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Sarah Hepola, who worked as Salon’s personal-essay editor, described the situation to me in an e-mail.
These essays began to proliferate several years ago—precisely when is hard to say, but we can, I think, date the beginning of the boom to 2008, the year that Emily Gould wrote a first-person cover story, called “Exposed,” for the , which was about, as the tagline put it, what she gained and lost from writing about her intimate life on the Web.
Blowback followed, and so did an endless supply of imitations.
When I began writing on the Internet, I wrote personal essays for free.
For some writers, these essays led to better-paying work.
An enchanting story that has inspired generations of writers, including Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Keats Written towards the end of the second century AD, The Golden Ass tells the story of the many adventures of a young man whose fascination with witchcraft leads him to be transformed into a donkey.
The bewitched Lucius passes from owner to owner - encountering a desperate gang of robbers and being forced to perform lewd 'human' tricks on stage - until the Goddess Isis finally breaks the spell and initiates Lucius into her cult.
She was right: a year and a half later, it barely exists.
Buzz Feed Ideas shut down at the end of 2015, Gawker and xo Jane in 2016; Salon no longer has a personal-essays editor.
Of course, published a first-person cover story by Alex Tizon, with the provocative headline “My Family’s Slave.” But there’s a specific sort of ultra-confessional essay, written by a person you’ve never heard of and published online, that flourished until recently and now hardly registers.
The change has happened quietly, but it’s a big one: a genre that partially defined the last decade of the Internet has essentially disappeared. To answer that, it helps to consider what gave rise to the personal essay’s ubiquity in the first place. In preceding years, private blogs and social platforms—Live Journal, Blogspot, Facebook—trained people to write about their personal lives at length and in public.