The Inner Critic can be a real a-hole sometimes.
It prevents us from doing a lot of stuff.
Like speaking our mind about things. Sharing our thoughts with others.
There are always a thousand reasons not to, and the Inner Critic is a master of drawing on them. I picture him like an eight-armed robot whose tentacle arms shoot out to a complex filing system, riffle through a billion filing cards in about a second, and pull out the exact one (or several) that you need to hear to prevent you from taking action.
“Hmm, you sure you want to say something on that subject, Dick?” he says. “After all…”
“You don’t have the relevant credentials”
“Who do you think you are to speak on the matter anyway? Some kind of expert?”
“Somebody smarter than you has probably already said it”
“You’re too young to know about it.”
“You’re too old to have relevant thoughts on the matter.”
“It’s controversial. You’re sure gonna piss some people off!”
“Somebody’s gonna read what you wrote and laugh and call you an idiot. And you know what? They’re probably right.”
“What if someone has a brilliant counter-argument you hadn’t considered? Boy, are you gonna be embarassed when that happens.”
“Are you sure your thoughts are really clear on the matter? Maybe you better think about it some more.”
“Maybe you could post on something safer, less controversial, more… solid.”
“Do you really have the time for this right now? Don’t you have more important things to focus on?”
Man. You know what? Screw that eight-armed robotic dick.
The reasons not to always outweigh the reasons to.
Whenever you share something, there’s potential for pain. When you factor in the Internet, it’s basically a foregone conclusion.
People will disagree. They will criticize. They will ridicule. They will laugh.
People are dicks.
Especially Internet people. (Sub-species homo sapiens disputatious.)
Writing, whether it’s for art or for argument, is an exercise in vulnerability.
Yeah, vulnerability sucks. It’s inviting pain.
But you know what’s worse? Letting your thoughts die inside you.
What if, amidst all the painful criticism and negativity, you connected with one other like-minded soul out there, who needed to hear exactly what you had to say?
What if they needed to hear it but instead heard nothing but silence?
Or worse, they heard something else they didn’t need to hear.
For every thought you hide away from the world, there are ten other bolder folks who will throw their own thoughts out there, and those might or might not be good for the world. This is how cultures are made, for good or for ill. Perhaps if your thoughts had been punching their weight out there things would be different.
Something to think about.
Cosider all this an argument in favor of writing quick and dirty posts.
I’m increasingly of the opinion that blogging doesn’t really work otherwise.
You’re not an expert? Who cares? You know what so-called “experts” are? People who have repeated their message so many times in so many ears and on so many TV programs or TED talks that they are regarded as authorities on the matter.
Key word: “regarded”. That’s right—“expertise” is in the eye of the beholder.
More true in our age than ever before.
(Plus, you are absolutely an expert of what you know. Nobody carries that credential but you. Congratulations, Professor. Now teach us.)
It’s controversial? Great. When people are pissed off it’s a sure sign something needed saying. You know what makes people mad? When their most cherished beliefs are challenged. People’s cherished, unquestioned beliefs are precisely what created the world around us. Are we living in a land of unicorns and rainbows? Clearly there are some cherished beliefs out there that need challenging.
Start pissing some people off. Please.
Your thoughts are not entirely clear on what you’re writing about? Great. Guess what? You are afflicted with an extremely rare and beautiful disease: honesty. You are honest enough to say that matters are complex and the solutions not so obvious. People will pick up on that. They will identify with it. Maybe even admire it. They will welcome it as a refreshing change from all the folks out there who do claim to have all the answers, have done all the thinking for you, and all you need do is support their candidacy or donate to their cause or buy their product for a low, low price.
Plus, you know what? Writing brings clarity. Conversation brings clarity. Maybe your quick and dirty posts are just questions that need posing, for which you have no answers. Yet. But by asking the right questions, talking with others, you develop your thinking over time, and it becomes the message that people need to hear.
Who knows, maybe your collected thoughts over time become a book you never even set out to write. Through sharing and exploring your thoughts, without your even being aware of it, the damn thing wrote itself.
An appealing thought, no?
You’ve heard this before: don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.
But you’ve never really believed it have you? Of course you want perfection! You want to publish perfect, polished, unassailable prose that will set the Internet on its ear!
And this is why you will never, ever hit the “Publish” button.
And why your thoughts will die inside you.
Instead, try this: throw up a quick and dirty post. Imperfect. Unpolished. Full of holes you can drive a goddamn cargo container vessel through. Let the criticism and negativity and abuse come pouring in.
And perhaps, just maybe, a connection with a like-minded soul.
Perhaps the beginning of something big.
If that happens, I’m betting you’ll find your Inner Critic uncharacteristically quiet on the matter.
And you can tell him where he can go shove his tentacles.
(P.S. This was a quick and dirty post. If you don’t like it, well, too bad.)
(P.P.S. There are two spelling mistakes in the post. Can you spot them?)