Conversations in the era of Social Media

Let's Talk About It

Let’s Talk About It: Conversations in the age of Social Media

THERE ARE over 41,000 comments here at TIG, from strangers and friends, followers and readers⏤expressing thoughts, asking questions, leaving compliments, making connections. The final one was left on September 10, 2021, after which time we (reluctantly) made the decision to remove the discussion section due to bots, trolls, and spammers. Many other sites have done the same, as managing a comments section is time-consuming, requiring moderation to prevent spam, harassment, or inappropriate comments. Some comments don’t add much value to site content, and can even detract from it if they are irrelevant or contain misinformation, and, while rare, there is the possibility that website owners may be held legally responsible for any defamatory or unlawful comments posted on their sites. Unfortunately, there are many readers here TIG who valued the sense of community and engagement that came with commenting and interacting with other readers, and with us directly. It’s something we’re still trying to work out.

The reason why we’re bringing all of this up now is that while sorting through some of the most recent comments left by you for something we were working on recently, we came across many touching and heartfelt messages such as these…

TIG has been a touchstone resource for me for several years. Whenever I worry about what is happening in the world, I come here to be reminded of beauty, of comfort and of love. The creative efforts of you and your team in sourcing and curating such uplifting and inspiring content are reassuring; your readers are reminded that there is more that is intelligent, adventurous and cared about in our (sometimes) crazy world.

Thank you for all your hard work, and for adding so much glamour to the internet! I’ve been following this blog for years, and I absolutely love it. It grounds me, it gives me so much inspiration, and it feels like home.

…and we immediately felt a sense of loss. It felt like the communication and sense of community, as least as we knew it, was gone.

As with anything, there are pros and cons to having a discussion section. It provided a way for readers to engage with our content and each other, fostering a sense of community around TIG; comments could sometimes provide valuable feedback on our writing, helping us to improve and refine our content; comments can also help to boost search engine optimisation by providing fresh, relevant content. While these are very good reasons to have a comments section, of course, there are also cons, which, in our case, have outweighed the pros. For us personally, moderation and liability were not issue, so much as the issue of quality. It was the bots and spammers that ultimately forced our hand.

So what’s changed? Well, it became more difficult to have conversations with our readers in the era of social media, which has certainly changed the way people interact online, as many people now prefer to engage with content and communities on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram instead of on individual sites. This hasn’t been a solution for us, as our FB engagement isn’t what it used to be (due to the app’s own implosion) and the fact that our last tweet was sometime in October of 2022. And as everyone knows, while social media can be a great way to connect with others, it can also be a source of division and conflict. We did, however continue to talk with you through Instagram DM, that is, until it became untenable with its inundation of random people looking for whatever (yes, some of them even found their way to our Pinterest account as well):

Let’s Talk About It: Conversations in the age of Social Media

What’s the solution? We’re not sure if there even is one, but we do know that you really love our Newsletters, so perhaps that may be the new form of communication in 2023, even if it is a little one-sided. Other ideas included starting a TIG forum for our readers to discuss topics and ideas; or adding a feedback form or survey to our website; or encouraging readers to email us with your thoughts and opinions. When we were putting this article together, we even (briefly) thought about reactivating the comments section for this piece only, but then thought better of it. Perhaps there will, one day, be a better way, but for now, we’ll keep bringing you all the best we have to offer, and know by your visits how much what we’re doing is resonating with you. ◼︎

December 13, 2023
Update: You can also connect with us at our newely launched Substack, Hyperreality