I was reading a New York Times article last week on the waning usage of blogs amongst young people. My first reaction, was "of course". Afterall, while I may be 40 years old, I can see a huge disparity in my propensity to read longer form prose than those half my age. The Times article summed it up quantitatively, "Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people - particularly the younger generation...The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier."
So what does this say about the younger generation? That they are more ADD than others? That they simply are too overwhelmed with the gaming, texting, tweeting, and reality show watching they are doing to sit still long enough to read an entire blog entry? What does that mean for school teachers who need them to actually read a, gasp, entire chapter?? On the flipside though, it could be that those of us that are, ahem, more mature, are simply TOO interested in waxing on and on and that in fact, the younger generation could teach us a thing or two about getting to the point, in 140 characters or less. This thinking is also somewhat validated by the New York Times article that cited statistics showing that the older we are the more we are adopting the blog. "While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent."
It does seem crazy to me that blogs are already on their way out, they have afterall, really only been widely used for 5 - 7 years. But in the media world, that is pretty old-school. What does that mean for those of us in marketing? For me it means that blogs, like any other medium, are not a one size fits all solution. It also means that like other media, younger generations tend to be the first to try and the first to move on. But, I would also submit that these statistics are worth watching because as the younger generation ages, they may find a great deal of benefit in the details that blogs and longer form media provide. So perhaps this is a statistic that is static for age groups but not for the individuals themselves who in fact will go back to blogs over time.
I would like to think so anyway. I'd hate to think that our future will all be sound bites.