Via Instapunit, here is an article about online motorcycle forums, which says that there used to be many of these but that they have been drying up and going away. Why?
In January 2014, desktop internet use was overtaken by mobile internet use in America. This means screens got smaller, layouts moved primarily from horizontal to vertical, and physical keyboards were largely unavailable.
This means writing a longer post was more difficult. Formatting it to appear nicely with photos in line with the text became more difficult. Reading a post that was text-heavy became more onerous. As people drifted away from their desktop computers, they began to drift away from forums.
The post goes on to note that “social media sure is easy” and that many people tend to prefer getting information in social media form and “being served interesting things all the time with cross-pollination all in a one-stop dopamine hit. Do you love golf, Audi cars, retro-cafe motorcycles, and sushi? Social media can easily serve that up to you in a seemingly constant stream.”
You may be saying, “Hey, it’s easier to consume, but it’s a pain to create content on Insta or Facebook.” I’d agree with you. I’d also argue it’s going to be much harder to find great content in the future (if it even exists) because traditional social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are designed to deliver the latest content, not the deepest.
Also, these platforms seems specifically designed for distraction. If you’re trying to compose a reasonably long post on Facebook, you will likely be constantly interrupted by messages informing you that some person (who you may barely know or remember) liked or commented on some post that you did or commented on previously.
People do seem to like the Walled Gardens of social media, even though these gardens come complete with serpent. The author of the linked article seems to feel that the eclipsing of forums by social media was inevitable, like the replacement of printed motorcycle magazines…and seems OK with it:
The forum, which was somewhat asynchronous and perhaps more demanding of users’ time, whether giving or receiving information, has been supplanted by a much faster mode of communication. Some quality of the exchange probably suffers, but the volume has probably increased by more than the quality of post content has slipped.
The issue here goes far beyond the motorcycle community. Technologies, especially communications technologies, do affect thought processes and social interactions. The runaway success of social media…especially as combined with the tendency for the phone to become the universal device…has discouraged connected thought and discussion in ways that cannot be good either for our political culture or for the ability of people who have grown up in this environment to do complicated work.