Twitter Ate My Blog

02/17/2011 By Shawn Burns

I like to think that in my early days of blogging, (did I really start three years ago? I need to have a party) I used to write long, thoughtful, heartfelt posts about being a new father, learning new parenting lessons and interacting with the moms in my life while I was a stay-at-home dad. It was kind of a fish-out-of-water tale, a bit of an empowerment endeavour, and a lot of reflecting on how my daughter made me feel and think. I like to think that this blog used to be better. There was some philosophy, and some sincere attempts at maturing as a writer by trying out different styles of telling stories and conveying ideas.

After Adrian was born I found it harder to mine my sincerity as much. I’d look at him and have many of the same feelings and thoughts I’d had with Erin, but having already written them down, or having already learned how to cope with the situations I found myself in with him, I didn’t feel any need to share. The actual, for honest, genuine parenting or dad-blog posts here have been fewer and farther-between lately. I’m not over being a dad blogger, or unwilling to share stories or pictures or lessons or whatever, but I don’t feel an urgency about it now.

A big reason for that is Twitter. Unlike some people who have noticed that Twitter gets all their material, and so they don’t end up writing it on their blog in long form, I have seen that Twitter gets my energy. I’m actually, I think, quite a different person to interact with there than I am here. I’m more manic, chaotic, entertaining, funny (Yes! I am funny! Frankly, I’m really funny. I know this.), observant, and participatory. But it’s all very consuming, and although I still have plenty of stories to tell, I just don’t have the drive to make them worth reading. I’m not making an effort here.

I don’t want it to be like this. I don’t really like the idea of working so very hard to make money for @ev and @biz. That’s what keeps me from spending more time on Facebook: Why invest time in a poor substitute for my own Internet space? It’s like volunteering to write for Saturday Night Live for no pay or credit. But Twitter is misleading: it doesn’t wear its profit motives on its face, like Facebook does, so it’s easy to forget that what is really going on is that we are plugging ourselves into the Matrix, powering the machines as human batteries, all of our own free will because the steak just tastes better on the inside. I forget all the time. And even when I remember, I kind of don’t care. I’ll be going back in a few minutes, after this posts, to see what the new hashtag joke is.

It’s weird to me to be listed on Twitter as a dad blogger, or a dad, or something along those lines, because most of the stuff I put out on Twitter has nothing to do with this blog or my identity as a father or even as a commentator on fatherhood. I save those thoughts for this space. My Twitter personality is far different. Though there is often overlap I don’t really feel like a dad blogger when I’m there. I feel like a personality or something along those lines. I don’t have a niche, I have a megaphone. My handle is @BackpackingDad, but it’s not all about the dadness there. Nor is it all about the dadness here, anymore. But even less so there.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I didn’t start out to write an apology for my blog, nor an account of my Twitter activities. But I think it matters to me that I don’t split myself apart too much. Maybe that will mean focusing on consistency across platforms instead of fragmenting myself as I seem to have done. Maybe I’ll try to be funny on the blog. But I think I spoil jokes when I’m allowed to write them out in long form. It’s as hard for me to be funny on the blog as it is for me to be sincere on Twitter.

And, as before, I don’t remember how to end blog posts. So, now is the time when you are allowed to stop reading.