I’ve been thinking about blogging and the web lately. It seems quieter out here in blogland. Many of the blogs I read a long time ago have gone silent, just floating on the web like so much dotsam and netsam.
It sometimes seems there are fewer people just hanging around, clicking through from somewhere else or just exploring. Maybe we know this civilized web too well. The blogosphere isn’t the hip corner of the net it once was. It’s starting to feel more like a village after many of its inhabitants have urbanized and moved to the city.
I’m told that the web is moving to apps. That Twitter and Facebook won since they’re so phone friendly. I’ve experimented with Twitter and Facebook and Identi.ca over the past year. Of the three, Identi.ca was the most interesting. I suspect that has to do with its user base: creative types and tech-oriented people. Less of a feeling that you were being watched by corporations trying to figure out how to synergize e-business web-readiness (or even synergize backward overflow) and take over the whole thing.
Twitter is too much. Too much signal. Too much noise. I’m a teacher. I don’t have the kind of job where I can watch a fast-changing Twitter feed stream by, jumping in to offer my two cents and a hashtag before it all disappears. Perhaps I would like it if I had a cubicle job, but it’s just not something I’m able to keep up with. I feel like the guy in Shawshank Redemption who says the world just got itself in a big damn hurry.
Facebook is a little more interesting. I know that most of the people I know in the real world don’t come around my site much anymore, but I send the feed to Facebook and those who are interested read it there but as with Twitter, Facebook is something I’m not able to do at work (which is where I would bet most people do their social media thing). When I get home, I’m usually not interested as I’d rather spend my time writing something with a little more substance for my blog. A good blog post makes me feel good. Twitter and Facebook make me feel empty, like I’m faking my way through friendship and social interaction.
I’ve considered killing off my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but then there’s a voice in my head. It’s an old guy and he lived early in the twentieth century. He says, “Telephones! I hate them damn things. I’m getting rid of mine. It’s just a fad anyway.”
I don’t want to be the guy without a phone wondering why no one calls.
Still, I find the whole thing a little sad. What does it say about us as a culture when we so easily and willingly reject longer-form writing and leave the free open space of the wild internet to hunker down in Facebook and other walled gardens? I guess it’s the same thing Huck Finn was running from, those civilized faux Edens where Aunt Polly kept things orderly, decent and boring.
Keeping a blog these days makes me feel I’ve ridden out on the information superhighway but got off early and headed for the hills, jumped on the information hike-and-bike trail as it were.
I’m watching a train pull away, speeding ever faster toward short bursts of superficial contact. “I’ll call or text or tweet you,” the passengers say as they wave goodbye to the old curmudgeon still hanging out in the sticks. “Stay in touch.”
“Don’t worry,” I yell back. “I’ll write.”