Happy birthday! It is ten years today
since I first set you up. I didn't actually start writing entries here until the following April
, but today is the day I joined the LJ community and started reading and commenting on other people's posts, so I think this is the date that counts.
You and I have changed a lot over the last ten years, and sadly not always in ways we probably would have chosen. Certainly, on my side, between parental health issues and appalling workplace mismanagement, the last six years of my life have been pretty shit, all things considered. I know it's naive to expect life to be in any way fair, and I have tried to make the best of things and not get angry and resentful about it all, but it's got to be said that I thought my thirties would be more about happiness and achievement than they have actually turned out to be. Still, you have been there for me all that time, whether I needed to write about the problems I've experienced directly, escape from them into various sorts of film- and television-related fantasy worlds, or (just occasionally) explore and express enthusiasm for new things. I wish there'd been more of the latter in particular, but I'm grateful for all of it.
As for you, the sad reality is that other social networks have chipped away at your userbase. Facebook offers ease of usage, other blogging platforms offer search engine visibility and a sense of professionalism, Pinterest makes sharing picture content quick and easy, Tumblr encourages collaborative discussions, and Twitter captures trends and breaking news and opinion in a way that you never could. As a ball-park figure, I think only about one quarter of the people on my friendslist
are actually now active here in any way at all, and my stats tell me that my posts now rack up about 2/5 as many views apiece as they did five years ago. Inevitably, these things snowball, so that once people start drifting away there isn't as much left here to keep the remaining people interested, and in turn they drift too. What started as a slow but noticeable decline three or four years ago has definitely speeded up over the last two years.
And yet, somehow, here you still are in spite of it all. Just like me, in fact. What that tells me is that you still have something
to offer which other social networks can't match. Obviously for any individual user, part of it is a combination of nostalgia, and the particular friendship connections we have here. But most of my LJ friendship connections are replicated on other social networks, and yet it obviously still seems worth it to me and to others to keep writing here. LJ allows long discursive writing and considered discussion threads, all of which other blog platforms can match. But where it has and keeps the edge, I think, is the ability to do all of that in a personalised format, addressed to a reciprocal audience of known and trusted friends - either pseudonymously or even completely privately.
Twitter and blogging platforms are largely predicated on the assumption that they are publicly visible and associated with known identities, while once-cool Facebook is now increasingly full of work colleagues and family members whose expectations of our personas may be restrictive - indeed, this is a recognised factor in driving teenagers off it
. But LJ is both old enough and small enough to somehow have slipped under all of those nets. The fact that it is unknown territory to those who are anyway unlikely to 'get' it has always been part of its attraction. Certainly, I can write here about my parent and job woes in a way I wouldn't dream of on Facebook or Twitter, and I've seen many other LJ users coming here after long absences in similar circumstances. But it isn't just that. I can write long, self-indulgent film and TV reviews here which are about how I responded to a story, including expressions of extreme geekiness and digressions into my personal history, which I feel comfortable sharing here to a known (and often equally geekish) audience, but wouldn't want associated with my professional identity on a blog.
In short, I still love you LJ, and I don't intend to stop writing here any time soon. You are still an essential element in my online life, even if you're not the only one any more. In fact, I have made you a present in honour of our ten-year anniversary. See, I'm not saying everything I write here is cutting-edge essential content, but it matters to me and I do like writing it. I also think that one consequence of your drifting user-base is that there are people out there who might like to read some of it, but no longer even really know that I am posting here.
So I have finally done something I've been thinking I ought to do for a while. I have sifted through my Facebook friendslist, and put all the people who are or were once on LJ themselves, or who never were but whom I don't mind knowing about the sort of stuff I post here, onto a single 'LJ friendly' filter. From this entry onwards I am going to link to my public LJ posts from my Facebook feed, but filtered to that group only. Not, I think, the friendslocked stuff, but at least my film and TV reviews, and probably some general 'what I've been doing lately' updates too.
I hope you like it, and here's to the next ten years. I'll still be here if you are.
Lots of love,
PennyClick here if you would like view this entry in light text on a dark background.