Celebrating Seven Years of Blogging
Exactly seven years ago, a lightning bolt electrified my thoughts and induced me to launch this blog. For those who weren’t readers then, my motivation was two-fold: (1) I sought a creative outlet in which to chronicle my adventures in my relatively new country of residence, Lebanon; and (2) I wished to paint a real and positive image of that country for friends around the world to explore. Global perception of Lebanon is rather limited to what the media projects, and that is a country riddled with strife, corruption, and disillusion. I may not be able to contend with those unwieldy labels, but what I can do is provide an alternate view of what it’s like for an American transplant to make a permanent home for herself here.
The blog has undoubtedly taken me on a journey I never could have foreseen. The focal points from the beginning have been culture and food, which is perhaps what made the blog popular with Lebanese expats around the world seeking to live vicariously through a fellow compatriot. I’m not going to sit here and wax poetic about the awards and exposure this blog has modestly racked up – no one appreciates a show-off. I can, however, gently direct you to the “In the Press” section, where a number of my accolades are enumerated. If you do peruse them, my hope is that you form an impression of just how significant of an achievement this literary creation – a compilation of 480 articles – has been for me.
Instead, what I’d like to touch upon are a few misconceptions about my work before concluding with a discussion on the shelf life of Beirutista the blog (Beirutista the thinker and writer will live on indefinitely, I assure you!).
For some time now, I’ve been bombarded with the question of how much money the blog rakes in. I think people have a skewed perspective of the objective of a blog, and I blame influencer marketing, social media, and sheer myopia for this. Beirutista was never intended to amass any funding directly. The purpose of this soapbox, in fact, is to provide insights that are as objective, technical, informed, and genuine as possible.
When you want an opinion on a pair of Air Jordans, when you’re deciding which car to purchase, when you’re making a dinner reservation at a restaurant – are you really going to seek out paid posts that have been planted by the brand or venue itself? Or are you going to pursue the outspoken fanatics, the aficionados, folks who are so knowledgeable in their field of expertise that they err on the side of emotional in the delivery? Those are the people poised to give you the ins and outs of whatever product or service they’re reviewing as unbiasedly as possible.
Sure, a good blogger recognized in her field can certainly entertain a paid collaboration here and there, and as long as it resonates with the theme of her blog and matches her spirit perfectly, it will only reinforce her authority. But paid restaurant or hotel reviews? You won’t find a single one on Beirutista.
I write because it helps me organize my stream of consciousness into something coherent and logical. I continue to write because I find that people around the world are actively reading and gleaning value from this blog. If in the process my competency as a writer is organically showcased and that spirals off into independent freelance projects, then so be it. That could be a proven source of income for any aspiring wordsmith. But the blog in and of itself is not.
Others have been wondering whether I'll move on from Beirutista in the wake of more visual communication platforms, like Instagram and YouTube. No one reads anymore, these self-proclaimed sages point out. You’re wasting your time, they insist.
I won’t refute that observation – no doubt the new generation is savvy at scrolling mindlessly through feeds, admiring photos, and glossing over captions in the endless quest to like and be liked. Nor am I blind to the fact that my own Instagram following has plateaued at 7,700 followers for over two years now, indicative of algorithms that reward herd behavior.
What these cynics don't realize is, I’m not looking for something mainstream with Beirutista. In fact, the aim has always been to serve as a sophisticated, sincere, and niched reference when it comes to the lesser-seen scene Lebanon has to offer. I don’t care to spotlight the hip and trendy new joints influencers gravitate to thanks to shallow invitations and the promise of free food.
There will forever be a need to document, to weave stories, to wield words for the purpose of shining a light on what otherwise might escape the annals of history. And there will forever be passionate readers thirsty for knowledge who want to highlight and underline and make notes next to text-based tidbits they snatch up.
|The written word will always be my lifeblood, my weapon of defense!
I haven’t stopped reading the news, or novels, or paper magazines simply because we have TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Have you? No doubt there are many people like you and me, which is directly corroborated by the number of daily hits to my blog.
So if you’re wondering whether I’m looking to shutter this space, I’ll say this: the frequency of posts may diminish, as I become more and more immersed in other tasks vying for my attention. But as long as the blog continues to make sense to me and serve as a source of real delight, it will be self-perpetuating. I can render no promises one way or the other, but I hope you remain steadfast readers, that you chime in whenever you’re piqued (or perturbed!) by what I have to say, and that you share the joy, if there’s any to be had, so that others might derive pleasure from this little passion project, too.
Thanks for being here and for your unwavering faith in me from 2012 to the present. Words of gratitude are simply not enough.