I like writing. It engages my mind like no other method of expression. I can crawl into a corner of introversion, yet feel that I’m talking to someone. I can let my mind go wild on daydreaming journeys without a worry, and when it comes back I get to sort through what I have found. I can take time to shape it and polish it with no rush, and when I’m done, I have something to show for it. I can share it and I can later talk about it with greater clarity and conviction.
I like writing, yet it’s never been a significant part of my life. I believe that my intellectual being is not more than a function of my inputs and experiences, so I read a lot more than I write, and when I write it’s mostly out of impulse. It’s a knack that’s triggered by emotion, when I feel what’s inside me cannot be expressed through any immediate method of expression, when it’s hard to talk about it, when it’s not enough to just cry or laugh about it, when it needs more processing that I can do on top of my head, when it needs to be shared not because it’s worth sharing but because I can’t hold it inside me. The level of that impulse has been up and down throughout my life and so has been the amount of my writing.
Since I was never serious about writing, I never gave much thought to how I share it. I always went for the most immediate and convenient media which in my case was social media, and it was fine. I’d share, get some engagement and discussion from friends, and feel good about it. A successful cycle of expression and acknowledgement. Over time though, my writings ended up scattered all over the platforms, and the platforms themselves have changed too. As a result of optimizing the platforms for more and more ad revenue, users’ behavior has changed towards a habitual scrolling with numbed attention that is optimized for glancing over posts to quickly sort through a mix of social posts, news, cat videos and promoted ads. This numbing effect makes us passively scroll/swipe/tap/click for longer periods of time but with lower level of attention, only reacting to the highest levels of stimuli that are usually from produced content with flashy visuals or celebrity faces that are more likely to be from a business than a friend. Moreover, on platforms like Facebook News Feed, your posts have to compete on their early engagement scores with the paid and produced content before they show up on your friends’ feed, making it less likely to even reach some interested friends. This is not supposed to be a critique of social media, so I’ll cut my rant short. The point is, I find social media increasingly unsuitable for sharing my writing, partly because they are trying to be something else by design, and partly because I’m trying to find more active readers that opt in to pay more attention in exchange for a more nuanced stimuli (fancy word for boring content, I guess).
That brings me to blogging, the ancient form expression on the internet. Although audio and video content have become very popular and maybe the dominant form of expression on the internet (I personally spend an unhealthy amount of time on Youtube and podcasts), blogging is still relevant thanks to people who prefer reading and people who write for them. No matter the medium, you can use a personal website as the center of your creation, and use the power of social media just to share it with others. I believe that a self-hosted personal website has a lot of other benefits for a society that wants to thrive on individual freedom in an online world. That’s a long argument of itself, so I’ll keep it for another post, but for now, here I start this journey…