I’m going to do something that I don’t very often do, and that is writing off-the-cuff. Proper, wince-the-next-morning, who-let-her-out-without-an-editor type thing.
This is not because I don’t respect your time, or your intellect, but sometimes passion can speak things into dialogue that rigourous preparation and careful editing cannot.
I’m writing to you, a little sick to my stomach because of a Facebook binge. This is not because I have a banal and insipid feed, it’s the opposite. There’s too much fascinating, important, mindblowing stuff there. AND IT UPDATES EVERY FEW MINUTES! Religious debates that I need to know about, that expand my worldview, feminist events and happenings that teach me new language to think in, local politcal statements that are crucial to me locating myself in current events. There is just so much of it, and because of the volume, and the quality, of that content, I feel this build-up of pressure to know/read/watch it ALL. Now. To the point where I will quit finishing one article early, just to start the next one.
That’s a pretty cool thing, when you can calm yourself down enough to think about it, that there should be so much cool stuff that there just isn’t time for a single person to absorb it all.
Trying to absorb it all is slightly less cool though, because of the content’s quality and complexity, getting your head properly around any single facet of it takes time. The volume of content available robs you off that time.
The need to share, respond, know-better and create your own take on all of the amazing, cool, insightful, terrible, triumphant things on the internet, robs you of time to figure out exactly what you really think, deep-down, about any of them.
Like growing succulents, thought-things take time. Time spent talking to people, over a beer, changing your mind, learning new facts, shifting around to accomodate unexpected perspectives. Time spent reading things, and then leaving them alone to stew and reading them again. Time spent drawing out arguments, positions, theories to both logical and illogical conclusions.
This is because, even the smallest thing is complicated, and all of the information we have is filtered one way or another. It’s hard to read things deeply enough to be sure that you’re not just repeating someone else’s off-the-cuff opinions.
It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
The most important thing you have on the internet is your own agency and your own set of carefully built, grown and tended opinions. Agency means also deciding to set your own schedule.
Me, I’m no good on twitter. There’s too much, coming at me too fast for me to even begin to respond to it. Twitter is great, but for me, it creates a culture of expected immediacy, at the cost of depth. I understand about urgent news, and the need for creating momentumn to build an audience, that’s all valid and makes sense. It’s just not the way this lady rolls.
I’m lucky to be with a publishing house: Wordsmack, that accommodates this. I can speak to my publication team and say “Uhm… guys, I’m having problems with character consistency in my manuscript. And thats… that’s kind of a big problem. I’m going to need some time…”
Because the big problems take time. There are lots of voices in the biggest issues on the internet, and some have agendas and some are good people and some are wrong. Figuring out who you think is who, and where you as an individual stand on things, takes time.
It’s okay to ask for that time, even if people don’t react as gently and understandingly as my publishers. Even if you have to teach the people that you are asking for the time from, that it’s okay (mostly, not always) to give it to you, with the unyeiliding incessance of your asking, it’s worth it.
Because, all you have from the internet, after you’ve turned off the computer, quieted the social media, stopped working for the day, is your opinions and your stand-points. They’re worth investing some time in.
And what else are you going to do with this time of year, right?
(This is not an excuse for posting things slowly, it’s a reason. World of difference between an excuse and a reason.)