Experiences come and go, but stuff written on a blog can last a long, long time (I won’t say forever, ’cause at the least it will likely be all sorts of lost when our sun eventually expands to engulf the Earth, but hopefully that won’t happen for some time). It’s fun to look back at what I was up to in the early 2000s… the births of the kids, my adventures in grad school, and my early career in software. It will be fun to look back on what I’m writing now, decades into the future.
As the future unfolds, I have a feeling that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will disappear as they are replaced by better stuff… it’s already happened to several social media sites (Vox and Posterous, for example) while other networking sites have seemed to “evolve” over time, often it ways that I don’t particularly like. LiveJournal, where this blog was originally housed, was a clean and easy-to-use service back in 2002, but has since become littered with unattractive ads. I’m not saying that it wasn’t cool to put ads on LiveJournal – it makes sense for LiveJournal’s owners and operators to want to make money off a free service – but it wasn’t something that was part of the picture when I first started using the service, and if the ads had been there on day one, I probably would have gone with something else.
Facebook is another story. To be honest, I think Facebook has lost a lot of its appeal. It used to be a great environment for finding out what’s going on with your friends and getting back in touch with people you haven’t talked to in ages. People used to share longer commentaries about their lives and experiences on their pages. But lately, the only reason I’ve been checking Facebook is for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and I often leave the site feeling like I’ve wasted a good chunk of my time. Facebook has become chock full of ads and “suggestions for things to like” that I don’t like, and where once people posted original commentary, nowadays a large number of people tend to share humorous images or quotes created by people they don’t know (like those originating from Someecards, for example). While some of these can be funny or interesting to read, a large percentage of them aren’t, and working your way through them to find out what’s really going on with your friends and acquaintances becomes a waste of time. Again, I’m not saying people shouldn’t post pictures from Someecards – it’s their choice to post what they want on their pages. But it’s turning the service into something that I don’t find valuable. And even worse than the shared images are the posts that say stuff like, “Like if you wear jeans, share if you wear t-shirts!” followed by hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, usually encouraged by companies like The Marketing Heaven. These posts are created by people looking to garner Facebook clout by amassing likes and shares, with the goal of selling the pages they’re associated with for real money. That’s great for them, but what I see is a bunch of pointless spam as I scroll my way down my news feed.
Meanwhile, Twitter is brimming with spammers, Google+ never really got off the ground, and LinkedIn probably has the most boring news feed out of all the social media sites! Until something new and personal comes on the scene – something that will link friends and acquaintances together in an intimate and productive way – I don’t see a lot of value in the social media sites that currently exist.
The real point I’m making here is that if you share your life on social media sites, you’re putting it somewhere where it’s temporary, soon to disappear. Sure, you could go back into Facebook’s timeline and see what people posted in 2007, but as stuff people post is normally tied to the moment, and as there’s often a lot of spam and nonsense tossed into a typical news feed, I don’t know of anyone who actually does go back and look through people’s Facebook or Twitter posts. I certainly don’t do it.
So, I’m back to blogging. I don’t get as many hits on my blog as I do with the stuff I post to Facebook or Twitter, but it’s stuff that is important to me, and stuff that I want to remember in the decades to come. It’s also, thanks to the meticulous archiving of everything that’s tossed onto the Internet, information that my family and friends will be able to read when I’m long gone. Even if by my dying, this particular blog disappears, I’m sure that future tools similar to the Wayback Machine will be on hand to deliver stuff that I’ve written many years into the future. Perhaps you’re reading this post now, and you’re my child, or grandchild, or great-grandchild, and I’m long gone. Or perhaps you’re someone from the 3000s, researching life as it was back in the early 21st century. Posting onto the Internet is like stuffing something into a time capsule and burying it into the ground. Once it’s online, it will persist.
And if not, that’s okay, too… it’s fun to share, and to reminisce, and to remember how things were. And right now, things are pretty good.