On using words

I have an obsession with efficiency, one of those obsessions you don’t notice for years because it’s so much a part of you, you never knew others didn’t care so much. I don’t care much about whether something is going well or doing OK. I want to know if it’s the best it can be. I walk everywhere in the straightest possible line.

So I look at my life, and I think about how much I like words and playing with them and using them and, most of all, having other people tell me I’m good at them. Maybe I could best serve the world using words. But then I look at how many words are already in the world, and I wonder if it needs any more. Who knew that limiting people to 140 characters would inspire them to NEVER SHUT UP? I’m wary of spewing content and I don’t live my life online.

Sometimes I’m tempted to quit the internet altogether. Quit adding to the white chattering noise. Write only handwritten notes and someday send a masterpiece manuscript in a couple of spiral notebooks to the lucky duck who will publish my one great work. Or give up words entirely. But I can’t. I can’t stop writing (I’d spend a fortune on spiral notebooks) and I can’t quit believing that the internet has the ability to democratize ideas and empower people. Even if everyone’s drowning in too much input most days, it’s the strange chances and happenstance encounters with others’ viewpoints that change people’s lives.

I can’t quit words; neither can I stomach the idea of speaking with great authority on all things, of instagramming my corn flakes, or updating the world on my thoughts and feelings every half hour. Is there still a way for words to have meaning?

Integrity, I think. Making words and life match up. Speaking with uncommon charity and grace. Using the right word at the right time, not a bunch of words all the time. Having something to say. Constantly, silently living out what’s important; leaving room for debate on what’s not.

Perhaps if we treat our own words like they’re still valuable, they will be. Perhaps one can be noticed for one’s rarity. Maybe words on their own are unlikely to change the world these days; but perhaps the best life doesn’t leave out speaking the truest lovingest words.

————-

EDIT.

I hate that I changed the name of this stupid blog. It keeps reminding me about this stupid “honesty” bit I’ve gotten myself into.

To be honest, this big-deal blog (OK, a bigger deal than me) “Thought Catalog” is publishing this thing I submitted, and I’m terrified. I really am. Like, usually when I write I’m terrified that no one will care; right now I’m terrified that someone will care. The main reason for this is that I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT IT SAYS.

I was reading a bunch of posts on the site, and I thought of something I might like to say to the people who read it and write it. So I dashed it off in the middle of the night last weekend(?) and submitted it via online form. The form was comforting. It said, submitting things to our site is easy. Everyone is probably doing it. There will be no consequences to this action.

Now they’re going to publish an essay I wrote and liked in the middle of the night after it was done (this means nothing about its actual quality). Literally all I remember about it is that it was called, “How I Decided To Be an Evangelical”. And now an audience primarily of college students, young professionals, and hipsters, skewed heavily liberal/anti-religion (far as I can tell), is going to read it.

Is this a joke? Are they literally publishing me as a joke? Will I receive death threats? Will anyone like evangelicals more because of it? Will someone I try to date in the future Google me and find it? What will they think?

I have no idea, because I don’t know what I wrote. This is not an exaggeration.

There. The freaking-out behind all the philosophizing above. You could say, in direct contradiction to the philosophizing above (apparently I spew content all over places it doesn’t seem to belong). Clearly, I haven’t mastered the “best life” yet.

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