i didn’t want to do this. i didn’t. in fact, i have been avoiding it for many months now. but i failed. obviously. miserably. in the end, the need to have a space for introspection, reflection, analysis and expression won over the fear of exposing myself -not to the potential readers (few and far between), but to the whole world wide web (the internet)… to the mere fact of being online.
now, i can visualize you scratching the back of your head, wondering why you subscribed to this newsletter in the first place (thank you), why you are wasting your time reading this email -and what’s wrong with me (be honest). because you probably see nothing wrong with being online and you don’t see why i chose this format in that case. is there a plausible explanation or is this simply my latest eccentricity yet? or both?
bear with me, please. i think there is a rational explanation for all this. at least, it makes sense in my head. it does. but the question is if that explanation will survive the test of the printed word:
i tried to do something like this before. offline. a few months ago, i tried to write something like a journal -my own space to think and write. in a visit to muji i bought a set of beautiful, minimalistic notebooks that invited to sit down and jot down notes, articulate ideas, make connections, elaborate theories or write freely. i even found a set of stabilo markers that would work wonders when it came to finding my flow in front of the blank pages.
at first i was optimistic because last summer i started using one of those notebooks to design my plan for the school year, starting to program the month of october, taking notes, drawing diagrams or thinking activities for the first week of class. and it worked! i could do it -the analog way! i was elated… until i tried opening a new notebook for my journal. that was a completely different ball game. one that i was destined to lose.
and in the back of my mind i knew it (i know myself): for me, writing is a purely mechanical act. all the work, all the effort, is done before i even sit down to write. it’s done in my head, while i take a walk, while i cook, or while i pretend to be taking a siesta. it’s then when i am writing, really. and, funny enough, when i tried to see myself putting all that down into one of those beautiful muji notebooks… well, i just didn’t see it. it was not to happen.
but when i finally surrendered, when i finally acknowledged that in front of a screen i would be fine, able to write again, everything fell into place: the idea for the newsletter, the title, the format, the range of topics that i wanted to cover… it was like a dam waiting for the gates to open and thus burst free.
why a newsletter? because blogs are sooooo 2004. because i had already blogged in the past (been there, done that). because i had read about the blissfully slow world of internet newsletters -three years ago, but it had stuck with me. i was hooked. i knew this is what i wanted to do. how i wanted to do it. and when i accepted it there was no turning back. finally.
so, why the reticence to be online? or, if so, why not write a journal on a screen using an app such as the beautifully designed day one (that i have used in the past, and that i can recommend wholeheartedly)? those are two very different questions, and yet the answers -in my case- are closely intertwined:
i guess that i am all too aware of the risks of being online: i probably read too many newspaper articles about online privacy. i probably read too many books about the impact of technology on our lives. i probably watch too many movies where the protagonist looks like edward snowden. i probably worry too much about concepts such as surveillance capitalism -a society where if you don’t pay for the product it’s because you are the product.
and thus i withdrew from all social media: first from facebook (that i had never really liked in the first place, but felt peer-pressured to join), then from google+, instagram, twitter and linkedin (which i found most useful). because i felt like i was doing their work (providing their platforms with the content that justifies their existence and that is used to make a profit) and forfeiting my privacy. at the same time. a lose-lose proposition for me.
but i missed the connections. the interaction. the exchange of ideas. the possibility of learning from others, of hearing about their points of view, of listening to what they had to say about the topics that were of interest to me. and i wanted to do it away from the spotlight, from the noise associated with platforms such as twitter (that do allow hatred and vitriol to run amok). i wanted something more intimate, more conducive to the digital equivalent of a personal conversation around a cup of coffee. slow and personal, even old-fashioned. just like email. just like a newsletter.
and here i am. thinking long and hard about topics that interest me and exposing myself to prying eyes -as if all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. i just hope that i didn’t make a mistake. because i already know that this is nothing but a failure. even if failure may be nothing but a blessing in disguise.