One of the least attractive characteristics of our culture is its tendency toward fads. When I left high school, I had hoped to leave most of that stuff behind – the cliques, the cool kids, all that kind of thing. But unfortunately it exists in the adult world too! I think we especially see it in the brave new world of social media. So-and-so has 10,00 followers on Instagram, so they must be cool! Everyone’s talking about the new cookbook from _____ on Facebook, so it must be amazing! We even see it in the changing platforms of social media. Anyone remember MySpace? How long until Facebook is 6 feet under and remembered with an embarrassed quaintness? How did we ever live without Instagram? The iPhone is only 12 years old? What?
It would be easy to dismiss all this as the silliness which it is if one aspect didn’t land close to home for me: food blogging and its decline. It’s not just food blogging; it’s blogging in general. The blogosphere (forgive me for writing that awful word) has followed the pattern of all fads: novel idea, acceptance and imitation, irrational exuberance, short attention span, craving for novelty, decline. The implication is that bloggers weren’t doing it because they had something important to say (in which case they’d still be saying it, presumably). They were doing it because it was cool and hip and everyone was doing it, as is the case with Instagram at the moment (which is where a lot of bloggers have transferred their affections).
Even worse, some people were doing it for money. I was astounded when disabused of my naivete by finding out that people were making money running ads on their blogs. And here I just thought they had a passion they wanted to share! Others, including some I genuinely admire, used their blog to gain an audience and a book deal but then abruptly discarded the blog like the unfortunate victim of a one-night stand. It’s sad, because the sort of writing that many were doing on their blogs has not been replaced. One’s writing in a book is just not the same. Trying to read a long post on instagram while scrolling with my finger is not what I’d call a satisfying experience.
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but to me the idea of a blog was attractive because I thought I had something to contribute that was unique and not already being written about. I had to convince no one of the coolness or trendiness or profitability of my thinking. I had only to believe in what I had to say and share. Nothing of that has changed and so I plan to continue blogging, sharing recipes and observations about cooking and farming. I don’t run ads and I’m not using this blog as a stepping stone to a book deal. I use it as a journal, as an opportunity to record recipes and insights, making for myself not only a sort of collected history of my thinking but also a resource for customers, friends, and strangers who want to think about cooking and want help in cooking better.
So when the current idol, Instagram, is dropped for the latest, coolest thing, I’ll be shaking my head at the folly which characterizes all fads. Life is short. I only want to spend time with things of lasting value. I want to read the best and most timeless books, eat traditional food which has stood the test of time, live in a home unmarred by architectural whims and fancies. Fads all eventually become dated. But things of true value stand the test of time. Blogging can be like that if done in the right spirit. I plan to continue.
** I would like to give a shout out to Emiko Davies, who is an exception that proves the rule. Long after she secured a multiple-cookbook deal, she has kept up her blog, which is beautiful and substantial. Kudos to her.