Whoa! It’s different around here. I’ve caved and finally gone dark text on light background and, holy balls, is this a serif font?!
Anyway, I launched this thing way back in 2005. The anniversary was in December actually, and normally this might be an anniversary type post, but on that day I was battling a sore throat and nasty chills, glaring incredulously at my negative Covid test. I took another the next day which was positive, so that was a thing. The moral of the story is don’t spend Christmas with anyone. So, screw it, I’m thinking about this now, so here it is in June.
Other than the redesign process involving a lot of revisiting old material, I’ve seen a pattern among other blogs or even social media accounts I know. When I launched this thing, I was 22 years old. Back then, we were into George W Bush’s second term and couldn’t imagine a worse president. I firmly identified as Christian. I was living with family. I didn’t have a car or even a license. Hell, I even used to be pro-life! Flash forward to now, and I just turned 40 last month, I’m solidly secular humanist and decidedly irreverent toward faith, two of the three people I was living with are now deceased, my car is 16 years old and has been on its fair share of adventures, I think my current views on abortion rights are clear, and as I write this the Orange Thing is being indicted on 37 charges of mishandling classified documents among literally everything else about him. Back then I was also in my first term on NYRA’s Board of Directors, a role I would hold until 2015, as well as forum moderator, in its heyday at the time. I’m no longer with NYRA, and the forum has been gone for over a decade, but I’m still a youth rights supporter through and through.
So for sure both I and the world as a whole have changed. Why then do I keep writing to the blog I started so long ago? Even if posting has slowed. That brings me to the titular musings. Let’s begin with…
Coping with the past/younger self
I don’t like talking about a younger self as if that’s a separate unrelated person. There’s a direct line from past self to present self. I understand the urge to do that, because, holy crap, younger you was just so cringe, amirite?! So you distance yourself to maintain an image of integrity for the present self. Trouble is, because there in fact is that direct line, somewhere in there you made some change to “not cringe” (an assessment your future self may disagree with). And by distancing yourself, you erase that change or at least don’t indicate you even understand what changed. Maybe you didn’t actually change at all.
But lately I’ve seen blogs that were prolific years ago whose writers shut them down because they “outgrew” it or because they cringe so hard at their old postings. I mean, if that’s what they prefer, fine. It got me thinking about my own, and how that is not what I prefer. How do I feel about my old posts from the first couple of years of this thing? Depends on the post. Which brings me to…
Blogs are editable
When you publish a book, it’s printed, it’s out there, and you can’t change a thing anymore. Maybe make a new edition at a later time, but the first edition is there and static. This is not the case with blogs and other electronic media. As such, if an old post is in retrospect unsatisfactory or unacceptable, it can come down. I’ve taken a lot of posts down, for so many different reasons. And that’s okay. Ones that are still up have been edited at times. Also okay. Of course, I never want to be too heavy handed with the editing, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment, but it’s often necessary. I used to make certain word choices I shouldn’t have, and at the time I would defend it as I don’t mean it in a derogatory way or whatever. But then I didn’t feel that was any excuse anymore, so I went through and reworded things. In one case, I took down a post I otherwise liked because its intro and sort of its title were insulting to fat people, something I wasn’t as careful about back then as I should have been. Because I do not want to engage in or promote fatphobia, it had to go. I posted something I shouldn’t have, I realized it, so I corrected it, as I was able. But why would I have posted that or anything else objectionable to begin with? Given I didn’t actually mean to be as derogatory as such word choices would suggest? Comes back to understanding the link between past and present selves, which means…
We’re all influenced by someone or something. It could be someone’s direct influence or just an imagined one, but there’s still that influence. We often don’t even realize its full extent until we’re looking back on it later. What this means is, who are we trying to imitate or impress? Who and what is in our general orbit subconsciously instructing us on how to be, for better or worse? When looking at that line from past to present self, this is what’s likely to make the biggest difference. Oftentimes, a present self confuses maturity for merely having different influences. Could be a ranty friend. Could be a stand-up comedian you enjoy at a time. A show you watch. An opinionated relative. Aspects of your whole upbringing you need to unlearn.
Obviously, influences are needed for good, as well. You can’t write unless you read writings and are forming ideas from them.
Snapshots of the past
Though I’ve taken many posts down, many more remain. Are a lot of them “cringe”? Sure. But how is that a bad thing? I just chuckle like “haha, yeah, that’s what I used to say”. As I mentioned briefly above, though I edit objectionable content out of old posts, if I’ve otherwise deemed the post fine to stay public, I leave the rest intact. Because even though the blog is still an editable thing even a decade and a half after something was published, there’s a contemporaneous authenticity in my original words as well.
In fact, if nothing else, that there is a major value in this 17-year-old blog. There’s so much history here. So much of what happened with NYRA back in the day. So much has happened in politics and sports. So many fascinating news items that are totally forgotten now. Or just something so very “back then”. There’s two posts from 2006 about MySpace, for God’s sake! Speaking of which…
My posting frequency has decreased over time, but that’s normal and expected. Blogs like this one are kind of a dying breed, and that could very well be the real reason some of the blogs I mentioned earlier have been ending or coming down. When I started this thing, other than perhaps the NYRA forums, this was my main place for expression. I linked to new posts in my NYRA forums signature, and friends there came over here to read my new content and left comments (before I turned comments off some years back). Then I got on Facebook and then on Twitter, and those were better places for quick thoughts placed right in front of the people I intended to see them.
There were a couple of results of this. One was that Sure, Why Not? would stick with longer form writings for the most part, while on friends-locked social media could go quick rants or personal gripes that really weren’t appropriate for public visibility. But the trade-off was that these longer form blog posts weren’t being seen, since I’d have to post a link somewhere that no one cared enough to click on because it’d be easier to read what I just posted in its entirety as a status update. Plus Facebook doesn’t like posts with external links (you may notice those are missing from Facebook Memories).
Of course, that’s another nice thing about this blog. It’s a space not owned by Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk.
Quantity and/or Quality
Aside from this being my pre-social media ranting space, another driver of post total has been the month of December. For several years, I had a tradition of posting every day in December. Goes back to that influence thing, where one of my friends had a site that did not update at all in December, and this was my way of countering it. On the one hand, this forced me out of writer’s block so I got something posted. The momentum often even carried into January because I was on a roll. The drawback is it’s not very conducive to post quality, so December posts included a lot of half-formed thoughts and other filler. But there were good things as well, and even imperfectly practicing something still develops skill.
You never know who you reach and how
A few times someone has told me one of my posts was a favorite of theirs, and in the back of my mind I’m like “really? that one? you liked that garbage?” And of course these are just the ones who ever tell me. There have been times when I discovered someone on Twitter or Tumblr I did not know had shared one of my posts. And that’s just what I happened to stumble on by chance. Who knows how many others?
I’m super appreciative and flattered. But it also makes me really self-conscious. Sure, I’m posting publicly and I share the links, but there’s still that feeling of “wait, someone is actually reading something I wrote?! WITH THEIR EYES?!” But I find I need to rein this in, especially when looking at much older posts and deciding what should stay or go, and try not to axe a post just because of general self-consciousness. Because, really, the self-consciousness doesn’t know or care about whether a post is one of the “good” ones or not. And, it seems, neither does the audience, or at least they’ll have different ideas about that.
Hell, the aforementioned blogs referring to certain older content of theirs as “cringe” has puzzled me, as I’m sitting here like “what do you mean? that one was pretty good actually!”
In fact, maybe it helps to recognize that all creative works are inherently flawed. Even the most popular, the most critically praised, the most profitable. But we love them or hate them or are indifferent anyway.
But even so…
Making oneself proud
The self-consciousness has nothing to do with content quality and everything to do with feelings of exposure and vulnerability and all that Brené Brown jazz. Even when it does come to content quality, it’ll never be perfect and even if it seems fine it may end up aging poorly. Sometimes you just never know and that’s not always predictable or within your control.
But one should do right by what is within control.
One thing I regrettably wasn’t careful about early on but have held myself to strictly in the past decade or so is that I don’t make unfounded claims. So much wrong with the internet and the world itself is people spouting off on things they don’t understand as if it’s fact and that’s how misinformation runs rampant and does its damage. I might be hyperbolic. I might be sarcastic. I might exaggerate in a ranty way I might hope is obvious that it’s a stylistic exaggeration. But if I’m going to talk about something that happened, I can’t just say “yeah, I heard about this thing somewhere”. I have to stop and before I so much as start typing anything about it I’d better look it up and link to the relevant info. Make sure it’s even true. And this has been a good thing, as I often found I learned of something in a limited context, where the bigger picture changed my view of it or what I wanted to say about it.
Gathering information has also led to some posts I’m the most proud of. There’s my posts about the deadly locations, the weird trees, and everything else from that particular week. There’s my recap of the 2018 midterm elections (though I regret I wasn’t able to put anything similar together for 2020 or 2022).
I don’t know who or what reads this thing these days. Maybe just a lot of Chinese and Russian bots seeing if my content is acceptable to their repressive regimes. In which case, hey bots! Fuck Vladimir Putin! Fuck Xi Jinping! Okay, so now not even them.
Whatever the case, despite self-consciousness or cringe, I intend to keep this thing up, so I’d better make sure what’s here is something I feel good about. I’ve got a pretty new design and some decent posts in recent years (if few and far between), so for now… good enough.