On the surface, the microblog-style posts I’ve been experimenting with aren’t very different from tweets or Facebook status entries. The key distinction, of course, is that they are posted on a site that I manage and control. But there is a little more to it than that.
There is something about posting short thoughts on my own site that yields a more positive tone. I filter myself a little more. Self-censorship didn’t seem like a positive thing at first, especially when my goal is to write more, but there are some clear benefits.
Most of the things I find myself filtering are the types of off-the-cuff rants or snarky comments that are the primary currency of Twitter and Facebook. There is no friction holding them back in those places. In many ways, letting them fly is delivering to the standards that have been set.
The subtle difference of posting short snippets to my own site causes me to take a breath before hitting publish.
For example, is the anger I’m feeling in a fleeting moment about how United Airlines screwed me yet again really what I want front and center on a website with my name on it? Is it useful to anyone? Is it the type of thing I’d like to see in my RSS feed?
If I let moments of anger or frustration sit for a bit, one of two things will happen. Most likely, I’ll move on to something more meaningful without shoving valueless negativity in anyone else’s face. Or, if something negative is still on my mind after some time has passed, I still have the option to post about it. But it’s likely that whatever I post, even if it’s still negative in tone, will be more thoughtful and constructive than a vent in the moment would have been.
Of course, nothing prevents me from just being more measured and thoughtful in what I post on Twitter or Facebook. But there is a pride of ownership aspect to microblogging that makes it come more naturally. Plus, I’m not letting the way others behave set the tone for how I behave, which is an easy trap to fall into on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not trying to dazzle anyone with my quick wit. I’m not trying to be the first one to post the latest breaking news. I’m just being myself and sharing things that I find interesting.
The trick for me is to not be so precious about what I post that I suck the fun and spontaneity out of writing online. But at a time when the major social networks have turned into toxic places to be, I’d rather err on the side of thoughtfulness.