Ponderings Reflection Writing

Reclaiming intentionality in browsing and blogging

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently with keeping up on everything I’d like to read online. I’ve also struggled to finish writing blog posts, especially longer articles that tie together many things I’ve been reading and thinking.

I wonder if I’m being too passive in what I consume, and reactive in what I blog about. Most of what I write online lately is in response to or prompted by something I’ve read. I’ve built my own wide stream of information coming in, curating my sources and being selective about what to read from the stream — but I’m still letting others shape what I’m thinking about.

Some of this is good and important — listening to others, participating in the cultural conversation, following curiosity, embracing serendipity. My intake can’t only come from what others curate for me, though. I suspect my balance of intake is off: I need a greater amount of what I read to be something I’ve actively sought out. I’m good at this in my book reading; I can extend my approach from there. To claim ownership of my attention, I should more proactively choose what I spend time thinking about. By starting from a concept rather than discovering one as I go, I could blog more purposefully as well. In fiction writing, I hate prompts, but they do make blogging easy. I can create my own prompts to blog about.

A lot of what comes my way through my RSS feeds does fall into my focal areas, since I’ve chosen who to follow based on shared interests. This style of reading broadly without intent supports blogging that synthesizes many sources through filtering and pattern-matching for insights. This type of writing is connective (and valuable), but doesn’t necessarily go deep. I want to also do more directed thinking: to set out on my reading with a question to intentionally research, a hypothesis of my own to investigate. For now I’m adventuring through content, seeing what there is to see. That’s a good place to start; sometimes, now I have the lay of the land, I should also pursue quests.

Activism Political Commentary Society

The news is a drag

Liked I have a secret. I hid it for years. by Amanda Ripley (Unraveled)

Even when things get better, when Covid cases plummet, when Congress actually acts, when a police department get reformed, when greenhouse gases get cut… the framing of the news doesn’t change. It remains the same: Vibrating with anxiety, reflexively disappointed, rarely delighted.

It’s like that friend you have — who always sees the worst in everything. You go out for coffee and feel empty afterward. Finally, you stop going.

I like this comparison — that the news is that person who’s always a drag.

So what would be better? In the essay, I make the case for routinely and systematically reporting out Hope, Agency and Dignity in every story.

Hope and agency for sure; right now the news feels disempowering and hope-draining — and that it’s intended to! The publisher’s goal is the clickbait headline, which often preys on your fears or manipulates you through your sense of identity — but in being so endlessly negative they support the fascists who want you to give up on social justice because there’s no hope, they back the corporations who want you to give up on climate change because there’s no hope, and they further divisions by turning you against the outgroup — whoever isn’t like you.

We need to see signs of agency and hope so we will risk action even when the stakes are high — especially when those in danger are someone unlike us.

See also: don’t read the news