I spend a great deal of time waiting on train platforms and at bus stops, and as the days are now sufficiently cold enough that reading and writing have become impractical, I’ve taken to listening to podcasts again. I’ve got a bit of a backlog, seeing as how I stopped listening to podcasts for a few years, but I’m catching up by speeding up audio and trimming silence. This has been pointed out to me as something that provokes anxiety in others, but I don’t particularly mind it. My brain has always operated at a pace faster than human speech, so it actually works out quite well for me.
Each of the podcasts that I listen to is catered toward a different audiences, and operates around different themes, so really, it depends on what particular mood I’m in that I want to listen to which podcast in particular. One podcast I’ve been listening to a great deal is The Allusionist, which in episode 24 has a guest speaker point out something that has been resonating in my subconscious for a while, the idea that with the advent of computers and things like Microsoft Word and Google Docs, words have become that much more disposable.
I have, in fact written about writing things longhand and how it necessitates deliberation and a kind of care that is not readily apparent when typing something on a laptop. And I do think that there is definitely a benefit to the practice, especially when I reflected on that key idea from the podcast, namely the disposability of the words, which is something that I hadn’t fully considered. I mentioned the ease with which we can copy and paste of course, but what I left out and what I couldn’t fully articulate before, was the lightning fast consequences of how we can make and erase words.
Take, for example, Twitter. There are plenty of times that I go to tweet something, type it up, and simply chose to delete the tweet without ever posting. Those words are then lost to the void, but honestly, some things are better left unsaid (that said please do follow me @Talia_Franks).
All the same, what the people in that episode of the podcast were really getting at is how writing on a computer versus writing things down interfaces with the built-in filters of our brains. This really spoke to me, because one of the main differences that they address is the private physical diary versus the personal online blog. Given that this is itself a personal blog, and I also keep personal journals, I think that y’all can surmise why there is an interest on my part. In the end, at least for me, it all comes down to audience.
Personally, I never assume that anything is private anymore, unless it is in my own brain, and even that might not be true for much longer. So when I write in a personal diary, I often imagine it as if I am writing to the future biographers and/or archaeologists/anthropologists who will stumble across my collected works and prepare to tell my life story. (I don’t have delusions of grandeur at all, what are you talking about?) The point is, I’m always writing with an audience in mind. Of course, if I listened to Walter Benjamin, it wouldn’t do to take the audience into account, but that’s a whole other can of worms. (In case you missed it, you can read some of my thoughts about that particular essay of Benjamin’s, The Task of the Translator, here in a previous blog post).
The thing is, when I write for this blog, I’m really writing for myself. I consider this website to be a space where I can reflect on my personal philosophies, and keep record of my thoughts in order to hold myself accountable. I’m glad that I have readership and that others get something out of my musing, but in the end I write for me, because I have to or else the words will stay bottled up inside and actually add to the pressure and stress of my everyday life. Basically y’all are benefiting from my brain not being able to shut itself off. That said, distraction and inconvenient inspiration are at times irritating, especially when my thesis is due in less than three weeks.