Permanent records of impermanent states

I’ve done a lot of writing over the years, but very little blogging. The thing that makes blog posts interesting (to me) is when they’re closer to the original definition of essays—attempts at understanding, rather than fully formed opinions. I like reading people collecting their thoughts, trying on perspectives, and tracing connections that haven’t fully revealed themselves.

I like reading those, at least. But writing them in even a semi-public forum is a lot more frightening. Despite being built around hyperlinks, which should be one of the best tools imaginable for creating context, the internet has somehow evolved in a way where every piece of content on it exists as an island. Every post, every tweet, every statement is seen as complete in itself, existing outside of time and outside of uncertainty—or at least has the potential to be seen that way by anyone who finds one of the ideas in it troubling. It makes it harder to be wrong, and being willing to be wrong is at the heart of any process that moves towards understanding.

This post is essentially a disclaimer, then. It’s me giving myself permission to try out this format of writing, because I can point to this post later on to say that I didn’t necessarily believe everything I wrote even when I wrote it, and I’m certainly not expecting myself to continue believing any of it for long stretches of time. Blog posts are permanent records of impermanent states. Just like a photograph can’t be expected to contain the whole truth of who a person was, is, and will be, a single piece of writing can’t either. Because there isn’t a singular, whole truth of a person. We are processes, physically and mentally adapting to the world around us, building models to understand and navigate it, discarding the parts that don’t work (if we’re lucky), refining the ones that do, and on rare occasions getting a glimpse of just how completely wrong we are.

I recognize that I’ve missed the peak of blogging by quite a few years at this point, but the other formats I’ve been dabbling in, like social media, Substack, freelance writing, all of them feel too public on the one hand—they’re aimed at audiences—and too insular on the other—each post goes out there and then disappears. When I look at people who’ve been running blogs for years or decades, it’s fascinating to me how they can look up what they were thinking one, five, 10, even 20 years earlier. Journaling opens up some of that possibility, but it’s physical, which makes it much more difficult to dig up old entries, and it doesn’t lend itself to tagging, linking, or quotation in the same way. Something is telling me that I want to try this format out, and so I aim to give it a try.

No mission statement, no public promotion, not yet at least. Just an attempt to compile and collate, find interesting connections that could maybe become more coherent writings. Initial thoughts, early attempts, in the hopes of strengthening those mental muscles that’ve atrophied over the years and to try to put a little more thought into how I engage with and respond to the world.