For years, the numbers of comments on articles here have decreased. Comment-worthy articles from five years ago would get dozens and sometimes hundreds of comments. Similarly trafficked articles from the past few years get a handful.
It is not without pain, but I believe open comments are part of the deal with running a weblog. If you’re taking the time to write down your thoughts and put them in a public place, you provide a safe place for others to agree or disagree otherwise it’s just you… thinking publicly.
It’s no secret that traffic to weblogs is way down. Kottke wrote back in 2013 that “sometime in the past few years, the blog died.” Those eyeballs still wander the Internet, but they’re spending their time on social services whose initial allure was, “People you like are here. Follow them and see what they like. Because you like them, you will like what they like.”
This likeability feedback loop tastes great. Who doesn’t want a steady flow of relevant, interesting, and targeted information? Who doesn’t want the world synthesized and simplified into a palatable set of information that one can easily consume in just a few moments? And who doesn’t like the simple satisfaction of sharing or retweeting that likable and relatable piece of information that just speaks to me.
The likeability feedback loop feeds on itself. It uses its signal to prioritize and resend what resonates and what does not. It is good business to do this well because the more we find what we search for, the more likely we will return. The business often does not care if we’re more or less informed, it monetizes that we come back as many times as possible.
Some of my lowest points with this weblog are a result of critical comments. They were comments saying how I was uninformed, biased, or just plain lazy. My brain does what many brains do when receiving critical feedback.
- I rage, “Jerks.”
- I rationalize, “They don’t understand me.”
- But then, after years of practice, I think, “Why does this feedback sting? What does this teach? And how can I learn?”
After years of raging and rationalizing, I understand feedback is the means to improve critical thinking. Feedback leads to understanding the strategic value of considering as many points of view as possible, especially from people you do not like.
Social media gleefully feeds a post-truth society and it does so by design, but social media is not the problem. Fake news is not the problem. The problem is we the people taking the time to think critically.
Comments are open here because I know that while it is my great joy to understand and write about a few select topics deeply, what will make these topics honest and true is if you tell me what you think.
I would love to hear your comments.