Blogging as an Act of Rebellion

This was my horoscope a few weeks ago:

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

Because of the onslaught of the internet and social media, lots of people no longer read books. But in 2020, I highly recommend that you not be one of that crowd. In my astrological opinion, you need more of the slow, deep wisdom that comes from reading books. You will also benefit from other acts of rebellion against the Short Attention Span Era. Crucial blessings will flow in your direction as you honor the gradual, incremental approach to everything.

From http://live.ezezine.com/ezine/archives/3_11/3_11-2020.01.12.14.01.archive.html

This dovetails with something I’ve been thinking about now and then for a year or two, which has to do with blogging and more short-term sorts of social media like Twitter and Facebook, and why I’ve done more of the latter and less of the former, and why I’d like to change that, and maybe I can do it without resorting to run-on sentences.

Social media–by design–tends to be short-lived. It’s easy to dash off a status update or a tweet; it can be done without thinking, and often is. (Witness the current holder of the position of President of this country.) Twitter originally had a 140-character limit because it was specifically intended for posting short status summaries, not lengthy messages or communiques from political leaders. That ease of use led to its proliferation, but it also encourages breadth-oriented rather than depth-oriented behavior on both the part of the producer and the consumer.

Blogging is–or at least can be–more deliberate, as is reading a blog. I wrote this post in two separate sessions, on two consecutive mornings while drinking coffee and watching clouds through the nearby window. A blog is an isolated entity. You have to seek out a blog to read it; it doesn’t just show up in your feed. The owner has free reign over its appearance and the presence of its content.

Social media is owned by someone else. Anything you post on Facebook could disappear in a moment, should someone decide to remove that system altogether. Recently Yahoo deleted all of the files uploaded to its Yahoo Groups forums. The posts themselves are still there, but any sort of photos, scanned documents, shared files, etc. are gone, poof. My participation in a a couple of those groups spans nearly two decades.

This blog is owned by me, insofar as it’s housed on a server system that I lease and have a good deal of control over. Were the company that owns that server to suddenly vanish, I’d lose nothing older than my most recent local backup (and hence have only myself to blame).

(Digression: ownership of information posted online is an interesting topic in itself, and one that I intend to write about in the near future.)

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al are commercial ventures. At their core, they are motivated by making money. They’re designed to hold your attention because doing so exposes you to advertisements. The more their records of your activities show that you spend time looking at stuff, the more they can charge for those advertisements. They don’t want you to linger over any particular page or status update for long because they’d really rather you moved along to looking at more ads.

This blog is not a commercial venture. It has no advertising. To put it to a fine point, I operate it at a loss: I pay to use the server that hosts this site. Rather than motivated by profit, it’s motivated by a desire to occasionally share a thought or an experience or a photograph. Those thoughts and experiences necessarily contain the occasional reference to my job and my company, but any money that flows to me through my job as a result of posts here is indirect–so much so that I’ll never know of the connection unless someone mentions it to me. I have no vested interest whatsoever in retaining your attention.

I won’t go so far as to say that one is better than the other. They’re both just things–technological artifacts that we created without predicting or understanding their ramifications or future directions. Social media is both a cause and an effect of the Short Attention Span Era mentioned in my horoscope, while blogs lend themselves to slower, deeper thought processes. Apparently my stars say that I should focus on the latter this year.

If garnering “slow, deep wisdom” is an act of rebellion, then yes, I’d like to rebel.

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