Why I'm Writing
I notice I've been writing less on this blog than I'd like. I'm still too scared to publish things. Usually a Twitter post even feels like too much. What's the big deal?
I wonder if it has something to do with the hubbub of "fake news." I recently read an interview of Bo Burnham (I'm a huge fan because I think he's brilliant), and he said the election of Trump made him want to shut up more. Part of me relates with him entirely, and another is just mad. Why do we have to shut up the good ones? But of course, we all think we're the good ones... Luckily, Bo Burnham fully embraces that he's a hypocrite. He says:
This stuff that I'm talking about can't be commented on without being a little hypocritical. And I think that, like, there's such a fear of being that. There's such a fear of being a hypocrite nowadays that no one says anything because they think they can't live up to it. It's like you can't call people sellouts anymore. It's like, why the fuck can't you call people sellouts? When did that expire?
The point that I take away from this is: why can't we tell people that they're wrong? I can say something and be wrong, and someone should be able to tell me, and I should be able to hear them. I'm not sure it's a question of "anymore" because I don't remember a time when being wrong was an easy thing to hear, but maybe this comes from a time before Bo and I were born. Honestly, if there's one thing I want to be able to do well in my life, it's take criticism. I don't have to agree with it, but I want to be able to hear it, especially if it comes from a good place.
So the "fake news" fear doesn't work. Also, I should have said this sooner--it's not like I'm writing news here.
Perhaps I'm not writing more because I identify with a more stereotypical academic. I'm pretty sure I can imagine co-workers of mine saying that this sort of writing isn't polished enough. Or if it is, I might be sharing ideas that other people could steal. But this is far from research, and I'd be flattered if my writing was coherent enough for someone to steal. I believe any research worth doing is worth doing by someone else. I've always said it doesn't have to be me; I have too many ideas anyway.
In summary, the fears may feel real, but they're really not that bad.
At the end of the day, this blog is for me. It is inspired by Aaron Swartz (who I promise to write about more later) and his blog "Raw Thought." I'm reading the entire thing because I find most of his thoughts to be extremely sociological in nature. He did actually consider himself to be a sociologist, and in that vein, he quotes C. Wright Mills in "The Sociological Imagination" (substituting the word "blog" for "file") to describe "What's going on [in his blog]":
As a social scientist, you have to … capture what you experience and sort it out; only in this way can you hope to use it to guide and test your reflection, and in the process shape yourself as an intellectual craftsman. But how can you do this? One answer is: you must set up a blog…
In such a blog … there is joined personal experience and professional activities, studies under way and studies planned. In this blog, you … will try to get together what you are doing intellectually and what you are experiencing as a person. Here you will not be afraid to use your experience and relate it directly to various work in progress. By serving as a check on repetitious work, your blog also enables you to conserve your energy. It also encourages you to capture ‘fringe-thoughts’: various ideas which may be byproducts of everyday life, snatches of conversation overheard in the street, or, for that matter, dreams. Once noted, these may lead to more systematic thinking, as well as lend intellectual relevance to more directed experience.
…The blog also helps you build up the habit of writing. … In developing the blog, you can experiment as a writer and this, as they say, develops your powers of expression.
So this is why I'm writing.