The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Talking Points Memo recently addressed a misconception related to the lack of comment from a blogger:
You've just misjudged how I run the site and why I do so. I don't write about everything I think. I don't write just to say that X is good or Y is bad. I write when I feel I have something I can add to a discussion, and only then...

The online world has lots of vociferous me-too-ism, going on record saying in fist-clenched tones things I think we all know we all feel. That's fine; I just don't like doing that. Once, when I wrote nothing about a rapid series of court decisions touching on gay rights issues, one reader wrote in and attacked me mercilessly for being homophobic since clearly, he reasoned, I had judged these to be of no importance. He was wrong; and you've made the same misjudgment. This isn't a publication of record. And you're not in a position to judge what I think based on my silence.
This has been on my mind lately, regarding my own updates here. This has especially been the case with a couple of recent newsworthy items: Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan, and, closer to home, the racial violence in southside St. Petersburg. After working both items around my noggin for a while, I decided not to mention them at all in this space. I'm not sure that I didn't have anything significant to add in both cases--although that was probably more the case with the St. Pete story--as much as a feeling that I wasn't going to do a good enough job in expressing my feelings ("good enough" as determined by my personal standards). It did occur to me, while I took a pass on these and other items, that my lack of comment, in and of itself, conveyed something.

In a related vein, I get a similar feeling when I don't follow up on something I've written about in the past. I don't think previous commentary obligates me to revisit the same news subject, or even general topic, unless I'm especially inclined to do so. I'll do it as the mood strikes me, but just as often, I'll feel like I've said what I wanted to say the first time around, and am done with it. Yet sometimes, I do wonder, if briefly, whether or not I should acknowledge any further developments, and depending on the circumstances, whether or not declining to do so is fair.

The policy expressed at Talking Points pretty well mirrors mine. I'd emphasize the part about this blog not being a publication of record: It's my outlet, and there's no intent here to be comprehensive, or balanced--or anything, really, aside from a medium to jot down what strikes me as noteworthy. The criteria for that is on a sliding scale that slides wildly from day to day. If you're looking for all the facts, you need to stop reading this blog--stop reading any blog--and find a true, dedicated news source, whether it's online or print or other.

I'm not pretending that this has been an issue with any regular Critical "I" readers; I haven't gotten any feedback to that effect, anyway. I suppose this very post is a testament to the dynamic described above.