To say I'm rusty at "blogging" may be an understatement. I can't say I haven't been trying, at least.
Again, it hasn't been for lack of trying that I haven't updated lately. But I think I've narrowed down some other reasons for the sheer wall of writer's block that I've encountered.
- I love to over think and turn every small argument into a multi-paragraph explanation. "Think before you speak?" Yeah, try speaking when your brain likes to stay in overdrive all the time.
- "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?" I don't believe in this so much in this day and age, but I grew up under that mindset and I often cannot shake that self-consciousness.
- Yes, fine: I'm rusty. Sue me. Sometimes it's plain hard to let go once you're used to having so much restraint. (This, too, is an understatement when applied to my life.)
In all honesty, I wrote a lot (you've just seen the numbers, above) over the past week—most of it related to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson last Thursday and the circus that took place between the "old media" and "social media" (or "new media," nomenclature isn't that important). In a cliché sort of way it very much tested my resolve in choosing to work in this particular industry—for goodness' sake, I'm a Web developer (an enabler of "new media") working in a newsroom (which, I guess some would call the heart of "old media").
I wrote over 1,700 words, venting all sorts of frustrations: public spite and lack of trust of the media, new media douchebags, the crowdthink behind America's Twitter hipster support of Iran (but apparently not Honduras or any other recently rigged election)… But I couldn't bring myself to publishing it, thinking it more noise among the noise.
Today, the newsroom had a little get-together to say goodbye to a few folks. One of the radio folks (whose desk is near mine), had a mini speech regarding his departure. As a radio personality, he said, he never thought he'd get to work in a newspaper's newsroom—although growing up, his family always figured him for a reporter or columnist type. His time here was shorter than other jobs he'd held, but what will stick with him the most was that he was given the chance to do something he loved in a place he loved and never expected to work.
I couldn't help but think of the short-lived year I took on photojournalism at school and the divine providence that somehow brought my other interests and skills (technology, computers, Web programming) into that very journalism industry that I was enamored with.
That one little comment about "doing what you love, where you don't expect to" was the best thing to help me forget about that "Internet versus news media" shitshow. This post (spontaneously written and posted since I promised myself I'd post by week's end) is a lot less eloquent than what I'd written on that subject, but I'm quite happy that I didn't add any fuel to that fire. It's shaped up to be one of those hits that just needed to be taken and not dwelt upon.
Look. I love what I do, I love where I work, I love the things I'm responsible for doing. I work on things that I think are cool (and I am not often impressed by things online) and I get to work on a relatively well-trafficked news site. (Caveat: it really sucks when you break it.)
Sure, I'll probably find reason to be a critical asshole on the Internet when I lose my optimism in the above. (Which I hope never, ever happens.) I'm young, I'm naive, and frankly I don't believe I have the experience or the bravado to perform such iconoclasm (*ahem*) on the media industry.
And either way, arguing on the Internet is still, to this day, one of the less productive pursuits out there. (Cue generic messageboard meme image. You know the one I'm talking about.) It's silly and it brings to mind Vonnegut's quip that "electronic communities build nothing."
It is noise that makes me unhappy and I am much happier keeping my head down and working. Newspaper's spending good money hiring a programmer like me, so why don't I help them out a bit instead of biding my time with the online circlejerk?
Folks interested in some actual commentary on the Michael Jackson "old versus new media" circus should read this excellent blog post by Wendy Parker and this L.A. Times column by Tim Rutten. Chances are I'd have repeated everything they'd said.
I need to find something better to talk about for next time; may be Django and programming-related or a "recommended reading" of the blogs I read and my sheer resistance to using an RSS reader. (I middle-click that "blogs" folder several times per day.) Maybe. Who knows?