Posted by Thomas Nephew on March 10th, 2010
Part of the decline in output for this blog is because I tend to use “Facebook” these days as my main platform for pointing out articles and events I think are worthwhile or important (maybe 75% of the time there), and for saying what’s up with me, music I like, and personal stuff (maybe 25% of the time).
The reason is simple: comments and full-fledged discussions are much more likely there than here, partly because your latest item is transmitted to all your friends, so there’s a chance they’ll see it — even if it’s rapidly buried in the snowfall of posts by all their other friends. One comment then begets another and another, as the facebook software propels commented-on stuff to higher prominence in the so-called ‘news feed’ (as opposed to the instantaneous, unfiltered ‘live feed’).
Facebook also lets you easily add photos, form groups, and announce events, and even advertise them; there’s also a “chat” feature, though I never use it. The look of one’s “wall” — the place where one’s messages, photos, and found objects from the Internet pile up — is fairly “clean,” and of a piece with the so-called “home page” news feeds where your friends’ posts etc. pile up. For quick interactions in a smoothly functioning environment, it’s a very nice system, and it lets you fine tune the degree to which you’re visible to facebook users beyond your circle of approved online friends — anywhere from hardly at all to come one come all.
But the drawback is also clear: Facebook isn’t about long form writing. (Yes there are “notes”, no, they’re not used much.) There’s an upper limit on how long the initial post can be, so that you’re more or less compelled to do ‘heh. indeed’ or ‘oh my god’ quick hit comments on your item and then express your views more completely in comments. It can be kind of fun to combine your teaser, the headline, and a followup comment into one coherent message, but it’s not the kind of writing and researching I do for posts here — posts, to be sure, that go all but unread.
So that’s the trade-off, roughly: write or be read, research or discuss, write as if the world were reading or just as if you’re at a kind of neighborhood get-together. I find Facebook to be quite absorbing — some people are excellent sources of news and opinion pieces, and others are reliably interesting commenters. But I miss the kind of writing I did here and the interactions I’ve had with friends and readers here, and I think it’s time to rebalance my efforts between these two outlets and — oh, right! — the actual, real world.