Every now and then I go through the little graveyard that is my RSS reader. It makes me sad when a travel blog I loved just… stops. I understand; you stopped traveling. Maybe you ended up totally off the grid; that’s cool for you but it’s weird that you just disappeared. Perhaps it turned out that blogging wasn’t your thing and you wanted to live in the trip instead of at the keyboard. It happens.
When I’m engaged with your blog, I get surprisingly attached to you and your adventures. I love hearing your stories about that time on the train or that time with the guy with the hair or that time in Siem Reap when all the laundry came back the most delicate shade of pale pink. (Wait, that was my story.)
So when your blog goes dark – last post, February, 2010 – I wonder what became of you. After a few months, I sigh and unsubscribe. I hope that you are well and happy and, oh, by the way, I’ve moved on to other blogs but I promise, it won’t be weird between us when you show up on my Twitter feed. We’re cool.
But sometimes, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s awkward and there are hurt feelings and I’m totally the bad guy. You’re blogging away about your travels, perfectly content. But my reader’s eye is roaming, over there, to that nice couple in camper van in New Zealand or that 20 something RTW guy who managed to keep his shirt on in his profile picture. Maybe there’s a woman in her 60s who has incredible stories of traveling solo in Thailand on the beaten path, or a journalism student in Seoul who has a wicked eye with the camera. It comes down to that same stupid conversation we all hate having. “It’s just not working out; I think we should read other people.” Then, early one morning, when I’m up because I can’t sleep, I hit unsubscribe. It’s over and you never know why.
It’s time for closure, that elusive feeling we hope for when a relationship ends. Here’s the truth. It was you. It’s time to clear the air, to go with the tough love. See, I didn’t want to break up with your blog, it’s just, well, you were driving me crazy. Here’s why.
- You junked up your site. I didn’t mind when you started selling text links, I really didn’t. Your call. But when you cluttered up your site with ad links in the content, or added those horrible pop-ups on the posts, it became clear you were more concerned with the ad buyers than our time together. We both know you weren’t doing me a service by adding links to cheap airport parking into a post about backpacking in the Rockies.
- You cheated on me. I know, we had a deal, you could write whatever you wanted and I’d read it. But our time together was supposed to be special. When I clicked on your blog and found stories that could have been lifted directly from a sales or promotional brochure, I felt like you’d let me down. The PR or visitor’s bureau hosts were first and I got the writing equivalent of plastic sushi.
- You took advantage of me. Instead of giving me beautiful stories or useful information, you pestered me. To buy your eBook. To follow you on Twitter. To be your Facebook friend. I was a number, a statistic, no longer a loving reader. “Does this make my assets look big?” you’d ask, as though that was all that mattered. I didn’t read you because of your size, you know.
- We grew apart. It’s sad when this happens, and really, there’s nothing to be done about it. You decided that travel wasn’t really your thing and turned to the burgeoning universe of artisanal meats. I’m a vegetarian. While I respect your choice, there were one too many late nights when you’d show up stinking of bacon. I couldn’t continue to support your new, uh, hobby.
- You shut me out. I wanted to read your post. But you blocked me with a newsletter sign up or some ridiculous navigation scheme or add-ons that take forever to load. Your tiny white text on a black background completely obscured anything you were trying to tell me by making your story physically unreadable. I wept with frustration, why would you draw me in like that and then, make it so difficult for me to read you? Why?
- You stopped caring. Maybe you never cared and I was initially attracted to your fly in the face of grammar rules bad boy ways. Your random use of commas was cute at first, but I hoped you’d grow out of it. Your mysterious word order and rambling sentences held my attention because I couldn’t wait to see what you were going to do next. But then, I overheard you say these fatal words, “I don’t care about writing, I’m just trying to get the blog updated five times a week.” Your disregard of all that was dear to me was intentional. That noise you heard, it was my heart breaking.
It was over.
I’m not saying we should get back together. You probably don’t want to anyways, after I’ve turned out to be so unforgiving. “Hey, that thing with the hotel property, it was just that one time, I don’t get why a little experimentation had to ruin everything between us.” I know, I know, but I’m a promiscuous reader and there are so many travel blogs, so many. We were never exclusive. There are only 24 hours in a day and I can’t read all the time.
Right now, you’re probably blocking my Google+ posts and photoshopping Xeni Jardin over me in your Flickr feed. I don’t blame you; Xeni is freaky smart. I just thought that maybe, if you are open minded about what I’m saying, your next reader won’t have to go through the same kind of guilt and disappointment I felt when it came to that final unsubscribe moment.
Okay, maybe you’re happy with the readers you have now, and they’re not so critical, and really, who cares what I think anyways, we’re SO not together any more. I get it. I know. It’s not you, it’s me.
[flickr image via Nina Matthews Photography]