Tweetable : Blogging will force you to write. Which will force you to think through an issue clearly. Clean writing is clear thinking. Unclear writing is usually the product of unclear thinking. Additionally ‘future you’ will have a ready record of how ‘current you’ reasoned.
The noble naïve genesis of this blog
When I first set up this blog in 2010, my then aspirational goal was to share what I hoped were some intriguing enough ideas I had with other smart people out there (like you dear reader). I optimistically hoped people found it deserved the ‘hmmmm….Interesting’ reaction every other post.
And how does one know if one is getting through on platforms like this? Through that king of all vanity metrics: Page Views. The number of hits you get daily & monthly on your blog. So just like how Facetagram Divas you and I know (both male and female) hitch their digital egos to likes and shares garnered of what feels like torrential snaps and comments, blogging wannabes like me link it to page views. Smart folks label it “Vanity Metrics” for a reason. The vanity is indeed linked to this metric (Pageview) and if you are not on guard, so is your daily mood if you are into blogging intensely enough. I was for a period. The thinking is along the lines that the more people visit the blog, the more the author is likely making agreeable, popular, profound, good points. S/he must be..just look at the page views count ratcheting up!
The Genesis meets the Freight Train of Reality
Much to my own shock, while I did snag an interview a few years ago from someone leading India’s then hottest start-up who was impressed enough to call me in after reading this blog, alas, the majority of my posts here are about as effective as shouting into and in a hurricane. This is 2018. Most bloggers are pissing into the Pacific and hoping all the fish notice. By the by, the same goes for most of the Facetagram Divas out there. A minuscule few have the BP Deepwater Horizon “Spray Power” to make even a few important aquatic dwellers notice. Of course if the ignoble aim is make a Dunbar number of frenemies look at their life highlight reels on Facetagram and get envious, wider impact may not figure as a priority for those narcissists. But with blogging the aim usually is broaden audience and impact.
Now, 7 years and 127 odd posts later I have belatedly realised that most of us are too busy, too distracted, too frazzled to care and notice most things that screams for attention. A lot of the amazing, fantastic quality stuff slips by unloved so why should mediocrity get the oxygen of attention? To see examples of the latter, just read the last 5 LinkedIn posts in your feed or the 5 articles in the evening newspaper today.
This world in 2018 has a tiny small handheld magical thing that can deliver potent infotainment heroine in friendlier mediums anytime, anywhere, whether the addict is in the atm line or loo. Both those times and countless more made that much more bearable thanks to this gift from the benevolent digital Gods. Against this Goliath of a Trifecta (busy, distracted, frazzled) most of us aspirational attention beggars are not Davids but gnats who are not even close to being anywhere as good and insightful as the many talented people out there who actually deserve the attention oxygen.
So in summary:
- I wanted to make an impact in 2010
- I realized this was very tough after 7 years
- …..Now what?
It is time to abandon this misguided McNamara fallacy and revisit and reframe the entire engagement. Starting with Exhibit #1 – this post. Instead of writing to get attention from an increasingly distracted world drowning in great content that is near impossible to better, I am going to write with 2 simple aims and to a very niche but guaranteed audience. An audience that is likely very interested come what may.
That audience? Future Me. Preferably ‘Far into the Future Me’. Me a decade or two from now.
The new epiphany
On some lazy weekends I love browsing through snaps from back in the day and trying to remember the context of some of those faded pictures. What was I thinking? Who was I really? And from the vantage point of the present, I think often “damn, that idiot in the picture had some wrong, weird and stupid ideas about the world and the people around him!” Someone rightly said if you are not looking back at your old self and thinking ‘that guy was an idiot’, you are likely not growing as a person. I absolutely buy that.
But the thing is unless blessed with an elephant memory instead of the elephant body that reflects back in the bathroom mirror for most of us, you realize a dated picture usually tells you of the physical world and people around you then. Could a blog give a better picture of how and what one was thinking about back in the day? Not how the mostly mundane days unfurled but what was one grappling with intellectually. The blog entries (if made often enough) may give ‘future me’ a better clue of the person I really was. So that’s Aim #1 from 2018 onwards. Click regular Thinking Snapshots.
Aim #2 is simpler. Get better at writing. One way is being forced to make a case on a topic from the ground up via blogging to an external audience. Like you. One may inherently ‘get‘ or grasp an idea in their own heads but writing it forces the person to account for all the variables and pillars supporting that internal narrative or point of view. The quality of your writing betrays how often you engage in the act. Blogging often is a great habit to force better thinking. I am hoping writing this blog regularly will force me to clarify and strip down and re-build all the components on an argument and subject I am passionate about. Example of this from recently : “Insight and Narrative are different thing. How and Why?”
So now I plan to de-couple vanity metrics from this blogging hobby and just go to town writing and polishing for ‘Future Me’. And here is something I didn’t realize that maybe is an even better case to embrace blogging/writing which I would not have know if I had not started blogging : As I try to make a case on a topic from the ground up via blogging I also realize something I needed to for a while. A lot of my ideas are shit and have no legs. It took me being forced to sketch out, flesh out and write out an idea buzzing inside my cranium to slowly realize the idea in question was, to use a british euphemism, weak tea. And there was a lot of weak tea floating in my mental Boston harbour.
So revealingly, the contents of the dustbin near the writing desk may prove just as useful as the contents outside it. The ideas that get discarded proving as valuable a lesson as the ideas fleshed out and published. Luckily the privacy of discarded ideas is assured. Ok Ok, I lie. Your spouse may still have to suffer your many suspect thesis acoustically but they do say Love Hurts.
The aim of this above essay was to plant the germ of an idea, like Dominick Cobb in the film Inception, that maybe just maybe you too should start blogging. I hope it takes root.