While we’re on the topic of nostalgia, in my totally unscientific and undoubtedly observer-biased surfing around, it seems to me that a lot of people gave up blogging around 2008-09. Was this part of the growing hegemony of the Book of Face, or did it have something to do with the financial crisis? People also identify 2008 as the Year Things Changed in the job market, due to financial stuff.
Because of family problems, I paid very little attention to the outside world in 2008-09. I sum these things up, briefly, by saying “My parents were both very ill and my mother died.” Although the death belongs in the “blessed relief” category, the grieving process takes its course regardless of one’s actual feelings. I hadn’t grasped that before. Grief isn’t necessarily about sadness, but about adjusting to a new reality. Anyway, I remember vividly the day that Lehmann went under, because I was in FamilyLand, on the phone with a friend in New York who was stunned by the whole thing; she reported on the financial people wandering the streets in the middle of the day looking shell-shocked. But it was late morning on the left coast, and, in a brief respite from attending on my mother, I was sitting in the sun in a hemlock grove, on a redwood deck built by my nephew from trees he had felled, enjoying the peace and the sunlight, enjoying hearing from a friend I loved but rarely saw, and who was a tremendous support during my mother’s last years. It was a rare moment of comfort in a difficult trip. The bankruptcies and the Dow’s slide seemed remote, unreal, impossible, a matter of pixels on screens; reality was wood, slate, glass, concrete, a whole house that was not there before my nephew built it. This would continue, I thought, people would make things, the world would go on.
Well, it did. And it didn’t. People who move pixels on screens spend actual money on houses and other objects created by the people who make things. My nephew and his wife spent awhile living in their own basement apartment while they rented out their beautiful house, though eventually they reclaimed it for themselves and, now, their children. I tell the story to illustrate my state of mind at the time. I’ve rarely blogged about world events of any sort, preferring to ramble on about writing, cats, and the academic life, but I was especially self-absorbed that year. I have no idea what the job market was like, or whether jobs were advertised and then yanked, or what else might have happened.
So, did junior faculty and graduate student bloggers get spooked and feel they’d better be more circumspect, shut down, go away, not be available for hiring committees to observe online? Did they decide to buckle down and write more on their dissertations or books so they’d be more hire-able or tenure-able, and give up on blogging as a time-waster? Or is this pure coincidence (how many academic babies were born in ’08-’09?), or simply that I haven’t actually counted up how many of the bloggers I once read quit in particular years?