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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Thought Required When We're Forced To Measure Our Words

Back in the day, before computers, typewriters, and even ball-point pens, people used pen and ink to capture their thoughts. Ideas. Creations. Sitting here, I can fly across my keyboard and type out dozens of words a minute, whereas in the past, each word required dipping metal into a pot of ink. Each stroke required deliberate thought because the task of putting it onto parchment didn't allow for superfluous ponderings (like using the word superfluous). It required precision and intent and careful consideration. Ink and parchment were precious and didn't allow the vomiting of opinions and ideas to which our present conveniences and media open the gateway.

I see this as both a negative and a positive. Anyone (like me!) can sit down at their computer and blog into the world wide web without pause, reconsideration, or even a grammatical or moral filter. The news media, which used to be limited to thirty minutes in the evening hour, is now a twenty-four hour talking head, love fest where whatever your political view is can be validated and explored ad nauseam no matter what the hour. Yes, we have access to information and opinions that we've never had before. And this is a good thing in that we can listen to and contemplate ideologies that we otherwise wouldn't. But this non-stop feed heightens our responsibility to consume this vast medium with a much stronger filter. We can't simply listen to pundits and adopt their opinions. Because there are SO MANY. We must think about our own values, priorities, and thoughts before we simply push a like button, a hashtag, or nod our heads.

I embrace the ease of my laptop. The internet. The vast landscape of ideas that open with a few mouse clicks. But I also miss the deliberation of a world where each word required a dip into a valued vat of ink. The work required in each stroke. The literal and metaphorical worth of each letter. Each thought. Because forcing such reflection in presenting opinion doesn't allow for empty words or thoughtless rhetoric.

So let us each pause and consider what is truly important to us. Then, having done so, use our powerful words and precious time to express that which is most important.

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