A large portion of my readers came here from the website Twenty Something Bloggers. The site shut down this past Tuesday, June 30th, leaving a void on the internet for young bloggers looking to connect, interact, and network. I had been part of 20SB for roughly four years, with the final year of that time coinciding with a run as one of the site’s community managers. My time on the site was largely great. Save for a couple of awkward moments in discussions with other forum members or the occasional debate that got out of hand, 20SB was a great place to be.
Part of me wants to thank 20SB for serving as a vehicle to help me to grow my blog as well as to help me grow as a blogger. In a sense, both of those statements are true. On the other hand, the site itself did little to help me. It was the people on the site — both those who ran the site and those who participated in its everyday happenings — that helped to stoke the fire beneath my creative passion and motivated me to grow my blog.
I wanted to recognize some of those people individually. My original intent was to have this post written before 20SB shut down, which would have allowed me to share the post on its forums before the site’s final days. As I mentally plotted and planned my post, I realized that I couldn’t single out everyone that left an impact on me by name. I’d be bound to forget someone along the way((Perhaps even someone who reads this blog.)) and in doing so would (likely) feel awful. Instead, I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the most memorable experiences I was part of on 20SB, as well as to highlight some of the personalities((No names, please.)) I encountered along the way.
The first semi-major event I can remember on 20SB was one filled with drama((I remember seriously considering applying to be a community manager for 20SB early on in my time on the site. While the job sounded interesting, the very public drama occurring at the time made me shy away and not consider it for almost two years — if I’ve got my mental timeline right, that is.)). There was a blogger on the site who wrote a personal blog and short stories. Her writing style was elegant, captivating, and emotional. She wrote about death and terminal disease — including her own struggles with the concepts of the former and the reality of the latter — as well as love and loss.
One day, it came to light that this blogger had been using her blog to tell a story. The story wasn’t her own. When it came to light that her stories had been nothing more than fiction, many of the site’s more vocal members became enraged. The blogger caved to pressure, left the site, and made her blog private((It was still private as recently as March)). I found myself as one of the few standing in this blogger’s corner, as to me the story she was telling was far more powerful than her lie. I always found it disappointing, despite knowing full well as to what the back story was.
Most everyone I met on the site was pleasant to deal with. I was fortunate enough to meet a handful of bloggers who helped me through the random shitty days I had in the fall of 2011 when I was unemployed. It was a terribly crappy time in life, however between them, my then still relatively new girlfriend((Aka the woman I married last month.)), and working on NaNoWriMo, the entire time was a little better than it could have been. It was during that NaNoWriMo project that I began to hear that my fiction writing was good. One 20SB member in particular was extremely vocal about how she was convinced that my writing was good enough to be published as a book one day. I thought she was insane. I was wrong.
I’ve had roughly five blogs in the ten years((Ten years as of September.)) that I’ve been blogging. The first two weren’t serious at all, but the third one was pretty important to me, being the catalyst to leading me to join 20SB. When I shut the blog down due to concerns for my physical and digital safety, I was at a loss as to what to do. A few members of 20SB came to my aid with advice and recommendations as to what steps to take next. Eventually — largely thanks to the kind words of many of those same people from 20SB — I started my next blog, making it a publicly viewable site following a six month hiatus.
Not everyone I met on the site was easy to deal with. Occasionally I’d come across a person or two who felt entitled to tell you that their opinions were better than yours. Sometimes, this was a good thing. The result of a particular vote on the site lead me to write a blog post that has been a favorite of readers for over two years. Other times, those people would piss me off to the point where I’d stay off the site for a week or two. By the end of 20SB, most of those people had thankfully moved on.
I gained new readers around the world as a result of referrals from 20SB. At various points in time, I had regular readers from Canada, Germany, Argentina, Slovenia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Australia, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Belize, India, New Zealand, and Poland((And those are just the countries I can remember where regular readers for a few months or more came from. That doesn’t include the various one-time readers that came by.)). It’s a beautiful thing to be able to share opinions, creativity, and passion with the world around me. Without 20SB, that certainly still could have happened…but probably not.
As I mentioned, I spent roughly my last year as a member of the site also working as one of the community managers for 20SB. This opportunity allowed me not only to work with a talented, dedicated, and knowledgeable administrative team, but also allowed me to get to be the first person that many of the site’s new members heard from when they joined. This experience proved far more useful to my work life than I ever thought it would have been — apparently public relations is a more integral part of new hire onboarding than I realized. That said, it gave me the chance to grow as a writer and a mentor to other bloggers around me.
In their closing statement, it was shared that part of why 20SB is shutting down is because of the fact that blogging is becoming a fragmented and multi-platform entity and that there are better resources available to help those who want them. If you’re aware of those resources, I’d love to hear them and be able to share them. To me though, that fragmentation and multi-platform identity existed before 20SB and will exist well after. But for a time, 20SB brought together individuals from around the world — from those different platforms and fragments — in an effort to help them to learn, grow, and connect. In that endeavor, I consider them a success.