The more we get frustrated with the social media silos, the more people talk about going back to blogging. Those of us who were here before Twitter, before Instagram, even before Facebook. I was blogging before them, and I’ll be here long after they’re gone.
Most recently, it was my friend Shana who wrote about this. We met back in the Livejournal days–a time for which we both feel great nostalgia. Nothing since has come close (except the sites using the forked code, of course) to LJ’s privacy settings and community structure. On LJ, you could set a post to be read by a single user or by a selected group. Instagram has “close friends,” but only for their Stories, which expire after 24 hours. That was a big reason I never got into them before. I’m a diarist at heart; I want to keep everything.
(Of course, once I saw all the things you can do inside Stories, they hooked me. Damn them!)
Now we’re all writing newsletters. You’ll notice that link above is to Shana’s newsletter. You’ll also notice most of my 2020 posts here are reposts of my Substack letters. As much as I value the functionality Substack offers, the ease they bring to maintaining an email newsletter (I’ve tried them all, folks. This one’s the easiest–if not the “best”), I value even more maintaining my own archive on my own domain.
My blog posts here previously lived at Livejournal, at Wordpress (both .org and .com), at Blogspot, at Tumblr, even at Twitter (one day I’ll bring that 15mb archive over here). Every time I move on to the next platform, I take my words with me. On the internet, that’s our currency as users. We create the content. It belongs to us, no matter what the platforms try to tell us.
(I signed up for FB for a very short time in the late ’00s. I was back in university then, and all my fellow students, much younger than me, were there. But then Facebook updated their terms to claim they had ownership over all photos hosted on the site, and that’s when I left for good. I stayed away from Instagram for the same reason for a very long time, but–as the online story goes–“that’s where my friends are.”)
Here at my name dot com, every word belongs to me. This site is hosted by GitHub, which is a code repository, not a social media platform. Each post is written in simple Markdown text. It took me years to get here, but I love this place I’ve created.
I’ll continue to write weekly letters on Substack because email, like text files, is one of the internet’s oldest technologies, and it’s not going anywhere. Sending an email to my tiny list feels like having a few dozen penpals, except I don’t have to hurt my hand writing each and every one. You can subscribe here, and any time you want to say hello, just tap reply. Those emails come straight to me.
But as we head into the new year, I’m thinking about resolutions already. I’m not sure there’s ever been a year I didn’t want to “blog more.” Even sending two letters a week to my list, I worry I’m intruding too much. But if you really want to read more (or if you want to read my Substack letters without subscribing to email), here’s the link to add this blog to your RSS reader (RIP Google Reader).