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Stop posting, start blogging

Posted on 30 August 2014

Your writing is valuable and interesting. Stop throwing it away.


Last year around this time I wrote a post called “I Miss Blogger.” I talked about how before everyone was on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, there were just a few people I knew who would update their personal blogs every few days or so, and the personal touch you got from seeing their design changes, font choices, and logos, even if they were mostly from a pre-produced group of templates.

Today, virtually nobody I know in real life blogs. And I think that’s too bad.

I have friends on Facebook who regularly write thoughtful, insightful, and humorous posts that expand to 500 words or more, plenty for a blog post. But they leave it as a status update and it’s gone, fast, swept away under a sea of promoted pages and quizzes.

I’ve seen a few posts this week about the value of personal blogging, but one of my favourites is from a blogger named Jesper, who writes

“Social media has come to symbolize, for me, the tyranny of having to appear relevant, visible and clean to everyone else, the inability to define my own boundaries and the uncertainty about what’s going to happen tomorrow to the fundamental structure of this tool that I’m using – all the while someone either makes money off of me or adds to the looming amorphousness trying to stay afloat.”

Let’s expand on that. I have not heard of Jesper before someone linked to this post, but I can easily visit his website and browse through his archives. I am able to cleanly and easily read his thoughts on a variety of subjects without being invited to “like” a thing. There is no third-party involved. He’s the writer, I’m the reader.

Now let’s say I wanted to do the same with someone whose writing I enjoyed on Facebook. I could visit their personal pages to find these thoughtful, insightful, and humourous posts, but for the most part I only get the first few lines, squeezed between apps and memes other people have posted on their page. Even if it’s immaculately clean, half the space on a profile is taken up by a list of movies and sports teams that they’ve told Facebook they ‘like’ after consistently being harassed to do so. And once you go back more than a few months, Facebook starts trunctuating things with “highlights.”

Facebook is not a space for sharing in the same way blogs are. Facebook is there for Facebook, and what you see is based on what their algorithm determines is best for their potential profitability. And one of the things they don’t seem to be interested in is actually giving you a space that’s truly yours.

I’m not quitting Facebook. It has utitility. I’m going to hit “publish” on this post, and then I’m going to share it, because that’s where the people are- for now. But I’m not throwing my writing, my thoughts, into a space that hungrily swallows everything, without some sort of backup plan.

After reading Jesper’s post, another blogger named Brent Simmons adds this:

“My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

“The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.”

Not everyone is going to feel this way. But I’d encourage you to consider it. Think of a post or a moment that you put on Facebook or Twitter from a year or two ago, something you’d like to be able to access in the future. How easily can you find it? How easy will it be to find in five, ten, fifty years from now? If you’re not satisfied with the answer, then you may want to stop posting and start blogging.

PS One of the things I started doing in reaction to the stream of social media is start a newsletter. It’s an irregular highlight of the things I find online in digest form, rather than an endless stream. You can subscribe to it below:

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