Are we losing the art of writing?

Case in point … the sheer effort it’s taking for me to sit here and type these words on the page …

The willpower that’s needed to keep my fingers from straying to open a new tab and just consume consume consume…

Social media, maybe. A blog. A book. A conversation with someone. But writing?

I haven’t done this for so long that I feel at a complete loss. These words come out of my brain a sludgy mess. It’s been so long since I’ve sat down and written an actual blog post – an actual substantial piece of writing – outside of schoolwork.

Why?

Do I really have nothing to say?

I’ve brought up the idea in my previous post that perhaps I’ve stopped writing because writing was an outlet for loneliness. Now I have actual people to word vomit my ideas out to instead of a phantom audience in the blogosphere. That may be a factor. But at the same time, when I explore ideas with friends, we don’t always go into great depth about them.

So I feel like by writing less for my own sake, I’ve started thinking less for my own sake. And that’s a scary thought … and a sad one.

I used to have plenty to say … what happened?

I used to have plenty that I thought about … what happened?

I’d venture to say, yes, I do still have an abundance of thoughts. But where are they all going?

Many people today might blame social media for this. They might say it’s encouraging a culture of mindless consumption … zombie brains … pointless scrolling and clicking. I’ve always disagreed. I feel like this is a demonisation of “the new generation” and a naive wish for “the way things used to be”. Granted, I am one of the “millennials” and fully admit to bias. But recently I’ve been feeling some truth to the blame on social media. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that it’s inherently bad. But it’s true that sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr … they make it so easy to just consume without having to think. The content is short and sweet, which isn’t a bad thing, but again it’s so much easier than reading a huge post or (even harder) writing a huge post. As human beings, we’re naturally lazy. Of course, if something easy and entertaining is within reach, we’ll choose it, rather than something difficult and entertaining.

Now, that is operating on the idea that, let’s say, writing posts or massive amounts of thinking is healthy. At first glance, you may think “how can it NOT be a good thing?” We all need to think a bit more, don’t we?

…But if you think about it a bit more (HAHA thinking again), why does it matter so much? Let people live the lives they want to live. If they become a little lazy … so what? We’re going to make it through anyway. When the situation arises when we need to work, we’ll work. It’s also true that I find myself writing and thinking a lot when I’m alone and I gradually feel sadder and sadder, compared to when I hang out more with other people, which involves less of this kind of abstract thinking and writing. And I’m actually a happier person for it. I just really don’t know if I can make a judgment on how much people “ought” to think…

I will say one more thing – writing this post and these ideas has reminded me of writing essays for English class. Some of the ideas remind me of the “wider links to society and human nature” that we’re always encouraged to make when analysing our English texts. And this has made me realise that there are so many fascinating aspects of human nature … everything about the human spirit and what makes us ourselves is a beautiful, tragic, and amazing thing.

But when I write these essays, so often I’m just going through the motions. I’m making these “links” to societal issues because they sound good and right and they’re required. But they used to fascinate me. I feel I’m losing my sense of wonder at life. I’m losing my sense of something beyond the everyday. I feel like I’m becoming a different person. Are these thoughts right now even my thoughts? Or are they the shadow thoughts of a person like who I used to be … that I’m merely trying to mirror right now?

So maybe it’s not a bad idea that I’ve been behind on this leisurely thinking/writing habit. At the same time, I do feel that there’s a depth of meaning to this habit. I feel it makes my everyday life into something more. And now that I’ve more or less let the habit drop, I’m losing the skill of writing which has always been so central to who I am.

Cue identity crisis number 101.

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