Friday, April 14, 2017

The Struggles of Being Jamaica's First Blogger!


Way back in 2004, not too long after hurricane Ivan, the word blog had just begun really floating around the Internet a mere four years before, not reaching buzz level till maybe 2003, I was a young Carimac student who had switched to Philosophy and about to soon finish with academia and step into the world. Look how the years roll by... back then people in Jamaica and the Caribbean were like... "What's a blog?" "What's a Blogspot?" "What does one do with a philosophy degree?" What can that do?"

The trials a young Philosopher and Jamaican blogger face are monstrous things. One has to face them with few resources, struggling with confidence and a preponderance of haters, scouring for that rare gem of genuine good commentary or criticism as we make unique contribution to the ethereal or even surreal realm of cyber space...

In the early days I didn't have my mind wrapped around a solid idea as to what blogging was and could do. It was just a way to vent, rant, store ideas for later re-use... post musings, etc... It also played a role in being an alternate platform for my readers when I was a columnist for The Western Mirror... for covering the diverse facets of the second city... my city Montego Bay... but as time ebbed on and readership, following, feedback and vibes waned... I increasingly questioned the validity of this blog, my blogs, blogs in general. Was I even the first blog... was Afflicted Yard the first blog, even though he never endorsed the word till after 2004, was his inspirational website the first blog? Nope... Worse with the limited finances related to blogs, blogging and writing... my disenchantment and quasi-depression worsened. I had tried 'ad words', 'ad-sense', and a myriad of advertising systems. MONETIZE MONETIZE MONETIZE... Up until this day I am yet to receive a Google cheque. I followed Silicone Caribe, stayed abreast of Ingrid Riley, yet nothing seemed to spark beyond maybe a rare and small newspaper feature. Wrote a few article for international papers, did some cartoons for papers, was a finalist in the Gleaner/Star cartooning competition.

The progression and regression is cataloged here in the archives. The years, the trips, the jobs, the highs, the lows. Try and bare with me as I recant for the sake of remembering, for the redolence in me these days... for the history of me, the history of Mobay, for the history of Jamaican blogging. Or simply recording the world swirling in my head.

The Early Days! 

Life back then huh... aaah I was dreaming... dreaming of my ideal life, I've never ever wanted to work in an office if it wasn't my own, the cubicled life is not for me... I like to think I am or was outside the box. I’d wanted to do all of my work from my own laboratory like office in a cozy domicile... a hobbit like future tech earth-ship. I would always think about which Montegonian or Western Jamaican, neighborhood I’d like to live in once I starved and saved enough money (note this is before the harsh realities of the 2007 economic crisis...not that I didn't see it coming) as well as got my entrepreneurial groove in full swing, I lived then as I do now in constant coveting for culture, consciousness, content, creativity and calmness.

The Days of Plain Old Blogging

I usually blogged at night... that's when the energy comes, or in twilight hours of the wee morning, then I cackled with grand ideas of Rastafari in the 21st Century, things like what it would mean to be the new Caribbean citizen, the cultural mixing pot of all the promise and stuffed that fluffed up my dreams at UWI, reconciling Noam Chomsky, Walter Rodney and Arundhati Roy with Selassie, Marcus Garvey, Leonard Howell, Planno, Communism, Ujaama, science, spirituality, technology, ecology, sustainability and all my other cosmologies, theologies, philosophies into a comprehensive world-view, then retiring in Hanover overlooking my city Montego Bay, in my bush bungalow, with solar power and a little windmill, making art, sipping fine wines, drinking teas and roots, smoking herb... writing poetry, drawing painting, and finish my opus magnum... and all the grand literature burning in my soul. Yep... those were the good old days when I was a tech savvy but naive newby who wasn't keen on SEO and just wrote to my hearts content. The days when people huddled at my blog or stumbled upon it simply because I had something to say, it was an era before the spell check Nazi and acolytes of Grammarly arrived to rip blogs and bloggers apart because of bad grammar, no 'pinnable' pictures, no keywords, no tags and hashtags and bad SEO. Sigh*

In that time the ideal bungalow locales of my mind-scape were only based on location, aesthetics, and environment and not practical reasons like if I can actually afford it. Ideally, I’d like to work from home, play with my daughter, make more children, and be able to spend more time on this blog shtick - sharing and musing, poetry and politics, digital parlance and palaver with y'all, cleverly constructing intellectual highs, chock full of pretty and mellifluous words, packed and layered with meaning, keep it consistent and watch my growing an audience... that my dear friends and readers, is easier said than done in the second city in Jamrock on a thin budget...

The Imminent and Eminent Now!

As a world-weary academic, disillusioned by the failed promises of the ivory tower and its pretensions to inevitable success, especially if you buy into the image promulgated by KGN, the hype of entrepreneurial success and small business mega stories. Theses days after so many moons in the digital trenches... after the rise of the rest of Jamaica's digerati and technocracy... after the hype of Jamaican social media and all the buzz worthy folk... after days in Montego Bay trying to find all kinds of angles to make it and coming up short I am more than a little burnt out. I always have topics on hand, ideas a plenty to blog about, but I don’t have time to blog as often as I would like... the rigors of evolving into a parent... an ever more active community activist... amongst all the various dilemma and vagaries that plague the human condition. There are days when I pray the ideas and musings will come back to me when I don’t have the baby in my lap or hounding me with a million questions as I write or work...

I try to stay abreast of the latest blogging tips etc and the notions of 'Eye-Catching Titles', Call Outs, Shout Outs, Stock Imagery, Infographics! I get it and I try not to get caught up, but it happens. I find myself leaning that way. As I sit here typing this I constantly glance at the bottom left corner at the “Word Count”. Why do I continue to look at it? Because the Western Mirror and Google likes 700-1000 words for articles and posts. I miss the good old days of blogging I really do. No pressures, just networking, making friends, and writing about our lives (even to my family’s chagrin). The good old days... As I realize my position as a pioneer in Caribbean blogging,I wonder are there new bloggers out there that are doing just what I did back in the day? Are my experiences of any value to them???

I've been writing this post for more than a year now... Watched Novembers rolls into Decembers, observed weather changes, the days still have that blaring sun, but you feel the temperature in the tradewind. What I can do, however, is ruminate frothily on the rigors of the present, which is exactly what I’ll do now. See, things are different for this writer these days. It’s a brave new world full of great reward and buzzsaw peril — trod upful and you’ll have laurels heaped upon your head, but step like a fool and you’ll find your testicles cut off with a 3 star ratchet knife.