Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn – * insert your favorite unlisted Social Network here * – a bazillion to go. With even more features and widgets and gadgets and whatnot.
They make sharing things VERY easy. They make talking with people, messaging people, participating in discussions very, very easy.
Hell, they even make distributing news, information, knowledge very easy.
It’s so good that they even work as a content curation tool – if you have a decent list of contacts you interact with, what they deem worthy to share will come up in your feed. And truly, if your circles are well selected, that ends up being highly quality curated content – news you are really interested in, links to articles you may want to read, funny pictures or memes of the type that would make you really laugh instead of ‘lol’ing.
Of course, there may be the odd poke in the eye among them, but hey – its still manageable.
Its so easy that you log into your favorite network, and stuff you are interested in scrolls down in your feed, focused, properly curated, quality, interesting.
You click on some interesting news, go to that post’s discussion thread, and drop some comments. You even engage in long discussions in the thread of that post which is posted in the Page/Profile of the News organization, Interest Group, or friend circle which posted it.
You make some comments, people reply, you reply some more, share information. You post some informative stuff you know, share some knowledge you have from what happened that time some years ago, people click like buttons, retweet buttons, shares, reposts and everyone is happy.
Sure, there are a lot of nutjobs and trolls in every other discussion thread, but that’s a common occurrence on internet and its mostly well moderated.
In the meantime something else happens.
While you are posting away, commenting and discussing and sharing, bit by bit what comment you made, what post you shared starts going down in the feed. Eventually, on Facebook, you need to click to see the next page of comments to find a comment you made to copy/paste it to some other guy which asked the same question or made a comment which requires exact same response.
And if you are trying to find a post you or one of your friends made a few months ago – good luck doing that. Facebook, for example, doesn’t even show your proper full history on your own profile/wall.
Are you going to export all your Facebook data and look for the post in the xml you end up with?
How is someone else, or a friend who may be interested in what stuff you share, is going to do it?
Well, here comes the kicker.
All that stuff you posted/shared is Gone
Dodo. Nada. Kaputt. Harakiri…
The insightful comment or the useful reference you shared a few months earlier, now resides on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus servers, buried deep down in hellish HTML of the website, impossible to find. Hell, most services don’t even provide them to the interface anymore – you cant even reach those old archives even if you spend hours in a search utility, digging into it.
True, NSA may not have any problems reaching any of that, but they are gone for me and you and anyone else on internet who may have benefited from them.
And make no mistake – we post a LOT of useful stuff throughout the day, even if a good amount of what we post may be just hot air. But we also do post a lot of useful stuff – at least the people who are not using their accounts for lollygagging do. And there are many.
You would be surprised how much stuff which would be worth archiving for reuse of people are posted every day by very ordinary profiles on social networks. But due to the nature of social networks and data requirements/load, all of them just go away.
A total waste of information.
This is the point which a Blog comes in
Take a look at this website you are in. This is a blog. You probably know what it is, but in case you don’t, basically its a web application (based on PHP and MySQL in this particular case, running on Apache on a Linux Web Server), which allows you to post formatted or unformatted stuff, including pictures and text and videos.
Basically it allows you one-way shares.
Whats good about it?
Well, what you put in such a place stays forever. As long as you keep your blog. And if you don’t, most of it is picked up by Internet Archive and kept forever even if the place which is keeping your blog burns down and psychopath zombies from an alternative dimension eats and then farts your brains out.
Not only it provides a venue for what you may deem worthy to share with the public to stay in a permanent fashion, but also it allows people who may be in contact with you a permanent contact point.
You may get banned from Facebook, your account may get locked in Twitter, your Google+ account may get stolen.
No one will can ban you from your blog or deactivate your account in your own blog.
You can write about anything as well – a particular interest of yours to your job, green martians and science fiction. Whatever. And you will end up in a circle of people who follow your blog and whom you follow back, who share similar interests.
Its a good deal.
Beats the hell out of being a venue of advertiser data to be mined by the social network to be used for pitching advertising to random megacorporation while burying all your posts and shares to oblivion.
So no downsides?
Everything has downsides. A blog is not a social network account, and you will still need to keep that social network account to keep in touch with the random high school friend or old aunt in that other city. And you probably wont be posting a lot of the stuff you are posting on your social network account to your blog – only the good stuff.
But you know what, funny thing is you can cross post from your blog to your social account as well – so post something on your blog, it goes to your Facebook or Twitter – and some other social networks. Doesn’t fly with Google+ – they are WAY behind in APIs yet.
And you can get started easily. Wordpress.com is a very to set up a blog in 3 minutes and get going. It has a lot of goodies built in as well – no knowledge of websites, coding or anything required. Tumblr is another similar popular choice, and recently popular Medium as well.
There’s no reason for not having a blog. Go get yourself a blog like this, and have some place to call your own dump. You won’t regret it in future – that is until you don’t post crazy stuff.