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The One Reason You Read So Many List Posts

Easy List Posts - The Anti-Social MediaBloggers love to write list posts. How many times have you read a headline this week along the lines of “The 5 reasons you suck at Twitter,” “8 Tips for being a YouTube SuperStar” or “14 Reasons You Should Use Quora to Ask Any Question You’ve Ever Had?” 5 times? 10 times? More?

Why is that? What makes these posts so popular, and why do bloggers write so many of them?

  1. It’s easy.

It doesn’t require deep thought to write a list post. You just throw out a small introduction, write your list, give some details to each point, and then wrap up the post. It takes less time. The headline practically writes itself.

With a list post, a blogger doesn’t have to think about transitions and the overall structure of the post. Unless a blogger works very hard to incorporate a story into the list, there is no narrative or story arc. People expect however many gems of information there are and no more. The points don’t need to be connected beyond the loose theme introduced in the headline and the introduction.

Likewise, it doesn’t require extended brain power for a reader to absorb a list post. Readers look for the bullet points and quickly gobble down the information. They don’t have to dig through paragraphs to find the one nugget of information.

List posts make us stupider readers and writers. They are easy and they bring in traffic, but they sacrifice the quality and depth of our writing. True knowledge and wisdom doesn’t come in lists and bullet points, but through extended arguments and deeper thoughts. When was the last time you read a list and thought, “That was beautiful?”

You can write better. How many years did you spend in school writing? Put those to use now when you blog.

Hold yourself to a higher standard when writing. Use lists and bullet points as supplements, rather than structural elements. Will you blog like you learned how to write, or take the easy way out?

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Can I Trust Your Blog?

Trust Me, My Blog Doesn't Bite - The Anti-Social MediaWhen I come to a new blog, I look for clues as to whether or not I can trust it. Sometimes these clues are clear, other times it’s much trickier.

Is the design sane or something that looks better suited as a means of torture? Are there a lot of ads, and if there are, what are they for? Does the page load quickly, or is it bogged down? What is the author prioritizing with his or her layout? Was I sent here by someone’s recommendation, and was that a good recommendation or just a toss off?

These are all the questions I’m processing before I even start reading your posts, just from looking at the layout and what you’ve chosen to plaster around your blog.

It’s easier than ever to make a site that looks and reads legitimately, but is actually total crap. Between “free” WordPress themes that are corrupted, shady folks, and people who just don’t know better, the internet is a huge slurry of articles and websites that range from complete shit to pure gold. The trick is figuring out the difference between the two of them.

What kills me most though are the bloggers who are trying to run their blog like a legitimate business or as a source of trusted information, yet treat their readers like cattle they can slaughter for cash. These are the bloggers who use way too many ads, buttons, and weird pop-ups in the name of building a “business.”

When the first thing I encounter on your site is a pop-up asking me to sign up for something, before I’ve even digested any of the information you’re trying to share, I start thinking you’re shady. When did it become acceptable to bloggers and marketers to do this? How arrogant are you to think that you are so awesome people don’t need to know what you’re about to sign up for your crap? Legitimate businesses don’t do this on their websites.

If you invited people to your house for a party, would you ask each of them for their e-mail address as soon as they entered the door? No. You wouldn’t, because that’s insane.

Similarly, you can’t expect me to click the hundreds of ads you’re plastering around your site. How often do you click a banner ad, especially if it is completely irrelevant to what you’re reading about? I go to a blog to read or consume information, not to click ads.

I’m all in favor of bloggers making money from their work, but at the same time, you need to control what you’re advertising on your blog. If you’re blogging about liberal politics and allow any old ad, what are you going to do when the ad for “Vote Sarah Palin in 2012” shows up right on top of your site? Advertise for products and services you can stand behind, not just the whims of whatever Google AdSense thinks is appropriate.

If you want to make your blog into a serious business or be taken seriously as an author, you need to make your blog trustworthy. Invite readers into your blog without crushing me under your attempts to make money and exploit my data.

With most readers you only get one chance to prove your honesty. Will you blow that chance?

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How Will Your Blog Die?

Dead Blog - The Anti-Social MediaHave you ever thought about if and when your blog will end?

Will it fade away into the twilight of the internet without warning, or will you give your readers notice that you’re going away?

I’ve deleted several of my blogs, all without warning. I’ve even gone so far as when I got my last friend request on MySpace, I deleted the entire account realizing how little I used the service.

We write all the time about how to interact with people, how to do it right and how to do it wrong, but we never tell you how to end it.  We get so excited every time we start some new blog and a new account on yet another network. Still, we rarely think about “What is the lifespan of this blog?” “What will I do when I close this Twitter account?” or “What will I do when I lose interest in this blog?”

All good things have a start, a middle and the end. You may not need to approach the end for a long time, but you should have an idea of what will happen then. Your readers, fans and followers deserve a conclusion.

Don’t leave them hanging.

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Why No One Reads Your Blog

Blogs I Can't Read - the anti-social mediaYou’re blogging about your cat Fluffy, and it’s so awesome. You’ve got adorable pictures, cute writing, and even a video where you you say something and she meows back at you. Still only 5 people are reading your blog, and one of them is your Mom. What are you doing wrong? Should you make Fluffy jump through a flaming hoop?

Unless you are running a mega-blog with lots of daily posts that have a wide, general appeal, you will never have a huge audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice big readership, you just shouldn’t get you  hopes up that you’ll have millions of hits a day.

So what are you doing wrong? Why are your readers fleeing at the sight of your blog, rather than hanging to your every beautiful word?

Here are 5 reasons I cower when I start trying to read a blog that’s new to me:

  • Your blog looks like shit – It’s not hard to make a blog look decent these days. If I roll into your URL, and you have a theme that looks like you murdered a neon yellow tiger that was covered with banner ads, I’m more worried about clicking on the wrong thing than absorbing the information you’re writing. People come to blogs to read, not to go blind. Choose a layout that’s clean and easy to read, and add your personality to it. Just make sure I can still read it without burning out my retinas.
  • Your writing doesn’t make sense – We all make typos, spelling and grammar errors. We’re human, we don’t have editors, and we all spend so much time looking at the post we’re working on. That happens. Still, take the extra two minutes when you are done writing to read your post out loud. You’ll catch anything that sounds funny, and you’ll make sure it has the voice you want.
  • You’re obviously trying to sell me crap – You have a decadent life of iPads and HDTV’s to support. You want your blog to help pay for that. I get it. Still, you can’t expect every single person on the internet who’s coming to your site to sign up for your half-assed newsletter, buy your ebook, and throw money at you to give them a bunch of half-baked blog topics. If you’re going to sell something from your blog, go for it, but make sure it is an awesome product you are willing to stand behind 100%. Don’t just sell crap because you can and you know some sucker will buy it.
  • You have the personality of a piece of cardboard – People read blogs because they like perspective from other people. No one wants to read a text book or a scientific paper. That takes work and brainpower we just don’t have. Write like a human being. Again, read your post out loud. If it sounds like a lecture, you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • You have no information or entertainment value – Your readers’ time is valuable. Are you making your blog worth their while? Entertain them, inform them, or stop blogging.

Think about what scares you away from reading a blog? What about your blog or your writing is keeping people from actually absorbing and enjoying the information you share?

Stop trying to make your cat play with fire, and start sharing your experience in fun, informative and human ways. You and your blog deserve readers.

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F#*k You Friday! Facebook Relationships

Facebook Rainbow Puke - The Anti-Social Media

Facebook relationships are serious things.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the number of people who will kill over a change in their relationship status. We may joke it’s not official until it’s “Facebook Official,” but Facebook relationships have serious consequences in the real world.

That’s why the new “LBGT Friendly” relationship options Facebook rolled out yesterday suck hard.

The new options include “In a Civil Union” and “In a Domestic Partnership.” These additions reek of politics. I can’t imagine a huge section of the LGBT community, which has been fighting for equal marriage rights, would go to Facebook and say, “Give us Civil Unions! We want everyone to know we’re technically married but can’t call it that because of political and cultural systems!”

Granted, LGBT people can still define their relationships as they want, regardless of these new options. It’s just sad Facebook is giving into these separate but not equal options.

So once again, fuck you Facebook. Fuck you and your relationship politics.

For now, I’m protesting. I’m now in a domestic partnership with my cat. Take that Zuckerberg.

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6 Facebook Features that are F*&#@d

Fat, Bloated Monster Facebook - The Anti-Social MediaFacebook is bloated.

Over the past few years, Facebook has been adding more and more features that make no sense in regards to how people actually use the social network. Additionally, while it keeps adding things, it doesn’t adjust or take away anything that isn’t being used or fix the crap that’s busted.

Here are 6 features that I think need to be heavily tweaked or just need to go. I’d rather be spending time talking about my friend’s cat than dealing with these useless features.

  1. Events – Events are like the appendix of Facebook. They’ve hung on from the early college days of Facebook, but now we all get so many invites from people who have no filters in place that Events are completely useless. Read Scott Stratten’s How We Are Killing Facebook to understand how useless this feature has become, and stop inviting me to see your crappy band playing halfway across the US.
  2. Notes – I’ve only seen notes used successfully by one person – Sarah Palin. I don’t know about you, but I typically don’t measure the success of a Facebook feature on the use of  half-term governor who was a failed vice-presidential candidate and now a reality TV star. Normal people aren’t using notes except for the occaissional meme every blue moon, and they just need to go away before I get another quiz asking what my top 25 albums are.
  3. New Photos Interface – The new Facebook photos effect is the most jarring effect I’ve ever seen on the site. Changing instantly from the cold and clinical white and blue to the black-like-my-soul interface, who thought this would be a good way to browse photos? Don’t they want us to actually be distracted by all the other things on Facebook?
  4. Groups – These things have been launched for months, and I’m only part of one that is actually posted to regularly, and that’s because it’s basically a place where people post jobs. Groups are another feature that sounds good, but no one actually uses because they don’t benefit people on a daily basis.
  5. Questions – Facebook Questions are like Yahoo! Answers and Quora got even dumber, and someone allowed brands to throw their stupid questions into the mix. I don’t know who was asking for this feature, but it is completely useless, and I don’t need AMC’s The Walking Dead asking me how I’d survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
  6. Posting as Pages – Last week, with the switch to the new Facebook Pages gave page admins the ability to post as a page on another public page. This is going to make Facebook marketing spam and badvertising central. I haven’t seen this happen yet, but I know it will be coming once the full switch to the new pages is turned on and some idiot realizes he can go post as Coca-Cola in a desperate attempt to get more fans.  On the bright side though, we’ll hopefully see more weird and crazy fuck ups as more pages start #gettingslizzerd.

What Facebook feature drives you nuts the most? Do you think they’ll drop any of these? Or will they linger on like the walking dead until we get another pointless, opt-out feature added on?

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There is Nothing Glamorous About Professional Blogging

The idea of professional blogging sounds like the coolest thing ever. You get paid to write your ideas and put them online every day. You’re paid to interact with readers in the comments and, sometimes you get a side of Facebook and Twitter. What could be more awesome?

Unfortunately, professional blogging actually looks something like this:

What Blogging Really Looks Like - The Anti-Social Media

Blogging is a lonely job with long hours. You might be stuck with your laptop more than you’d like to admit. In what could be best termed as an unhealthy obsession, you’ll check your smart phone more than you make eye contact with other people in a day.

Most of us aren’t idea factories, and we have to work to pull out the true gems of wisdom and shine them into a polish. On a daily basis, this can be maddening.

Bloggers aren’t super stars. The baristas still fuck up our orders at Starbucks. We don’t make enough cash to swim in it. We upset people with one thing we write, and people upset us with their reactions.

Still, for all the crap, the long hours, and the crazy people, we’re given the honor and privilege to be able to write nearly anything we want online, any day of the week, at any time for anyone to read. In what other time and place could that happen?

So be grateful, blogger.  For all the madness you endure, your ideas, whether grand or small, have the potential to change the world in an instant.

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You Are in Charge of Your Online Relationships

Leave Me Alone - The Anti-Social Media

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day, so now it’s OK to unfollow, defriend, and break up with some of your online followers.

There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to follow anyone online. You are in charge of what relationships you maintain or neglect online.

Many online relationships are extensions of our real lives, while others are forged entirely in the digital realm, consisting of ones and zeroes without ever having met someone in the real world.

You pick your online friends. There’s no obligation to follow and friend someone if you don’t want to, and if someone isn’t doing it for you, go ahead and unfollow them. Your followers are already treating you the same way.

Save yourself the time and stress of another meaningless online relationship. De-friend that jackass you’ve never really met, and save yourself time and stress you didn’t have to begin with.