Sometime last week someone tweeted that people make the mistake of writing things that are interesting to themselves – they should write stuff that people want to read. I think that is an unfortunate view, because the world would be so much lesser if everyone only wrote about mainstream topics and no one wrote about niche interests. That view is valid if we’re trying to make a living through our writing…but in this current world, there are very few places in the world one can be truly themselves, and our personal websites should be considered a sacred place where we can be so.
I was clearing my RSS feeds that were accumulated over the course of over ten years, and it was genuinely saddening to me how many websites or blogs do not exist anymore. Because of its digital nature, websites are treated as transient, fleeting. But they have this power to affect people, to open rare windows into people’s personal thoughts and private lives. Social media has somewhat cheapened this because of its velocity and noise. But once upon a time, the internet was a magical place where I derived so much joy, comfort and inspiration from people’s blogs.
I still think the internet is a magical place, just that the magic is buried among the noise. While cleaning my RSS feeds I happened to read this beautiful piece. I cannot precisely say why it is beautiful to me, but if I could take a guess perhaps it is the way the writer took what he consumed, thought and felt deeply about them, and expressed those sentiment through picking words and weaving them into sentences the way only he can. Or at least it made me feel that way – that only a person like the writer could have written this piece: it was a piece that was produced through his lens, his filters, his worldview, his language arsenal. A piece writing about a theme everyone is concerned about, but managed to sound profoundly emotive.
It made me want more. Where can I find writing like this? Who are the bloggers writing like this these days? They are probably buried in substack somewhere. Maybe it is too much to ask for writing like this to exist on a public blog for free.
I myself have learned that the force of personal expression must be fiercely guarded. This world is always tempting us to sway. To dilute our voices, our interests, so we can feel like we fit in. It was also on twitter that I found this piece by C.S Lewis on the dangers that come with wanting to fit in and also the reward if only we can break out of it:
The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.C.S. Lewis, The Inner Ring
I like discovering esoteric gems like that even if I don’t fully appreciate it. That is why periodically I still comb twitter as if I was on a beach with a metal detector, even though I have social media fatigue. It is a lot of work to sit in the noise, an effort that is worth it whenever I come across something that changes the way I feel or think about the world.
We are 7 billion+ micro-realities interacting with each other:
it occured to me that everyone’s inner world is an unmatched micro-reality on its own (it is impossible to have two exact same psyches), which means that there’s 7 billion plus interacting micro-realities walking around in this world. Wow. We affect each other’s reality by the quality of our own inner-reality.– dayone, 1 Sep 2018
The things I choose to write, to observe, to document, to analyse, the way I string together my words, the words I choose — these are all outcomes of every single thing I have experienced in my life. No two people can have the same experience. No two people can interpret their experiences the exact same way. You are the only person in the world who can make something that comes out of your own inner-reality, an outcome of the unique mix-mash of the experiences you have and the media you consume.
That is beautiful and precious, it is not something that can be replicated. It is an opportunity to allow another person to experience you, to experience your inner world, your imagination, in a way that is not possible in a physical interaction. The internet is a place where we as clumsy human beings can translated into art, and I wish the spirit to encourage personal expression (within legal and ethical limits) can be safeguarded.
this is a space collating my thoughts on personal websites, and also collections of personal websites I appreciate.