Facebook and delayed gratification

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Back at the blog again, today, after a hiatus of just over a year, my my my.

It’s not that I’ve been writing nothing in the interval. I’ve been pretty busy in fact, writing poems, stories, and a screenplay.

But how much energy has gone into Facebook? Your honor, I must plead guilty.

It’s an addictive pleasure — the immediate gratification one gets from almost instant responses via likes and laughs and comments.

But steadier, deeper, truer writing may not elicit comment, or laughs, or likes any time soon. It may exist, ironically enough, for the ages rather than the moment. I don’t mean that what I write will be or should be read 100 years from now or even 10 days. But that it’s more important than the passing fancy of Facebook and the museum that one keeps there, according to analyses I’ve heard, to one’s ideal self. (One chooses what to record and how to record it, what to include and what to leave out in the interest of burnishing an image.)

Likeable Facebook post
A likeable Facebook post, evidently.

Sure, I can (and well might) go back to Facebook and extract what I’ve written there the last year. It might be a record of witticisms and enthusiasms. (A friend has encouraged me to collect and publish my posts.) It might be of some interest and value. But pursuing larger themes, in more ambitious forms, is something else altogether.

Learning to forego the instant appreciation is necessary for the serious writer. Who do you write for? I sometimes hear. And I can’t readily say. I don’t write, first and finally, for yucks and back or head pats. I write simply to get off my chest something that needs to be said. Or, more accurately, find a way to be said. Not everything one writes will find an instant or appreciative audience. So what. If the writing is of value, it will acquire an audience at some time or other.

The writer trusts this is so. And meanwhile works on in the silence and the dark.

 

 

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