CJ Eller makes note of email correspondent Hudson Gardner’s remarks about the differences in conversation when comparing social media to discussion forums.

I feel like, strangely, social media is about getting somewhere alone, as an individual: follower counts, post likes—metrics to make one feel success or failure. And forums are about getting somewhere together.

“People choose to be on a forum for a reason,” Eller adds to this. “People know why they’re there. With social media there is more of what Cal Newport refers to as an ‘atmosphere of vagueness.’” When it comes to blogs, Eller says (making a gaming comparison), “it’s single player by default. But once you add others replying to your posts, it becomes a multiplayer experience”.

Which brings me to Rebecca Toh’s thoughts on blog comments in which it’s noted that “comments haven’t exactly disappeared”, they’ve simply moved to social media—but, says Toh, having blog comments feels “different”.

Maybe because this is my very own place and like many others have mentioned before, it takes effort for people to find their way to personal websites / blogs like this. That’s why it’s almost sweet when someone puts in the work to write a comment. Alright, it’s very sweet!

Toh hits on the thing: a blog is one’s “very own place”, much in the way that a discussion forum becomes a “place” for its members. By comparison, something like Twitter in a very real way isn’t really for anyone because it’s for everyone.

Space, not place.

Addenda

  1. To put it another way, as did Vicki Boykis in 2017: “good things don’t scale”. Prior to the advent of social media, communities online tended to congregate in places. And places don’t scale.

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