A few days ago, when Rafa won his third US Open, and his sixteenth Grand Slam, I suddenly found myself feeling a sense of nostalgia and loss. Yes, I was happy that Rafa had won, and tickled at the strange turn that the 2017 season had provided for Federer and Nadal fans. But I suddenly was struck by a sense of loss. What was I mourning? I was mourning a loss of blogs.
Back in 2011, I read several tennis blogs that are now defunct. These blogs attracted a large number of comments and we formed a kind of community. It was, ironically, that community that encouraged me to start blogging again. They commented here sometimes, especially when I was being treated for thyroid cancer five years ago. Of course, in time, we all moved on. Interests changed, lives changed, and these blogs and communities folded. Ironically, my blog seems to be the only one still in existence. I think that is because my blog is random, not theme based. I don’t need to abandon this blog when I suddenly pick up a new interest; I simply add that to the blog. (Though most of the writings of this blog is pretty consistent.) But as I thought about the US Open and the kind of discussions that would have taken place on those blogs this week if they still existed, I felt very sad.
The internet is a graveyard of blogs. Some blogs never really take off and are quickly abandoned. Other blogs have wide followings but the writers either move on with their lives or interests. Sometimes society moves on from the interests of the blog. Many of the blogs that I have read and loved over the years are now abandoned. Some have been deleted. That makes me sad, when a blog is deleted, especially if the writing was good and the pieces memorable. Occasionally, a defunct blog will rise again, and there are still a couple of blogs that I check, even a year after the most recent post, hoping against hope that it will be updated.
The death of a blog can also mean the death of the community. Usually the internet is a horrible place where people are dreadfully mean to each other. But occasionally, similar minded people will find each other on the internet. When they do, it is amazing. However, on blogs, I have found that these tend to be rather ephemeral. Either the blog dies out, people move on with interests, or the issue that brought the people together ceases to be relevant.
For the most part, everyone moves on. But as I watched the footage from the US Open, and thought about this crazy year and all its unbelievable surprises (the resurgence of Federer and Nadal, the collapse of Djokovic) I wished that I was able to read what the blogs said and the other commentators. The pain was surprisingly sharp, considering they were just blogs and comments online. I wonder if other people have had this experience.
Perhaps we all need to view blogs and online communities as the sand mandalas created by Buddhist monks. They take painstaking care to create beautiful works of art, only to destroy them to symbolize the transient nature of reality. It is hard though, at times, not to feel the loss very keenly.
Well, in memory of all of the lost blogs and the communities they fostered, I submit Mozart’s Requiem. I was fortunate enough to hear this at the Cleveland Orchestra last month.