When I was 14, I made the best decision I’ve ever made. I decided to start a blog. It was a blog about World of Warcraft’s toughest competitor. No, not RuneScape. Not Adventurequest, either. It was a little game called Club Penguin. I played Club Penguin a lot. I blogged about it a lot more.
I waddled around, met new friends, and shared my penguin musings every week. People (other 14-year-olds with too much unregulated internet access) were listening to what I had to say. I was “building an audience.” Air quotes because what I was really doing was making friends. (The entire point of Club Penguin was to make friends. If you didn’t make friends, you essentially lost the game.) Although I haven’t heard from anyone I played Club Penguin with in over 12 years. So this is probably bad advice.
Blogging gives you true ownership. 14 year old me owned this blog. It was mine, not Mark’s or Jack’s or Substack’s or some other tech guru who I’m not first names with. When you start a blog, you own it. It’s yours. Not Facebook’s. Not Substack’s. Yours. Especially if you host it (here comes my bias) on the right platform. And you can write all day knowing that your data isn’t being manipulated and traded with.
Blogging gives you a chance to practice. And let me tell you, the only thing that a 14-year-old can do to improve their writing is to not be a 14-year-old. Anyways, blogging every day or every week reinforces the only brain-training exercise that actually works*: writing, and writing often.
Blogging gives you authority – wait! I don’t mean the power to control people. Though I wielded more social clout on Club Penguin than you do on Tiktok, but that’s not my point. The power to say what you want, knowing that people can read what you wrote and share it with others. The burden of public reputation narrows your focus. This eliminates the deer-in-headlights feeling of “oh my God, what do I write?”
Blogging gives you an archive. Substack and Twitter and the rest aren’t built for binge blog reading. You and your readers can read your old posts with just a few clicks. Plus, Twitter and Substack might explode tomorrow. But your blog? If you want it to, it’ll be as permanent as that bad habit you keep trying to get rid of. My old Club Penguin blog is still online and public. Besides, even if I wanted to take it down, I can’t. I don’t remember the password or the login name. So getting cancelled for something I wrote on my Club Penguin Blog (of all things) is still a possibility.
A blog has the power to be your intellectual bedrock. A blog has the power to be foundational to all the other work you do. You can make mistakes, get feedback, and write about those mistakes. It’s an upward cycle toward improvement.
A blog can be a bridge between you and us. Your life, your thoughts, ideas, worries, hopes and expectations, shared with a group of people willing to listen.
2007 is over. Club Penguin is dead.
And yet I blog. And I hope you can see that so should you.
*As far as I can tell.