Social media and news site talkbacks have ushered in an age where everyone feels a need to comment, discuss, and venture their opinions. A few years ago, one had to be quite upset or sure of one’s authority to go to the trouble of writing “a letter to the editor”, and till today, when we read a book, it’s very unlikely that we will be able to enter into a discussion with the writer. Well-known authors often cherish anonymity, writing under pen-names. Many refuse all public appearances. In any case, the most we can expect is to learn about them through the intermediary of a journalist, who, we hope, will ask the same questions that we have.
Writing a blog, there are certain decisions to be made about how much interaction to encourage. One can permit comments, publish an email address, cross-post to social media etc. There are possible trade-offs with all of these.
In the latest incarnation of this blog, I decided to cross-post to one or more public timelines of the Fediverse. Blog posts may then be seen by those (I think few) people who bother to wade through public timelines. But I’ve stopped using social media as a platform for discussion and don’t “follow” anyone personally. I read through timelines, subscribe to feeds, and watch blogs and microblogs without personal interaction with the authors. If I find something interesting I re-share it or take it into account when composing something of my own. Meaningful exchanges do not always require direct interaction. Otherwise, there would be little to gain from reading ancient classics or the writings of any dead or inaccessible author.
Our lives are quite short – perhaps too short for superfluous discussions.