As I’ve been getting this blog set up over the past week, setting the stage for things to come, virtually everyone I’ve told about it has been puzzled by my choice of WordPress as a blogging platform. Most of the folks in my immediate circle do not use WordPress, and consider it strange that I would choose a platform they regard as less hip than something like Tumblr, which is much more widely known and used among my peers. In particular, they find it bizarre that I would set up a blog on a site they don’t themselves use while simultaneously refusing to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and similar services. After all, they point out, isn’t the purpose of a blog to be read by as many people as possible? So why not put myself out there on these social media sites?
Firstly, I point out to them that WordPress is already widely used and growing. Furthermore, unlike some of the sites I mentioned, I don’t need to ask people interested in following my blog to sign up for an account, either to see the blog or to follow it. My blog is open to the public and can be followed by email. Personally, I think that’s pretty neat. However, it’s not why I decided to use WordPress. To the fans of Twitter out there, I point out that even this very simple, introductory post will run well over 140 words, let alone 140 characters. I’m not looking for microblogging. Sure, I could use a little practice in being parsimonious, but I tend to have more to say about any given subject than a single short sentence.
I’m not trying to just share an incessant stream of personal status updates (“Waiting at a traffic light!”) that I’m sure no one wants to read (“Still waiting!”) in the first place. Nor am I interested in an excruciatingly detailed photojournalistic account of every single item of food I’ve ever eaten. Now, Facebook and Tumblr can be used in other ways. Unlike Twitter, they can actually be used for what I want to do: Posting extended, thoughtful musings on a variety of ideas dear to my heart. I have seen people use Tumblr and even Facebook’s Notes feature to do just that. But it’s not what the sites are designed for, nor is it what they are usually used for.
However, I’m not using WordPress just because it’s the best-suited site for what I’m trying to do. If I had to, I’m sure I could shoehorn my content into an unfriendly format. As with most things I do, I’m using WordPress for ideological reasons, not practical ones. (That’s not to say that WordPress isn’t practical, because it is; but that’s just icing on the cake.)
I was telling an old friend about this recently. Here’s how I explained it to him.
“I’ve become very anti-Facebook, anti-Twitter, and anti-Google (I don’t even use their search engine, let alone their other services) in recent years. My problem with them is this: nothing is truly free. If someone you don’t know offers you something for free that cost them money to make, especially on the internet, be suspicious. Be very suspicious. Companies like [Wordpress] make their money from their users; they have a “freemium” model. People pay for the premium version, so what the company gets paid for is delivering services to users. So that’s what they do; they work for their users. But companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook have no such incentive. They make their money from selling their users’ information to advertising corporations. They work for the advertising corporations. That’s why no user has ever paid for them: because the users aren’t their customers. The users are their product. And I am not interested in being anyone else’s product.”
So. Why WordPress? Because I want to blog; I want to put my thoughts out there, not in little fragments or in photographs, but in short monologues. And I want to do it without selling myself out, handing over all my private data to help a multinational corporation in its efforts to exert a little more control over other people’s minds. As much as possible, I want to put my thoughts out there without also putting myself in the service of anything I fundamentally don’t believe in. And WordPress allows me to do that. So here I am.