Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Irrelevance of Relevance

This last month, I passed the thousand blog post mark.  At an average of three hundred or so words per blog, that's a whole bunch of writing.  It's not quite the 560,000 words of War and Peace yet, but more than halfway there.

This blogging thing is a good discipline to have.  If you want to be a writer, then you have to 1) read and 2) write.  Don't think about writing, or consider writing, or talk about writing.  Write.  Do it whenever you have time.  Do it whenever you have even the tiniest flash of inspiration.  Just write.

Realizing that I've got over a thousand discrete thoughts that I've publicly shared, I've lately begun going back through my archives and reposting the ones that are still relevant through my #twitter account.  Way I figure it, I've amassed so many posts that I'm like the NSEA Protector, hurling itself through cyberspace towing a veritable minefield of content.  

Those with Galaxy Quest ears, let them hear.

That exercise--of going back over the writing of the last five years, and picking out what still has meaning--has been fascinating.

Why?  Not because I'm so amazing.  Nope.  It's because so much of what I've written in the last five years is now pretty much meaningless.  About one in three of the blog posts still have purchase, or seem worth re-reading.  Those fall into a couple of categories.  

Stories, where I have used this blog to post them, are still solid.  Narratives really do have staying power.  Slice of life vignettes, those brief impressions of existence that capture the poignancy of human life?  Those are still worth reading, because life is still life.  Big picture thinking, posts that talk about what it means to be faithful or alive?  Still good.

But there are so many posts that are a reaction to some event or online kerfuffle, that weigh in on the issue du jour.  They were relevant then.  They are, now, utterly meaningless.

That got me to wondering about the difference between being reactive and being creative, and of the strange irrelevance of relevance.

There is a powerful tendency, in this social media era, to want to leap onto whatever #hashtag is trending right now.  It's part of our culture of fevered, grasping self-promotion.  You have to weigh in, to have your say, to ride that wave of chatter to acclaim like you're surfing a huge roller of relevance.

Only then the next wave comes in.  And the next one.  And the one after that.

It's one advantage of having this medium, writ into the virtual world like the living memory of our story.

At some point it dawns on us, if we bother to sift through the story of our lives, that so much of what we think is pressing, vital, and urgent is not that at all.

Meaningless, meaningless, as Ecclesiastes might say.