Blogging and Facebook

But not yesterday either.

My number of blogging years is going to start to look like 20. Well, 18 this summer, but that looks an awful lot like 20 around the corner. My old Quintus is not quite as old as this blog.

We all know that blogging before Twitter and Facebook was quite different from what it is now. “Social Media” made blogging seem tedious, and as we became addicted to more easily available social interaction, we forgot to stop and write. Some of us have been hanging in there. But most of those reading have left the room: consumption is so much easier in the click-baity world of Facebook.

Facebook didn’t invent click-bait. I remember the click-bait postings and the click-bait blogs, way back when. When the nunber of a comments on a post were an indicator of a blog’s success, and therefore quality, and therefore of the blogger’s worth. And then we lost Google Reader. Not that I was ever a huge user of any kind of newsreader, but many were. So Twitter and Facebook, our algorithm machines, became the sources to lead us to blog postings, and pretty much everything else we read.

As the current “delete Facebook” wave hits, I wonder if there will be any kind of rolling back, at any time, to a less algorithmic way to access information, and people. Algorithms came to help us deal with scale. I’ve long said that the advantage of communication and connection in the digital world is scale. But how much is too much?

Facebook is the nexus of my social life right now. But I’ve always viewed my blog as its backbone, even when I wasn’t blogging much. This blog is mine. I control it. It’s less busy than my facebook presence, to the point where I almost feel more comfortable posting certain things here, in a weird “private by obscurity” way, even though this is the open internet. But the hordes are not at the doors waiting to pounce, or give an opinion. Comments here are rare, and the bigger barrier to entry is definitely a feature.

I’ve found it much easier to write here since I decided to stop caring so much, stop putting so much energy in the “secondary” things like finding a catchy or adequately descriptive title (hey Google), picking the right categories, and tagging abundantly. All that is well and good, except when it detracts from writing. It makes wading through my posts more difficult, I’m aware of that. But oh well.

During my two-week holiday, I didn’t disconnect completely. That wasn’t the point. But I definitely pulled back from social interaction (online and off, it was a bit of a hermit fortnight). I spent more time alone, more time searching for boredom. I checked in on the little francophone diabetic cat group I manage, as well as FDMB, a little. I checked my notifications. I posted a little. But I didn’t spend that much time going through my feed.

And you know what? After a week or ten days or so, my facebook feed started giving me the same feeling as daytime TV. Or cinema ads. I stopped watching TV years ago. I watch the odd movie or series, but I’m not exposed to the everyday crap or ads anymore. And when I go to the cinema, the ads seem so stupid. I’m not “in there” anymore. This mild deconnection gave me a sense of distance with my facebook newsfeed that I was lacking.

I caught myself (and still catch myself) diving in now and again. Scroll, scroll, like, scroll, like, tap, scroll, like, comment, scroll, scroll, scroll. What exactly am I doing here, keeping my brain engaged when I could be doing nothing? Or something else? I think my holiday gave me enough of a taste of how much I need solitude and doing-nothingness that I now feel drawn to it.

I’m not leaving Facebook. But if it were to disappear, I’d survive. I’d regroup here, read more blogs, listen to more podcasts (hah!). It helps that I’m looking at my immediate and medium-term professional future as an employee. And that I’ve recently experienced that forum-based communities could be vibrant, and in some ways better than Facebook groups.


Originally published at Climb to the Stars.