RIP Sepia Mutiny: The Shrinking Blog Sandbox

I’d always know when Sepia Mutiny posted a link to a blog on YOMYOMF because we’d see a significant spike in our traffic. And they were kind enough to link to us on a number of occasions. So for that reason and many others, I was sad to see this announcement last week:

After much deliberation we are going to send Sepia Mutiny on to retirement and cease all new posts after April 1st, 2012, almost 8 years since we first started (August of 2004).

It may have sounded like an April Fool’s joke, but as readers learned yesterday, the news was all too real. The internet’s preeminent South Asian American blog is no more (though the twitter feed and blog archive will be up for awhile).

Sepia Mutiny was popular and widely read so this announcement caught many off-guard. So what were the reasons for its demise? Here’s what they had to say:

…for a variety of reasons SM has not been able to keep up in recent years so as to remain a cutting edge product both from a content and technological standpoint. Most of the conversation that once took place daily on blogs now takes place on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. To try and fight that trend is a losing proposition. Almost all prominent blogs are now corporatized with actual budgets, so continuing to play in that shrinking sandbox doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I don’t think any of us who have poured so much sweat and so many sleepless nights writing about issues we are passionate about or just fascinated by are happy with simply coasting by on past glory.

All of us have also gotten older since we started. Some got married, some had kids, and all of us have super demanding day jobs (watch 60 Minutes this Sunday if you want to know why I haven’t been blogging much for the last two years). I have loved reading emails from people who think all of us do this full time. We wish!

I think the issues raised in the above two paragraphs also apply not only to us at YOMYOMF, but probably all the Asian American blogs out there. None of the Asian Americans I know on these sites are full-time bloggers. Whether it’s Angry Asian Man (arguably the best known of the Asian American blogs) or the individuals who make up 8Asians or the dozen other Asian American bloggers I check on daily—as far as I know, no one makes their living from their blogs. They have day jobs to support their blogging habit. None of these blogs are “corporatized with actual budgets.” We, including YOMYOMF, continue to play in the “shrinking sandbox.” I laugh when people ask how much money I make blogging. 

In other words, if a blog like Sepia Mutiny can fold, it means all of us are vulnerable.

I realize blogging isn’t as hard as digging ditches in the hot sun, but it’s difficult in its own way—trying to survive in that shrinking sandbox comes with its own problems. But I suspect that those Asian Americans who choose to blog do so because on some level, they care about the community and creating a space–no matter how small or shrinking–where that community can come together and share. It’s too hard to maintain a blog day after day, month after month, year after year, if that’s not the case.

It’s the same ole song and dance you’ve heard before—if something’s important you have to support it or risk losing it. Perhaps it’s a cliché, but the end of Sepia Mutiny is a very real reminder that clichés exist because there’s truth to them.

Which isn’t to say that YOMYOMF is going away anytime soon. ‘Cause we’re like the “temporary” houseguest who refuses to leave. Who eats all the food in your fridge, uses your towels and doesn’t wash them, borrows your underwear clothes without permission, and drinks too much and vomits all over your bathroom floor and forgets to clean it up.

But the news about Sepia Mutiny also serves as a reminder that there are a lot of insightful, hard-working, active Asian American bloggers still out there fighting the good fight. And having done the blogging thing for over two years now, I have mad respect for anyone who chooses to do this day after day. Therefore, it’s all the more disheartening to see one of your own fall.

So today I pay tribute to all the good work that Sepia Mutiny did over the past eight years. Here’s to them and a simple thank you that they did not go gentle into that good night.

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