thinking out loud


Years ago, when this blog was very young, I wrote a post entitled "an extrovert speaks (quelle surprise!)" The things I wrote then still ring true, and I've found myself having the same conversation recently with a host of other people, primarily in the context of understanding use of social media.

These conversations tend to start not with the question "why do people feel the need to talk incessantly," but rather with the question "why do people feel the need to share every detail of their lives on Facebook?" And as someone who does indeed share a lot on Facebook...from Foursquare checkins at the gym to photos of my dog to commentary on social and political issues...I find myself trying to explain it.

A friend asked me recently, in jest, "if a tree falls on a house and no one posts it to facebook,did it happen?" In return, I posted a photo to Facebook of a house crushed by a tree, which kicked off an interesting discussion in the comments, including this from me:

This isn't really about social media, it's about extroverted vs introverted methods of sense-making. I once told my off-the-charts introvert friend Elouise that I often didn't know what I was thinking until I heard myself saying it, which she found truly baffling. For someone like me, Facebook and Twitter and email provide an outlet for that "thinking out loud" that I need to do in order to process ideas. Conversation with real live people is far better, of course, but the nature of my life is such that I'm not able to always have the people I want to talk to physically present. It takes a village to support an extrovert, I suppose, and my village is by necessity virtual rather than physical.

As usual, the process of crafting the words helped me to understand what I was thinking. But I also realized, with some dismay, that I'm now doing most of that thinking out loud on Facebook instead of on this blog. Facebook is quasi-public space for me, but it's not truly public. And more important, it's not truly mine. I don't own my data there, and while "timeline" has made it easier for me to find past posts, nobody's likely to stumble on my discussion of trees and houses through a serendipitous search or link.

I'm not one for new year's resolutions overall, but I do want to start shifting my "thinking out loud" back here to a more public space, rather than sequestering in Facebook's walled garden. I can always share the blog posts to my Facebook feed, but I'll retain ownership of them here, where there's more of a chance for them to reach a more diverse audience, and I know I'll always have access to the archive of my thoughts. And where Facebook's interface encourages short-form sharing, blogging has always been more of a long-form medium for me. I've missed that.


Very interesting observation, Liz. I have noticed that I tend to blast facebook rather than to write in my journal, but wish it were not so. Do you also manage the list on Facebook that sees the link to your journal entries? Or are they public?

I think that the facebook friends lists are very powerful, but for people with a lot of friends the initial filtering is an almost overwhelming proposition.


I'm glad you're blogging again. The message is the medium.

Great you are blogging again. The Emersonian essayist in you needs s place to shine.

I'm particularly with you on the "walled garden" problem. I notice that by dribbling out my life a sentence or two at a time, it saps from the synthesized posts more typical of my pre-FB era. Over this break I had made a conscious decision to blog at least every other week. My blog posts have a theme (an upcoming trip to NZ) but I think it was driven by more than that, if not fully consciously. In any event, our blogs will outlast Facebook (is my guess).

Hi Liz,

I discovered your blog via Jill's link to this post - I have been thinking this issue over quite a lot, you may find this blog post I wrote about it helpful?


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on January 2, 2012 3:13 PM.

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