Whew. This is a tough one for me to write.
Okay, let’s get the hard part out of the way first. Hanlon’s Razor, in its current incarnation, is basically going dormant, on hiatus, if not an “unofficial retirement”.
The reasons for this are several, and I’ll try to tackle them fully. Before that, though, I need to go into a little context as to why and how this site first began. Back in 2005, I was a plucky college student for political science and English, stars in my eyes, and the various Bush scandals plus the 2004 election had gotten me heavily interested in the field. I began Hanlon’s Razor under a number of names (the original BlogSpot site was “A Pandora of Political Ponderings,” ugh).
Initially the site was intended to keep my thinking process and writing as sharp as I could. Daily, repeated postings meant I practiced my writing side while staying educated on current affairs for the political side. Professors gave me tips and I once or twice submitted an article to the site that I’d used in class, or vice versa. All the while, I had aspirations of turning what would eventually become Hanlon’s Razor into a “big boy” blog like AmericaBlog or Hullabaloo (do people still read either of those?).
I just poured myself into HR. I read news during downtime at home, listened to various news stations in the car, and spent a good chunk of time on social networking sites trying to get myself seen. But as Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw once said, trying to get yourself seen on the internet is like throwing a message in a bottle into a sea comprised of messages in bottles. Still, I plodded on.
For a while, it seemed to work. I’ve been in multiple papers (The LA Times being my biggest accomplishment), I was interviewed by MTV Magazine during the Chris Wallace interview with Bill Clinton, and readership grew. Things were going okay.
Then we hit a brick wall. It seemed as though I’d tapped out my capability for readership. You can see my little chiclet there for RSS readers. It hasn’t changed in four years, and I suspect it’s mainly because people who stopped using RSS feeds never bothered to unsubscribe. To a very real extent I have no idea how many people will even read this, because I know from the stats that my reader base is much smaller than it once was.
The 2008 election helped buoy my spirits again. The monstrous page about Sarah Palin and the attention the site got as a result made me feel relevant again, but shortly after the election things went right back down. At the same time, my enthusiasm for politics began to decline sharply. Oh sure, I cared about the issues and I still do, but my ability to put on my waders and clamber through the muck has diminished greatly, to the point that even when friends of mine who normally bullshit about politics with me have stopped doing so because I just don’t have it in me any more.
Posting slowed down, and with a project like this, the further back you get, the harder it is to start up again. Over the past year, the site has looked less like my little baby and more like a monument to my inability to grow beyond “low-level blogger” in seven years. Maybe it’s my writing, maybe I wasn’t good at publicizing, or maybe I just fell through the cracks. It’s hard to tell with these things. Maybe anonymity wasn’t my best choice. The reason I adopted the name Hanlon was that I wanted the site to stand on its own, rather than me being some personality, and perhaps that was my downfall. I write academically for a site that has no face. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, maybe that was a poor choice.
In 2012, there’s an election coming up, and I know who I’m voting for, I know why, but every time I see an ad on TV my stomach starts to turn. I can’t read Cagle comics like I used to, and honestly I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually read another political blog. Half because my tolerance for idiocy has collapsed, and half because every moment I find myself wading into the cesspool again I’m reminded of this goddamned blog and how far it hasn’t gone since I first began with those doe-eyed aspirations of writing books and being a syndicated columnist somewhere.
Funny side story: long-time readers, if any exist, may recall that roundabout 2006-2007 I hinted at some “big project” I was working on. I wrote a 250+ page book on the effect of religion on modern America, sourced and annotated to a level I’m still proud of, and then went nowhere with it. That word document, complete with formatting for printing, is sitting on an external hard drive somewhere as another reminder of what I just plain didn’t manage to accomplish with all the time and money I’ve sunk into these things.
What hasn’t helped is that I’ve fallen into a job that doesn’t allow me much time for side projects. I don’t have the kind of job that allows me to have the web open here while I putter with work there (writing this post is even eating into my time), leaving me with a solid 8-10 hours of my day wherein I cannot read, hear, or watch any news, not counting the work I do from home. To catch up for posting in the evening means a concentrated effort to find out whatever I missed, something I just simply cannot do without sacrificing a number of things in my personal life.
The site has sat basically inactive, but still requiring hosting money, for some time now, and it’s with a surprisingly heavy heart that I’m putting the ol’ girl down. The site will be mirrored at its old free address, http://hanlonsrazor.wordpress.com, although I have yet to fully transition it over. I’ll be scrapping the hosting and domain registration fairly soon (possibly even today), so that only increases the odds that this particular post will vanish into the ether and, a month from now or so, a few readers will punch in hanlonsrazor.org and wonder where the hell it went.
I can’t say I won’t write any more, but it won’t be with nearly the frequency that I did before. Maybe I’ll resurrect the whole thing at a later date with a new name, new image, and new scope. I don’t know. I thank all of you, dearly, for the time you’ve spent with me, for your comments, for your help in keeping this site afloat (your donations were NOT in vain, they went directly back into hosting), for everything really. I might wish I could change how I did it all, but I wouldn’t change that I did it.
Zach Gates, aka Hanlon