Why was bensinterests abandoned?

A few thoughts on commitment, personality, and the mid-to-late 2010s.

A post for #WeblogPoMo2024.

bensinterests existed as some pseudonymous way for me to experiment with having a presence online. I’d been a contributor to various bulletin boards and discussion groups since my first early forays with the World Wide Web in 1996; in 2000 I briefly hosted a bad website for the members of my year group who left secondary school that year hosted on some FreeServe space and created in Microsoft Publisher. I popped up a little on a blog about tea and music I made with my pal Dan.

I’d never had a space which was mine.

bensinterests linked to my Twitter handle which was, variously, @bendaubney or @3alvestonplace depending on how I felt about being publicly findable by my real name. If you really wanted to discover my real identity from the blog it wouldn’t be tough but it’d be difficult to find the blog if you were searching for me.

It was a happy medium which became harder to enjoy.

‘Enjoyment’, in the mid-2010s, also felt increasingly tough. The web at large was becoming quiet unless you were in a walled garden of Facebook or Twitter. There were some really happy times around 20121 but they didn’t last. By 2016 we had two majorly disappointing elections and the world seemed meaner somehow.

I became a director at work. I started to feel stress in a way I’d not known before. It led to a mental health episode in 2019. It was not fun.

Having a personal website of any description is effort. It’s not just the hosting and cross-device compatibility, it’s the content and the face that’s presented to the world. You are saying to a faceless unknown audience this is me and some part of me wants to have a voice that you can hear. You are revealing some part of yourself, partial or otherwise.

I stopped posting to bensinterests because, on reflection, it was hard to find the motivation. I was ‘ben’ - not myself, not a person who wanted to share personal thoughts and information. I was, I now realise, struggling with the state of the world and my position in it. Joy was difficult to find and even more difficult to share.

I stopped posting to that Tumblr account. After a while I stopped reading big articles on Instapaper which cross-posted the reports of terrible and distressing topics I was reading onto the same Tumblr account. I stopped, and no-one protested.

Not even me.

  1. The olympics in the UK, a wonderful summer, my marriage. ↩︎