Things are out of balance. While one side of the socio-political (and faithfully orthodox) divide waxes ever more prominent in the online Mormon world, the other side wanes, wasting away, evaporating into nothing.
Consider the position of some of the most notable conservative Mormon group blogs from recent years:
- Real Intent launched in 2012 with more than two dozen great bloggers, including some widely known names, and produced some intriguing and even powerful posts. However, after publishing a total of seven items in the years 2015 and 2016 combined, they have yet to post anything since then.
- Orson Scott Card created Nauvoo Times and seemed to have hit on an easy success formula: not only did it also have a roster of admirable authors, many of the posts were merely reprints from the authors’ home blogs–constant content should have been a simple thing. But this site also failed and folded, though archives are still online.
- The great standard bearer of this group is undoubtedly the Millennial Star, but even that’s not immune from these doldrums. Frequency of posts declined sharply several years ago, and at the end of 2013, they brought in Meg Stout to apparently fill the void and keep their product fresh. Meg’s writing is thoughtful, lucid, and original, bringing views and concerns to the table that would otherwise be largely absent. But most importantly–and most relevantly for this post–she’s productive. Of the last fifty posts at Millennial Star as of 5/5/18, Meg has written 21 of them–nearly half. That’s as many as the three next most frequent contributors combined. This isn’t to criticize Meg or anyone else at M*–again, she brings a lot of quality to the table, but the point is that M* isn’t really much of a group blog right now, at least not to the degree it once was. It’s become more like Jr. Ganymede, a great personal blog that sometimes features other voices.
Meanwhile, how many of the socially/politically liberal Mormon group blogs have expired or declined? The only one I can think of is Mormon Matters, which didn’t really die so much as it evolved into something else.
Is no one else worried by this trend? Where have all the great voices–faithful to the church, dissenting from the world’s culture–gone?
Maybe they’re just sticking to individual blogs rather than the big groups, but even there we seem to be dying out. Consider that one of the greatest conservative Mormon bloggers there ever was, J. Max Wilson, has only posted one item this year, and only six in all of last year (and the first half of those were “conference odyssey” posts). Any number of other great men and women are likewise fading out. The infamous firebrand Kathryn Skaggs only posted twice in 2016, and only twice in 2017…and one of those was a guest post.
Are these great bloggers and great group blogs being replaced by significant new voices? Not any that have crossed my radar–if they’re out there, please let me know!
Are we giving up the ghost because traffic has slowed down and the effort doesn’t seem worth it? Or vice versa? But doesn’t the huge success of people like Rod Dreher and Jordan B. Peterson show that the world is hungry for these views?
Or is it just the conservative Mormon world that’s closing off to serious discourse, perhaps seen in the way that Deseret Book used to have tons of historical and doctrinal books with only a handful of flaky romance stories in the back, but now tends to organize itself in just the opposite way? Has our audience stopped asking for what we have to offer?
When I sometimes bring this up to friends in real life, the usual response is something like, “Faithfully active members of the church are too busy to spend much time reading and writing stuff online.”
And yet, not only does the church continue to urge us to put more faithful material on the Internet, the church itself is trying to expand its presence and resources online as much as possible! Also, it seems that tons of active, conservative members are still online a lot, but they’re doing social media and such more than blogging. Is our platform obsolete?
No disrespect is intended to anyone named here or to anyone else associated with this trend at all–they are wonderful people I admire and often miss. But it is a trend, though–a lot of people of the same kind of faithfully orthodox and politically conservative persuasion are disappearing from prominence online, and all that seems to be left is…the left. Why do their voices grow to dominate while we, apparently, head into the West with the elves?
I don’t think this situation is good or acceptable. I don’t think any individual has done anything wrong, nor do I propose a concrete plan of action to remedy this, but I’d really like to see those of us who are still around and kicking start to talk about it.