Even if I try to pick a random pool of my blogs, this isn’t objective or accurate data, because of how the Internet and media work. The internet caters exactly what type of media people want, directly to people. Say I find someone on facebook who is posting status updates about his life, but I find him annoying. I hide his updates so I never have to see them. And with tumbr blogs, blogs are generally created for specific reasons, like http://dudeswithbeardseatingcupcakes.tumblr.com/ or http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/ or even http://fuckyeahdogsinlobsteroutfits.tumblr.com/ … Also these are based on very few posts, so the data is very dirty.
Are we really writing?
We are technically living in the digital age. Handwriting and calligraphy are being changed out for keyboards and fonts. But are we actually writing more than generations before us? Can it really be considered writing? The internet is a large place, as diverse as humans are, and has become a spaceless place, full of ideas and communities, most of which, communicate through writing.
Writing has changed. How we use it to communicate ideas has melded around the means by which it is sent. Telegrams were generally short and concise, like twitter, but generally with more purpose. Letters were long, and well thought out, because they traveled more slowly, and had to be written by hand. Emails weren’t quite as long as letters, but are considered electronic mail, and aren’t used as instant messaging. They do vary, though, from short messages to long letter formats. I’m not including emails as a main form of communication for citizens of the Internet, because in my opinion, it’s on its way out. Social media is how we communicate. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, reddit, youtube, google hangouts, these are the future of communication. Through the internet. T.V. is a form of communication, but people are starting to cut the cable, and T.V. is moving online, as well as radio, and music. Humanity is made up of 1’s and 0’s now. And if you’re writing or not depends on the person, and what they’re typing. Status updates that are only made up of links aren’t writing, but thought provoking and argumentative ones are. Even if you’re just writing a few words about your day, you’re keeping a public journal. People now blog (and vlog). On tumblr and youtube, people will rant, talk, discuss, teach, and add their two cents. And these are undebatably writing. Perhaps not so formal and classic as letters or books are supposed to be, or always as thought out as a dear john letter, but there is most certainly a prose, which constitutes it as writing.
Reddit is the public square of debates. And the catalogue of everything that is human. Much like the public squares in Rome provided a place for people to debate and speak, and less like how the crazy person on the subway yells politics thinking people can or are actually listening to him, reddit has became a community centered around debate. Unlike other commenting systems, reddit isn’t only individual comments all about the same thing, but rather comments that lead into discussion and debate because of the systems nature and structure. It’s also a catalogue of humanity because it has a place for all humans. We’re a diverse species, so when you create a community of millions of people and give them freewill, they’ll take it and make something versatile. And debates, though not neccesarily the most long form, are important because of the issues, of course, but also because of the critical thinking that needs to happen in order to participate and make an impact in a debate or in depth discussion.
I have also found a lot of cultural discussions on reddit (and a fair handfull on tumblr, as well). This is when the term “citizen of the internet” is really able to be seen, because not only are they creating their own virtual culture and debating world news, but they’re comparing their cultures and sharing them, in affect diffusing them. Diffusion happens when cultures interact, and combine in many ways, and the internet has sped this up tremendously. Reddit, in my opinion, being one of the main catalyzes. If left to it’s own for long enough, I believe that it will slowly allow all cultures in the world (connected to the Internet) to become closer to one universal culture of humanity then it has ever been, or been capable of being, before. All of this operating through a medium of text and language, punching holes though the language barriers.
Facebook has recently decided to ovoid and ignore language barriers, instead of directly breaking them down and combining them, by rolling out a translate button. It will now translate any status, comment, or other text that isn’t in your default language, into English, skipping over any idea that language was ever a barrier to communication and writing.
One of my favorite youtubers C.G.P. grey summed up social media and writing well when referring to reddit, saying that the internet and the digital age are a lot like life: it is what you make of it.