You know what the biggest problem inherent to blogging is?
Or, more specifically, the finality that comes with occupying a spotlight.
(To an extent, this problem applies to any form of published media created specifically for other people to absorb and consider as well.)
The human mind can, at any point, be churning hundreds of thousands of thoughts, swirling and banging and slamming into each other, but publishing? Publishing does something inherently unnatural in that it forces these thoughts into the raw, unforgiving daylight and forces them to stand on their own.
The problem with this? Thoughts can (and should) change. And people don’t like change.
As human beings we are, inherently, products of our environment, which for most people is ever-changing. We can wake up in the morning and observe something that changes the way we think on a fundamental level. Sometimes these changes can be minor, like reading a weather report and changing one’s outfit to reflect an oncoming thunderstorm.
Other times these changes can be more drastic, like, say, hearing about a school shooting in Connecticut that took the lives of 20 first-graders that shatters a 26 year-old belief in God (or something).
We have no idea how each day of our lives will inform, modify, reinforce or completely rebuild the things we think (or the way we think them).
Which is what makes publishing our thoughts so problematic. Passion is a universal trait amongst the beasts of the Earth, but modifying that passion is, I think, a trait unique to human beings (and probably some more advanced monkeys). At any given moment, what we are thinking can become THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEA IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
Until it isn’t.
Changing one’s mind, I think, is one of the most important parts of exercising our own sentience.
Except…uh oh…in between having the BEST IDEA IN THE ENTIRE WORLD and the almost inevitable “wait…that makes no sense…” moment, you went and published an article, or shot your mouth off on YouTube, or released a record, or had an art opening featuring sculptures made entirely of Dunkin Donuts styrofoam cups because “styrofoam is the window to the soul!”
What now? Now that you’ve gone out and made the grandiose statement based on the BEST IDEA IN THE ENTIRE WORLD that is now no longer so, people are going to begin to recognize you for that idea. A part of your entire identity, sometimes a small part, sometimes a big one, will be permanently grafted to this idea by anyone that bought into it through your creation.
This puts you at a crossroads: either you stand firm with the idea or you don’t. Both options come with drawbacks and benefits.
Holding to a belief you no longer believe is inherently unhealthy, regardless of the reasoning. Another benefit of being sentient beings is the ability to be honest with ourselves. Putting up a facade or, worse, trying to convince yourself the facade is real can eat you alive. Trust me, I’ve been there and it isn’t worth it.
But on the other hand, we live in a society that is very quick to label people into categories. I’m pretty sure this instinct ties back to evolutionary theory somehow, but I am shamefully not up to snuff on my Darwinism. My best guess would be that in order to determine who is “fittest to survive”, the attributes we exhibit put us into specified, socially determined constructs. We are only as good as what we provide to the community. Hunters and Gatherers, Workers and Homemakers, Jocks and Nerds, Punks and Mods, Gryffindors and Slytherins, etc.
And do you want to know the best way to tell people what category to put you in?
Put it in writing.
Being able to categorize people is, near as I can tell, a human imperative and as much as we say we don’t do it, we ALL do. (Yes, even you. You’re probably doing it right now, in fact.) Once categorized, it becomes very difficult to shift categories. People used to not live that long, whatever category they ended up in usually followed them into the ground. Plus, the world was smaller, people didn’t have that much to think about and their personal environment was not as bloated as ours is today.
To paraphrase Rocko’s Modern Life, it was “up-work-home-TV-bed”, over and over, and that was life and life was good. This is why extreme religious communities tend to be so A) happy and B) firm in their beliefs. They’ve intentionally distanced themselves, often physically, from anything that could possibly alter that belief. When life is simple, minds need not be changed.
But life is not simple, and most people change their mind all the time.
“Flip-Flopper” was a BIG buzz phrase/slur during the 2004 Presidential Election, when Democratic Candidate/Herman Munster Impersonator John Kerry appeared to switch back and forth between political stances throughout his campaign. This may have very well destroyed his candidacy and caused him to lose the election, despite the fact that his opponent was one of those highly advanced monkeys I mentioned before. When your profession is to be the designated thinker for a large group of people, you better not change your goddamn mind all the time.
Even outside of the world of politics though, “flip-flopping” is a clear and present danger. When you actively contradict the way other people think of you, you risk alienating them, and if there is one thing worse than being dishonest with yourself, it’s having no friends. The human mind has an inherent difficulty in processing change to one’s surroundings, even if it is exceptionally good at changing itself.
Funny little paradox, right?
As someone who takes a lot of joy out of publishing my thoughts (or spouting them manically at whomever will listen), this puts me on a slippery slope. What is publishable vs. what isn’t? Am I prepared to write something I can’t take back later? Is there even such a thing? Am I better off staying off WordPress and boring my fiancé to tears because SHE has to listen, she promised?
Despite living in a “keep your opinion to yourself” and “if you keep quiet no one will know how dumb you are” society, I personally find there is inherent value in declaring one’s thoughts, no matter how mundane or occasionally non-sensical. But, as we’ve proven, that is a double-edged sword since if you are sufficiently good at declaring those thoughts, people will bind you to them.
I’m not sure there is a solution here. At least, not one that can be widely accepted.
Part of me wishes, as a big ol’ middle finger to human nature, that all published/televised/immortalized work could come with a disclaimer along the lines of “Note: these thoughts are influenced by a very specific sequence of events and environmental/social circumstances. The author reserves the right to feel completely different about them later.”
Trying to believe in/stand for something all the time can get tiring, and expecting most people to do it is kind of unfair. We live in a society where the ability to learn and experience new things is at an all time high (and getting higher), and yet our nature requires us to close ourselves off from the vast majority of them, pick one or two stances and hold on to them for dear life. Human nature hasn’t really caught up with Human initiative just yet, and I anxiously await the point that it does.
Until then, get ready to see that disclaimer a lot…at least on the mind vomit that I churn out.