Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Thoughts on vintage blogging in 2020

Since restarting Eclectic Ephemera in March this year I haven't been able to help but perceive a dispiriting trend within the vintage blogosphere - something that I first began to notice a few years prior but which has now reached such a point that I feel moved to record my own thoughts on the matter.  It is simply this - there seems to be far fewer active vintage blogs (and by blogs I mean the traditional written "web logs" hosted by the likes of Blogger, Wordpress and LiveJournal) than there once were.  So many vintage bloggers appear to have vanished into the æther that it seems as though there are only a handful of us left.  My blog roll and reading list of what I call "vintage lifestyle blogs" are now at least two-thirds smaller than they were ten years ago.

This is something that I'm glad to note I am not alone in observing, as fellow bloggers Harlow Darling and RetroCat have both mentioned the fact in recent posts of their own and it is that which has also inspired me to write this post (and I apologise for the stream of consciousness that is about to follow!).

What, then, may be the reasons behind the demise of so many once excellent vintage blogs and the dearth of any new ones?  Well I think HD and RetroCat both touch upon the main one in their posts - the inexorable rise of social media sites and apps such as FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok and in particular the instant, quick-hit, image-heavy element therein that seems to appeal to so many people these days.  RetroCat hits the nail on the head in describing this as "rapid consumption" - the internet equivalent of "fast food".

This links to my next theory on why classic blogs might be declining - a generational shift.  Now on the face of it this might seem at odds with the whole vintage blogosphere ethos, inasmuch as those of us (of any age) with an abiding interest in vintage would - if we dip our toes in the online world at all - tend to be the sort who gravitate to the more traditional media such as blogs like these.  But in line with the decline in traditional bloggers comes the thought that the next generation - the teenagers and those in their early twenties who, although they may well be genuinely interested and enthusiastic about vintage, are much more tech-savvy and have, dare I say it, been brought up like so many of their generation on instantaneous online gratification - are generally less interested in writing long or even middling posts about their lifestyles, their vintage finds, their thoughts and feelings on the subject; preferring instead to simply post picture after picture, "tagging", "liking" and thumbs-upping" all and sundry - they are the so-called "influencers" that HD and RetroCat so rightly mention.

I have seen a similar situation affecting another once-thriving but now seriously under threat corner of the internet - the online chat-room.  Now almost an extinct species, the chat-rooms I still visit that were once teeming with interesting discussion almost all lie largely silent and dormant as everyone seems to have migrated to the behemoth that is FaceBook, with the rise in modern technology - specifically smartphones - aiding this move away from the traditional online media.  In either case there sadly seems little that one can do to stem the tide, except to keep plugging away making regular appearances in the forlorn hope that it inspires others to engage in online conversation of more than a few letters and symbols.  Of course every now and again one of the younger generation comes along who will embrace these older internet ways and it is up to us to encourage them where we encounter them in the hope that they will inject new blood into what is fast becoming a dying art form.

A further thought in a similar vein is the simple fact that as people age (sorry to have to bring it up, but there it is) they do change.  Their views may alter over time; their likes and interests change and evolve to the point where they may no longer have the desire to follow a certain lifestyle.  New paths may open up for them to explore, and who are we to begrudge them that?  Family life, work commitments, or other changes in personal life may all conspire to alter someone's personality to the extent that they don't want to blog about their lives any more or if they do they do so through more modern social media because of the aforementioned instantaneousness and ease of use.

The other thing I have noticed, which may be in part linked to the above but which in fact I do feel has more to do with other factors, is the apparent decline in friendly camaraderie and interaction that used to so characterise the vintage blogosphere.  Looking back to when I - and many others - started blogging 11 years ago it seems to me that we were writing in a much more positive and upbeat style, as well as commenting freely on posts, linking to each others' blogs and generally making encouraging noises to one another.  Now I'm not saying this has stopped being the case entirely, nor do I mean to shame anyone into feeling that they're "not doing enough" - far from it!  However I cannot get away from the fact that there does seem to have been a drop off in online interaction between remaining bloggers and while the reasons outlined above are likely involved I am given to wonder if society as a whole may not be playing a part as well.

No-one can deny that we have seen massive social as well as technological changes in the last decade and, sad to say, some of them (especially the former) have not always been positive.  In the four years alone that this blog was on hiatus there have been some sea changes throughout the world, the ripples of which will have been felt by all and sundry.  We only have to look at the current Covid crisis and the deplorable situation in America to note but two recent areas of massively negative social upheaval.  How could one not expect that to have a wider influence on people's interactions, views, health and happiness?  Who would want to blog about, say, 1930s fashion, or a classic film, when the world is in such a mess?  Even when we do, it would be unreasonable not to expect some negativity to make its way - even subconsciously - into our posts.

That, however, is what I created Eclectic Ephemera for and although I still find myself at times wondering if I ought to put this place to bed once and for all I do genuinely enjoy stretching my writing muscles on here in combating the all-pervading media negativity with vintage-inspired items that interest me (and, I hope, by extension, you the readers) and I hope to be able to continue doing so for a long time to come, instant social media or not.  I also hope and look forward to reading many an absorbing vintage blog both old and - hopefully! - new, with the fervent wish and belief that tomorrow will be a good day and that with everyone's help the vintage blogosphere will continue to flourish.

***What are your thoughts on the state of the vintage blogging scene?  Let me know in the comments below.***


  1. Myself as well as several other typewriter and fountain pen blogs have seen the same thing that you state so well. Over the past few years many great blogs have died. Some are still up and inactive, others have gone away. To me it is a sad state of affairs. People seem to want to do a few sentences and spend about 30 seconds at any one thing and move on. A blog post takes a bit of effort and thought to create in interesting post. I recently stopped one of my blogs due to changes at Blogger. I have an inactive one on blogger that I revise occasionally. I'm staying in there though and moving my Blogger typewriter blog to WordPress.

    I thoroughly enjoy yours posts. I hope you choose to keep blogging.

    1. Hi Bill, yes I've noticed the same thing elsewhere too - it's definitely not a something that's only affecting vintage blogs. It is sad indeed, inasmuch as it seems to me to be a reflection of the growing insularity sweeping across the world, where once the internet (and within that, blogging) was all about sharing and propagating ideas and discoveries. Maybe when the latest wave of madness dies down those ways will return - we can but hope!

      I saw that you've been having some problems lately with Blogger; I can't say as I've any complaints myself (although I see they're about to make some changes to the interface that might give me pause for thought, we'll have to wait and see) but I know a few bloggers who have migrated to WordPress (and I do have a back-up Eclectic Ephemera ready to go there as well if the worst were to happen). I hope your move across goes without a hitch and I look forward to continuing to follow you on WordPress. Thanks for the positive comments too - I certainly intend to carry on blogging for the foreseeable future and I'm glad there are people like you still out there enjoying it.

    2. The new interface is what led to my frustration.
      Going back to the old made matters worse. It may be the way the new code is developed because some of what I used to edit to make Blogger work for me no longer worked.

    3. Maybe I've been lucky so far - switching to the new interface has only resulted in some formatting issues in my reading list and the introduction of a pointless and slightly annoying redirect page whenever I try to click through to a blog from the same (both reported to Google, much good will it do). At the moment reverting to the old one stops that, but for how long we'll be able to do it I wouldn't like to say. Blogger are maintaining that we'll be able to even after the new interface becomes the default at the end of this month, but they've made it patently obvious where their priorities lie by saying it's designed to make things easier for mobile users so as ever I expect we'll all be forced to switch sooner rather than later or otherwise have to jump ship to somewhere like WordPress. Let's hope I'm wrong!

  2. Bruce, I'm a very late arrival to this scene, having not even known what a blog was until several years ago - too many decades spent shunning racy, modern technology principally to blame - so have always been surprised by these sorts of musing from seasoned bloggers. Where would one find the time to find and appreciate more blogs than are already out there? Much less find the time to compose a well-thought and illustrated post on a weekly or even daily basis, unless this was your line of work?

    It's true that even I have noticed some Instagrammers who bill themselves bloggers, (presumably having migrated over from a traditional post), but after posting a picture and some lengthy wordage, it must be rather dispiriting to know the average reader will be spending 3-nanoseconds on your masterpiece for the day, and I hardly think clocking up some "likes" is ample enough reward, for why would one devote the energy on that medium if not for the self-promotion? (And as for those who litter their blogs and places like Pinterest with misspellings and whatnot, that is a whole other topic!)

    For me, the pleasure of blogging is purely selfish. I neither draw nor paint, so my digital scribblings can be said to be an improvement on any handwritten effort as I can lavish illustration hither & thither, (within the bounds of copyright, obv.!), and don't have to fret over scrappy handwriting. I find the process endlessly amusing, when I find the time to muck about in it, that is, and thus find it a complete and surprising bonus when others such as yourself find your way there. And for which I say, Thank You!

    I reiterate Bill M, above, and say that now that I have found you, I enjoy reading your blog and hope you keep posting from time to time.

    1. Pipistrello, thanks very much for taking the time to comment; it's really interesting to read your perspective on this. My post was more of an observation rather than a complaint or shaming exercise; of course there are still many excellent blogs to follow that continue to be kept up, but among the vintage lifestyle (and as Bill mentions, the typosphere too) there do seem to have been an inordinate number falling by the wayside in recent years. There was certainly a time when there were any number of well-written vintage blogs that all seems to complement each other and add something to the overall mix, although I take your point that too much of a good thing can end up adversely affecting its quality. Blogger doesn't help matters by making it difficult to find active bloggers with similar interests, so one has to rely quite a bit on others' blog rolls and reading lists.

      I think it possible that the term "blogging" has evolved to include the likes of Instagram and Tumblr and I agree with you about the average reader and many Instagrammers' desire for self-promotion. It's all rather a foreign country to me too, I have to say!

      I started Eclectic Ephemera originally as an antidote to all the bad, negative news I felt I was seeing all around me (and which, sadly, is still the case - whoever sad "bad news sells" was regrettably right it seems) but it quickly evolved to reflect my own interests in various different aspects of the vintage "scene" to where it has reached what it is today. Like you I was and still am wholly and pleasantly surprised when I realise that other people find my ramblings of equal interest and even more so when they take the time to comment (going back to that online interaction that I've mentioned). Almost unintentionally this blog has also been a welcome outlet for my writing, which many people have been kind enough to comment positively on and which has led to all sorts of opportunities that I could never have foreseen when I started, so for that reason alone I feel compelled to continue with it. Thanks again for your own words of support; I'm glad to have found your blog too and hope to keep following your efforts in the future.

  3. Fine comments. I should have waited and replied at the end like I'm doing now.
    I find blogging quite enjoyable as a way to share hobbies, information, and communication; all minus the social media world. Social media for me is blogs or amateur radio (the original social media as well as the original digital form of communication (Morse Code))
    Funny thing about Blogger is I have a mostly inactive radio blog that never gives trouble when I post. My typewriter one has given problems of alignment, size, font, and background almost from the start. I started both of them about 2010 or 2011. Not the oldest or youngest blog or blogger.
    I have noticed that during the lock down some blogs have come back to life after being quite for several years. I hope to be on WordPress by next week end if not before.

    1. Thanks Bill. I feel the same about blogging - it's a good way to share all the things you mention, plus for me it also seemed a natural (21st century) extension of my scrap-booking/ paper clippings hobby. Blogging is definitely the original [online] social media, I agree. I used to joke that social media was reading a newspaper in the park, but I guess Morse Code can lay claim to that title (I have more than a passing interest in Morse too, as it happens - my grandfather was a telegraphist in the Royal Navy during WW2 and passed on his love of it to me)! I look forward to reading your blog when it goes live on WordPress; your radio blog sounds interesting too.

  4. Well rest assured there are those of us out here who appreciate the effort taken by traditional bloggers. Regretably I do think that social changes as you have described is playing its part and sadly there is a tendency these days for more, shall we say, politicaly excitable younger people, to deride everything from the past as being unacceptable in the brave new world they are seeking. I shall continue to delight in all things vintage, antique, quaint and whimisical, and I'm damn well going to go off and make myself a stiff cocktail to see me on my way.

    1. Thanks awfully for your comment, Darryl - it's jolly good to know that there are still chaps out there like you visiting my little corner of the interweb. I think you're right as well about certain sections of society denigrating perfectly decent aspects of the past without taking the time to discriminate (in the proper sense of the word) between good and bad, between the tried-and-tested and "progress" just for the sake of it. I'm with you, sir, in continuing to champion the vintage, the antique, the quaint and the whimsical (well said!).

  5. For long I have been alarmed at the sad state of dormancy and unloved dereliction that is the apparent fate of many vintage-related blogs floating around the interweb. I rather enjoyed my visit to your website, sir. You are indeed a stout chap, an ever-full font of amusement and knowledge. We do in fact share something in common in that we both have blogs that exclaim to anyone who will listen that vintage is definitely not a thing of the past! By sheer coincidence I too have written about the sorry state of vintage blogging and you can find it via the little link. More power to you, dear Bruce. I remain, etc etc...

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Emma and its good to hear from another fellow vintage scribe who has noticed the regrettable downturn in like-minded bloggers. Your own post on the subject resonated strongly with me and is very well put (and as a statistician I do love some good old-fashioned pie charts!). Thanks again for stopping by and I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit - I hope to see you around here again. Cheerio for now and I remain &c...


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