For her “blogiversary“, Rational Jenn notes how comment sections on blogs have become less lively, and how many of her thoughts are now shared via social networks instead.
I don’t know about you, but I find that I am engaging with people less often in the blogosphere. Facebook and Twitter (be my friend! follow me!) are the primary places where I “talk” to people on the internet. Both platforms have their pros and cons, but in my opinion both are also more efficient and convenient methods of interacting with others than the blog is. And I’m all about efficiency and convenience!
This is largely true for me too. Facebook is great for quickly pushing your thoughts to a fairly big group of people, and the potential for things to be virally shared is appealing to anyone with a message, but there is a record and a permanence that is lost.
It’s true that Facebook posts are stored indefinitely, but they aren’t usefully archived. If somebody wants to find that thing I said about Obama in 2010, or that essay about art I wrote in 2009, they shouldn’t have to scroll through thousands of other updates to find what they are looking for. With the blog, they can use Google, the blog tags, or the blog search to find what they are looking for.
Permanence acts as a quality control, people will post a quick update with their immediate thoughts much faster than they would write a permanently archived blog post.
Facebook also limits the amount of useful discussion it is possible to have. A single, narrow width thread of comments is unsuitable for lengthy replies or addressing multiple commenters at once.
The nature of Facebook, as a social platform, also can make things appear personal. Quickly switching from “That’s a cute photo of your dog”, to “I disagree with your views on the New York Mosque” is socially weird.
I find myself bored by people who are pleasant in real life, but who post repulsive welfare statist articles online. My option is either to hide their updates, and miss out on the things that we do have in common, or subject myself to yet another George Monbiot headline. They probably think the same thing about my own Facebook posts.
Even with people who I agree with on most things, I’m often too absorbed with productive, enriching work to sit around and contemplate how disgusting the coalition government, or Obama, is. If I don’t want to spend time analysing the latest political car crash, then I will just choose not to read certain blogs. I probably won’t cut myself off from my entire online social circle for a day though, so I have to tolerate it on Facebook.
Yet Facebook is still awesome, and I’ll keep using it in this way until I think of a better way to organise things, but I will be sorry if blogs go out of vogue.