Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Long Vs. Short Form

It's hard to believe I have been away from my blog for nearly a year. I was surprised to learn that before January of this year I hadn't written a post for two years. In fact, since 2008 my postings became increasing sporadic.

I created a Facebook profile in 2009. Conversely, my postings there became very frequent: sometimes 4 or 5 status updates in a 24 hour period. I haunt my news feed looking through others' activities and updates. I post news articles, photos, you name it, and voraciously consume those posted by others. I confess, I have even tailored postings with likes and comments in mind.

This blog is as close to a journal that I have ever come. It allowed, and allows, me to flex my expository muscle, to reflect, and explore without regard to audience. I am able to delve deeply into whatever is on my mind, and in so doing purge, or at least expose some demons. I have a long list of blogs written by some seriously talented people. They were, and are, a source of inspiration. Their writings let me know that I am not alone in my search for answers and meaning. I see the same love of writing and clarity of thought I struggle to achieve. Some have gone fallow. Others continue on, as rich as ever. When I abandoned my writing, I also abandoned my reading.

Brevity is the hallmark of Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms. Social networking sites are excellent vehicles for disseminating information quickly to a wide audience, whether it's family updates or world events: witness the Arab Spring and Hurricane Sandy coverage. Information traveled far and wide in words and pictures. In such situations, this is a good thing. It brings much needed awareness to the plight of the day. However, as a means of significant personal expression, there is nothing that can be fully explored in 140 characters.

I have read my recent Facebook posts. My grammar and usage have gotten sloppy, and it is not possible to edit posts. I can edit my comments on other people's posts, but not my actual posts. My blog posts are constructed differently: I write, read, edit, revise, edit, revise, then post. It is not an instantaneous process. It is deliberative. And, if, months later, I find an error, I can correct it.

The introduction of these short-form platforms has influenced not only how we, or at least I, write, but how we consume information. More snippets, headlines, and soundbites. Less in-depth analysis. Less critical thinking. While we decry ADD in kids, we cater to it in adults. We bounce from thought to thought, story to story, without actually assimilating the information, discerning its veracity, and assessing what it actually means to us as individuals, or citizens, for that matter.

Let's be clear: I don't want to abandon my social network. I do want to take a more balanced approach to my online options, both in terms of input and output. Actually, I want to take a more balanced approach to my LIFE, but that is another post...