23 November 2009

Of cabbages and kings

The time has come, the blogger said, to speak of things no more.

When I started this blog, I was a senior in high school in Leavenworth, Kansas, applying to colleges. I find myself now a senior in college in Athens, GA, have been accepted to Emory's Candler School of Theology. And for four years, I have written for the world to see. More often than not, my posts were knee-jerk reactions to things I had seen. Occasionally, the knee jerk would transform into something more.

When I started this blog, there was no Twitter (it started a few months after I started blogging) and Facebook was just a networking tool for college students. People were not describing their every action in under 140 characters. Video blogs were very unusual.

Over the past four years, we have allowed ourselves to yell continuously in all directions. Celebrities and aspiring celebrities, news stations and gossip columns, politicians and rock stars, all utilizing the new blog for the short attention span.

What I want to know is whatever happened to the review process? There was a time when your opinion had to be well-presented and thoughtful to qualify as print-worthy. I apologize if I am ruining anyone's fantasy here, but it is simply impossible to adequately review anything in 140 characters.

What's more is that it has become so easy to present an opinion that we no longer even finish reading articles before we present our rebuttal. I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. I will read an article and before I'm done, I have a second tab open, keeping track of what I disagree with to post about it later. I'm not considering the opinion, but only finding that which I think is objectionable. The flat world, for all of its promise, has turned us into a generation that only waits to talk.

And in waiting to talk, and in blurting out our initial opinions, we talk ourselves into corners. We won't back down, but when we don't fully consider what we say, we make mistakes. We say things we don't mean, but don't want to the world to know we've made a mistake, so we just keep going with it.

So no more. Not from me at least. I know this won't make much of a difference. I don't have enough readers for it to make a big difference. But with everyone yelling as loud as they can, even one less voice will help. This does not mean that I'm giving up writing or that I will never express my opinions again. On the contrary, I have resolved to write more. But what I do write will be submitted to others for peer review. If I have an opinion, I'm going to make sure that it's worth voicing.

Now, I do not mean to imply that blogging should vanish from the face of the Earth. They provide a great way for authors, musicians, academics, politicians, etc. to communicate ideas and receive feedback. They allow for the sharing of information as never before. They occasionally even provide a deserving, unheard-of mind a chance to earn the proper recognition. I will continue reading all of my favorite blogs. As for me and my opinions, though, we will stay in the coffee shop where we belong.