Reports of the Death of Stand-Alone Bloggers Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I missed the fact that Joe Carter hung up his solo blogging hat, but caught it on The Tall Skinny Kiwi’s site. As one who is still in mourning for the passing of Phil Johnson’s solo blog, and before that the true godfather of Christian blogging, Josh Clayborn, I’m disappointed by this latest development. I also don’t think that Joe is right when he says that solo blogging is becoming passe. There seems to be waves of solo bloggers who arise, some of whom die away quickly, while others defect to group blogging at various points in their journey. But there are others who, like me, have absolutely no intention of hanging up our solo careers just yet.

The simple fact is that much of the time group blogs are boring. They are also often confusing. There are exceptions to this, of course. And that’s not to say that group blogs don’t have interesting posts on them. That tall skinny kiwi guy says it well when he describes what is, to him, important about a stand-alone blog.

— A standalone blog is a window to a real person and is therefore, or at least it should be, a holistic picture of someone’s life. You are therefore far more likely to see a picture of a blogger’s cat on a standalone blog than in a collaborative blog.

— Being an individual means you can speak for yourself and be bolder than you would be if you were trying to speak on behalf of the group.

— When my mother comes on my blog to look for pics of the kids, she doesn’t really want to sort through other people’s mess to get there.

— Online collectives might be more efficient in gathering information, but a single standalone blogger can appeal to a unique audience. The gospel writers might have been more efficient if they produced a single collaborative gospel, and the New Testament may have been lighter to carry in your pocket, but the fact is, and we celebrate this fact, that we have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and each book is wonderfully unique in a standalone way. I think the future is still bright for Standalones

For me, a stand-alone blog is a single voice sounding a clear note amidst the cacophony of noise we are exposed to online and in our real world lives. It’s an opportunity to experience fairly fully one person’s view of the world. Reading a stand-alone blog is as useful as walking into a noisy crowded room and having someone come up to you and speak directly into your ear, pointing out who the important people in the room are and what has been going on before you got there. It may only be one person’s opinion, but if you grow to trust that person, you will find yourself enjoying listening to that opinion, even when you happen to disagree.

I may not have comments any more on this blog, but I do still love the interaction that goes on via Facebook, e-mai,l and other people’s blog posts about my own posts, and I like the opportunity to sound off about others’ posts pretty much like I am doing right now. I don’t have to be moderate in what I’m saying if I don’t want to be. I’m not a corporate mouthpiece. I personally wouldn’t want to be sharing a collective responsibility for the words appearing on a group blog right now, or at least not in place of writing here. Here, I get to say more or less what I want to say, and that’s very liberating to me. You get what you pay for, so in other words, since you pay nothing, you can’t really complain too much about what you get to read on any blog. No one is forced to keep reading, but if you want to find out more about what an English doctor who happens to serve on the leadership team of a reformed charismatic church with a genuinely international flavor thinks, well you’re in the right place!

The fact that I’m the only voice on this blog is also, in another sense, a massive pressure. It is a pressure that I suspect from time to time brings out the best in most bloggers. Without that relentless daily deadline looming up on you, I suspect many of the most pithy, insightful, personal, and provocative posts by our favorite bloggers would simply never be written.

I do, however, worry at times about the responsibility of having become a voice that many people listen to. My ways of handling that concern are numerous. First, it’s why I often quote the voices I like from elsewhere, who I think are wiser than I am, so I try to point people to their sites. The irony is that the more nervous I get about the number of readers I have and the more I try to send them elsewhere, the more they keep coming back for more! That signposting function is a mark of all the best blogs. My eagerness to expose people to other voices than my own is, of course, also why I have interviewed so many Christian leaders here. My concern about having become more prominent than I believe that I deserve to be is why I take seriously the feedback that I receive. It’s also why I submit myself to a select few men who know that a single e-mail from them would lead to an instant deletion of any post on my blog they thought was deviant. Chief among them is, of course, the main leader of the core team I serve on at Jubilee, Tope Koleoso.

But despite those concerns, I’m glad that this blog gives me a voice. I’m surprised daily by how many people want to listen to that voice. But I hope I can do some good since I’m effectively able to have a daily quick chat over a cup of coffee with more people than I could ever dream of doing that with in a week of drinking coffee 24 hours a day. The interesting thing is that, just as I do with other people whose blogs I read regularly, I suspect that many of you feel like you know me a bit better than you “really” do. In fact, there is no doubt that even the people who really do know me in the flesh find they know me better if they read my blog. A very close friend of more than ten years recently told me he had discovered a bunch of stuff about me on the blog that we had never spoken about!

Not everybody should have a blog. Many people don’t want to share that much of their lives with other people, let alone with anyone who happens to be passing by! Not everyone has the time, discipline, or inclination to write even a couple of hundred words a day. Not everyone can keep it up. There have been times when I have considered shutting my blog down altogether. But the last time I felt like that was a long time ago. I sometimes feel like I’m neglecting my readers, or at least not putting as much of myself out there as I used to. There are definitely times when I have to pull back a little, perhaps because of business or the need to refresh myself. But I have to say that most of the time I enjoy our chats over a mug of coffee, or in my case, a cup of tea. I won’t be quitting just yet!

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