Before Twitter and Facebook arrived to make billions of dollars by making people sad, fearful, and poorly informed, my internet oversharing platform of choice was the Straight Dope Message Boards. The Straight Dope was a newspaper column that gave genuine, researched (if not entirely respectful) answers to reader-submitted questions about any conceivable topic. The message boards started as a forum for more detailed conversation about the columns, but by the time I’d arrived, had already developed into a solid and surprisingly supportive community of pedantic nerds like myself.
My favorite section of the boards was called “Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share.” It was for pretty much any topic you wanted, with the explicit acknowledgement that it didn’t have to be worthy of conversation with hundreds or thousands of other people. It didn’t even need to be all that interesting. In 2020, that concept is known as “the entire internet,” but back in the early 2000s it was a novel concept for me. 1I never got into livejournal because I thought it was silly over-indulgence for arrested development adults behaving as if they were still emotional teens, which is hilarious to think of now because that’s me 10,000%.
Since I’m currently in the process of weening myself off of Facebook and Instagram, I’m trying to see if I can turn back the clock to the turn-of-the-century blogosphere. That means lowering my standards for what counts as “blog worthy,” and not feeling like I have to come up with a well-thought-out essay for every single topic. 2Believe it or not, I have at least been trying to come up with well-thought-out essays.
It’s weird, though. I wish I knew why; the only thing that Facebook and Twitter did to change the formula was add a social graph, lots of ads, and take ownership of the whole thing. I think something feels fundamentally different when you’re essentially putting pages from your personal journal online for other people to read, without being surrounded by a bunch of other people all doing the same thing. That tacit approval. The acknowledgement, “No, you don’t actually need to be sharing every random thought that enters your head, but it’s okay because everybody else is doing it, too.”
Maybe micro.blog is worth looking into again. I tried it a while back, and I quickly realized that the real strength of Twitter isn’t its format or its spontaneity, but its social graph. As much as I tell myself that it’s all about getting thoughts out of my head, and I don’t really care about followers, it does feel odd shouting out into a well-intentioned but sparsely-populated, echoing room.
If you use micro.blog and like it, let me know! It’s entirely possible I just need to follow more people.
Until then, I’ll start a category for nonessential thoughts and see if I can get back into the swing of embracing pointless communication.
- 1I never got into livejournal because I thought it was silly over-indulgence for arrested development adults behaving as if they were still emotional teens, which is hilarious to think of now because that’s me 10,000%.
- 2Believe it or not, I have at least been trying to come up with well-thought-out essays.
3 thoughts on “Mundane Observations from a Recovering Social Media Addict”
> “That means lowering my standards for what counts as ‘blog worthy,'”
If you really meant it, then a photo of your lunch would have accompanied this post.
Just wait until you see the posts I’ve got queued up! Even more dull than lunch.
A lot of my earliest blog posts didn’t survive various backup losses, probably for the better in most cases, but there’s still enough of a hint from what can be glimpsed at point-in-time snapshots on The Wayback Machine that I know before Twitter and Facebook I posted a lot more on my blog those various types of posts. Even and especially just the brief “here’s an interesting link I found type of posts”. I similarly have wondered as I’ve tried to cut back on Twitter and Facebook if I should just start posting those sorts of things to my blog again.
Though, I didn’t go cold turkey and I took a step that I’ve been using Mastodon for a lot of the goofier “tweet-like” thoughts.
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