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No News is Good News?


You’re about to be subjected to stream-of-consciousness metacommentary.

I’ve been thinking lately about what I want to accomplish with this blog and if I am actually doing that.

To circle back to the start of all this, I am not new to writing persuasively online. I have blogged off and on since “blog” was even a word. I was making Internet commentary by 1998 or so. My blog updates were infrequent, to be sure, but I’ve spent almost that entire intervening time posting on various forms, and my favorite form of discussion on those has consisted of debates on contentious topics. I would say I became pretty good at it. Forced to examine my beliefs, thoughts, preconceived notions, and prejudices, I’ve made an effort over the past several years to develop a better consciousness about the world around me. I know it will always be a work in progress.

And I think we are all works in progress, in that sense. If you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re definitely wrong. Our world and our universe are too wonderfully complex to ever be fully absorbed by a single, individual mind. It’s possible to know a lot–one can develop very deep, very strong expertise in specific fields. But no one can know everything, or even come close. This is not a failure of human ability or imagination. I see it more as a challenge, or perhaps a feature that helps define us. We are all joined together in recognizing how limited each of us truly is.

On the other hand, I don’t shy away from stating my thoughts on the topics I discuss here. One thing I think writing this blog has helped me do is sharpen my writing approach. I have become better at researching topics, better at absorbing information from sources, better at forming and reinforcing the arguments I am making, and better at communicating in an accessible, (hopefully) entertaining way. If there’s one aspect of this blog that remains inconsistent, it may be the tone. I have a very snarky, ironic sense of humor in general–surely a hallmark of the Millennial–and vacillate on whether I should allow it to penetrate into my writing here. Sometimes it appears; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s more likely to appear when I am writing from a place of frustration or disappointment or anger. And, I suppose, that is another thing this blog has helped me do: find a productive, creative outlet for my feelings on the topics discussed. While I value knowledge, data, and scientific methods, many of the issues discussed on this blog are irrevocably human, and it does us all a disservice to pretend we are considering topics that are devoid of emotional content, free of human feeling.

The thought of people being killed without due process, for instance–whether by drones, or by unaccountable police forces acting out the script of a white supremacist society–is not merely an injustice. It is not a technical detail that can be reduced to bullet points and then addressed via some rote, mechanical process. It should make you angry. It should make you agitated. It should make you want to fight for something different. I know it has that effect on me. It’s easy to see numbers and forget that we’re talking about living, breathing people with thoughts and and hopes and fears and dreams, who have the same richness of experience as any of us. Statistics are dehumanizing, and when I employ them, part of my intention is to humanize the underlying issues.

There is a tendency I’ve seen frequently in my years of online discussion, where the injection of emotion into an argument over “facts” and “evidence” results in automatic disqualification. This is usually employed by people of relative privilege, who have the luxury of debating issues solely in terms of statistics and scientific studies rather than having to bother with the reported (but often unstudied) experiences of others. It’s something I used to engage in, myself, until I came to learn how it distorts your thinking and, by attempting to be “objective,” how it divorces your worldview from any comprehensible human meaning. What good is a statistically-constructed, data-driven world in which the essences of human experience are seen as irrelevant?

Something else that fascinates me, that I endeavor to discuss on this blog, are bits of conventional wisdom and other common assumptions that are, frankly, incorrect. There is so much we take for granted that simply isn’t true. I don’t entertain any notion that I can shake people out of their false beliefs, but I hope it at least gets a few folks thinking. This is where the title of the blog becomes most relevant, I think. I want to take apart the resilient constructs of our society and our world, examine them, and rebuild them with a better understanding–or leave them deconstructed, as the case may warrant! I don’t know that I always succeed at this, but that’s what I’m going for.

When I started this blog, I wanted to do it for at least a year. I am more than a third of the way there at this point. Will I continue after that? Who knows? It will depend on whether I feel like I have more to say. I don’t find myself reaching for topics all the time yet, though some days are a struggle. Regardless, I continue to appreciate those who take the time to read and discuss.

I am doubly thankful to those who bother to read these Sunday entries. What are you even doing?!

Photo by Hubble Heritage