Thoughts from your correspondent

by Steve

Man on phone, reflected

The more eagle-eyed of you might have noticed I’ve been enjoying a brief sabbatical from this place. Now, I’m eager to move this post beyond just one of those “I haven’t been posting for a while” posts or one of those “Here’s a bit of a holding message, as I might not be posting a while” posts. There is probably more to it than that. Plus, those posts, certainly when executed by me, aren’t that interesting. The draft post I’ve since scrapped for being boring, self-indulgent and basically pointless is evidence enough of that. This is no guarantee that this post will be any less boring, self-indulgent or pointless. But bear with me.

I don’t think I’ve got writer’s block. Not in the classic sense. I can still write, or type, or whatever. I’m sure I completely understand the whole staring-at-a-blank-page thing, as there is always something you can put down. It will just probably be awful. But maybe that is all part of the process – you have to write the terrible stuff to find the good stuff hidden within. That’s just editing, right?

Man waiting at airport

It is more of case of having nothing worthwhile to say. Worthwhile being the key word there. If there is nothing worth saying, why say it at all? I know this doesn’t stop a great many people, and hasn’t stopped me in the past, but it is/was stopping me.

I’ve noticed the internet and the real world seem really grumpy and argumentative and confrontational. I know that has always been the case, but really grumpy/argumentative/confrontational. And none of it feels that constructive. The cyclist and the van driver yelling at each other aren’t making anything any better. The columnists throwing accusations at each other aren’t changing minds. The tweeters moaning, or trolling, or talking down to, or taking some sort of moral high ground aren’t really making a difference either.

Man reading paper

I’ve read debates (and heard debates in real life, for that matter) on various subjects, both important and trivial, where people take opposing stances and refuse to back down or take onboard the complexities and nuances of the subject. They fight with ideology and ignorance rather than insight and empathy. The debate becomes a forum for people to score points or promote their ‘brand’ or just generally piss everyone off in a bid to get a reaction. It is pointless, and observing it makes me feel bitter, twisted, lethargic and generally misanthropic.

Why would I join in? What do I really have to add? There are already more than enough white, heterosexual, vaguely middle-class men spouting off, taking up space, hogging the agenda and essentially maintaining the status quo. I don’t think anyone needs to read my views on Woody Allen/Operation Yewtree/Syria/Russia.

Couple sitting in darkness

I’m not suggesting that nobody should engage in political or cultural dialogue. I just think that if we do so, we should be mindful of what we might achieve, or more likely, what we might not. Are we adding to the hot air being expelled? Are we giving less room to people who really should be given the platform to speak? Are we just making people apathetic by creating a poisonous environment, where nobody wants to engage for fear of a real or metaphorical bloody nose? Are we just preaching to the choir? Are we stopping people from caring?

So, should I just pack up and go home? Of course not. I don’t give up on polluting the internet that easily. But I do need to think about what I want from the internet. The real world is full of idiots and the aggressive and the selfish. I don’t need an internet that replicates that. This needs to be an escape, somewhere where I can restore my faith in humanity, or at least find people who have something interesting to say, or can give me a glimpse of a world beyond my own.

Conductor on platform

So, maybe I need to curate my internet a little better. Spend a little less time reading the more toxic elements of Twitter. Avoid the more annoying people on Facebook. Swerve opinion columns. Seek out the more interesting and substantial parts of the ol’ world wide web. Maybe step away from the whole internet a little more. But maybe not step into the middle of more horrific elements of the general public. Spend more time with the good people. More time with books. Or just more time mulling stuff over without the noise of the modern world etc. Learn when to look out and when to look in. Or something along those lines.

I guess the point is not that I want to hide away from the world, but that I want to engage in a more meaningful, satisfying way. I want to feel like there is still some humanity and decency in the world. I want to feel a little less like hitting my head against a brick wall. I want to better understand the big stuff without losing my appreciation of the small stuff. I want to treasure the people who give a shit out there and not get weighed down by those who don’t. I want to feel like I’m not condemning everyone without being the fool who is taken in by all the really shitty people out there. I want to appreciate it more when things go right, feel less awful when things don’t. I want to feel like I don’t have to say “I want” so much. I want to say “I want” more, when the time is right. I don’t know what I want.

Couple on escalator

Which leaves this place. I wonder if I should be posting only whenever I have something valid to add to the world. But I realise that hardly anyone reads anyway, so I might as well post whatever/whenever I want. But keep it fun, for me. And avoid getting all angry/gnarly for you, the reader, as I doubt that will be much fun for either of us.

I’ll probably stick some YouTube videos or something up in the next couple of days, to lighten things up. The old tactic of content without any real content. Maybe I’ll roll out a couple of regular themed posts, or some such jazz. Probably not, but you never know. It doesn’t really matter. I guess the beauty of blogs is that they can be what you want, nobody is obliged to visit and you can keep the idiots out.

Looking out of doorway

I’ll perhaps spend more time on non-blogging writing. Enter some competitions. Fail miserably. Write some more. Hide some notes under the floorboards to be found in a 100 years, published and acclaimed as the great lost works of literature. The usual.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I suspect I’ve been a little vague in places. I’m almost certain I’ll regret posting this half-formed thing went I hit ‘Publish’. No change there then. But thanks for reading anyway. Business as usual soon enough. Or not. Or somewhere in-between. Cheers.

Guys sat at bar

Images from Smuk Luka, who has some amazing photos, via Flickr