I read a post recently (and can’t find it now) asserting that blogs are basically outmoded by social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s true that many bloggers are completely narcissistic. Some blogs are informative but wordy or devoid of any healthy grammar practices. I love Twitter for its prevention of wordiness. Still, I disagree with the conclusion that social networking has replaced the blog. Here’s why.
1) Blogs are relatively easy. Once you get your social network set up, you have a great way to communicate with those in your network. But you have to build the network. I’d like to think I’m reasonably popular, but over about 2 years on Facebook, I’ve connected with about 365 people through my profile and a handful more through my musician page. We’ve had a lot more hits than that on the blog in a single day.
2) Blogs can be used as information repositories to avoid cluttering up people’s news feed with note posts. Just post the link and a 140-character summary, thank you.
3) People don’t become less narcissistic when they join Facebook. In fact, the opposite may be true. I saw a tweet yesterday saying “if I see your avatar more than 15 times in my timeline, I’m blocking you.” And you know that friend who constantly talks about their Twilight fixation, or their bad relationships, or how they hate their job (which, by the way, is not a good thing to put up on either blogs or SN, because you DO like your job more than you like unemployment).
4) The blog network is wider than my social network. Through tag clouds and friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend surfing, you can travel through all 6 degrees of separation in a few hours. I appreciate this wealth of information, even if I have to weed through some useless blogs too. With Facebook, for instance, you have privacy concerns and friend requests, and “I really want to know more about my VP, but I REALLY don’t want her to see my St. Paddy’s Day photos” concerns. This leads us to the last, and perhaps most vivid, point.
5) Separation of roles. This is probably the biggest one, and it’s the reason this blog exists. I don’t really have anything on my Facebook profile to hide. In fact, my St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to date have been very mild (think listening to The Chieftans or eating corned beef and cabbage). but the point is, I don’t want some people having unlimited access to my personal information (ahem, Bozeman).
The fact is, people separate roles in their life. I avoid talking to my officemate about my marriage, but I don’t discuss network security with childhood friends who simply don’t care. This blog gives me the chance to write about relevant technical and/or techno-cultural topics without posting it and tagging all my friends. Likewise, Facebook gives me the chance to post friends-only photos of my vacation without having who-knows-who looking at my family.
Separation of roles is vital in a technologically driven world, and blogs are a way to accomplish that. Facebook, Twitter, and my music blog give me a way to express another side of myself – a side that (in American culture) must be at least partially veiled from the work side.
Final point – this doesn’t mean blogging is better than social networking. Just that SN hasn’t replaced blogging. For those who are pouring their heart out about their recent relationship disaster, maybe it has. But not for those with something that strangers might actually want to hear.