How Social Media Ruined My Blog

I have posted on my blog 407 times since June 2004. More than ten years at something close to a weekly rate.

When I started blogging, I had a big advantage — a background in journalism. I was used to writing, I was used to expressing my opinion in public in the form of brief commentary, and I enjoyed it. For me, blogging was like being given a printing press. I loved it. Still do, kinda.

Here’s how the blogging process worked for me. It all started with an idea. It might be a reaction I had to some public event, or it might be a bit of humor, or it might be an emotional reaction to something in my personal life (my son’s 18th birthday, or the horrible decision to have my dog put down), or it might be the sharing of a memory, like my last post in (gulp) March, about my encounter with the poet Alan Ginsberg, in my capacity as president of my college literary society.

My friend Michael happened to catch the movie “Howl” on cable TV, the story of an obscenity trial in San Francisco, where a bookseller was accused of selling a book of Ginsberg poems entitled Howl, in 1957. I mentioned to him that I had spent a weekend hanging around with Ginsberg in 1969 and then decided it would make a good blog post.

I usually put some work into my blog posts, and this one was no different. I re-watched the movie and did some reading about the trial. I did some research to find the correct edition of Playboy magazine in which he was interviewed and included the cover. I dragged out my old college yearbook and found a couple of photos from that weekend. And I wrote the story. So, not a monumental task by any means, but not just tossed off, either.

Now you might think of me that I am a writer and writers write and have things, however trivial, to share with the world, or you might think that I am a blabbermouth who has difficulty having an unpublished thought. Either way, in a few months will come the 40th anniversary of my first published words (“published” in this case meaning they were generally disseminated, and somebody paid me).

So I had this whole blogging thing down, pretty much. Then along came “social media” which in my case mostly means Facebook and Twitter. Now when I have an idle thought, a brief insight, or whatever, I bang it out in about 30 seconds on one of those platforms and no longer feel that urgency that writers feel. My need to let the world know what I’m thinking seems to be somewhat ameliorated by these new media.

My readers, such as they are, may cheer or lament this development, but I think I’m going to make an effort (without sacrificing my social media interactions) to go back to blogging and the satisfactions it offers. We shall see where it goes.