[More thoughts on The Newsletter Brain Dump etc.]

Very few things on the Internet these days keep my attention. This article in The Guardian certainly did:

Hossein was the king of blogging in Iran a decade ago. Then he got arrested by the regime and spent 6 years in prison (Ouch!!!). When he got released in 2014 he found the world of social media had changed beyond all recognition, “the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia”, thanks to the rise of large platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

As someone who became a prominent blogger around the same time as Hossein, his article really struck a nerve.

Blogging has gotten a lot harder, to say the least. Blogging used to be an easy way to get heard. Now it’s an easy way to get ignored.

You can paint the Sistine Chapel tomorrow, but with the way the Facebook algorithm works, that cat photo you took last week will probably get seen by ten times more people. That’s the world we now live in.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Facebook when it first came out. The way I saw it, you could write your serious stuff on the your own blog, and you could write your trivial stuff on Facebook. It seemed like a good way to split it up.

But the world didn’t stay split. The big platforms started devouring everything. Now if I post something on my blog, it pretty much doesn’t get seen. The big boys have seen to it.

So now, instead of a place where the world’s great ideas get to spread, social media has become a big machine that makes the world seem a lot more trivial than it actually is.


The activists out there (all fourteen of them) will advocate boycotting Facebook and trying to make it on their own with the Independent web.

That approach will fail. Too little, too late. And besides, most people don’t actually care. Most people are perfectly happy with Facebook. It’s the motivated types who rely on their idea being “spread” that are in trouble.

Which is why over at gapingvoid, we spend most of our social calories writing the email newsletter, with less time on social media.

Which is why our list has tens of thousands of people, far more than the number of people who read the blog, even back in the glory days.

And the list is far more engaged with us (they signed up, after all), than the Internet surfers who found us by clicking on a link. We’ve got what Seth Godin calls a “permission asset”.

So my advice to you, in this world where the big platforms are borg’ing the world, is to worry less about social media (that train has already left the station) and worry more about your email list.

That’s what I’m betting my future on, anyway.