You are not likely to find many who would disagree with an argument suggesting that the overall quality of writing on this website, and others like it, is as good or better than it has ever been. While the quality of writing may be at or near its peak, the quality of reading seems to be at or near an all time low. By this I do not mean the number of people reading, or the number of page views, or whatever happens to be the stat du jour used by the businesspeople running these sites to measure their popularity and therefore their financial value. Those are quantitative measures, what I am talking about is a purely qualitative one. The quality I am referring to is the quality of reading.
I have little doubt that there are many ‘pure’ writers who contribute articles here. By pure in this instance I mean only that their main or primary usage of the site is as a writing depository. They do not read, nor do they care to read, articles by others, for they are completely and totally consumed by their own writing, their own projects. They never comment, or question, or think even for a moment about something another has written because it is a waste of precious time that could be/should be better spent writing. I used to believe that their also existed an equal or greater number of ‘pure’ readers who very rarely or never contributed articles, but instead spent all of their time reading, and thinking, and analyzing, and just plain enjoying they things they read here. That balance seems to have shifted and it feels like all or most of the ‘pure’ readers have left, and all that remains is a horde of writers each screaming “look at me, see what I have written, isn’t it great? aren’t I great?” Writers looking for someone to tell them how good they are, to give them meaning or hope, to tell them they can be ‘real’ writers.
Unfortunately for the desperate hordes of writers there are very few readers left to give them the validation they so desperately want. All that remain are others just like themselves, and so we go back and forth and on an on, writing and writing and writing. The content is ever expanding, the words and the 1’s and 0’s that ultimately encode those words continue to grow, but besides the computers running the programs decoding those 1’s and 0's, there is no one left to see the content, no one with the time or the desire to read the words. It could be that I am mistaken, and I truly hope I am. After all a “feeling” is not the strongest of evidence upon which to base an argument. But if I am correct the question becomes how long can a community of writers exist without an equally passionate and committed community of readers to support them?