Social Media Used To Be A Good Thing

Mitch JoelPosted by

It’s strange to write that, but it’s true.

Before fake news, algorithm-induced feeds, selfie narcissism, documenting over experiencing, and the self-validation of likes, there was something special going on here. If you look close enough, it might still be there. Squint your eyes, open up your ears, and pay attention… you can still find it. Long before the cancer that is comparison was magnified by the casino-like addiction of Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever your drug of choice is), there was something here, there and everywhere. There were people creating content, building a platform, chasing an audience of like-minded peers and more.

In short: I miss the blogosphere.

It is there, but you have to look for it. There are individuals who are still writing and crafting content with a passion about whatever topic that they serve, but what I miss are the trusted links and RSS readers. Many won’t remember these times, but here’s how content used to be created, published and curated: Six Pixels of Separation started off as The Twist Image Blog back in 2003. If you were interested in that content (at the intersection of marketing, technology and consumer behaviour), you would subscribe. Some would subscribe and get an email notification when a new piece of content was published. Others (or most people) would subscribe using a RSS reader. The evolution of this technology hit its peak with Google Reader (for me – but there were many other options – remember Bloglines?). Imagine a newsfeed that was cleansed of algorithms, ads and recommendations. It was clean and pure. If you subscribed to a blog, your RSS reader would be updated when something new was published (you could even manage notifications). Once you read an article, it would still be accessible (or not – depending on your options).

It seems so simple, but everything is lost to the algorithm feed now.

That purity is all but lost. When bloggers would link to one another, their visibility and findability would increase. Humans would curate and share content (with links back – remember permalink?). Compare that with what we presently have? You can like and follow whatever you want on the myriad of social networks available, but you only see a fraction of your chosen experience. Blogs weren’t perfect. There were trolls and harassment and more, but it was simpler times that were leveraged by humans creating valuable content, linking to other pieces of content and enabling consumers to see it – as it was published – on their own terms. In all of the tumult we are seeing these days, many of those bloggers (and other forms of content creators) are still there, but it takes a lot to find to the good ones, and even the good ones are often very busy figuring out their monetization strategy and marketing of themselves to amp up their numbers over the quality of content, and the discourse that came with it.

The Olds.

It’s not hard to realize that (maybe) the world has moved on, but here I am. I still believe in writing, sharing and hoping that people like the constant pace of links and words. I should probably be shooting daily videos for InstaSnap, but nope… here… with the words. It’s not just about being The Olds, but there is a craft in the words that I read from others, and comes with a deep appreciation. I look to people like Seth Godin, Bernadette Jiwa, Chris Brogan and a handful of others. They still seem most interested in writing words, sharing words and curating the work of others. Some may see that as noble work, some may see it as a reflection back on a time when social media was more innocent, but not me. The way that content was created, subscribed to, consumed and shared was better. Much better than it is today. That’s when social media used to be a good thing.

Social media can still be a good thing. You just have to want it (and work a little harder at finding it).