Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Started Listening to a Sound So Clear, to the World Around Me


Twitter is nearly a required part of advertising campaigns, and it's ubiquitous among news media. Yet even though it has blanketed the Internet, television and billboards with its hashtags inviting people to log on, four out of five Americans with Internet connections still don't use it regularly. Facebook, by comparison, has more than half the U.S. online population covered and more than five times the world-wide users of Twitter.

Even so...

Odds are you’re on Facebook.  After all, 1 in 6 people on the planet are on it, why should you be the exception? I think in my immediate circle of friends and family I know one person who isn’t on it at all.

I'm not sure what some 16-percenter is doing telling me I'm an exception to the norm, but fuzzy math aside, it's useful to keep things like this in mind for perspective. Many people, even the ones with an active Facebook account, are not actually heavy web users. And even for those of us who spend a lot of free time browsing for both edification and entertainment, much of what we encounter in the twitosphere is the product of a very small, homogenous, self-selecting group of people. The concerns and obsessions of tech geeks, frustrated writers, and underemployed twentysomethings with hardly any life experience, to name a few obvious examples, are massively overrepresented. Precious little of what you're reading about today is going to matter at all in another five years. And so what Noah Millman says about blogging —

The struggle for anybody who actually cares about the quality of what they do is to keep an eye on something other than the immediate reception of the piece, whatever the work is, keep an eye on the object itself. Or, rather, to develop the confidence that you actually know what makes the object itself beautiful and true. The confidence to know that you are Orson Welles and not Ed Wood, to pick two artists who emphatically did it their own way.

The same is true, on a microscopic scale, for blogging. If all you’re doing is hanging out, you’re probably not writing anything very worth reading. If all you’re doing is chasing click bait, or following the news cycle, you’re probably not writing anything very worth reading. And that’s the fundamental question: do you want to write anything worth reading?

—  applies more generally as well. Have the confidence to ignore the noisy crows, the bickering, squabbling multitudes, and spend your time on something more timeless.