Blogs and “solutions”: The two sides of my writing

I like the word “blog.” It’s earthy – it sounds like “bog” and “log,” so it has the air of the swamp and the forest in it. But I hate the word “solutions” – I think of cleaning and stinky liquids, which isn’t the intent of the writer. Plus, calling a thing a “solution” is pre-judging it – what if it doesn’t work? What is the, um, problem it is solving (or is “solution” now so far from “solve” that asking this question is dumb?)?

Blogging (stirs up pictures of a lumberjack, writing) is what I turn to when I am not solutionizing for websites. The list of cliches and meaningless strings of words I write for clients is scary. Yes, there’s “core competencies” and “best-of-breed” (are we talking about horses?). But there’s even hipsters ones like “pure play” (not fun like it lets on).

Humans adapt quickly, so even this sticky vocabulary is easy to use after mere days of all-day practice. What comes from such handiwork? Well, “writing solutions” – I wasn’t joking when I told an editor that his title should be “director of editorial solutions,” since that’s how he’s seen. I don’t mind making these “solutions” – it’s easy. The phrases are readymade and thinking isn’t always needed, at least not in the same way that it is for creative writing or a letter to the editor.

An ink solution or, you know, a pen.

My own blogging, though, isn’t a “solution,” and I doubt it is for a lot of other bloggers. The downfall of blogging has been foreseen – it won’t survive social media, no one reads long-form anymore, etc. But unlike Facebook et al, a blog is not a facade. It is not kept up to send a political or social message to everyone else – “look how great I am!” “here I am in Rio!, look upon my successes and weep!” – and lots of blogging, esp. from the pre-Facebook era, is sad and weirdly (to our eyes now) not curated. There’s lots of chaff with that wheat – where did it go?

Blogging has its place as the antidote to social networks, “writing solutions” (business papers, Sadya Nadella’s wordy emails, LinkedIn profile spam), and general jargon. Why is it so easy to write clear prose and be direct in a blog, while grinding through a paper or even tweeting something suitably amazing is labor-intensive? Maybe we’re more sincere on our blogs, and that’s why we keep updating them, to give us at least one outlet for our real thoughts, for problems and not necessarily…”solutions.”


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