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Why I Am (Updated March 17, 2010)

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As for other Particulars in my Life and Adventures, I shall insert them in following Papers, as I shall see occasion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own Taciturnity; and since I have neither Time nor Inclination to communicate the Fulness of my Heart in Speech, I am resolved to do it in Writing; and to Print my self out, if possible, before I Die. — Joseph Addison, “The Spectator” No. 1, Thursday, March 1, 1711

***

From my experience, two types of bloggers exist. Those who either get paid to blog (or who don’t have a day job) and post up to 20 or more items in a single day and those who blog less often but with more original content in each post. I fall into the latter category.

As a news editor for a local newspaper in North Georgia, I became acquainted with the art of column-writing about four years ago. Being 32-years-old now, my career in journalism got a rather late start. In addition to my regular duties of writings sports and news articles, for most of the four years, I was a proficient columnist for the paper, writing on health care, immigration, literature, journalism itself, gaming and other topics that ran the gamut of my thoughts. In 2008, I took a job in another state as a night editor for a five-day paper, editing copy and laying out the A-section every night. This new job afforded me little time for reporting or column-writing. If you scroll down the archives section to the right, you can see that my frustration in not being able to write reached a head in about May 2008. Thus, this site was born.

But, let’s be clear. I avoided this sphere for as long as possible. I viewed the majority of bloggers as either sophomorish wanna-be writers or just news aggregaters. So, indeed, I had a clear idea of which direction I didn’t want my blog to take.

Today, I’m back at the original newspaper covering sports and local news in Georgia. As I do work 40 hours most weeks, I attempt to post something each day, but quite often fall short.

Andrew Sullivan, consequently, penned his own, “Why I Blog,” post, summoning the entire historical record of journal-keeping in doing so, while making the case for his own news aggregater-esque site, noting:

… blogging rewards brevity and immediacy. No one wants to read a 9,000-word treatise online. On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes—in fact, they are often valued more. And, as Matt Drudge told me when I sought advice from the master in 2001, the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks.

One-sentence links are only as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes if the blogger is merely seeking increased readership. I am, of course, but not at the expense of content. So, by “extension,” I mean I attempt to present significant commentary in each post, and if I only post every other day, the reason is probably because I’m allowing a certain issue time to stew in my mind. Or, the simpler reason, I’m too busy with the real writing gig.

On a personal level, although I wasn’t at all settled on pursuing an English degree in college — having not succeeded at either music or computer science — I finally took the good advice of one of my former professors at Lander University, a small liberal arts college at which I began my education. He just said, to paraphrase, these are some of the best years of your life, so just study what you enjoy and worry about a career later. I did have a penchant for reading literature and writing (bad) poetry and fiction, so off I went to dive into Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Addison, Swift, Alex Pope and the gang.

After studying for two years at Lander, mostly taking general education courses, I settled on English at Clemson University shortly after realizing that my grand plans to be a programmer (I don’t “talk in maths,” as it were) were failing before my eyes. Other teachers were surely an inspiration in my studies, but in particular, I credit Lee Morrissey with pouring his passion for British literature, architecture and literary theory onto his students in his unique way. I have a thirst for knowledge that may not have been as heightened if not for him.

After my education, I loafed for about a year, halfway considering graduate school, but decided instead to try to find a job. I worked in a retail store in Clemson for another 1 1/2 years, eventually making assistant manager. With the help of Keith Morris at Clemson and others, I was able to interview at a couple newspapers and took the job at the current paper in 2005, where I have worked since, minus a year’s stint as night editor in 2008.

For me, writing is an outlet. I see plenty wrong (and right) with the world, and this is where I air my grievances or laudations, whichever is appropriate. Writing in this way helps me learn new things as I research the topics on which I choose to write. I generally take a left of center political view, while recognizing that not every politician on the right is a money-grubbing, bureaucratic fatcat, and not everyone on the left is interested in helping the middle class or in health care reform and the like. Like Sullivan, whom I read from time to time, I’m of “no party affiliation or clique,” and I balk at such an assertion. Issues rarely float in parallel along only two points of view, anyway.

A second reason for writing is a simple one: Rational thought and critical thinking have taken a regrettable backseat to  talk radio hosts and partisan cable news outfits. Reason is going the way of the dodo, and, despite what he thinks he has to say about “common sense,” Glenn Beck, and the usual crowd, is leading the charge, along with Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Pat Robertson and others.

I am passionate about teaching people to think critically and would be doing a disservice to readers if I did not uncloak myths about the promises of stem cell research, universal health care, etc., and bring to light what I consider to be problems with politicians, the talking heads or religious apologists, like Robertson, who speak ill of people of Haiti in one breath, and say they have God on their side in the other. Thus, this site is not limited to any one area of study, and in seeking to include something for most everyone, I attempt to open up the conversation to a wide range of topics, from politics to history, literature, religion, philosophy, music, sports, gaming or other areas of interest.

Finally, writing, for me, is a necessity. If I’m not writing something, it means I am thinking about writing something. If I’m not thinking about writing something, I’m reading about something on which to write. If I’m not reading, I’m either asleep or playing World of Warcraft or Counter-Strike: Source, which is what I do when the tough work of critical thinking becomes taxing.

Thus, Addison and I must have had a lot in common. I’m here in the blogosphere because I have no choice. It’s who I am. It’s why I am.

I was recently told by a friend of mine that I need some more frivolity in my life. That said, here’s a tune that makes me feel more frivolous with each listen.

It’s why I am,
always the one to make you smile.
why I am,
still snake in the woodpile.
It’s why I am,
still here dancing with the GrooGrux King — Dave Matthews Band

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Written by Jeremy

May 25th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

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