Internet writers can be so full of shit, can’t they? We’re always giving unwanted advice and ideas for people because well, it’s part of the job. And we can. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great pieces that make you laugh, cry, and simply want to hug the writer. Because they created something you have been trying to express; something you can see yourself in. Or just something that made your day a little bit better.
Now before I am any sort of occupation or a person aspiring to be in a vocation, I consider myself a student, a learner – which I am of course, taking the academic path as one of my vocations. But as pretentious as this is going to sound – I am also a student in the school that is life. So while I am in a position to produce knowledge and ideas in writing and teaching and researching, I spend a great deal of my time reading.
And indeed I read fancy books with long titles; I read thinkpieces, short stories, long stories, and listicles, all on this wonderful Internet. I find them all useful for different reasons. And while everyone is so quick to point out how self-important academics can be – something that I think can be true. I think there’s also just as nauseating a notion that counter-cultural thought-leaders and idea generators (a.k.a. Internet writers) are somehow “better” because they didn’t succumb to the institutions of the academy.
And this notion has led us to believe we have the capacity to view the world in all the “correct” ways. And along the way, give all sorts of unwarranted, and quite frankly odious and badly argued perspectives on well, life. This is something that I am always concerned with, as I read and admittedly write countless articles on-end that are really just a function of my reality and observations and experiences in the world. Is there objective truth out there? I believe there is. But I also believe that no human being has complete access to it. So now we deal with good arguments and bad arguments. As I tell my students, an argument is good if it reflects real experiences, and it is bad if it does not.
But I’ll put the bullshit polite speech aside for a moment.
Every damn day on the Internet, I come across pieces telling people what to think, what to do about X and Y, and how to be, and who to be. And while I sure as hell do not know the intentions of the writers – indeed even my own intentions I bring into question at times; I do know that the consequence is a complete negligence of the “real experience” that different people face. And in so doing, there is sometimes a negligence of the privileges that we have to even write on this supposed “free form,” technological space, which in reality is mostly the prerogative of First-Language English speakers who are middle class and at least have a high school degree.
There are articles that will tell you what is most pertinent to your life, that you should be doing and experiencing A, B, C, to feel like a person in the world. Articles that will tell you to date a cupcake and not a chocolate chip cookie; articles that will tell you to write, to travel, to not travel, to shut up, to sit down, etc. It is endless. And while I imagine that there are people who benefit from reading these articles including me, please, please never forget that your reality as the reader and the reality of the writer are not necessarily the same.
I guess with all the ironies present in this piece and I lay myself down any day for being a hypocrite because I will sure as hell give you advice or at least inform you of a different way to see the world; I want you to always know that most of us writing and producing this knowledge – in institutions and in this digital space – are giving educated guesses and well-argued positions at best, and flat-out nonsensical bullshit at worst. Let this be the article to remind you that I DO NOT KNOW YOUR LIFE AND YOUR SITUATION. And neither does any writer claiming to.
So eat a cupcake or don’t. Go to college or grad school or don’t. Write your feelings down or don’t. Travel to Cambodia or Egypt or Italy or don’t. “X” of out of this page if you think I’m full of shit. Or don’t. You have every right to your reality and if you can take the good out of anything someone has to say, then good for you. Good for all of us. I would ARGUE that we’re better off. But don’t let anybody tell you what’s best for you or what should matter to you and all the rest of that noise. They don’t know your life and they don’t know your life path. And anyone who thinks they have all the answers can actually, legitimately, go and kick rocks.