I am not on the best of terms with Dan Riehl but that has not prevented me from congratulating him from time to time when he nails it:
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to get yourself worked up on a topic, or in a spat, and just blurt out what you think or have recently discovered. You may even have convinced yourself it’s the coup de gras if things have turned into a fight. Then all of seconds later, if you’re smart, you get to appreciate what you just did as a reader if you look at your blog. It’s usually about then that you realize you’ve just done something significant for the whole world to see before having taken enough time pre-post to figure out just what it might be. Heh!
Whelan can relax in knowing that his liberal critics have now etched the moment into their collective soul in blog code and will inject it as the ad hominem of choice in any and every heated debate for some time: this from a guy who blah, blah, blah. If it’s any consolation to Whelan, you usually stop wincing after the first few times. And for now you know the worst your critics can and will do - forewarned is forearmed and all that. My advice is to ignore it. It’s done.
It’s ironic that given blogging’s technocentric existence, it’s still its ability to remind us that we’re human that’s often the most fascinating element. Except for Reynolds, of course. He was designed by a consortium of scientists from the tech industry to give them the next new rationale to sell more PCs back in the day. The group has moved on to Twitter and applications beyond these days.
In any event, discovering our humanity, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, is always a good thing to my way of thinking. As human beings, it’s one of the best ways we learn. And it won’t be long before some blogger somewhere makes the next greatest reminder that we’re all human of a blog post and we all too often inhuman bastards that are bloggers will be certain to circle round to pick the bones.
There couldn’t be a better blood sport for intellects in this information age.
I am closing in on 3,000 posts for this blog (2986), most of them essays of more than 1000 words. Not only is that a lot of hot air but also a lot of myself that has been poured on to this site. Readers familiar with my work know that few topics are off limits including some personal stuff that others might have a hard time putting out there for all the world to see. And I get into trouble a lot of the time because I don’t view this space as “publication” as much as I see it as an online diary of sorts - or a virtual scratch pad. Hence, sometimes my thinking is muddled, confused, disconnected, and even illogical as I seek answers to questions that some other bloggers might wait until they have fully formed their reasoning about a subject before hitting that “publish” button.
Far from seeing this as a disadvantage or a minus, for me it is a godsend. “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man,” quoth Sir Francis Bacon. And if writing forces me to organize my thoughts and place them into some kind of rational context while helping me gain insight into why I think the way I do about people and issues, then I have accomplished what I set out to do by writing in the first place.
I would estimate that out of those nearly 3000 screeds, there are probably at least 100 that should never have seen the light of day. Maybe less, I don’t know. Ironically, a couple of them directed to Mr. Riehl would fall into that category. On the other hand, my sometimes emotional outbursts are quite theraputic and while I wouldn’t recommend it as an answer to thoughtful discourse, sometimes screaming about something serves the dual purpose of getting your point across while making you feel immensely better after letting off some steam.
Riehl is correct; blogs help one discover their humanity; in all its glory, its sordidness, its generosity, its stupidity, and its brilliance. It also helps you know yourself better; your strengths, weaknesses, limitations - everything that Erasmus’s “examined life” should reveal.
We all want to know ourselves. Sometimes the revelations are quite disturbing - as when I discovered shortly after starting to blog that I have a very thin skin. Sometimes, they are sublime. I have developed an enormous measure of confidence in my cognitive abilities and insight that, while not claiming Pope-like infallibility, nevertheless proves me right more often than wrong. I am certain I would not have developed this confidence without blogging for going on 5 years.
When I am shown to be in error, I almost always acknowledge it. To some, this proves that I blow with the wind on some issues rather than, when exposed to new information or a new point of view, believing that altering your thinking is the correct path to follow. To some, this makes me a squish. But I value being honest with myself and my readers. I am not 100% successful but then there’s that “humanity” that prevents me from overcoming my own pride and emotional investment in order to achieve the unachievable.
Just writing this post has helped clarify my thinking. From now on, I will be a model citizen of the internet. I will never again take off after the left in a personal, insulting manner. I will never again criticize a conservative for being an idiot. I will never again take a fellow blogger to task for writing something that makes no sense or uses illogical arguments to get their point across.
Yeah - okay. But I can dream, can’t I?