Welcome to the Neighbourhood

Yesterday I was interested to see that, for various reasons, an esteemed friend of mine had made the decision to walk away from Facebook and continue his electronic journey in the blogosphere. Please give a warm welcome to Mr. Bloom.

This seems to be the way of things, all forms have their cycles, their peaks and troughs and extinction events. I’m not saying this is happening for Facebook yet – it’s still a good place to communicate with people, organise gatherings, catch up and share jokes and other stuff – but it’s starting. Ever since Facebook was created, it was starting. And the increased urgency to make money, to advertise, to push for Shares and Likes to make stuff visible worldwide, is slowly making Facebook into a bad Geocities website from the 1990s (just with better bandwidth, so you can cram more ads in, faster, animated, and not lock up your computer). Not to mention the increasing weirdness of promoted posts stealing your opinions and making you Like things from beyond the fucking grave.

So, we’ll see how it goes.

I can’t speak for Mr. Bloom but I’m sure it was the right call at the right time, and I hope this gives him the spur he needs to get on with shit. Having recently been kicked myself, I can understand the tremendous reviving effect it can have on the attitude, and creativity.

I also understand why they didn’t make single-use disposable spurs.

Anyway, welcome to the Neighbourhood, and perhaps in time, depending on your WordPress settings (I couldn’t Follow as normal since you have your own domain, but I’m sure the idea is the same), you too can become a citizen of this crazy e-country. Entirely up to you. I will say it’s extremely low-maintenance, but a nice illusory feeling of community. Avoiding attention and commitment is all too easy. If you want a bunch of people to know what you’re doing and eventually form the core of your readership (or master-film-maker-cult-following), that buildup takes work. I’m one of those lazy ones who tries to just let it happen organically. Best to focus on making stuff, and then promote yourself later.

(In other news, did you know I’d written a book?)

And, as with Facebook and every other social media ever invented, it can eat up as much of your time and effort as you want to let it. Try not to get too bogged down in answering every comment. I only have two readers who comment regularly (hi Aaron, hi dreameling), so it’s not a big deal, but if and when you collect more subscribers and followers and commenters, well, it will definitely become a Thing. And if you’re going into movies, it’ll be a Huge Thing sooner or later. Most of the people I know are giant nerds (hi Aaron, hi dreameling).

I can fully relate to the waste of time and effort that Facebook can become, and how overwhelmingly important it can feel when someone is Wrong on the Internet. Back in the day, it was Usenet. I poured hours into it – weeks, months when you add it all up – and although it was also hugely rewarding and taught me valuable skills and introduced me to some of the best friends I’ll ever have (not to mention a lovely wife, with whom I spent many of those aforementioned weeks and months), it was also a colossal, ravenous time-sink. I never really tore myself away: other media arrived, everyone else left, the technology failed and Usenet essentially died around me.

Facebook has been the Usenet of the late Noughties and early Teens. It’s not quite so anonymous, reckless and freeform, because the Internet has moved on and we’re all a little more cynical and fearful and consumed by our First World Problems. But it, too, will change in time.

Not blogs, though. They’re totally permanent.

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38 Responses to Welcome to the Neighbourhood

  1. Hi Aaron. Hi dreameling. Looking forward to meeting you two. This was one funny, interesting hop-a-long post. Felt like we were walking through your old neighborhood and you were pointing out where everything use to be (no wait, you did do that with Facebook). Thank you for mentioning the neighborhood. Only been here awhile, but already seems fun.

  2. dreameling says:

    Yesterday I was interested to see that, for various reasons, an esteemed friend of mine had made the decision to walk away from Facebook and continue his electronic journey in the blogosphere. Please give a warm welcome to Mr. Bloom.

    That was a really good, touching read. I don’t suffer from depression, but I can certainly relate to that feeling of zero creative output and endless procrastination going back years and years. It can sometimes be incredibly fucking disheartening. (I think the last time I was actively writing and feeling creative, although I’m sure the output was shit, was in the early 1990s. I do, of course, think about writing all the time. Or I did. Damn, even that seems to be going.)

    Why am I writing this reply here?

    In other news, I’m increasingly convinced that me decision to stay away from Facebook was the right call!

    Having recently been kicked myself, I can understand the tremendous reviving effect it can have on the attitude, and creativity.

    So, how does one go about getting kicked?

    Not blogs, though. They’re totally permanent.

    Totally.

    If there’s one type of social media I want to survive in perpetuity, though, it’s the message board. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, that was to me what Usenet was to you. That’s the platform for proper, democratic discussion. (Not that I feel in any way oppressed by your ego on this blog.)

    • stchucky says:

      Message boards need to be unmoderated in order to work. Otherwise, this blog is a message board.

      And man, I remember the wars that happened when message boards started trying to horn in on Usenet … this was back when we had dial-up and timed local calls, so we’d have to call up the Internet, download all the messages, hang up on the Internet, then write all our replies, then call the Internet again and send the messages out.

      Back then, message boards that required you to be online the whole time were just a shitty series-of-tubes-dream.

      (this wasn’t necessarily ancient history, just ancient technology at our end)

      • dreameling says:

        From where I’m looking at this, a blog can never be a message board, since a) a blog usually does not provide the full editing tools and functions for replies, and, more importantly, b) the commentators are by definition subordinate to the blogger(s). Message boards are more democratic than blogs, since anyone can start a thread and the replies to that thread are exactly the same type of messages than the original starter message.

      • stchucky says:

        But aren’t message boards (unless they’re completely public and unmoderated, as I was saying) created by and overseen by someone with a mission statement and an agenda, and to whom all posters are ultimately subordinate? The message board host takes the place of the blogger.

        And once a message board or a blog’s population of subscribers reaches critical mass, doesn’t the moderation become simply too difficult, either lending the illusion of unmoderation or necessitating the hiring of a staff of moderators?

        There are differences though, certainly. The tools for writing in and tracking a message board and writing in and tracking a comments section are different. That’s why there are message boards and comments sections. But they’re the same sport.

      • dreameling says:

        But aren’t message boards (unless they’re completely public and unmoderated, as I was saying) created by and overseen by someone with a mission statement and an agenda, and to whom all posters are ultimately subordinate? The message board host takes the place of the blogger.

        Fair and interesting point. I’ve never really frequented message boards where you had that level of oversight, that is, a clear and felt mission or agenda that somehow restricted what you could discuss there. The ones I’ve frequented have been way more free and democratic and open to any kind of discussion. Risingshadow.fi and Pelit.fi are good examples.

        In my mind, how I perceive blogs versus message boards, a message board is more round-table-discussion-oriented, whereas a blog is more about a single person’s or group’s interests and agenda and other people’s replies more or less strictly along those lines.

        There are differences though, certainly. The tools for writing in and tracking a message board and writing in and tracking a comments section are different. That’s why there are message boards and comments sections. But they’re the same sport.

        To me, the different technologies (e.g., thread management and editing tools) make them almost different sports, since the user experiences are so different. That said, my replies on this blog have in some ways been the closest thing to my heyday of message board activity since, well, that heyday. Truth be told, some of the discussions we’ve had here have felt more discussion-y than the discussions I’ve had on the message boards that I currently frequent. But the comments UI is just goddamn so cumbersome.

      • stchucky says:

        The ones I’ve frequented have been way more free and democratic and open to any kind of discussion. Risingshadow.fi and Pelit.fi are good examples.

        Sure, but only because the moderators and owners agree with that philosophy.

        Mind you, it’s a moot point since ultimately (back in the day) Usenet and ‘most any other form of communication was subject to moderation from ISPs or various other forms of oversight. And today, of course, we have the NSA watching us. Take it far enough and that sense of anything-goes democracy is an illusion. Like the ideology of democracy itself … but let’s not even start.

        Truth be told, some of the discussions we’ve had here have felt more discussion-y than the discussions I’ve had on the message boards that I currently frequent.

        Well good, that’s how I like it! And, my minor messing around aside, I don’t intend to moderate this blog (mostly because I just don’t have time). There may be times someone says something I don’t want to see, but I’m pretty sure I can get by without deleting the post. Far more fun to deliver e-wedgies, in my opinion. And discussion between folks, even if it drifts dramatically, is generally to be encouraged.

        I remember a few years ago, on a “forum” (I don’t know, you think they’re so different, this was basically a glorified comments-feature as far as I’m concerned) for the Ctrl+Alt+Del webcomic, I made a post about some of the bullshit the author had been pulling. It wasn’t (for all my description here) offensive or critical in any way, I like to think it was fairly constructive … but it was up for all of five minutes before it was deleted and my account was perma-banned. I have since found out that the author is a super-sensitive self-indulgent jackass, and the forum-or-whatever is moderated by obsessive fanboys who delete anything even remotely questioning of the author’s genius.

        That’s forums, to me, in a nutshell. On Usenet, you couldn’t get away with that crybaby shit.

      • dreameling says:

        That’s forums, to me, in a nutshell. On Usenet, you couldn’t get away with that crybaby shit.

        Whoa. Our message boards (or our experiences thereof) are totally different beasts.

      • stchucky says:

        [I'm sorry, that was uncalled-for and mean of me ... for the record, Mr. dreameling is an exemplary coder and is possessed of incredible attention to detail and talent. And the post above originally read "(Mother******!)", then "(I really don’t know how to use the “/” button and Hatboy has to fix it for me, I am literally the worst code-writer ever)", and now it says "(Mother******!)" again. I pledge to henceforth only use my powers for Good.]

      • dreameling says:

        I’d swear some more, but I’m just enjoying this too much.

      • dreameling says:

        I’m so confused.

      • stchucky says:

        And therein we reach the nub of the matter, and the core problem with any sort of moderation, particularly the moderation that is not “clear and felt”. You never know it is happening, and must depend on the goodwill and statements of the moderator. And once that is gone, posters never know whether the words they are reading belong to other posters. And communication becomes meaningless.

      • dreameling says:

        You forgot to explain the typo in the ending tag of my block quote. How will future generations and web anthropologists know what really transpired here?

      • stchucky says:

        Well, if I really don’t know how to use the “/” button isn’t sufficient explanation, I say let it remain a mystery.

      • dreameling says:

        And therein we reach the nub of the matter, and the core problem with any sort of moderation, particularly the moderation that is not “clear and felt”. You never know it is happening, and must depend on the goodwill and statements of the moderator. And once that is gone, posters never know whether the words they are reading belong to other posters. And communication becomes meaningless.

        Hold on, did you just use my own replies against me to teach me (and the online world) a lesson? Dude!

        Plus, I was a little confused, but I was also entertained, so it all balanced out in the end.

      • stchucky says:

        That’s the way I roll.

    • stchucky says:

      (I think the last time I was actively writing and feeling creative, although I’m sure the output was shit, was in the early 1990s. I do, of course, think about writing all the time. Or I did. Damn, even that seems to be going.)

      Why am I writing this reply here?

      Sooner or later, I’ll get around to kicking you.

      But whether or not you made the right call about Facebook, interesting issue. Sure, for yourself and your time I’m sure it was the right call. But to avoid a form of social media because it’s not going to be eternal is … well, unrealistic.

      To invest in it too much, however, is equally crazy. For the very same reason.

      • dreameling says:

        But to avoid a form of social media because it’s not going to be eternal is … well, unrealistic.

        Well, I avoided it mostly because I didn’t want that kind of superficial social connectivity online, and I knew it would eat up way too much of time. The hipstery justification of it not being cool because everyone’s doing it and because it’s totally a fad came later. (Not that I’m gonna take it up when it’s close to death and no longer popularly cool.)

    • aaronthepatriot says:

      High five for avoiding facebook! We rule.

  3. JonathanBloom says:

    Chucky, there is now a follow option. I had forgotten to link a plugin that allowed for direct wordpress connections. Should be easier for the neighborhood to connect.

    I have no problems with Facebook and, like an alcoholic, if I could moderate my use better and not end up binging, I would use it. But I can’t so, for now, I won’t. I think a blog will allow me to put my thoughts in order better and, hopefully, get better feedback than just “likes.”

    Thank you for the welcome.

  4. aaronthepatriot says:

    “As explained in all those pesky links I put in the above blog entry.”

    *eyeroul*

  5. aaronthepatriot says:

    “Hold on, did you just use my own replies against me to teach me (and the online world) a lesson? Dude!”

    I’m starting to think you must not know Chucky very well…. This is what he DOES!

    *disappointed shake of head against shameless people who use others’ words against them*

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