Blogging: a great pastime for the elderly

I remember when it was kind of cool to be a blogger. You’d walk around with a swagger in your step, a twinkle in your eye. Now it’s just humiliating. Blogging has become like mahjong or needlepoint or clipping coupons out of Walgreens circulars: something old folks do while waiting to croak.

Did you see that new Pew study that came out yesterday? It put a big fat exclamation point on what a lot of us have come to realize recently: blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the Internet. It’s even uncooler than editing Wikipedia articles or having a Second Life avatar. In 2006, 28% of teens were blogging. Now, just three years later, the percentage has tumbled to 14%. Among twentysomethings, the percentage who write blogs has fallen from 24% to 15%. Writing comments on blogs is also down sharply among the young. It’s only geezers – those over 30 – who are doing more blogging than they used to.

Here’s how Pew puts the bad news:

While blogging among adults as a whole has remained steady, the prevalence of blogging within specific age groups has changed dramatically in recent years. Specifically, a sharp decline in blogging by young adults has been tempered by a corresponding increase in blogging among older adults.

They even have a chart, just to rub salt in the wound:

teenblogging.jpg

When I blog these days, I feel like I should be sitting in a rocking chair, wearing a highly absorptive undergarment, and writing posts debunking some overhyped new bunion treatment (iPads?).

Yesterday I was out taking a walk and I happened to pass a group of tweens congregating on a street corner. I heard one of them say, “Hey, that guy’s a blogger,” and then they all started throwing their empty energy-drink cans at me. I had to take refuge in a Starbucks. I spent a half hour crying into my double-tall.

I hear that in middle schools “blogger” has become the most common term of abuse, playing roughly the same role that “wuss” used to play:

“You’re such a blogger, Derek.”

“You’re the blogger, Sean.”

“Am not.”

“Are too!”

Blogger jokes are turning into the new big thing on college campuses:

Q: How many bloggers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Who cares?

Very funny.

16 Comments

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16 Responses to Blogging: a great pastime for the elderly

  1. Ari Schulman

    You mean they weren’t drinking Mountain Dew? I don’t understand the kids these days.

  2. I admit I am openly bloggy! For years, I lived a lie and stayed in the closet(where my DSL phone line was installed) – afraid of the blogger bashers. Its time to come out; out of the bars and bath houses with WIFI! Be out and proud bloggers! Proudly put the big B sticker on your back windshield! See you at Blogger Pride next year!

  3. I recall reading in October(-ish) that it was the same with Facebook: that the biggest facebook users are late 20’s+. It didn’t say whether tweens are easing off the whole social media thing, or moving onto some other new thing. My guess is that faddish tweens are going retro: diaries and pens with tweets and phone pics… a kind of tweet-punk.

  4. Nick Carr

    Red Bull is a gateway drug to Mountain Dew.

  5. Why are old people even allowed to use computers?

  6. I haven’t read the study yet, but it’d be interesting to see how many of these same teens *read* blogs. I bet that percentage has gone up.

  7. David Evans

    What bothers me, Nick, is that this post strongly suggests you got into blogging because you thought it was cool. You should be ashamed of yourself for chasing after such meaningless frippery. What you need to do is get really good at online first-person-shooters.

    I can beat the living snot out of the teenagers at CounterStrike:Source and Left4Dead2, and that’s the source of a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction. I might not understand what they’re saying, but I can put a .50 bullet in between their eyes at 100 yards.

  8. June Daab

    Blogger?

    Yep! Why? I write for myself and like the nice format in blog style.

    I post family history and travel experience/photos.

    Only my friends and family who would like to keep up with me go there.

    I print out my blog and add them to a 3 ring binder which is my Diary.

    Blogging “COOL”? Who cares? Am I influenced by polls, studies, what other’s think? No.

    Are you?

    For you to call Bloggers the generation with nothing better to do while waiting “to croke” is the ultimate insult to all Seniors. Seniors who gave you the life and liberties you enjoy.

    Be ashamed

    and realize the embarrassment others feel for you for being so arrogant to write such. Perhaps you need to associate yourself with those who are living their dreams and know the joys of growing older.

    Those who have done their work and reaping their rewards. Live is good for older people…they who finally have time to write.

    If other people’s opinion matters to you…

    Know we think you not worth our time or respect.

  9. Two paths diverged in a wood, David. You took the right one. I took the wrong one.

    The last first-person shooter I mastered was Marathon.

    Pathetic, I know.

  10. June,

    You have to understand that I suffer from a strange and as yet unnamed disease in which my tongue constantly and involuntarily lodges itself in my cheek. You will be pleased to know that after reading your comment I immediately scheduled a surgical operation to remove my tongue. (I’m too vain to choose the alternative: cheek removal.)

    And might I say that, while you may be a Senior, you flamed me with the vigor of an anonymous 14-year-old boy.

    Nick

  11. Nick:

    I suffer a similar aliment called “Morbus Pes in Os”. It much more awkward and requires treatment by an podiatrist with a minor in literature.

  12. A casual survey suggests a distressing percentage of bloggers were already punchlines – and this long before the specter of ageism.

  13. David Evans

    Nick,

    You really had me worried for a moment – a first person shooter that I’d never heard of. Thankfully, Wikipedia told me not to worry – it’s a mac game. I didn’t know that real people played games on macs. Oh well, live and learn.

    One thing that my different path through the woods has led me to observe is an interesting generational twist as the online FPS genre evolves. Previously, to indicate you found something amusing, you would type ‘lol’, for ‘laugh out loud’, to indicate that you were physically laughing at your PC.

    I long suspected that people who wrote lol were not actually laughing so much as reinforcing their status as part of the pack by indicating they got the joke; a sort of textual body language rather than an actual laugh. Now, most interestingly, a new generation who come to games using push-to-talk voice communications have picked up that ‘lol’ is how you indicate you found something to be amusing (they don’t know what it stands for). However, instead of typing ‘lol’ they say ‘lol (pronounced lol as in lolly), usually in a sort of dull monotone voice that is far from laughter.

    Of course, when I comment on this with my mid-thirties voice, I get little squeaky half-broken voices telling me to ‘shut up Grandad’. And then I shoot them.

    By the way, ‘flamed me with the vigor(sic) of an anonymous 14-year-old boy’ really did make me laugh out loud properly. lol.

  14. Funny article Nick, but its the content, not the method, that counts. Blogs and Bloggers that blather about nothing of value were a bad idea all along…and it’s still a bad idea whether its a Tweet or some other new method yet to be invented.

    On the other hand, sources of insight, wisdom (and yes occasionally wit too) are valuable, and who cares what medium is used, or whether it seems ‘uncool’.

    This is just life repeating itself…for example some people are good at jogging…others should never have tried it.

    Said another way: Don’t hate the act, hate (or love) the actor.

  15. Hi Nicholas,

    The decline of blogging among young people seems to be a lot about you’ve said before about attention span of the current net generation and what, at 54, I say all the time: namely, that kids are illiterate. They can’t read, they can’t write – and barely think!

  16. peker35

    Hi nick, since you have no problems coming up with original content, you better keep blogging. I enjoy reading your articles. New generation has short attention span which is not necessarily a bad thing. Because of that, they prefer compact and tiny version: twitter