Oh, I’m not talking about Persephone, of course. We will be together forever. I’m talking about other (inferior!) websites that you outgrow, or that outgrow you. It’s always tough to say goodbye, but sometimes it’s very necessary.
I graduated from college and got a full-time job in 2004 (do the math, nerds), and I found myself a little under-stimulated at work. Performing simple tasks, combined with my employers’ surprisingly low expectations, meant that I found myself with just as much free time as I’d had in college, but I had to spend it at my desk, staring at my computer. So I started spending more time online.
Little did I know at the time, it was a pretty interesting time in Internet-land. Professional and corporate websites were improving in look and function by the day, and news organizations were still figuring out how to keep their business going in a landscape where most websites’ content was free. Blogs were just finding their footing; they’d recently grown from mostly being personal journals to being news aggregators and editorial platforms.
So I spent a lot of time scrolling around some of these new, fun blogs. I read up-to-the minute pop culture news, I checked out movie and TV reviews (sometimes after the fact; I’d think “I can’t wait to see what so-and-so had to say about this one”), I started reading about “the media,” and for the first time I was reading news in a casual, sarcastic voice. As commenting capabilities improved, I also found that sometimes the comments were funnier or more interesting than the content.
Back then, the growing pains associated with any on-the-rise website or blog didn’t have the well-worn Behind the Music storyline that we’re by now all quite familiar with. So the first time (the first couple times, really) a blog I’d spend a lot of time reading, commenting on, and generally giving a crap about started to feel unfamiliar to me, it was an upsetting experience.
In some cases, I outgrew the site. After a year or two I really started to feel like I was wasting a lot of time, energy, and mental space on celebrity gossip. Not to mention that the ruthless tone of many celebrity blogs started to get to me. So one year, my New Year’s resolution was to stop reading the biggest one (hint: lots of pink) as well as a few of the smaller, quirkier ones. I went through the usual withdrawal phase; I found myself literally having to sit on my hands to keep myself from clicking over to my former standbys, and when big stories broke I’d be dying to know what they would have written about it.
Sometimes though, the blog outgrew me. Some sites that start out with a single purpose change because of demand or a desire for more growth. There’s nothing wrong with this; once your blog becomes a business, you’d be a bad businessperson if you didn’t try to grow. But sometimes you’d find yourself, after years reading a favorite blog, looking around and not recognizing anything or anyone. They’re not writing about the things you like, and you wonder where the site you married has gone. This kind of breakup is a little harder to handle because it’s basically the website equivalent of someone dumping you, whereas making your own decision to quit a site is like being the dump-er.
Just like a relationship, if you hold on too long after you know it’s over, you’re only hurting yourself. You don’t want to be the one just going through the motions, clicking headline after headline to read posts that make you feel nothing. Sure, they’ll drop in some inside joke from the old days of the mid-aughts, and you’ll laugh and smile and think you still have something special. But just like that, everyone moves on to the next thing. The magic’s gone.
While I’m still reading one or two from the early days, I’ve now cut and run from several beloved sites and blogs. It never really gets easier, but I think it’s still important to know when to fold “˜em.