Writing versus Posting?

Surely writing has been in flux and evolution since our earliest etchings, and the advent of the internet has only ushered in yet another transformative epoch to the practice. So how does the post-to-share structure of social media change the act of stringing words together? I am wondering: is there a difference between ‘posting’ and ‘writing’ online? Obviously posting text involves writing, but how does the broadcast-this-now proposition of the internet shape the act of writing itself?

Here’s a question to frame the proposition: are you writing or posting?

The distinction may not be as subtle as it seems. Or maybe I’m splitting hairs. Either way, since leaving social media I find myself thinking much more about the act of writing as something distinguishable from the act of posting. I am ‘publishing’ here on my blog, yes, but this intuitively feels much different than submitting these words to Facebook or Twitter to distribute on my behalf.

Perhaps the difference between posting and writing is this: when you post something to Facebook, you inherently hope to find an audience; you wish the algorithm and potential recipients to ‘engage’ with the creation. By contrast, when you write a book or a blog, your write for readers — people who have already made some intentional decision to interact with you and your ideas.

Posting words with the intent to find an audience for them versus writing something for an audience are two distinct activities, I hypothesize. Granted, maybe the difference is all in my head. What do you think? Would you describe a difference between posting and writing?

22 thoughts on “Writing versus Posting?

  1. @jamesshelley I think along with wanting to find an audience, people post things without intending for these things to hold attention for a long term. We know there isn’t anybody who want’s to find something you posted two years ago. But we go back and read old articles often. Maybe in our collective psyche, writing has more longevity than posting.

  2. @jamesshelley I think the hinge isn’t the audience, but how the author’s ideas shape intent & hone form. Audiences (beyond the author) are nascent until any piece — post, poem, article, book — enters circulation. Intent & the craft decisions it informs seem more crucial.

  3. @jamesshelley I’m with @schuth here. Just because I have a blog, doesn’t mean I have audience, and yet I post anyway. To me it’s the thought process and ideas that go into the post, rather than who reads it.

    Although, with social media it often seems like people keep throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks – what the algorithms pick up. So maybe quantity vs. quality (trying to grab anyone’s interest vs. targeting specific interest group) has something to do with it.

  4. @schuth Seems like it would be difficult to determine where an audience begins to influence a writer? At what stage? Outside of the journals that one plans to burn before their death, does a writer not inherently presume a reader?

  5. @schuth I guess I can’t fully wrap my head around a writer creating a work, with “intent” and making “craft decisions”, without the prospect of a potential future reader not even unconsciously informing said intentions and decisions. But it is an intriguing idea I need to think about more.

  6. @oyam But is not the potential audience of a blog post something that distinguishes it from simply writing down thoughts in a personal, private notebook? Isn’t the potentiality of an audience intrinsic in act of writing publicly?

  7. @oyam I guess I’m wondering if it is not this potential audience that gives us the extra incentive for the “thought process and ideas that go into the post”? Take away that potential, and would we really devote the same effort to honing and polishing our private journaling?

  8. @jamesshelley interesting, I never considered somebody potentionally reading my journal (while I’m alive or after death), yet I’m ridiculously picky about how I word things, how it’s organized, and how it looks.

  9. @jamesshelley My thinking is that, once an idea is formed, the next question is “What form best transmits this message?” An author displays intent by selecting the form to express it, then makes further decisions about how to craft it in that form, further shaping the idea.

  10. @jamesshelley The author could just choose a format based on a perceived audience, but that suggests they’ve made a judgment centered around a form’s clarity or strength of transmission of the idea (calculated to reach the largest possible audience, or a very specific one, etc.).

  11. @jamesshelley The author can’t choose their audience, only attract them by the quality & presentation of their ideas. The audience’s decision to engage with the idea is informed by the writer’s choice of form & their craft.

  12. @jamesshelley But whether or not something finds an audience shouldn’t determine whether we view it as writing or just posting, I think. It’s really about the decisions the author made to shape & transmit their idea. I’m thinking of Dickinson in particular here.

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