Oh, hi, Internet.
Writing online is so nearly effortless that reading (not to mention reflection, deliberation and thought) has become a chore in comparison. It’s easier to jot off a patronizing, indignant or self-aggrandizing missive than it is to take the trouble to read the whole article or give fair consideration to the author’s perspective. Thus the vicious circle sets in…
Why go to the trouble of producing a balanced or inquiring article for a medium that encourages rapid-fire feedback over deliberation and reflection? And why, in turn, respond to that article with any semblance of balance in a medium that rewards bite-sized bluster over nuance and accuracy? And why, for that matter, bother reading the article at all, when speed is everything, and you’d better get your soundbite in now because they’ll be new outrages to decry tomorrow?
The opposite extreme also causes me great agitation: Hyper-attention to a piece of writing for the sole purpose of mining it for things about which one can be righteously indignant, or errors (usually trivial) over which one can gloat. That leads to more of the same thoughtless/effortless writing Croll talks about.
My eyeballs have been filled with this of late. Filled.
I wonder if I’m doing it myself right now. Bah, thinking is hard.
1 thought on “Bluster v. Nuance”
That was always an advantage of printed newspapers and magazines: responses took time. When people couldn’t respond immediately, they took more time to make sure they understood. And by the time they sat down to write (with a pen) or type (on a typewriter), people had a cooling off period. As the saying goes, “Speak when you are angry, and you’ll give the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
Similarly, items people responded to weren’t political diatribes. Writers were more circumspect because they were more likely to be accountable for things they said. On paper, their words had more permanence and were easier to fact check.
The internet and 24 hour media have been good in some ways, but worse in many others.