Thoughts Used To Die


It is a luxury to finish a thought — to let it run its course, to watch it languish. A thought isn’t to be mined immediately, turned into content, shared. I know, what idealism. I dislike myself for this line of thought, but that is a thought for another time.

Oof. Being clever is such obfuscation. I’m sorry. But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it? Here we go being clever (if we can even call some lazy wordplay to keep things lively clever) because the industry thrives on wit and unbridled enthusiasm. Or without wit, bite and polemics. The net has become such a safe place. As is always the case, safety requires sacrifice.

But back to thoughts. It is invigorating to reap discourse. The comment section grows. Enter esteem, but nothing gets to die. Thoughts used to die. Perhaps it is because we hate to waste, we recycle, we poach, plagiarize, turn thoughts into theses, into markers of position. I was here. I thought this. Some of us make a living telling people how much we love things by rote.

It’s probably foolish to turn to the web to be alone but it used to be an option. Google didn’t know everything about you. Your name and information wasn’t the key to every door, knocking worked just fine. I remember exploring just to explore, finding ideas to turn into thoughts just for the thrill of thinking, holding ideas as prized possessions.

I’m not very good at a great many things, but online one finds near universal aptitude, always answers to be slotted into schemas. Some of these answers leave me cold — yes, a large part of this is my fault alone, but there remains a noise somewhere in the gears of this increasingly complex, increasingly uniform system. Something is being forced. The fit is unnaturally snug. The answers are now publically held. There is a board, progress to be maintained every quarter though of course, given the context, the quarter is anachronistic — now weekly progress must be seen, if not every day. It’s so very difficult to look for answers elsewhere, to consider the methods and merits of failure, when there are such sure opinions and ready facts.

A day is so many small failures, but shared with such enthusiasm, such joy of discovery. I thought, then you did and then we compared notes and checked sources and snapped off a twig here or there to reach out and invite more. A caption, a lede, some promise that our thoughts will not waste your time, which is indeed precious. But so are these thoughts, harvested so soon. Now, despite my intention to do otherwise I write in twigs.

I’m wrong so often and so is all this accumulated knowledge and I used to have a better compass for that.

These paragraphs are so short.

I’m not being sarcastic when I say I cannot finish this thought, divided though it is already. I’m pretty sure this isn’t just some variation of “woe is me, my internet is gone” because I fear something is gone. In codifying social currency we have done more than jeopardize our privacy, we have sold out our thoughts, our wonder, our enthusiasm. So what do we have? We have thoughts that work for us, define us and go through a process of proliferation in which there are right and wrong answers. Thoughts are curated, find homes. There are specific kinds of discourse which flourish — this essay is purposefully laid out to avoid connecting in the proscribed fashion (though some habits I found hard to break), it doesn’t A-to-B your read all the way down the page, no paragraph really finishes what it sets out to accomplish. I tried to leave the thought as is, watch it wilt, not manufacture some false epiphanies or self-aggrandizement in the manner of a TED talk. Maybe it’s a failure, but it feels good.

No button on this piece.

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