I'm still writing on the internet.
I read Kate Zambreno’s To Write as if Already Dead late last year and, in the former half of the book, she writes what can only be described as an elegy to the blog and the pseudonymous friend she’d made through the comment box, Alex Suzuki.
I don’t remember why Alex Suzuki immolated her blog, as we were all wont to do temporarily in times of distress or feeling like we had emoted too much online, and as most of us have done permanently now.
I looked at my own blog and thought: are blogs dead? Of course they are. Still, I miss the fireside coziness that spun up in the early aughts. Before the internet became primarily acquisitive. Before everyone was trying to sell me diet tea or sulfite free wine.
Now, if I post a picture of my living room on Instagram, someone messages to ask where I got my lamp, my wine glasses, then they buy them and I am left wondering if this act is somehow depleting me. Of course, the wine glasses are only from West Elm, not handmade on the moon, but I feel as though I've lost something all the same. The chance for connection, perhaps.
Brandon Taylor summed up the current culture of online commodification in his recent newsletter post:
If I post a picture of a book I am reading. Or a passage that moved me or made me think or made me laugh. People ask where it is from. They do not engage the thing. They want to know where the thing is from. And those are not the same.
It seeps into our real lives as well, this desire to possess, to know everything. Perhaps this is the ultimate realization of influencer culture, that we would simply absorb another person entirely if we could. Their style, personality, all of it. Is this the appeal of the metaverse? Count me out.
Still, I long so keenly for the halcyon days of the early Internet that I tend to recreate it when I can. My newest novella is largely about the webcomics and online forums of the late 90’s. And I started this substack in hopes of rekindling that primordial flame. And because I can’t stop writing on the Internet.
This year, I am trying to read primarily from among the stacks upon stacks of books hidden in all corners of my apartment and keep some sort of an informal diary of that process here. I went into a used book store and walked out empty handed today, so I am feeling full of hopeful fervor as I press ‘publish.’ Hello, goodbye.