Why I Refuse to Write Fodder for the Digital Cows
Our writing and our words matter. Use them with care and let the pursuit of beauty guide your hand.
Our craft matters, the beauty we create with our words matter. We shouldn't waste them
I've been writing articles for print media for a number of years. Three years ago I decided to try my hand at blogging, for the simple fact that I love writing. Am I opinionated? Hell yes. Do I have something to say that is worth saying? Perhaps. I wouldn't call myself a deep thinker, but a background in psychology and an inquiring mind have led me, in my fifty-two years on the planet, to amass a huge stockpile of information.
Some of that information is useless, some relevant on a daily basis and other tidbits of knowledge come in handy when you least expect it. I have friends who you would classify as deep-thinkers. They will routinely pass work over to me for comment prior to publishing and I in return, send them drafts of my work. We share a belief in the economy of words, of preserving them for things that need to be said. The hard things.
I have other friends that create pieces of true beauty. Rembrandts, painted with inspired brush strokes of language. Writing that leaves a mark on you, haunting your thoughts for days after. I aspire to this goal and I see my writing craft as a tool to educate, to enthrall and to entertain. This, to me, is a worthwhile endeavor and it is also a responsibility.
All of us want our work to see the light of day. We want eyes on the letters, mouths silently forming the words and minds absorbing the emotions and ideas conveyed by the sentences. We want readers, serious readers who engage with the ideas and stories we are trying, in our own clumsy fashion, to convey. Our language provides us a palette filled with a wealth of colors and textures and to use it for any other purpose, other than to attempt a masterpiece, is in my opinion, folly. Sadly, the zeitgeist of the internet disagrees with me.
Food for the Masses
Popularised articles revolve around a few staid topics. Self-help, self-reflection, relationship problems, guides from geniuses who have discovered secrets to a number of the world’s problems and endless lists on every topic known to man. That is what the ever hungry machine demands to feed the billions of data cows that populate its feeding pens. Intelligent discourse and articles about social and political ideas that shape our world are hard to come by.
Many cannot write what they truly feel for fear of persecution on this public platform. Political correctness and identity politics have strangled the small space that remains for a free and liberal exchange of ideas and ideologies. So how then to proceed, if you cannot find your place in this new digital world, on the biggest platform man has ever created? Do you simply sell out? Do you start producing cloned copies of ideas, repeated over and over in different words to an apparently unending audience or do you simply refrain? Do you accept there is no escaping the Gulag?
If you want to see me bleed, if you want my heartache, look to my characters.
I suppose that depends on your ethics, your reason for writing, and how seriously you take your craft. How desperate you are to pay your bills. The very effort of trying to rephrase the same tired concepts in new words is in itself soul-destroying. I cannot expose my personal feelings and pour out my life to you, my failings. my shortcomings, and my pain. These things are mine, these feelings and emotions. To share them is to somehow diminish them, demean their importance. They are for me, for my lover, whispered beneath the sanctuary of our bedsheets. I am from a different time.
A time when words mattered. They were not used to satisfy the voyeuristic urges of readers to immerse themselves in others lives. A time before Facebook and a sea of humanity that found itself so wanting, it couldn’t get through the day without the help and advice of total strangers. If you want to see me bleed, if you want my heartache, look to my characters. They bleed for me. I live through them, flawed broken reflections of humanity.
If you want to peer inside my mind, look to my writing. Serious pieces, sometimes humorous pieces. Pieces written with an economy of words, with focus and a with a comment, almost always, on our lives, our societies and our cultures. Displaced pieces seeking a small place on this wide platform to call home. I will let someone else feed the cows.