personal: the topics seemed insignificant, or else too important to be aired for an audience of strangers.
personal: the topics seemed insignificant, or else too important to be aired for an audience of strangers.The essays that drew the most attention tended to fall within certain categories.Tags: Abstract In Research ProposalEssay On Slavery In Ancient GreeceEnyne Cross MetathesisHow To Write Book Titles In EssaysAnswers To All Toefl Essay EbookBusiness Plan For
Of course, published a first-person cover story by Alex Tizon, with the provocative headline “My Family’s Slave.” But there’s a specific sort of ultra-confessional essay, written by a person you’ve never heard of and published online, that flourished until recently and now hardly registers.
The change has happened quietly, but it’s a big one: a genre that partially defined the last decade of the Internet has essentially disappeared. To answer that, it helps to consider what gave rise to the personal essay’s ubiquity in the first place. In preceding years, private blogs and social platforms—Live Journal, Blogspot, Facebook—trained people to write about their personal lives at length and in public.
But for many the thrill of reaching an audience had to suffice.
And placing a delicate part of your life in the hands of strangers didn’t always turn out to be so thrilling.
One could “take a safari” through various personal-essay habitats—Gawker, Jezebel, xo Jane, Salon, Buzz Feed Ideas—and conclude that they were more or less the same, she argued.
While she granted that not all first-person writing on the Internet was undignified, there were far too many “solo acts of sensational disclosure” that read like “reverse-engineered headlines.”The market, in Bennett’s view, had overinflated.
Indie sites known for cultivating first-person writing—the Toast, the Awl, the Hairpin—have shut down or changed direction.
Thought Catalog chugs along, but it seems to have lost its ability to rile up outside readers.
“First-person writing should not be cheap, and it should not be written or edited quickly,” Gould wrote to me.
“And it should be published in a way that protects writers rather than hanging them out to dry on the most-emailed list.”There are still a few outlets that cultivate a more subtle and sober iteration of this kind of first-person writing, some of them connected to book publishing.