In the heyday of blogging, 10 years ago or so, the instructions for success told us to post regularly for traffic. I tried for a short time but never managed it. Later, it was pictures, Pinterest links, listcicles, word counts — there were so many rules. I didn’t follow the rules and neither of my blogs have been successful by the metrics, but then I became a freelancer with more requests for pieces than time to write them. Besides, every time the big blogs mastered the rules, the rules changed.
Now, the instruction manuals for writing success say that blogging is dead. I disagree. The rules were always slightly off the mark. Blogging is settling into the role many wanted it to fill: connection, not just to an audience, but to people.
It has become cliché to say that we are lonelier now when our connections are so easy, but actually we’ve mistaken easy connections for solid ones.
With increasing frequency, I see stories about the need to connect, not on the Internet, but in life. Heck, I’m with a startup that was born out of that need to connect. I am not one of those naysaysers who thinks the answer is to shun all social media and return exclusively to handshakes and eye contact, but we are moving to more individual connection. We must. There is no pattern, no hub, no foundation otherwise.
Today, we can “connect” on multiple platforms, each of which has their personality. Twitter is a cocktail party. Facebook is a dinner party. Medium is a seminar class social. They each dictate the party rules — and Facebook notoriously annoys users by changing those rules on a regular. Adding to those platforms are the comment threads on articles and the multiple comment platforms, like Disqus, that come with the big sites. (Interestingly, I note that Disqus has just rolled out a platform with a Facebook meets Medium feel.)
Throw in the use gaps, many of my family, friends, or collegues do not use social media at all. Then there are the generational gaps, the young teens who love Instagram and don’t yet need Facebook, or the older teens who use Instagram because they are wary of Facebook, or the class gaps in social media trends that the keyboard culturati overlook, and there is no primary pattern of communication as we had back when the telephone or the television were new.
With the everywhere-ness of it all, I wanted a virtual home, a place both handshake contacts and virtural contacts could find me. I think a blog can do that, sort of like how mobile phone numbers became personal numbers, both replacing land lines and allowing us to keep the same digits no matter where we live. It took a while for that change to develop, but now people tend to have a phone number.
Social media is still unfolding. People are still joining, or leaving. We don’t yet know exactly where social media will fit in with our larger life. Eventually, we will confirm that no one platform will be able to do it all — what works for the writers won’t necessairly work well for the photographers.
While we are still in the flux, I have my little blog where I can link up all of the social media I do use, where anyone can find me regardless of the platforms they prefer to use.
Individual virtural homes, I’m simply betting that this is the way social media is going, even if social media doesn’t quite know it yet.