I don’t post to this blog very often, and I’ve been thinking about why.
The obvious explanation—which I think explains why most people’s blogging efforts never really get off the ground—is that a personal blog is fueled primarily by the author’s need for social and creative expression, and while a blog may have been a great medium for that once upon a time, nowadays these needs are way more effectively served by outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Social networks like those ones don’t simply provide you a platform from which you can express yourself; they also ensure, to some extent, that you’ll have an audience paying attention to you, giving you feedback on how super terrifically great your expressions of self are.
So my blog occupies this weird interstitial space. What need is it fulfilling that isn’t already being met? I have Tumblr for posting links, quotes, and all the tiny random snippets of culture which I think are cool and want to remember for myself.
I have Facebook for sharing more important stuff that I want to put in front of as many eyes as possible, and also for sharing stupid Pokémon jokes.
And I have Twitter for complaining about public transportation.
What about creative writing?
But this whole “Superseded By Other Platforms” explanation can’t be all, because I actually do have a conceptual niche carved out for this blog: it’s supposed to be an outlet for my creative writing.
That obviously hasn’t panned out these past few years—or, at least, it hasn’t amounted to much in the way of actual content. As it turns out, a blog is not a very good place to share creative material. Anything I’m proud of, I’m going to save it and send it out for publication rather than waste it here. Anything I’m not proud of, I’m not going to want to share. And anyway, most of the creative writing I do is for my novel, which really doesn’t translate well into blog-sized snippets.
Another issue is that this blog feels heavyweight. This isn’t actually written down anywhere, but for some reason, I feel like everything I post here has got to be … well, if not perfect, then at least substantial and somehow complete.
For example, this very post is taking forever to write; I’m crawling through it, trying to make sure I don’t toss out half-thoughts or unsupportable statements or poorly-written sentences. Which is dumb, because the only way to actually make sure of any of those things is to leave the post, let the post sit for a while, and come back to it later. Which is totally not going to happen. It’s a stupid blog post. The three people reading it are going to be okay if it’s not perfect.
How I Use Facebook (or: How Not to Use Facebook)
So let’s redefine what this blog’s all about, shall we? And let’s try to do it in a way that’ll end up with me actually making use of this space.1 Here’s an idea: maybe I can use this blog like how most normal people use Facebook.
My current Facebook “strategy” is to maintain as high a signal-to-noise ratio as possible. I’m actually kind of paranoid about it. I don’t know why.2 I don’t post often, and when I do, I try to avoid sharing anything everybody else is already talking about; that is, I optimize for quality and novelty of content.
I also tend to avoid posting my own commentary about anything current or political. By default, I assume my opinions are all dumb and wrong and poorly-thought-out. Since I tend to live by the philosophy that it’s better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubts, this means I usually stay pretty silent.
I don’t actually think this is an especially good way to use Facebook. For reasons. But it works for me. And I’ve had people compliment me on the quality of my feed, which is cool.
However, it also means that whenever I have an impulse to share something on Facebook, I have to shut it down maybe 95% of the time.
A new charter
One of the nice things about this blog is that hardly anyone reads it. Not that my Facebook is blowing up like gangbusters, but it’s got a larger readership than this.3 So if I say something dumb or offensive, it’s unlikely to bum many people out. And the people who will read it are all close friends and family—folks who’ll cut me some slack (I hope) if (when) I say something really astronomically idiotic.
So here’s my new charter:
This blog will be a place where I can post stuff I’m too self-conscious to post anywhere else.
This shall include, but is not limited to:
- Half-baked ideas
- Poorly conceived arguments
- Commentary on things about which I’m unqualified to comment
- Opinions no one asked for
- Opinions no one needs
Now, are these really the sorts of things I should be posting to the website that bears my name? Like, won’t a dumb post on my personal blog reflect more poorly on me than something boneheaded I say on Twitter or Tumblr, or some other more “disposable” platform?
I don’t know. Maybe?
But, like, look: despite all these words I’m writing, I’m probably not going to post here any more than I already do. So I doubt it’s going to matter.
Now excuse me while I hit “Publish” without rereading a word of any of this.
- No guarantees. Frankly, it’s still pretty unlikely I’ll post regularly here. I peg it at a 20% chance of happening. ↩
- Well, I have inklings why. But getting into those would be a big whole rabbit hole of self-analysis that I don’t want to worry about right now. ↩
- I don’t know this for sure. But it seems likely. ↩