I miss writing a blog. I often don’t update here anymore because social media has taken over so much of my internet time; I end up spending way too much time trying to keep up with everyone’s updates on my feeds and going down rabbit holes – yet still missing a lot of important things.
I’m an old person (sort of, I’m 35), so I’ve been on the internet for a long time. When I was 12 years old, I learned how to code HTML by hand using tutorials from Webmonkey and created my first website on the long-lost kids’ site known as Freezone.
I was hooked. Before long, I was constantly browsing people’s homepages on Geocities, Lycos, Tripod, Homestead, etc. Social media didn’t exist yet, so the only way to keep in touch with each other was to comment on that person’s guest book. A single-page comment section where you could usually also link to your own website.
I argue that Livejournal is probably one of the earliest, most widely adopted, social media websites. Of course, it was still primarily a place for blogging and writing – but the community was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Some of the people I met there became lifelong friends that I still talk with to this day.
I feel like somewhere between the mass adoption of Myspace and Facebook, the culture of the internet changed for the worse. We are all more “connected,” – but the internet is no longer a place where I feel like I can easily connect with people who share my interests. It’s no longer a place where I feel like I can go to escape the people who make my daily life difficult. Instead, it’s a place where they can follow me even when I haven’t seen or talked to them in years. Every single difficult person you can think of is online and writing their opinions. I feel like it’s harder to be your true self when most of the internet is occurring under our real names, and every relative you can think of can come after you for that post you made.
I think the worst bit of all this is the algorithm.
Until Facebook started this bullshit, when you followed someone and created a feed of posts, you could log in and scroll down until you run into a post you previously read. They were all in sequential order, and you had a stopping point. If you logged in every few days, that was fine, and the posts would still be there when you came back. If you didn’t want to comment on that person’s post, it was also fine; you would continue to see that person’s posts.
Now the algorithm isn’t just hiding businesses who aren’t paying to be in our feeds. It’s hiding our friends. It’s deciding what we do or do not want to see. The posts are out of order based on what a computer thinks will keep us in their app and scrolling the longest. If I fail to like or comment on a friend a few times in a row, I may not see their posts for months. I missed a post where someone I know died—birth announcements, important milestones – etc.
I see it happening with my own posts. I’ve experimented with the types of things I post to Facebook and have figured out that if I talk about the pandemic at all or post any link or share a post – chances are I will get no reactions to it. Then every post I make after that, sometimes things that are really heartfelt or important to me will also get buried in my friend’s feeds. Sometimes my friends go missing from my feed, and I have to search them out then like a bunch of posts in hopes of putting them back in. If I get too distracted, it might be weeks before I realize they’re gone – and I have to find out if they stopped posting or a computer decided that I didn’t need to see it.
The algorithm is cancer to the social nature of these platforms. It’s destroyed Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Remember how it trained business pages across Facebook to post 6 times a day in hopes of beating it? Then Facebook decided to push video, so people were turning still images into videos of still images. It’s got people deleting posts on Instagram that didn’t get enough engagement quickly enough in hopes that it won’t tank the engagement of the posts that come after it.
Photographs are the king of the algo. Everything has to have videos or pictures. It’s rare to see any website without a hero image on the top of each post, even if the writer has to resort to stock photography to get read. I am a photographer, and I have worked extensively with video, but honestly, I am sick and tired of it all.
Sometimes I just want to write.
Blogs are no longer a place where you can see what people you are interested in are up to. Instead, they’ve become constantly updated self-help books that are more about the reader than the writer. I think there is a time and place for these, but I miss the personal nature of personal websites.
I do not want to work on a website that is only recipes, self-help articles, or only fashion looks. I am not an expert in anything other than the fact that I am constantly trying new things. I want to share progress photos on current projects I’m working on, cool places my family has visited, current thoughts I’m having, and sometimes just general life updates. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have ADHD, and this formulaic/money-making version of the internet is not working for me.
Having a dozen social media accounts and spreading myself thin to get seen is also not working for me. I’d rather work on my own space, on my own terms, than continue to put work into someone else’s website. Even if that means I’m just here writing into the void. Maybe the algo will not know if they should show me to recipe lovers, or travel lovers, or people who happen to like long-winded blog posts – but I’ll be damned if I continue to care.
I’m going to stop worrying about whether or not what I’m doing is good for social or good for Google, or even good for anyone else but me.
I’m going to write for me.