Is Facebook Killing the Blog?

There was a time, I call them the good ol’ days, when this humble blog was the anchor of a small but interesting community. I took great pleasure in the contributions of the blogcomm, as Funkmaster G-Force dubbed it; there was a second, more interesting layer under my ramblings — conversations that could last months, novel ideas and clever rebuttals. Traditions grew, and along with them a lexicon that applied only here. Members of the blogcomm even coordinated travel plans in those comment threads.

Things change. Facebook, for better or worse, has become the de facto place for online communities. I started announcing my new episodes on Facebook, and for a while that actually grew the community. Then people started assuming they would hear about new episodes from Facebook. Then Facebook started not telling everyone who has said they want to know, unless I pay. And if I don’t have a picture associated with my episode, the notice Facebook grudgingly gives up is almost invisible in the ridiculous noise of the news feed.

And the best discussions, those that would last weeks, die out more quickly now; people leave comments in Facebook-space and those that don’t join the discussion right away are left out.

To be fair this blog has changed as well; I’m working a corporate job at a company that doesn’t appreciate blabbermouths, and so a big part of my life is off-limits. But those changes began long after the erosion of the Muddled Community was well under way.

Meanwhile, many of the community functions that my blog offered to the regulars were supplanted by Facebook’s promise of group communication. It was only natural that the blogcomm would move. But as far as I can tell, the blogcomm didn’t move. It died. Where there was a group, now there is a series of individual broadcasts, the efficiency of which is governed by Facebook’s arcane rules. Perhaps the blogcomm was reincarnated in a form I don’t recognize, but I miss hearing from nico, f-g-f, gizo, and the rest. This is ultimately on me; if I had kept things interesting enough here, folks would still be around. Unless those folks were relying on Facebook to tell them when I posted a new episode.

Times change. It’s quite possible that using this format for personal expression and community building is obsolete. The thing is, social media in general and Facebook in particular don’t seem to be doing a good job of replacing it. Facebook sure looked promising back in the day, but when they decided to make their money honestly (charging their users) in addition to the making it dishonestly (selling their users) the way they always had, the whole dynamic changed. Now you pay to be seen on Facebook, and everyone agrees that they will quit that dang platform and…

Find another social media service that hasn’t started asking them for money yet. But mostly people don’t do anything except complain. As far as I know (which isn’t very far), Google’s social platform is still evil-only in terms of how they make their money, but even they haven’t managed to create a meaningful exodus from Facebook.

Facebook has become a giant advertising platform that we all dance on. Long ago I thought to use them to build my audience. For free. Facebook doesn’t owe me anything; I wanted a one-way relationship where Facebook would expand my audience and I would give nothing in return. Now they want something in return, and I’m not willing to give it. I’m the asshole in this relationship. But maybe it’s time for a breakup.

Huh. I did not expect to reach that conclusion when I started typing this episode, but I can’t argue the logic. Maybe it’s time we broke up. Maybe it’s time I started rebuilding the blogcomm honestly.


5 thoughts on “Is Facebook Killing the Blog?

  1. I tend to use Facebook for things that I don’t care if people can or can’t find them in a year, and blogging for things that I think it would be nice if people were to find them doing an Internet search. (Sometimes, after commenting on Facebook memes or doing a capsule review on Goodreads, something will nag at me and I’ll end up doing a blog post as well.)

    But for the community, I think the big problem is the lack of any real support for RSS in browsers or in the OS. I still miss Safari’s built-in RSS; I use Vienna now, but it’s not as nice as something integrated in the browser (and well-designed, Firefox/Mozilla’s RSS support was never helpful, at least to me).

    You still get occasional comments from me because I’m subscribed to your RSS feed in Vienna. It doesn’t matter if you post once a day or once a year, I’ll follow through and read it. But for that to work as a community-builder, the community needs to be using RSS, and most people aren’t going to search out a separate RSS app and copy RSS feeds over into it. So the only blogs that have a community are ones that not only have interesting content but that post so much people are willing to keep a browser window open and hit reload.

  2. No kidding, Jerry, Facebook seems to suck the life out of everything and reduce it to repostings of spammy garbage. But don’t give up on the blog yet, please.

  3. I too miss the bloggcomm. But a lot of commenters just stopped and became lurkers. I always tried to comment, but then felt like I was doing so too much. FB and this blog are not interchangeable. They serve two diff purposes.

  4. My blog went into suspended animation when Facebook lifted the limit on the length of status updates. Before the limit was lifted, if I wanted to say more than a few sentences, I couldn’t do it on Facebook, so I had to put it on the blog. I do regret leaving the blog behind, and I do revisit it every so often, and sometimes I wish to revive it. I agree that the blog is better for more permanent stuff — when I have a topic that I want my students to read about that isn’t covered in the textbook currently used in the class, I write a blog post to cover the topic. So another factor in my blog going dormant is that the textbooks our department has been using for the past five years have covered nearly everything I want to cover.

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