To be honest, the title of this post could refer to any number of situations and issues that we as bloggers have to deal with, but there’s one in particular that I want to address. What to do when your opinions change? Writing online has its clear advantages: timeliness, longevity and dynamism are just a few. That dynamic quality, the ability to change though is actually a problem. Unlike a newspaper article or magazine feature, I can go into any of the thousands of posts I’ve written over the years and change anything I like. It’s come in handy as my photography skills have improved over the years, allowing me the opportunity to update cover images. But the challenge I face now though is should I go back and update posts as my own opinions change?
Life of a post
One of the great benefits of a blog is its permanency. Once it’s online, it’s (hopefully) there forever, which is great for people searching Google in years to come. The trouble is that as a blog ages, so does its content. I started this site in 2010, which is now quite a long time ago and those first couple years of posts aren’t necessarily my best work. I learned along the way, and the body of my work shows a steady progression in style and technical abilities. I’ve gone back and reformatted many of those posts, improving the photos and cleaning up the language, which is normal blog maintenance I think. The problem arises when one’s opinions on a particular subject fundamentally change. Recently, I took down a post about a cruise line in which I was rather harsh in my assessment. I didn’t remove it based on pressure or guilt, but because I don’t think it’s accurate. Cruise lines are actually a great example of this problem. They are constantly changing, introducing new ships and fundamentally improving the cruise experience. That old post was, I think, inaccurate because it captured only a brief moment in time and doesn’t show how the cruise line has grown since I wrote that article. But this is the problem, as my thoughts and opinions change on destinations, hotels, airlines and so on, should I go back and correct these articles or just craft new versions?
Is it really accurate to update a post?
When I write a post, it reflects many factors that are brief snapshots in time. If I was in a bad mood, that is probably reflected, as are any number of other factors. My initial impressions of a new city or hotel may in fact not always be accurate; they were simply how I perceived something that one time. Ultimately though, it’s my opinion and my perspective though that drives this blog. No one really needs another article about what to do in Paris, that’s pretty much covered. No, instead what is valuable is what I do in Paris, my thoughts about the city and how to best experience the City of Lights. So, when thinking in those terms, every post, no matter its age, is important to leave unaltered because it reflects my thoughts at a very particular moment in time. As I thought about this more and more, I realized that there are a couple of different categories of posts that need to be addressed.
As I grow older, my thoughts about any number of subjects evolve, and that’s certainly true in the travel context. Destinations I used to like are no longer favorites, and activities in years past that I would enjoy hold little interest for me today. Posts that reflect my own personality at a given point in time are, I think, meant to be left alone. I can’t start going back and adding paragraphs to every post on the site, it wouldn’t be a good use of my time. No, instead the information and opinions I originally shared in those older posts remain factually accurate, even if they aren’t experiences I would necessarily enjoy today. The second category though is where the problem lies, when hotels, airlines, cruise lines and so on change so fundamentally that the information on my site is no longer accurate.
Eight years ago I visited the Four Seasons resort on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, and fell in love. I visited twice within a couple of years and both the island and the hotel hold a special place in my heart and memories. The issue here is that a couple of years ago, the resorts on the island underwent a transformation so dramatic that they’re essentially new hotels. That means the information on my site is no longer accurate, very little of the old resorts remain. Do I leave the old posts or delete them? If I visit again, do I rewrite the older posts or craft new ones? I don’t know the answer. Cruise lines have particularly been vexing me lately. It’s hard to write comparative blog posts about cruise lines without having cruised every cruise line. How can you say something is the ultimate in luxury if you haven’t sailed on all luxury cruise lines? My own thoughts about a couple of different cruise lines have fundamentally shifted based on my own tastes and unique perspective, but I’m hesitant to go back and change the original posts. It feels like I’m violating a trust somehow.
Doing the best that I can
Ultimately, I decided to leave the old posts unchanged. However, I haven’t written updates reflecting my current thoughts either, deciding to wait a little longer and see if they change even more. It’s a tricky issue though and one I want to be more mindful of moving forward. It’s this sort of thoughtful narrative that I think we are losing sight of in 2018. It seems that people are more interested in flashy influencers with their perfect bodies lounging around a seemingly endless array of hotel pools than they are honest and helpful travel advice. I have no doubt though that the pendulum will swing back once more, eschewing much of the current online content flawed for its lack of real perspective and instead return to the essence of what a good blog should be all about – real and honest commentary. Until then, all I can do is muddle through the best way that I can.