The advent of smart phones has brought with it plenty of advantages. My smart phone means I rarely double book myself, I always have my price book/grocery list handy, and I can pull up my weight history or blood pressure history at the doctor’s office without a problem.
On the other hand, it has affected how I use social media – and blogs.
Facebook’s app made it way too easy to spend hours on Facebook, since it would give me frequent notifications that my sisters-in-law had posted new photos of nieces or nephews. I would get onto Facebook to see the photos and end up spending another 15 minutes just scrolling through my newsfeed – multiple times a day.
Eventually, I decided to uninstall the app. I still access Facebook on my phone, but I do it through the browser. I visit when I choose to, instead of when a notification tells me to. I still see the notifications once I get to the website, so I don’t miss anything – I just choose when I’m going to see them (and how many times a day I’m going to waste time browsing.)
I still probably overuse Facebook on my phone, but it’s better than it used to be.
But what concerns me now isn’t my on-phone Facebook usage or the amount of time I spend connecting via Facebook.
What concerns me is my on-phone blog-reading – and how the phone experience keeps me from connecting when I’m reading.
You see, before social media became a big thing, there was this little thing called blogging. I did it. Lots of people did it. We wrote “posts” on our “blogs”. We read other people’s “posts” and we left “comments”. When other people read our “comments”, they visited our “blogs” and read our “posts” and left “comments” of their own. We developed relationships through this mutual sharing.**
This was what I did.
And then the phone came along.
It was a boon to blog reading, with it’s available-everywhere-Feedly app. I could read in the car (while Daniel is driving, of course), in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, while sitting on the loo (yes, you do it too.)
But it was a death-knell to commenting. To comment, I’d need to click on the title, wait while the browser opens, scroll down to the comment box, attempt to type a comment, and try to get past my phone auto-correcting the word-verification caption. All this with an oversized finger on a tiny screen.
Then there’s trying to continue the conversation. I subscribe to the comments feed on each post I comment on because I want to hear if the author says something back or if another commenter riffs on the same topic. It’s a way to be a part of the conversation. But to do that on the phone, I’d have to try to find the RSS feed, try to copy the URL, switch from the browser app to the Feedly app, and try to paste the URL into the subscribe area in the Feedly app. All this with an oversized finger on a tiny screen.
So I read my usual blogs and think of all sorts of things I’d love to chat with the blogger about via comments. I mark the post “unread” in Feedly, figuring I’ll go back and comment when I’m on the computer. But there’s rarely enough time to go back – and when there is time, it’s weeks later and the post is old and conversation no longer happening.
I don’t comment like I used to – and I think it’s sad.
**Side note: Was this explanation necessary? I’m not sure. As I observe it, blogging has a very different character nowadays than it did when I first started. The blogging I see now tends towards selling stuff (even if that’s selling your own story) versus sharing life. Developing relationships through blogging seems much less common, while “networking” via blogging is perhaps more common. Blogging is a business venture rather than a friendship.**