Intellectual honesty is tough on a fellow. Ever since (long before, in fact) I wrote Losing Apple, I’ve been feeling a kind of brain-pressure. Like hydraulics trying to act upon a rusted gear: when I sit down to write I can’t quite get my teeth into… whatever it is.
I didn’t just lose Apple, I forewent my own steady grinding of lubricative technobabble, and so when I did write, it came out in grandiose explosions and perverse contrarianism. I feel more and more like I have something to say, but breaking free of the habit of people-pleasing and trend-chasing doesn’t happen overnight. The mind needs to be retrained.
Maybe, like those futile hydraulics, what it really needs is a quick jerk in the other direction, to loosen things up.
But whilst my fingers have rested and my writing brain has stalled, I’ve become aware of an important guiding principle that I want to dig into. It’s not a new principle, nor is it a rare one, but I’d never really thought to apply it online, specifically.
Let all that you do be done in love.
What does that mean?
Here’s how I see applying this on Twitter, which is the main way I interact with people online day-to-day. One of the most fun things to do on Twitter is wallow in a few hours of desultory back and forth half-argument about whatever the flavor of the day is. Okay, okay. No problem with that. But my new gut check is this: am I conversing with love? Is my goal to demean or belittle or batter the other person into a cringing apology? Some battles might be best avoided.
Sometimes people confuse “love” with “agreement”. This is a relatively modern fallacy that assumes that the only way to love someone is to wholeheartedly agree with them on everything. It speaks as much to the contemporary bastardization of the meaning of love, as to anything else.
Picking who I follow has become slightly easier in the light of my new (old) philosophy. I don’t follow the popular and attractive method of following only people who I enjoy, and unfollowing anyone who annoys me. I like to interact, or at least read the opinions of, a wide range of people that I might not particularly agree with.
There is a fine line, of course, and when someone crosses it I don’t hesitate to pull the plug. But I think my mind and opinions are sharpened by a bit of occasional friction.
There is another side to this coin — this philosophy of love. I see a lot of people online who I know keep most of their opinions to themselves. And there are some dissenting opinions I have that I don’t feel the need to debate or proclaim in the public square. Not out of fear, but because it’s not going to be fruitful or edifying.
But I think — and this seems to be a counterintuitive point for some reason— that speaking in love means sometimes disagreeing, even if it upsets people.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Love isn’t some wishy-washy, passive dishtowel to flap desultorily at the object of our affections. It’s a torrent of fire, an explosion, a selfless plummeting into the void.
Trying to inject love into intellect has given me pause. Redealing tired bromides into the techosphere is passionless dabbling, stirring a muddy puddle with a toothpick on a sultry summer evening. I have something to say. I don’t know what it is, yet. Maybe I’ve started saying it already. I’m still — let’s face it — a noisy gong.
Who knows, with a bit more love, maybe I can start battering out some kind of rhythm.
Published on July 30th, 2014