Valuing the impulsive word

Continuing on from my perspectives on whether we should write about everything, whether we can and whether we should wait before putting deep experiences down on the screen, I could not help but reflect on the exuberant bursts of writing on social media that we currently see by anybody and everybody.

Status updates, micro blogs, comments, captions, tweets, text messages–it’s an explosion of writing out there.

The only image that comes to my mind when I’m surrounded by all this writing is this: So far, it was the night sky in a strange planet dominated by a few yellow moons. Dependable, stable, guaranteed to rise and shine on certain periods of the month.

Now, there is suddenly a burst of sparkling firecrackers from everywhere covering the black night sky. Most of these stay only a few minutes and then disappear.

But the spectacle is great for those watching.

I know that good writing comes from “emotion recollected in tranquility” (as I said with Wordsworth yesterday).  I know that the creative bursts have to pass through the rigours of repeated excruciating edits and rejections before they are fit to be read. No matter how great the writer is.

But let’s face it. Are we all meant to be good writers? If not, does this mean our experiences have no value? If I felt catty today or really sad or engaged in retail therapy, and if I’m the sort of person who is only capable of saying “no mattr how much u know a frnd, she  backstab u” or “feelin bad” or “shoes!” should you not read me?  I’m certainly trailed by a host of comments. I know there are some people who want to read. Or don’t want to read by which I know there is a reaction.

The other day I was riding the subway and I had this strange feeling. There were people sitting and standing or even trying to crawl (in the case of a baby). Each one was dressed differently, doing something different, thinking a different thought, going to a different destination about to meet a different fate.

The darkness outside in the tunnel and the sound of motion made me think about the transience of life for some reason that day.

I realized that this too shall pass. Me, the girl, the baby, the man in the black coat. Not just when we reach our stations but when our life’s journey will have reached its last station.

None of us, in that subway car, would remain forever. Not the guy in the black coat, nor the baby in pink, nor the girl reading from her smartphone. The tunnels and the tracks will perhaps remain longer but there will be other people with different faces carrying different-looking gadgets and strollers and shoes and clothes who will ride a different means of transportation, perhaps still concerned about a friend’s backstabbing or buying footwear, if not shoes as we know it.

But all the record we will have of us in this subway car will be a map of the subway system, a model of an old subway car in a museum somewhere, or a book about an ordinary protagonist in the early twenty-first century who rode the subway to work–fictional or non-fictional–edited and re-edited to perfection.

Most will be satisfied with this record.

But I am hopeful that there will be a group of useless loiterers who will mine our bad status updates and our silly micro blogs and our almost indecipherable comments and our outrageous captions and our impulsive tweets and our archaic text messages and discover themselves in us. Us who  lived in the early twenty-first century and rushed through the same things as those future loiterers living imperfect lives buying shoes before our journeys ended.

All journeys end. But if there are no unedited, impulsive records of them, you are only left with beautifully polished museum pieces that leave you wishing you had asked more questions of those people who had passed and valued the moment while it was still there to be experienced. And written.

For all moments will pass and every moment will be forgotten. But our impulsive writings will hold on to those memories just a little longer.

20 thoughts on “Valuing the impulsive word”

  1. What an amazing post. I don’t even have the words to comment. Just know, your words have inspired me to “slow things down” and when I’m on the bus I will look up from staring at the floor and look around and mentally record the moment, maybe even write about it. These little things that are mundane to us now, is and very will be history one day. I’m a big believer in “the little things” and so I have to say yes,i agree it’s important to have our social media updates and impromptu posts and “in the moment” blogs. It is, in a way, capturing the little things.


  2. I wish our ancestors had this type of social media. I would love to be able to data-mine my great-grandparents everyday thoughts and loves and hates. How incredibly interesting this would be 😉


  3. It is in the psyche of the human to ‘record’. Whether that be in memory, gossip, on paper/computer/social media or any other means by which we relate, we have what appears to be an insatiable need to record. If we don’t do it in the moment there it sits until the day it explodes out into the public forum. Naturally, there are those stoic individuals who take memories with them to the grave. They are the reserved and introverted usually who find opening some doors a little frightening. However, in the main we prattle on (as I appear to be doing) relieving ourselves of all and sundry thoughts. Is it good, or is it otherwise…? I just believe it ‘is’, and today we have so many more avenues by which to do it..!


      1. It is an ‘objective’/’factual’ way to see the world. There is no need to view it as good or bad; it just ‘is’…. Knickers tend to get in a knot otherwise, and this tends to do the crotch harm…!


  4. A bit deep here for these eyes that have seen so much of the world change before them. Frankly my dear, Rhett Butler shocked the silver screen uttering those words in Gone With The Wind, all this sharing of miniscule incidents and accidents is boring. Who cares after all? I’m too busy. Thanks for your post.


  5. One thing I should have mentioned in my comment to your previous blog are the effect social media has had on some people. I’m talking about people who must post every single solitary event that has happened in their day, especially if it relates to matters that might be personal. Mentioning a loved-one’s trip to the hospital, or dealing with legal issues, basically, things we once didn’t we wouldn’t talked to acquaintances about. Yet now, some people eagerly talk about such things, not thinking of whether they should or not, to people they may only know on social media. Our personal lives should be just that, personal. Other people’s personal stuff should remain personal unless they wish to share it. Again, apologies for my ramble.


  6. Thank you, this helps. Of late I’ve been struggling with fine-tuning words, which often means I don’t produce any words at all. The important thing is just to write, because to write is to truly live. (And even quickly written words can be a masterpiece. I was listening to a lecture the other day about Bach – he didn’t have the luxury of waiting until every composition was perfect. His employers forced him to crank stuff out. But if they hadn’t, he would have written a whole let less, and we wouldn’t have many of the glories he wrote on a deadline.)


  7. I love the firecracker analogy for the social media. It really does make an addictive spectacle. I don’t post as much as I used to but I find myself drawn to comment trolling and meaningless status updates from my more sparkly contacts.


  8. Is that conclusion all we can hope for my friend? I did enjoy your assertion, but it seems curious that we would only be content to believe in the tangible given how taken we all seem to be with the intangible.


    1. Great point. At the risk of sounding a bit too philosophical, may I say that the intangible might reside in the tangible? That this is all there is? Who knows if there is anything other than the passing moment. 🙂 Why not record it?


      1. That would be interesting, except that any single thing in the tangible that we try to focus on crumbles. Suppose I were to try and define my life around any one person, or a career, then I would need for that object or person to be sacrificed to meet my needs. The results are messy, as far as I’ve seen. I’m in full agreement on the record keeping. A mirror is more helpful than blind assumption, but we might not like what we see (if we look too closely).


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