It’s not just that I don’t like Facebook, I suddenly realize. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not a huge fan of social networks.
To explain that, though, let me draw the distinction about which I had a recent epiphany. Well, a mini-epiphany, at least:
I’ve determined that I prefer blogging platforms over social networks. And I consider Twitter a blogging platform.
— Dave Brown (@truthscribe722) July 12, 2012
You see, what I love about circulating thoughts through the public sphere is the ability we have to throw our ideas out there for whomever might read them. Perhaps this is just a writer thing, but I don’t think so, because I see the same thing happen with photographers and artists that I know. We put our work or our ideas out for consideration, and then enjoy the conversation that (hopefully) happens as a result. The connections that result from those conversations tend to be good professional networking, and you end up meeting some really fascinating people.
So, back to that distinction. What I love using and participating in are blogging platforms. I was a blogger long before social networks were the norm, and I’m still connected with some of the very bloggers that I began conversations with in that first year of writing here. What I enjoy about connecting with people online are not status updates or location check-ins, although those things can be fun and useful. I enjoy creative expression, people generating things for others to read, watch, or look at, and then discuss. Working with this as a sort of definition, I include platforms that I originally thought of as social networks as blogging platforms, such as Twitter (which is technically referred to as a “micro-blog”), and Tumblr. These can be used as status updates, but are better used in spreading your ideas, your humor, links of interest…in short, your thoughts, not just what you had for dinner.
One weekend, Karen and I were out with friends who are not big social-networkers. I was looking at something online as we were walking up the stairs at an art gallery, when one of them asked me if I was tweeting. “Do you think anyone cares that you’re walking up stairs right now?”, was her question.
That is the danger that social networks fall into, and what gives them a bad reputation, certainly. It is also, I think, what differentiates blogging platforms from social networks.
Social networks have different uses, primarily in keeping in contact with others. As much as I have come to dislike Facebook, I keep an account there because it is still the lowest common denominator: if I want to get in touch with an old friend and aren’t sure where they’ve been for the last year, phone numbers and email addresses can change, but I know that they will have a Facebook page.
And, lest I forget, Facebook has had other positive impacts on my life, as well.
So, hearing what others are up to and where they are at this moment can be interesting, and I enjoy seeing others’ vacation photos. What I really want to see, though, are what they think about things, what they’re reading and why they like or dislike it, what projects they’re working on. That’s why I prefer blogging, and why I think that the speculation of the death of blogging as a medium is vastly over-stated…because the definition of blogging is really bigger than it seems at first blush, don’t you think?