I’ve been terribly busy for the last three years: work, school, new career, new work. No complaints except that my non-academic writing has suffered considerably. I believe I’ve only squeezed out one, maybe two short stories during this time. Of course, the bevy of my attention was on revising my novel (and whatever energy I had left was spent on the subsequent one).

With respect to this here blog, I’ve been unapologetically negligent. I’ve had no choice. Blogging’s great, but it’s the odd man out when it has to compete for creativity-expenditure with other areas. For one thing, it doesn’t pay. Another drag on its sail is the competition that social media plays. Between posting stuff on Facebook and Twitter (between which I don’t consider myself a fanatic contributor), little is left for blogging and I think there’s a problem with that.

Twitter ends up being a Post-It Note for ideas which never get developed. You tell yourself: if I just jot this idea down I can come back to it later. The problem with this otherwise workable concept is that in Twitter-land what you post takes the form of its own singular effort – it’s a public communication unto itself which fulfills a basic function which makes me, the author, forget about what it was I was hoping to say (or develop the idea of) later.

And Facebook is just a mess of “seen this” and “done that”.

And so I come back to blogging, for now, to say firstly that I’m still here. Secondly, to say that I feel there is room for this format, out-dated and seemingly formal compared to Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Soon (I think) I will be able to get back to saying things of note and interest.


Connectedness, Social Media, and Syntheticism

If there’s something to be said about going on a vacation – whether that means renting a car and driving two hours away from your town, or buying a plane ticket and flying six hours away from your country – it’s that it provides something crucial: distance. Physical (and, one should hope, subsequently mental) distance.

When I go away I take that idea of “distance” seriously. I don’t check Facebook, I don’t check Twitter. I don’t even check voicemail (unless it looks important). My only transgression is occasionally checking newspaper headlines to make sure that the world isn’t on the brink of collapse (which it often seems to be).

Upon returning, I find myself staring at my computer (or, more often, my BlackBerry) and wondering: what’s the point? Sure, I’ll go back to checking email, scheduling things, occasionally making sure the world isn’t on the brink of collapse, but re-entering the world of social media is another question. A daunting one, to be honest. I respect social media, yet, against its purpose, I often find it paradoxically alienating.

It started with Facebook, which began as a unique way to stay in touch with friends without relying upon email – a communal sandbox with multimedia extensions. With time (and popularity) came the inevitable mediocrity of a lot of people (along with the watering-down of “friend”-ship) without a lot of ideas posting a lot of crap that I found myself more often than not skipping. Continue reading “Connectedness, Social Media, and Syntheticism”


On Self-Censorship As A Canadian Preoccupation

There are always going to be thin-skinned readers, but writers who self-censor for fear of offending said readers suck more. #canada

This was going to be a missive sent over Twitter. Then I thought, what if someone replies to me, calling me out? What if someone says:

@m_cahill Care to name names, or are you AFRAID OF OFFENDING SOMEONE? #jerk

Allow me to elaborate (and do it in an environment I can totally control without distorting my message due to a 140-character limit).

Two articles in the last week were sources of outrage among certain parts of the online world, particularly on Twitter, where it’s particularly easy to express outrage*. The first was Ian Brown’s essay on men gazing at women in the Globe & Mail. It elicited a lot of criticism, from feminists who were offended by the objectification of women to people who simply construed Brown’s perspective as creepy in a Lolita sorta way.

My partner and I began talking about some of the anger we saw in our respective Internet social circles. I felt a lot of it was overblown. Predictable, actually (sadly). And yet I agreed with Ingrid, who reminded me that there is something to be said about “the gaze” which women historically have been on the other end of. In other words, it was a complex issue. All said, something I found admirable in Brown’s piece (and his writing in general**) was his forthrightness. Unlike so many writers there was no effort made to allay the concerns of the entire reading public that he wasn’t trying to offend anyone.

Continue reading “On Self-Censorship As A Canadian Preoccupation”