them down.

    I found out what a ~wenus~ was last night- via my 13yr. I wish i could link it- Urban Dictionary. My 9yr old said it was “inappropriate”- but, it wasn’t- it’s just suppose(d) to sound like it is. Maybe ice could link it up?

    Shock &vulgarities rule the day. In our world up here- there is no understanding of current events and maybe this was always the case?
    Yet, please notice the overuse of disrespect and cruelty in the youth culture of today:via videos- pranks- comments- tv shows &even kids cartoons &animated movies. Not to say there are no saving Graces, just to say the loudest are the ones aiming to pain.

    Who has time to enact in conversation and the trading of(sometimes snarky)ideas? No time. Better to ~Selfie~ a reality(i have many, many from my 21yr old- even her newest tattoo @the time of inkage!).

    I’m glad i’m old:0).

  6. LouiseM said,

    Here you go, karen: wenus.

    Do cows have elbows? If so, I imagine they might also sport some fairly impressive wenuses.

    I see absurdity is a way of engaging from a safe distance. Shock and vulgarities perform a similar function. They keep the true self guarded and protected from pain, fear, confusion and shame by serving to disarm, rebuff and redirect uncomfortable opinions and incoming judgments from others. Those who feel vulnerable and powerless will employ strong covers of protection to survive, yet the outwardly focused “See me, see me, look, look, look, but don’t look too close” way of living doesn’t lead to connection or fulfillment. Neither does the “if I do everything right life will work out the way I hope” approach. In the face of trauma and hardship, both will eventually implode.

    What do old people have to offer? Enough experience to present affirmation, knowledge, insight, and encouragement along with their lived truth in whatever form works for them and allows them to be real and authentic, regardless of who they think may or may not be reading or listening. While awareness regarding which means of communication are most popular or best serve the concerns today’s youth is good to know, focus on such directs attention away from the main issue, which is: what have I received, what do I have to offer others and where can I do so in a way that works for me? Effectiveness is a marketing concern: faithfulness is an entirely different matter, most powerful when it flows naturally like the wind where it pleases.

    Without this blog, I might not have heard about or read Jacque’s story or be puzzling through and talking with my family about what “matter is a corrective” means. Because of this blog both happened. I’m not willing to concede that blogs have become a thing of the past, because they affect my life in the present moment.

    In fact, TT. I’d go so far as to encourage you to put aside the laughter of unformed youth, start a Music Appreciation blog, commit to it for a trial duration, allow yourself to be as real, enthused and authentic as possible, and see what unfolds.

    >i>Working Together”
    by David Whyte (River Flow: New & Selected Poems, 2007)

We shape our self
    to fit this world

    and by the world

    are shaped again.

    The visible
and the invisible

    working together
in common cause,

    to produce
the miraculous.

    I am thinking of the way

    the intangible air

    traveling at speed

    round a shaped wing

holds our weight.

    So may we, in this life


    to those elements
we have yet to see

    or imagine,

    and look for the true

    shape of our own self,

    by forming it well

    to the great

    intangibles about us.

  7. John E. Smith said,


    Interesting post.

    It occurs to me that what you describe may be a developmental thing, rather than some significant shift in how people access knowledge.

    When I was in elementary and secondary school, I did not read anything of any length without being forced to do so. I preferred to spend my time reading comic books:)

    As I matured, I began to see the value in learning about things in more depth and started to read more complicated documents and even entire books.

    Maybe the reason younger people do not read blogs is because they do not yet have a reason to do so.

    I would not count blogging out just yet.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.


  8. Icepick said,

    The internet just keeps changing, and the hot new thing today is guaranteed to be stale bread tomorrow and a moldering heap of corruption next year. I think this comic captures the emotional essence of the thing.

    karen, I tried to post a link to the definition of wenus (or wenis) yesterday, as well as the definition of wagina. For some reason the comment did not post initially and when I tried reposting I was told that it was a duplicate of a previous comment. Regardless, the comment never appeared, nor is it in any of the queues. Anyone else having similar problems?

  9. kngfish said,

    Ok, a little late to the party, but here goes. I don’t sit and think about what is the appropriate age for my social media. I just use it. If blogs still hold my interest in 20 years, 20 months, 20 days, or 20 minutes…I’ll still use them. Generally Facebook bores me, but I occasionally see a use for it. Twitter is my drug of choice, but, hey, I could drop that too if need be!

    I stick to this notion from my uncle Fred writing about Emerson: “He does not know how old he is, or how young he is going to become.” I follow the heat; the knowledge, the love, the nuttiness…. wither it goes and how.

  10. karen said,

    Wagina… ~sigh~
    i suppose if i were 13- i’d be lmao.

    O/T but O/Target… listened to the local news tonight. Very disturbing things in our state. :0(

  11. lehg said,

    Walk away, walk away.

  12. LouiseM said,

    Someone once asked Dad: “But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?”

    “For work, if you love that best,” said Dad. “For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.” He looked over the top of his pince-nez. “For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.” F. Gilbreth and E Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper by the Dozen

  13. LouiseM said,

    Several poems fluttered into my life this past week. They came via the internet through blogs, along with a song. A definition of truth also showed up, one I’m still weighing and considering, where truth was referred to as: an eternal conversation about things that matter, conducted with passion and discipline. ( P. Palmer) I I like the thought of truth being a conversation (experienced relationally?) and appreciate the connect between passion and discipline, with the discipline part fitting the matter as a corrective thoughts I’ve been entertaining.

    The song that brought tears You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits arrived via Sippican Cottage and after sharing it with my family, I printed out the sheet music and have been singing it to myself this weekend, enjoying the reminder that decline and death aren’t the whole picture. Even though I can feel the sun getting stronger, the ground around is still covered in snow. This acknowledgement that I don’t have to do anything and can’t do anything to make spring happen and colors appear as they surely will, brings relief and hope.

    The poem, The Ponds, also affirmed a desire I forget in the pull of life. The last exchange I had with Randy involved comments on the beauty and bounty of his impatiens and my nasturtiums. That abundance along with the brief conversation mattered to me, a virtual stranger, affirming that “the light is everything–that it is more than the sum”. So it goes with blogs too.

    The Ponds

    Every year
    the lilies
    are so perfect
    I can hardly believe

    their lapped light crowding
    the black,
    mid-summer ponds.
    Nobody could count all of them—

    the muskrats swimming
    among the pads and the grasses
    can reach out
    their muscular arms and touch

    only so many, they are that
    rife and wild.
    But what in this world
    is perfect?

    I bend closer and see
    how this one is clearly lopsided—
    and that one wears an orange blight—
    and this one is a glossy cheek

    half nibbled away—
    and that one is a slumped purse
    full of its own
    unstoppable decay.

    Still, what I want in my life
    is to be willing
    to be dazzled—
    to cast aside the weight of facts

    and maybe even
    to float a little
    above this difficult world.
    I want to believe I am looking

    into the white fire of a great mystery.
    I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
    that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
    of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.

    Mary Oliver

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