Why a Blog, Why Now

You should write a blog. As long as blogging has existed, friends and colleagues have told me that. As a writer who has published many commentary and op-ed pieces, book and film reviews for numerous publications for more than thirty years, it makes sense, on a certain level, I’d write a blog. It could, after all, help me build an audience for my writing.

Although I have published a few blog posts for other groups, I have resisted creating my own blog. The problem is what’s already out there, besides The Truth as X FILES’ fans (Matt Burr) are wont to remind you.

Much of what’s in the blogosphere (whatever that is) is too amorphous and fatuous to be credible. It mystifies me furthermore when persons report the blogosphere is on fire with this or that compelling public figures to change course, retract or apologize for something said because of what bloggers wrote.

Anyone can blog and get a mike, a stage, a platform, a soapbox, and no one seems to discriminate between good and bad content, what’s well written and what isn’t, what’s true or false, what’s fair and what’s isn’t. Getting your say and turn has become paramount. The right to express trumps persons’ qualifications to be heard. Persons with little credentials to address a topic compete more or less on the same level as persons as persons with lifetimes of experience living with and working on the issues about which they write.

Editorial judgment, rigors and standards furthermore appear completely absent from some persons’ decisions to post blogs. Writers who work hard shaping thoughtful and nuanced pieces subject to revision and editorial oversight must sometimes compete with largely unqualified persons who haphazardly dash off random thoughts, not thinking twice before they hit publish.

I’m cognizant I use a blog post to decry blogging, but it’s also true I’ve decided to do something that’s isn’t as new as we think. A case could be made blogging has been around in other forms for a long time. Town Criers were engaged in a kind of blogging. If they possessed today’s technology, they likely would have created Listserves and sent out e-mail blasts to amplify their posts that informed the citizenry. Revolution era pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine also likely would have blogged about their protests against the British. You furthermore can imagine Thoreau blogging about Walden Pond, although WIFI reception there might have been iffy.

Because blogging isn’t new and is available and I’m a writer, I might as well give it a shot. I remain deeply ambivalent however embarking on this experiment, mindful of being associated with a largely unformed, indiscriminate, and intractable enterprise. I’m also full of trepidation, worried about the ways blogging will change me, if it will diminish my reputation among the people who have loved me well and shaped the person and writer I’ve become.

I worry too about adding to the cacophony that distracts from our true purposes and high callings and derails our best efforts to create a just society where all prosper, live with dignity and in peace and solidarity with their brothers and sisters.

I’m also mindful blogging, like any other social media is strictly a tool. It can’t replace being in community with others, especially with persons from different races, faiths, and economic backgrounds. Diverse individuals united to promote the common good represents humanity at our best. What you give in these encounters doesn’t equal what you receive. If new media ever supplant old-fashioned community building, then we will have lost our way.

That said, I humbly believe I have something to say that may edify and encourage, challenge and provoke and I hope will finally distinguish itself. I’ll try to get it right. Although a writer is never done or satisfied, I won’t publish until what I want to say feels right and reflects my desire to say something nuanced, thoughtful, and refined.

I’m finally accountable to my readers, and trust you will let me know if I haven’t keep faith with you. If I can’t do that, I’ll call it a day. For better or worse, I’m now part of the blogosphere. I pray the experience doesn’t ruin me and I don’t take my readers down with me. I hope instead writing and reading these reflections will make us better and develop our empathy.