Do you remember what the internet was like before Facebook and Twitter
ruined changed it? I’ve been thinking a lot about it; I’ve distilled my thoughts into the following generalizations:
- Longer form. Blogs and journals were our primary means of sharing our thoughts prior to social media, so people often took more time to develop those thoughts and opinions. Facebook and Twitter are engineered to make you post in shorter length with higher frequency. Blogging has always resembled more like the blank page in the typewriter and less like a tiny texting screen on your phone.
- Meaningful interactions. Prior to the like button, the only way you could interact with someone else’s ideas was to post a comment. Interactions were more rare, but generally more meaningful and contributed to the discourse. Comments aren’t perfect; anyone who has ever scrolled too far on a YouTube video knows that. But comments are more meaningful than likes and reacts generally speaking.
- More intimate. This one seems a bit paradoxical to me, but I felt like the era of blogging was more intimate that the era of social media. My thinking goes like this: before we developed a way to “live” performatively online, blogs only had journaling and diaries to draw on for a format, so the writing was more personal and raw. There was less of an emphasis on performing your life and more of an act of interrogating it. It was far riskier, but it’s almost like we didn’t know any better.
- Less groupthink. Blogs weren’t connected to a vast network that made sharing its content 100x more rapid, so it was easier to find corner thinkers, people who came at ideas a little differently. Social media like Twitter especially moves very fast and outlier ideas very quickly are “corrected” by the mainstream through dragging and canceling. I’m not saying I want to read a bunch of racist bullshit, but the lack of nuance means some interesting ideas get strangled before they have time to be explored.
This is not exhaustive. There are definitely ways in which social media is superior to blogging (immediacy is good sometimes). You won’t see me abandoning my social media platforms despite the incessant bitching about them I’ve been known to engage in. They have their uses! But blogging has its uses too. I want to reconnect with my own ideas and my own words in my own space. I want to slow down. This is where I think I can do that best.
In 2020, I expect to blog often professionally and personally. I have some general ideas about how often that will be, but I don’t want to set up myself up for public failure. “Often” is all I will say. As always, feel free to comment below with your own thoughts. Happy New Year!
May we all get the change we deserve.