2022 Intermezzo

Well, it’s been a year. I wish I could say that I made a deliberate decision to take 2022 as a blogging sabbatical.

I didn’t. It just worked out that way.

It isn’t as if I haven’t been writing. I have. Analog-style, long hand, with a delicious fountain pen on decadently smooth, thick paper in my handmade journals.

It isn’t as if I haven’t been practicing Druidry and magic. I have. I completed the OBOD Druid Grade materials (and am crafting my final project now). My personal daily practice has been consistent and strengthened. I joined the AODA as a means to deepen my Druid studies even further, particularly with regard to being a Naturalized descendent of colonizers. I ended up doing some fairly intense work with the element of Water, and with Elder. She taught me one of Her songs. In return, I planted three new bare-root elder babies near the orchard, the beginning of a sacred circle of medicinals. I sang their song to them as I worked the soil.

Nor did I turn into a complete hermit. My involvement with community remained vital and vibrant in 2022. I still worked with a fantastic group of folks organizing and running BAM Druid Gather, and taught a class on phenology in a Druid context at MAGUS. The Mystic River Grove has continued its seasonal celebrations and welcomed so many new and lovely folks. I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a ritual for peace in Ukraine, which one of our group then shepherded into the new and vibrant OBOD Healers’ Circle.

Things have been happening, but not on the Internet, not on the blogosphere.

The Internet has become a scary place for creatives. Multiple close friends have had their art style scraped and ripped off by AI. Writing will be next, I have little doubt. My partner, a software engineer who got his masters in AI technology, is pretty sure his career path will also be obsolete before long.

Then there is the toxic stew that constitutes social media–not really a new development to anyone who’s been paying attention over the past decade. The sense of connection and camaraderie promised by the World Wide Web has been swept aside like so many cobwebs. Rather than bring like-minded folks together, our society has been atomized and siloed. The old (1973) adage that “if something is free, ‘you’ are the product” has been taken to a new and pathological level.

When we treat relationships, or art, or writing (or code for that matter) as a consumable product, then social media and AI make sense, or at least masquerade as a logical progression. Producing something in a certain style, in massive quantities, all in an instant is how the biggest profits get made. By the same token, when we as creatives become “content creators”, providing these social media platforms with the lifeblood of our creativity and friendships for the vague promises of “promotion” and “clicks”, we have made ourselves part of the machine, slaves to an algorithm we hate.

It’s a devil’s bargain, no offense to the devil.

I’ve read more than once that blogging is dead. The discontinuation of Google’s RSS Reader in 2013 and the rise of Twitter in the early 2010s certainly combined to purge all but the hardiest from the blog ecosystem. Most people who want to write long-form content have moved to platforms like Medium or now Substack or newsletters (all of which I’ve considered as well). Perhaps AI will be the final toll of a death bell that’s been clanging for over 10 years.

This brings me to the question of “Then why? Why write?” I write because it’s how I synthesize my experiences. When the flames of a meditation or ritual die down, writing is how I rekindle that memory. I write because there are ideas bursting under the surface of my mind, waiting to be let out onto paper. I write because I have to.

Now, is it worth sharing my writing with others, given the hazards discussed above? I think so. At least for the moment. As Stephen King noted in On Writing, writing IS telepathy:

“I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room… except we are together. We are close. We’re having a meeting of the minds. We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy. No mythy-mountain shit; real telepathy.”

I share my writing via blogging because of those very insistent, bubbling ideas. If I don’t give them a home, they’ll find someone else who can. What better way to express and enliven them than with honest-to-gods telepathy?

So is blogging dead? Perhaps. I’d like to think that the people who still write in sentences longer than a spit of tobacco juice, do so because there is value in exploring a topic in-depth. On the other hand, rather than blogging being dead (or at least moribund), perhaps bloggers are the lucky ones. Maybe our obsolescence will enable the gaze of AI to skip over us for a bit longer. I realize that’s most likely a fool’s hope.

And I would be fool not to sit and weigh the ramifications of engaging in a creative practice on the Internet. I have no wish to promote divisiveness or to feed these platforms with manufactured discord. Nor do I wish for my own work to be ripped off by the latest generation of click-bait-generating AIs. Building genuine knowledge, community, and understanding are not things that sell under our current system. They never have been.

At the end of 2021, I wrote, “I’m having a hard time feeling any hope for 2022. I pulled the shadow-face of Elder for my plant divination card this morning—and it’s not wrong.” 2022 ended up defining Shadow Year for me: going quiet, masticating some personal demons, focusing on things I could affect, and leaving to others the things over which I have no control. It was a needed fallow time in terms of public-facing writing–I just wish I had been more deliberate about it.

With that, let’s see what 2023 brings.

12 thoughts on “2022 Intermezzo

  1. I very grateful your are back writing… I think you are brilliant and practical in the way you share your thoughts… relatable. You also give a refreshing perspective that is not syrupy sweet but honest.
    Thank you for sharing your gift 🍃🎶🦋

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah… the blogosphere does seem to be far less popular than it once was but I write for similar reasons and hope the readers who need to will still find me… thanks for the update on your year. It sounds like things are going well for you in the real world!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So much yes to this and your honest observations on AI and social media. I suppose we blog because we enjoy it and we’re also looking for like minded folk or learning new perspectives too.

    The question there is so we write to gain likes or are we writing for ourselves?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The attention feedback loop that social media has designed is seductive for sure. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I’ve had the thought, “If nobody is reading, why should I bother?”

      You’re absolutely right that we want engagement on some level–but do we *need* it? That’s not as clear-cut. If we can move towards creating to please ourselves (and/or other non-human beings), I think it helps lessen the desire for “likes”. At least I hope it does!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, I think it’s something we all suffer from to an extent now; even I’ve had the same thoughts of not bothering. I’m of the opinion that engagement is a good thing but have found WordPress a much nicer place in regards of people chiming in with their experiences and thoughts, no where near as toxic as other social media sites.

        I’ve more recently adopted the attitude of my blog being a kind of “thought diary” and even though this year has seen become an “Old English Alamanac” type flavour, I’m doing it for me not really for anyone else. Although if someone becomes inspired by what I wrote or has learned something new, or even better- share their experience or draw comparisons with their culture then I’m pleased with that.

        It’s very good to have you back btw and blogging may be “dead” for businesses, but for us travellers on the road of experiences and new horizons….. it works for us. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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