Blogging has  an open door.
Facebook is a gated community.
Most people prefer Facebook.



  1. Bollocks. The people I know who despise Facebook would never read a blog. And one of the reasons people stay away from Facebook, is that there is no real privacy there no matter how one tinkers with the “privacy” settings. Facebook is infamously mined by employers and private investigators all the time, and it is the first place that someone you don’t want to find you will go looking. Many people feel pressured to “friend” people at work or family members, whom one really would just as soon avoid, and for those of us who may have some controversial opinions on various issues, religious and secular, they are more likely to be seen and offend people (which might be ok if they actually read the “offending” post or article, but instead they instantly react negatively and tune out, while at the same time remembering that so-and-so is always ranting about da gays or whatever on Facebook).

    In short (!), for most of us, writing on our blogs and others feels more like speaking and hearing from a private community than posting something on Facebook, which gets far more attention. Yes, trolls are a hazard of blog-writing and commenting, but most “strangers” who read or comment almost instantly become friends or good acquaintances (though fewer and fewer people comment anymore on blogs), and while one knows that a regular blog is available to anyone who can get online, those who are not interested generally stay away — so no need for gates or fences.

    Of course things are different when you are talking about a really famous blogger, such as yourself. Facebook does give you somewhat more control over your “readers” there, if you were to choose to exert it. But most people, especially the younger folks, when they first joined Facebook, almostly instantly made “friends” with entire networks of students in high school, college, work, etc., did so precisely because Facebook was and is so notoriously public (which made Twitter a logical next step).

    I’m afraid I gravitated towards Facebook because I can read and see all kinds of articles, including blog entries, more quickly than I can scanning blogs I know or trying to keep track of them with Google Reader (though I still do some of both). I also can quickly post something in a sentence or less or just tack up a link or a video on Facebook, if I don’t have the time or inclination to say more, and I can communicate with more people than those who might read my blog. So, I’m afraid for me, at least, my Facebook activiity is largely the result of laziness (though I’d prefer to think of it as time constraints), which I indulge at the expense of the kind of intimacy (and some measure of thoughtfulness), I brought to reading and commenting on others’ blogs. Nevertheless, one of the postive results of spending more time on Facebook is that I occasionally hear from actual friends who read, think, and respond to things I’ve posted who have very different interests and opinions than me, and that way interact with a much more diverse community than I ever did while blogging.

    Finally, what has touched me so deeply the last week is hearing from people who, thanks to my occasional Facebook postings, have been reading and getting to know Kirstin and are struggling with her death, like so many of us — people who never told me before that they had any knowledge of Kirstin whatsoever, who probably have not and will not read any of the blogs that most of your readers read. Needless to say, Kirstin is the kind of person who busts open all the gates that anyone might construct to keep others out. But she might not have become known to at least some people who do not follow progressive religous blogs without Facebook.

  2. Facebook may have security problems (I’ve never thought about it as I am not, to my considerable cost, someone who worries too much about privacy). But it is basically a format in which you choose who to let in or not. Unless you opt for a private blog, blogging cannot exclude.

  3. You are thinking about the technology involved (which, of course, makes sense on one level), rather than the intent or the way traffic flows.

    A few people I know (usually the elderly — i.e. even older than me), limit their Facebook friends to their closest friends and family, having a “friends” list of say 20-40 people. Young people often have nearly a thousand or more. The point is not the numbers per se but the fact that many people are willing to “friend” just about anyone who is a friend of a friend of a friend and likewise will send friend requests to someone they may not really know at all, just to get more FB “friends.” So while Facebook allows one to intend to create little private communities and networks, many (most?) users do not actually operate or have the intent to it like that. On the contrary, the way it often works is that through very rapid and casual contact, the network of “friends” can grow exponentially, perhaps more widely and greatly than blog readership.

    And don’t forget, that unlike some of us more cautious adults, many young people use Facebook settings that allow either Everyone to read or at least “friends of friends.” Consequently, their intent is to be as “public” as they can be (without all the fuss of creating a blog). In practice, they let “in” all sorts of people they’d never include in their social circles, and not just inadvertently (the teens and 20somethings in my household deliberately include people as friends they can’t stand and would never want to hear from and know full well that others can read them because it is considered, technology not withstanding, a public medium).

  4. So, yes, one can contrast the fact that a public blog is available to anyone from all across the globe (and anyone else who can get on our earthly internet), of all nations, cultures, socio-economic circumstances, political and religious views, etc. — in short, absolutely everyone who can get online — whereas Facebook accounts are subject to “privacy” settings, which technically allow accountholders to not only limit access but to build communities of readers based on conscious selection of the individuals they choose to “allow” in. But that is to confuse (or at least blur the distinction) between form and function. The way Facebook functions, both in terms of intent and actual results, may be that a larger, more diverse readership is attracted and created by something like the “Seven Degrees of Separation” principle, rather than by random internet or blog browsing. Or, to look at it another way, perhaps the way blogs like yours and Jake’s and Mimi’s became known and read by the internet version of “word of mouth” is not so different than the way people make “friends” and read newsfeeds on Facebook.

    Don’t know, as I’m neither a computer geek nor a mathematician, but it may be worth thinking about.
    In any event, I think there is at least some element of paradox in the idea that Facebook is a gated community in the usual sense of excluding those who are different from oneself in terms of race, class, age, economic status, ethnic origin and religion. Facebook is very popular with those who intend their posts to be widely read by people they hardly know and who do not care who they “friend” or why and who the “friends” are of those they be”friend.” So instead of carefully limiting access and creating like-minded and looking communities, as the technology permits, the opposite may occur. And just in case one is not inclined to use it that way, Facebook itself is constantly flashing the names and photos of people and public Facebook pages for groups, causes, celebrities, as well as friends of friends of friends, whom the software suggests one “might like to friend.” In other words, it’s in the software to try to make sure that we all get as far as we can down the road to all with whom we are within 7 degrees of separation, or whatever.

  5. Yes. You have a point. It does appear that although Facebook is most definitely, in its stated function, a gated community, many of its users rebel against this and try and turn it into an open space. However, the mechanics of Facebook do not allow complete inclusivity. Therefore one wonders why people try and force it to instead of just becoming bloggers. Perhaps they want to retain some control of who is let in or, at least, to post under the illusion that they have some control.

  6. I’m thinking the issue is somewhat simpler. Blogging vs. Facebook doesn’t so much have to do with privacy issues as it does with short attention spans. It’s always been my impression that Facebook is for superficial things; a blog is where I can read and go deeper into a person’s thoughts. Twitter is, of course, the ultimate expression of this. I subscribe to a website entitled “Longreads” which publishes weekly articles on various topics from the print media where the articles are long and in depth. Reading well thought out prose and analysis is becoming something less people seem to do. I’ve often wondered if this is also because people just aren’t as interested in what others think.

  7. A fellow here in the US just wrote a book on this very subject: the apparent fact that widespread use of the internet has decreased the ability of many people to concentrate on long, in-depth articles or books, that we are being fed more short, edited fare that doesn’t tax our deeper intellectual skills. I have felt for a long time we in the US are actually training our very young children to be ADD, since most TV stuff for kids is often a series of short cuts, and again often edited with a lot of movement – I suppose to get the kids’ interest. But this flies in the face of research that shows the young brain needs long-term concentrated thought to develop the necessary nerve pathways to enable an individual to think in ways to understand complex ideas or to solve complex problems. The long-term result may be a population that cannot concentrate long enough to work in a complicated technical society, even if they can use an iPhone…..

  8. Not me!

    I resist the gated community: Zuckerberg will never own me!

    Now, about Google Plus: hmmm.

  9. One other aspect to the Facebook vs. blog thought is that facebook can be used for evangelism better than blogs…. but that depends on a fan base who does more than hit the “Like” button and instead hits the “Share” button…. you reach new people with new thoughts, sometimes even getting blog posts out to a new community who would never read a blog, or never search for a thoughtful blog! If you could get 10% of your friends to hit Share instead of Like, you’d have a fairly large spread of the possibility that people would be exposed to new ideas and people! And in that respect blogs and facebook work quite well together… it’s like the doors of the church, you leave them all open to let people in, because you never know how they’re going to enter. Same with social media. They can all be effective.

    Sorry I’m not timely with this thought, but I’ve been away visiting family. Now I’m dog tired.