Something to say

I miss writing. I used to take great pleasure in it. I’d even say I was pretty good at it. Writing carried me through school and university. It has helped me be effective in my working life. It was a rewarding hobby. But right now, I’m struggling to come up with something to say.

It feels like the world has changed, and it’s changed me with it. Maybe I’m just getting old. I used to love the apparent permanence of the published word, the at least potential immortality of it, the capacity to change the world. The legacy it might one day leave behind after senility and death have exacted their inescapable dues. But of late I just can’t muster the activation energy required even to begin writing, or to begin contemplating what I might write.

I still feel the urge to communicate, but I find myself preferring to talk with colleagues in person, even if it means our interchanges become little more than ephemeral vibrations in the air, leaving behind only a private, fragile impression in our minds.

And when there’s nobody to talk to I turn to Twitter even though it is just about the worst platform imaginable for the exposition of ideas. In its favor: the barrier to publication is extremely low, and there is no shortage of engagement with others to be found. The negative: that engagement is often of the worst kind. Nevertheless, for all its flaws, Twitter is immediate and just sufficiently gratifying that once you’ve blurted out a half-formed, typo-ridden, uneditable utterance, you might find your original communicative impulse satisfied enough that you’ll never take the time to turn it into a more polished and complete work in the form of a blog post.

What little energy I can marshal to put things on permanent record, I dedicate it to writing code. The cryptographically identified SHA-1 hashes in a Git repo are satisfyingly immutable and permanent (collision attacks notwithstanding). The global, redundant distribution of open source code across multiple repos is the closest thing to perpetuity I can expect to obtain; long after I’m gone and my AWS fees stop getting paid, after GitHub or Bitbucket dies and morphs into a something else entirely, my side projects are probably going to exist somewhere as clones or derivative works — at least, the more useful or interesting ones will.

But I’m not kidding myself. Most of my creative and engineering efforts will fall prey to the inexorable march of entropy within a time frame that is utterly insignificant on a cosmological scale. It’s not so much the story that matters, but the telling. The story is doomed to almost immediate eradication and ultimately means nothing. The telling, however, has meaning in the here and now. It may be ephemeral, but it’s only through the lens of impact on the present moment that it can have any value at all.

All of which is to say that I’d like to find something to say again. I might have to take some time off Twitter, even if it means posting here alone where nobody is listening.