Back to blogging.

Robert Tracinski at The Federalist:

What strikes me most is the contrast between this and the Internet era before social media, before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube swallowed up everything. I’m talking about the 2000s, the great era of the blogs. Do you remember what that blog era was like? It felt like liberation.

The era of blogging offered the promise of a decentralized media. Anybody could publish and comment on the news and find an audience. Guys writing in their pajamas could take down Dan Rather. We were bypassing the old media gatekeepers. And we had control over it! We posted on our own sites. We had good discussions in our own comment fields, which we moderated. I had and still have an extensive e-mail list of readers who are interested in my work, most of which I built up in that period, before everybody moved onto social media.

But then Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube came along and killed the blogs. …

So we get shadowbanning, arbitrary Twitter suspensions, and Twitter throttling the traffic of people they don’t like and controlling what articles you can tweet links to. We traded the old mainstream media gatekeepers for new, worse, less publicly accountable gatekeepers in Silicon Valley—a new breed of pinch-nosed Puritans with pink hair, piercings, and tattoos, who will shut us down if we don’t use the right pronouns. …

The role of social media as the new ideological gatekeepers is just part, although the leading part, of our overall dissatisfaction with their product. There is the damage they are doing to the attention spans and social lives of teens who are growing up on them. There is the phenomenon of the Twitter mob and the way social media is responsible for gamifying moral outrage, where readers score points and level up by getting people fired, often based on nothing more than rumors and mass hysteria.

Then there are the awful economics for actual producers of content. Social media companies are designed to profit off our free labor while they treat us like garbage. For example, I have 11,000 Twitter followers, but I don’t know who they are or have any independent way of contacting them. In effect, I have spent years building up a mailing list for Twitter, not myself. What kind of raw deal is that? …

Read the whole thing for Tracinski’s four-step program, and consider adding The Tracinski Letter to your blogroll. (Uh, that’s “a roster of websites and blogs with good information.”)

On the same theme, here is one of my favorite old school bloggers, Cobb: Bring blogs back.

Everybody who thinks about it knows it to be true. Social media isn’t working the way we thought it would.

There are a lot of reasons. Some are simple and some are rather complex. But let’s look at the simplest reason and to my mind, one of the most important. You don’t own your own words. When you live on Facebook’s property, you don’t own your own words. They can be deleted by someone other than you. They can be banned by someone other than you. You can hardly even know what you said a year ago by searching for it. I don’t mean to suggest that Facebook alone is capable of this, but it is the 900 pound gorilla. The same things are true of Twitter and the comments sections of hundreds of new media outlets.

When it comes to participating in the debates that a free and open society require, these social media spaces do not facilitate. That is not why they exist. That is not their business model. They were not created to sustain collaborative thought, but to let everybody connect in social ways. They are not town halls so much as they are gas station bathrooms on the information superhighway. …

Go read it all at Cobb.

2 thoughts on “Back to blogging.

  1. libertywolf 2018/03/25/Sunday / 19:34

    All too true Asher! Glad you are reviving your blog. I want to create a book of political essays, and have been ignoring my blog which gets little traffic anyway. I need to go there and throw something up though and this is a good reminder. It is like a notebook for a book I think, all in time.

    These observations about the large social media companies and free speech are absolutely on point. I will be returning to this space.

    • asherabrams 2018/03/26/Monday / 01:40

      Hey, great to hear from you! Looking forward to your next post.

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