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Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Reading & Writing

I've been reading a lot this past year. Not just books, but a lot of print available online. From news reports to analysis to editorials to editorial cartoons. But I don't feel a strong urge to blog about issues and events that I feel strongly about - and that puzzles me. Because when I started blogging, everything I saw or felt had a blog-worthiness angle to it. There were times when I saw a movie just to write about it. And then gradually I lost my motivation to write about them though I have retained my appetite for movies. (I still continue to see 1 or 2 every week). I've been quite interested in world news for about a dozen years now and have a decent grasp of countries and their relationships. But I'm not pumped up to write about what I'm actively reading, informing and educating myself.

Currently I'm occupied with what's happening in Iran (general public protesting election results), how important freedom for that young generation is (average age of Iran is less than 30), the role of technology in mobilizing mass movements (twitter, facebook) how Mousavi himself wouldn't be radically different from Ahmedinejad (of course, all candidates are approved by the Islamic Assembly of Experts), a subdued American response (Obama hasn't said much), future of oil prices (obviously), impact on it's repressed neighbors (Saudi Arabia, Syria)....

I think it's mostly because if someone wanted to read about these, they'd go to experts like The Economist or NYT. And I don't want to regurgitate what's already said. Do I have strong, interesting, original opinions about some events? Yes, sometimes. But mostly I'm just under-informed to have a concrete opinion. I feel like watching CNN or reading an analysis isn't enough to write "I think they should..." Because I'm never in 'their' shoes. When I read 'From Beirut to Jerusalem' by Tom Friedman I felt an assurance because the author had been a reporter, he's seen action, he's talked with leaders, he's seen people suffer the decisions of their politicians, he knows the history of the place. Of course, I'm not a reporter and I cannot hold myself to his standards. My access to first-hand information is very limited.

This insecurity that I'm not coming up with quality content, I think I've written about it previously on this blog, arises when I see extremely half-baked blogs on the web. People recommending 'solutions' to political/racial/social problems that a rat wouldn't consider. When I read and smirk and move on, I also think about what I've written before on that or a similar topic. What would someone, better informed and having a sharper mind, think of my piece? Should I always begin with a disclaimer that says "I'm not an expert and these ideas of mine could quite possibly strike the reader as crazy"? Why so apologetic, can't the 'expert' cut some slack to me... No, because I'm not cutting any slack to that sophomoric blogger. I ask "when the internet is abound with resources why not do some basic research?"

I've for long, never taken my intellectual laziness seriously. Now, I'm confronting it. Reading a two-page article about the financial crisis may be just enough to say a sentence or two in a party. But people smarter than me are going to know where I stand the instant I mouth those words, just how I nod at people who don't know shit about anything but still talk about it. While I'm always a fan of people smarter than me, I'm beginning to realize that getting smarter is not all that difficult. I think I've rambled enough for today.

2 comments:

Freehit said...

"Do I have strong, interesting, original opinions about some events? Yes, sometimes. But mostly I'm just under-informed to have a concrete opinion." - You've stolen my words.

But I'm sure that you'll agree that a blog needn't necessarily be informative.

Prasad Venkataramana said...

Siva,
It was an impulsive, a somewhat-rambling post. A blog is what the author decides it to be. So, if I choose to exhibit emptiness, it will be. But that was what I was decrying, I want to hold my posts to a higher standard.