When social media leaves me exhausted, I always feel better by switching to one-on-one or group chats. But I never thought of this method, via Gareth’s Tips: write a “blog post” in a cloud doc and share it with a select group of friends. Inventor and engineer Star Simpson calls it “lazy blogging”; investor Kevin Kwok calls it “private memos.” It’s like building your own highly controlled, temporary social network, and it’s as easy as sharing a Google doc:
I’ve been doing this for a while as “lazy blogging” where I just write a bunch of thoughts into a Dropbox Paper doc and text it to the friends whose thoughts I want on it.— Star Simpson ???????? (@starsandrobots) June 14, 2019
Can see who’s accessing, delete or edit, & no managing a CMS or trying to structure/order ideas. https://t.co/iRLypZKmFU
Easier than blogging
To write a lazy-blog, just open a Google doc (or a Dropbox Paper doc, or any cloud-based document service with a sharing function), write down some thoughts, and invite some friends or colleagues to read and comment.
You can control whether people can leave comments or even edit your document; you can keep an eye on who’s opening the doc. You have all the control that’s built into collaborative work apps like Google Docs, and you already know how to use it.
Lazy blogging is low commitment, unlike a blog or email newsletter. You can do it just once, with no pressure to start a series or “build an audience.” You don’t have to learn a CMS or design a web page. You don’t have to learn what Medium is.
There’s no pressure to earn likes or reposts or subscribers or “claps.” There is some pressure to start a discussion—a healthier kind of pressure that’s less about approval and more about real interaction. The kind of “conversation” that social networks all claim to aim for, when really they’re aiming for your personal data.
If you want, you can come back and add to the same doc. Or you can abandon it and start another. It might be fun to have several going at once. And hopefully you’ll inspire a friend to invite you to theirs. (As with parties and game nights, everyone wants to be invited but no one wants to step up and host. That’s life.)
More satisfying than chat and email
Chats and group chats are important, but sometimes you want to collect your own thoughts and say something longer than a couple of lines at a time. You might want a space that feels a little less dependent on timely replies. Or you might want, for once, to push the conversation in one direction more than you can on text. You might want to monologue.
You could do that in an email thread. Group email threads are great, if only so there’s at least one pleasant thing in your inbox, and we recommend writing an occasional email to all your friends and family.
But then you either keep all the recipients hidden from each other on BCC, which can feel too businesslike, or you invite forking discussions as people selectively reply to parts of the group, until you end up replying to the wrong part of the thread and accidentally insulting someone to their virtual face.
More private than blogging or social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and even Snapchat like to push you toward sharing things with all your friends at once, or to the entire internet. Unless you want to screw around with sharing settings every time you post, you end up with an aunt leaving inappropriately cheek-pinching comments on a career update, or get harassed by some rando whose bio says “Father. Husband. Deplorable. Western Indianapolis sales leader five years running.”
But on your lazy-blog, you choose exactly who to share with. It will take you just as long as it would on Facebook, but there’s a big difference: On social media, you’ll see a ton of acquaintances you could add, and have to choose whom to leave out. On a cloud doc, you’re starting at zero, and building up. Google might try to suggest a few people to add, but it’s still a less overwhelming process. It’s less like choosing entrees from a massive menu, and more like choosing which spices to add to one dish.
There are no rules
If you’ve ever joined a less-established social network like Ello or Secret or Mastodon, or messed around in an accidental reply-all email thread, you’ve felt the “anything goes” punchiness of playing around in an online space that hasn’t developed unspoken rules of behaviour. It’s the online equivalent of a slumber party.
You can get that feeling from lazy-blogging. It’s a social network filled only with the people you choose. You can write for a casual group of friends, or cross-pollinate from several friend groups, or even write a memo in a professional setting for your co-workers and colleagues.
You can make it fully private, or let people invite new commenters, or even let anyone with the link join in. We recommend being very private, at least the first time—that’s kind of the point. And still be a little careful what you say.
This is not a place to share government secrets. Maybe start with a private doc about which TV shows are good and bad! Try talking about something low-stakes where everyone can have a good time. Throw a little party in the cloud. Otherwise you might as well be blogging.