Blogging vs. Twitter/Facebook is Exercising vs. Walking

About a week ago, a New York Times article titled “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter” painted a bleak picture for blogging by making pronouncements like “blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online.” The article then goes on to suggest that Twitter and Facebook are the culprits stealing blogs’ thunder.

While some prominent bloggers came to the defense and proved these pronouncements to be inaccurate or at least misleading, there were still some thoughts in this article that really resonated with me. For instance:

“Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers.”

Yup. That’s true for me. I haven’t blogged for six months before this post, and why? Well, it takes times and effort. And the payoff is unpredictable (I characterize “payoff” as discussion and readers). Most times hardly anyone comes to say anything. And other times, it’s a ghost town.

That is, unless you blog frequently enough (and are insightful frequently enough) that you have folks stopping by regularly. But the blog equivalent of “friending” or “following” is mostly dead (it’s called RSS). So you can’t count on people to stick around or come back unless you really stick with it and/or are consistently interesting.

Compare that now to Twitter or Facebook. Neither take much time nor effort, and it’s really not hard to say something that will get read and/or start a discussion. While in the blogging world, you might track visitors and traffic, in the Facebook/Twitter world, you don’t care about that (nor can you really figure it out). It’s been replaced by even better gratification in the form of “retweets” or “likes” plus replies/comments.

This probably comes across cynically, in the sense that I’m suggesting indirectly that blogging/Facebook/Twitter are all done primarily for self-gratification purposes. There’s probably a better way to say that, but connecting/interacting/sharing with others is something most humans enjoy immensely. And Facebook & Twitter make it so easy! Whereas blogging…

Perhaps the conversations don’t run as deep or the discussions aren’t as stimulating, but Twitter and Facebook have a certain “good enough” feel to them. Let me put it this way:

If I told you that you can get in really good shape by walking and that you’d notice results on day one, you’d totally do it, right? But then if I told you, you know what, you might be able to get into slightly better shape (than the first option) if you exercise regularly. But you won’t notice results for at least two months.

Which would you choose?

I think most would (and will continue) to choose walking if it means most of the payoff but none of the hassle / hard work. (Incidentally, I think we’d all love it if only short walks really did get us most of the payoff of regular, more intense exercise.)

By the way, I’m back and ready to blog more (well, at least, more than every six months).

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  • Anonymous

    Why are one sentence updates or ‘micro-blogging’ triumphing over old school, generally more thought provoking blog posts? I think it does have a lot to do with the fact that the vast majority don’t really take blogging that seriously or would never really consider themselves ‘bloggers’. Add the whole ‘I don’t have time for anything’ mentality certainly doesn’t help. I wouldn’t consider your pointing out the self-gratification motive of blogging/Facebook/Twitter as being cynical, but more just telling it how it is. It’s important to step back sometimes and expose the motives behind one’s actions. I think facebook, specifically, has been so successful because it appeals so strongly to people’s vanity. That, combined with the super minimal effort required, makes it ideal for the majority. For me, Twitter is just a news ticker; kinda like competition for my RRS feeds. I’ve never used it for anything other than that. I must say though, the various means of communication on the internet now have a tenancy to accommodate one another. Notice that you used twitter and Facebook to spread the news that you’ve updated your blog. Don’t you love that?

  • http://bobcaswell.com Bob Caswell

    Yeah, blogging & status updates do accommodate one another even if you get 10x the readers if you make your point in 140 characters with a little wit.

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    Blog
    provides brief and precise information about the topic. And in twitter we can
    only write few lines about the blog or the content which we would like to
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    Cheers,
    Susan Smith.