Not Who I Want To Be

Jay has a recent post up called “Not The Sort Of Person I Want To Be Online“, and it strikes pretty close to home. It’s worth the click, in my opinion. It opens with:

It would be so so easy for me to open my blog editor every week and vent and rant about the state of the world. About how crazy everything is, how detached and divorced from reality so much of the media is, how the Internet isn’t real life. But I don’t.

Jay Springett

And yeah, basically. If I want to spend my time online complaining and writing scathing takedowns of one thing or another, there is no shortage of topics (and the list gets constantly refreshed). It’s so easy to dwell on all the shit going on. But that’s not who I want to be, online or in person.

I also liked this bit:

I don’t want to be part of a negative Internet, so I choose not to add to it. I don’t see any value in doing cynicism as a service. There’s enough negativity out there without me piling on. Instead, I aim to post things that I think is going to be beneficial for both my readers and myself. 

I want to only have things online that I can stand by. The thoughts I’ve had in public should be useful to me and others 3/4/5 even 10 years down the line. Referenced, revisited, and built upon. I don’t write anything here thats written specifically for clicks and likes. Which being negative an Internet cheat code for.

Of course it’s nice when other people do link to my writing and when people share my blog with others – it’s always a thrill – and of course I’m interested in growing my audience online – who isn’t?

Jay Springett

I’ve commented before that I’m not particularly interested in “growing my brand”, and how freeing it has felt to be writing here because I want to, and maybe a few folks find it useful or interesting. If there is a magic formula for building an audience and becoming an online personage, I’m sure as hell not doing it – my site traffic is largely stable (low, but stable) and has been for years at this point. I get the occasional brief spike when someone more notable happens to link to me (and there was one point a few months ago where I suddenly got about a thousand times more visitors for like two days, and I never figured out why – if it was a botnet I don’t know why it landed on me, if it was someone big/popular linking, they must’ve had noreferrer turned on, as analytics were useless). But Jay is right that it is nice when I get linked to or new folks start reading.

It’s a conscious decision and effort, you know. When the default state you see when navigating online discourse is hate and cynicism, oneupmanship and takedowns, not only yucking other people’s yum but declaring them bad people for thinking it was yummy in the first place… it’s easy to let that become your default as well. But it’s not healthy, it’s not useful, at best it may give you a quick endorphin hit if you’re lucky.

There’s a bit from Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse that has made it into a few songs and elsewhere, and I think about it sometimes:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Kind,” said the boy.”

Charlie Mackesy

Me too, kid. Me too.

3 thoughts on “Not Who I Want To Be

  1. There is a lot to this, and it has been quite a bit on my mind the past few days as I rethink my own blog. I think I am making headway from a design and technical standpoint. But then there is the thought of content. What I put out is the easy part. Input is the challenge. I have a lot of years of watching the world and thinking about it. In some ways it is good to know. In most ways it is very corrosive.

    I’m still alive, so I can still learn. Now to go find something to laugh at.

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