For awhile I have contemplated writing this column but haven’t had the full sensibility to do it yet. I began submitting columns online at age 17, back in the year 2002. I began the process with the hubris of a budding pundit and kept the habit until now, with a declining sense of the value of this kind of writing. Now I am 21 and about 21 percent half-educated.
I now know at least this: I don’t know enough to be weekly offering my opinions as though possessed of some eminence. There is a thousand times more sense in one of Seneca’s ancient moral sketches or Joseph Addison’s essays 300 years ago than in the freshest columns I could put forth on any topic. Wisdom is better nurtured in the memorization of Solomon’s Proverbs than the attempt to produce new proverbs for the age of YouTube and iPod. The Bible is better for the soul than the morning newspaper.
Liberals are the ambitious ones by nature; I think I have a liberal nature. A sense of proportion that results from education and experience moderates opinions and makes a mind conservative. Not that I wasn’t politically conservative at age 17 when I started on this present course, but it was conservatism wild and liberal.
Regret is not the word for lessons learned. I have learned that punditry, for all of its good sense every now and then, is not my calling.
I may write again, soon, but without regularity. And without the hastiness that is the temperament of the Internet.
The Internet is a splendid and dangerous thing. It is good because it spreads information, facilitates communication, breaks some old barriers and introduces some new economic possibilities. It is troubling because, although meant to save us time, it busies us with fresh concerns, attachments and attractions. There are utterly diabolical neighborhoods on the Internet. And information itself isn’t all good; there is much we shouldn’t know about the universe.
Many in our generation live and move and have their being on the Internet, or at least they think so. “Is Google God?” Thomas Friedman asked a year ago. Many of our relationships are Internet relationships, kept alive on Instant Messenger or through Facebook messages. Friendship is now a Facebook status, not a flesh and blood relationship. And I fear that I’ve lived too much on the Internet.
When I was 17 I decided to write online columns because it looked like a way to make a name for myself. I suppose I do have something of an online name now, but that isn’t as valuable to me as I once thought it would be. The valuable things in life, which cannot always be expressed in words until we have experienced them in reality or accepted them on faith, are demanding my attention.
In most activities of life, silence is the prudent thing. If words are to be used, let them be about the Savior of mankind whose incarnation we have just celebrated. Of Him, may we speak as fervently, as humbly, to one soul as we write to thousands.