Good-Bye, Fail Whale: Why I Left Twitter

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My reasons are common, but they are no less true for that:

  1. Twitter is Unfair. Twitter squelches the speech of the Right, but not the Left. The examples are too many to count, and they’ve been going on for a while. It’s going to continue that way. That’s what the people who run Twitter think is fair and just. They are Lib-Progs, so they’re going to run things according to a Lib-Prog perspective. It doesn’t matter that Jesse Kelly got reinstated. The sword of Damocles remains hovering over him and anyone else who dissents from the Narrative. I am not getting anything out of Twitter to merit participation in something that will profit those who despise me.
  2. Twitter is Angry. Even if the suppression of speech were balanced, a great deal of what passes on Twitter would be an unworthy addition to the national conversation. As I’ve said before, Twitter often has the function of Burroughs’ Tape Recorder, displaying the worst arguments of either side to the other, provoking greater and greater condemnations from both.  It’s all Burns and Owns and Destroys. It’s The Screaming of the Children of the Night.
  3. Twitter is Fake. One cannot communicate clearly in a riot. One cannot think clearly. One can only react and shout. The act of reducing a thought to 140 280 characters destroys nuance, consideration and depth. The reward of likes and retweets makes the exercise little more than a performance, an attempt to be applauded. If I am ReTweeted, I reach more people. Therefore I must make what I say basic and accessible, and at the same time extreme, so that it stands out in the storm. Debates are not good-faith attempts to persuade an interlocutor, but a display of rhetorical wizardry before an audience. It is dishonest at every level.

Since leaving, I have had moments of reconsideration. But then I remind myself that I no longer have the Angry Box, as I used to call it, sitting their on my phone to make me angry. I will no longer have pointless debates with strangers over questions neither of us have the honesty to admit our ignorance on.

Instead, I am here. Thinking, reflecting, considering, offering. Doing the Work.

Facebook is next.

Of Course Blogging Isn’t Dead.

One one level, having to deny that something is dead is evidence that a significant number of people thing it is, which is “dead” in pop-culture terms. And that’s true as far as it goes. But pop-culture isn’t everything. So on another level, the internet is filled with blogging. If you consider social media micro-blogging (and what else would you consider it?), then the internet is barely anything else.

What prompts this?

A Culture-War post on Ace of Spades last week contains the following-slightly off-topic comment:

9. Honestly, although people have been saying “blogging is dead” for years, I think maybe blogging is dead, and video commentary is the new blogging. Personally, I don’t think I have the desire to do that or the particular talents, but that seems to me to clearly be the only front that matters any longer.

This is also true as far as it goes. But I counter that video commentary – or vlogging – is just a different form of blogging. The idea of the blog – that any fool with an internet connection can create and publish content to the wide world – is not contradicted by the evolution away from text and to video.

I also disagree with the main premise. Blogging is still happening. Blogs still exist. People still read them. They may not be the exciting trend they were in 2003, when I got on Blogger for the first time, but they’re by no means gone. WordPress is not YouTube, neither is it MySpace.

What I suspect we’re going to continue to see is Blogging Plus, as in blogging AND vlogging/podcasting AND social media. The ways of reaching an audience are growing, but old ways of doing that do not vanish thereby. And if you doubt me, ask yourself how many people you know that still listen to the radio, a medium that’s almost 100 years old.

Happy blogging, everyone. In whatever way you do it.

Thoughts on Hitting my Thousandth Post

Yesterday’s post was number 1,000. Which doesn’t mean a whole lot, but there was a moment there when I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.

I started blogging, over on Blogger, in 2003. I stopped my first blog in 2007. I started again, with two blogs, in 2009. I stopped that in 2011 and moved over to WordPress, with one blog, attached to my name. I almost stopped that in 2016, but did a rebranding instead.

If you examine my stats (which I do daily), you see that my best year was 2014, with 22,000 unique hits and 16,000 unique visitors. My worst year was 2017, when I got 562 total views and 362 unique visitors.

Part of that was due to the brand change. I basically gutted my audience. The other part of that was the 46 posts I wrote during that whole year. 46. The lowest of any year. Even in 2011, which represents numbers for December alone, I wrote 68 posts (and got 1,000 views).

Burnout. I got tired of coming up with new ways to repackage more interesting work by other blogs. I got tired of making the same arguments to no discernible effect. I got tired of shouting myself hoarse in a land of megaphones.

The last election helped. Never had I been less interesting in speaking about the political landscape than I had been in 2016. I still follow the same blogs, but I’m way less engaged with the whole thing. 2016 indicated that many of the things I’d believed about politics – chiefly, that I understood it well enough to adequately predict what would happen – were in need of reassessment. So I decided that I needed to put my energy into original work, into my own writing, rather than scrambling about the internet looking for things to snark about.

Result? Blog crash. I had moved away from the old blog, but not committed to the new. I was producing – three novellas in a year is nothing to sneeze at – but not blogging.

I have fixed that.

So far in 2018, I have 355 views and 236 visitors. Which is still way off my peak. But I have 60 posts in. Since last month, I’ve been blogging almost every day. And I’ve felt the momentum start to shift back. And I’m writing about what I care about, so it feels good. I’m on pace to beat last year, possibly by double. And It’ll be all me, not repostings of other people’s work. It will be – finally – my own platform.

So watch this space. It’s not going away.

Blog For the Sake of Blogging

Rules are for suckers. They’re specific to a time and place, and so limited. Rules change.

Principles, on the other hand…

Those of you who follow this blog for some time know that I am not a big fan of “how to” guides, rules, and funny little checklists that should magically do everything for you. There’s no substitute for hard work, dedication, time, energy, and passion, and those of you who want a shortcut will be disappointed by this guide of mine.

Of course, there are some things that you must do in order to be successful as a blogger.[…]

via The Ultimate Guide To Blogging — Cristian Mihai

For my part, I find blogging frustrating, but I hate not-blogging more. Perhaps this is just the dopamine hit that comes of hitting the “Publish” button talking, but there it is.

Viruses are Bad Things. Why is “Going Viral” Good?

This post is worth reading in full:

Viral. Defined as a piece of information that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another. Usually it’s a video of a pet doing something silly. Usually. I have been chasing this for almost six years now. Dreaming about one of my posts going viral. Writing certain posts with the intent of them […]

via This post will go viral — Cristian Mihai

If Blogs are Dying, We Shall Miss Them.

Lileks at his profound best.

While most blogs weren’t deathless examples of great writing, there was the opportunity for individualism, and you don’t get that from a Pinterest page. You don’t get it from a feed of things snipped and reblogged and pinned and shoveled into The Feed. The web turns into bushels of confetti shoveled into a jet engine, and while something does emerge out the other end, it’s usually made impressive by its velocity and volume, not the shape it makes.

All web sites are becoming the same web site. They look the same, they swipe the same, they beg you for subscriptions the same. The noise has become so great that I took February off of social media and I haven’t missed Facebook once. Not. Even. Once.

Content is King, we are told. But the rat at which the content is consumed seems to make the consumption the point rather than the content itself. I can read a thousand articles on Medium in a day; how many of them will really stick with me?

The same can be true of blogs, of course, but whenever I found a blog I liked, I almost always wanted to read everything that they had. Whereas I couldn’t remember the name of anyone who’s “written” any Buzzfeed listicle I’ve gif’ed through if you paid me.

The medium is becoming the message. Which bodes not well, now that the FCC has made it a public utility.