Blogging About Blogging Is A Sin, Part 1: FetLife And LiveJournal

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

FetLife gave me a sad reminder of what a vibrant social network looks like.  Or, more accurately, what LJ used to be.
On Thursday, I posted my essay “So I’m Going To Be A Dom” to FetLife, a light little humor essay I tossed off in fifteen minutes.  After some consideration, I cross-posted it to my blog – and, more relevantly, LiveJournal.
What happened was that it went up on LJ, got 36 comments (a third of which were mine), and promptly hit the black hole of Yesterday’s Content.
On FetLife, it got about thirty comments (each expressing “breadcrumbs,” the Fet term for “I make a comment here because I think you’ll want to read this,” as each comment posted shows up on someone’s friends feed unless you specifically mute comments) before it hit Kinky & Popular on Friday.
Kinky and Popular is Fet’s automated “Best Of Fet” collation system, where once a post/picture/video hits a certain popularity it gets to their global feed.  I went viral (for the second time).  By the time Friday was over, I had 220+ comments and 163 people “loving” it, each getting it out to a greater audience.
Now, the popularity is, in part, due to audience.  I mean, it is a kink site, and since I’m mocking the Dom stereotypes, writing something that reflects their annoyances means that it’s going to be a bigger hit in a kink-focused community than the more-scattered audience of my LiveJournal.
But part of that’s due to LJ’s lack of social networking infrastructure.  Yeah, friends lists were great back in the day… But LJ’s lack of a “trending topics” or “share this post without reblogging it entirely” or a “User <3s this essay or comment” means that basically, there’s no inherent mechanisms for easily sharing your love of a given topic.  (I mean, you can add a “+1 on Google+/Reshare on Twitter/Link on Facebook button manually, but that’s something each user has to manually do.)
LiveJournal’s stagnated technologically.  They used to be the leading edge; now, it seems that they’re behind the curve.  And you can go, “Oh, but I like the fact that it doesn’t spam me with all sorts of muck I don’t want!”, which is fair, but it means that some really good gems of writing get completely lost unless someone chooses to make an entry specifically linking to it.
Add that to the fact that LJ’s audience seems to have wandered off in search of better options. Yes, I obviously love the long-blog topic, but the fact is that most people seem to think that writing five paragraphs is onerous.  You can hate Twitter’s popularity – but really, that 140-character limit works because most people don’t have that much to say.  “Here’s a photo I liked.”  “I’m sad because I got fired today.”  “You know what’s still awesome?  Buffy.”
This vomiting of words and shaping them into an essay seems kind of antiquated.  Maybe it’s time to admit that the vast majority of people see writing as a task and not a joy, and for them putting their thoughts into an essay is a painful and trepidacious project.  As such, a huge text field is a lot more intimidating than a tiny status box.
Someone once posited that LJ was in part dying because of all the x-fail shitstorms flying around the Internet – that once everyone saw how many people could be pointed at a poorly written blog post to be dissected by angry people, folks said, “Shit, I don’t want to be in the middle of that” and skedaddled.  I don’t know if that’s true, mainly because I don’t think most people are aware of the X-fail shitstorms – and of those who are, most of them were long-form blog writers who were already aware of the dangers.  Still, it’s a lot easier to make an ass out of yourself in a Facebook status post, where the worst that happens is that your friends mock you and maybe someone takes a screenshot with blurred names and faces and posts it to a Facebook FAIL site.
I think that’s a contributing factor, though.  LJ, unless you go friends-only, is out to the world.  Facebook’s just for your friends.  People would mostly prefer to just talk to their friends.  I’m baffled when someone’s bent out of shape by one of those mean comments when a stranger wanders across their essay – I mean, you don’t know this dude, why should you give a shit about whether he’s angry at you or not? – but I’ve seen it enough to know it’s a phenomenon I can’t dismiss.
I dunno.  The English side of LJ seems smaller these days, held together by a handful of bold (and old) personalities who keep people here by force of will alone.
I mean, I remember when I could toss off a silly essay and return to 150+ comments back in 2006, simply by dint of more people being here.  And comments don’t equal love, or quality, but it certainly does match my level of interest – I’m on here to interact with people, dammit, and there are a lot fewer people hanging out, for whatever reasons they may be.
I’m still enjoying my time here because I love the people who are still here with a fierceness that surprises me.  But I can foresee when this becomes the mySpace of the Internet – some backwater place where folks are surprised to see anyone there.  It may be there already.
Meanwhile, on Fet, I’m interacting a lot more.  There are more pictures, more posts, more local people I know.  Maybe that’s the kinky nature of it.  But at least on Friday, it felt alive in a way that LJ doesn’t, and that bothers me.

3 Comments

  1. Another mouse
    Oct 17, 2011

    I’d disagree about Facebook a teeny bit … there’s an awful lot of folks who post publicly about things that I am astonished they think are a good idea to share with anyone anywhere.

  2. Dan
    Oct 21, 2011

    Of course your FetLife piece will disappear from view tomorrow since writings are not searchable and its place on individual feeds will get buried with new things.
    It’s sort of humorous you used FetLife to critique LiveJournals’s technology freeze since Fet is in some ways purposely kept technologically primitive (by the founder).

    • TheFerrett
      Oct 24, 2011

      Actually, I have a feed I can point to that shows all of my writings in chronological order. So that doesn’t bother me at all.
      That said, Fet is kept technologically primitive some ways on purpose, but it’s a design issue. The same could be said of a lot of Apple products. I can appreciate not putting it there by design as opposed to not putting it there because holy fuck, the guts are so tangled we can barely rewrite this code, or not putting it there because fuck you, we don’t care, this works fine.

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