• Avoiding the bubble

    Andrew Sullivan (inspired by others) worries about blogging dulling one’s mind:

    This is a real concern, hence my annual retreat. But such a retreat is not enough. The unexpressed thought, the nascent idea, the emotion that struggles to become, over time, an actual argument: these can so easily be lost in blogging, and they are vital to a healthy mind and soul. My solution over time has been to create something that I hope is more than just the blog I began a decade ago: a multi-faceted ongoing conversation where my own thoughts are supplemented and corrected and enhanced by the minds of my colleagues and the collective wisdom of Dish readers.

    The last ten years have therefore been both an increased engagement and an increased letting go. I have no idea whether it will work but I share Freddie’s fear that a single blog reacting to the day’s events and others emotions and provocations can make real thought and considered argument less rather than more attainable.

    This is actually a concern I’ve shared.  I am constantly fearful that I will become too entrenched, that I will lose the ability to question my own opinions.  I fear changing from a researcher into an advocate.

    My solution is different.  Although it may seem I am on here all the time, I keep my blogging rather contained.

    I have a full time job.  Really.  And almost no one at work knows about my blog.  I’m not keeping it a secret, nor do I think they would object.  It’s just separate.  I also have a family, where I spend quantity-time, not just quality-time.  I am taking up tennis lessons.  I read an insane amount.  I watch a lot of TV; I plan on seeing a movie tonight.  I have a huge comics book collection, and almost every video game system you can think of.  I serve on a number of community boards and national organizations.  I ski.  I even try to work out.

    And I blog.

    I live in a traditionally red state, in one of the most conservative counties in the United States.  Many, if not most, of my friends do not share my political views, and regard my views on health care as the ramblings of a hippy.  Most of my extended family shares their view.  I went to an all-boys, conservative school, for twelve years.

    So you’ll have to believe me when I say I do not live in a bubble.

    How do I avoid complacency brought on by blogging?  By making sure it’s not where my mind spends too much time.  I think my blogging is better for it.  Moreover, many of my favorite bloggers have other “real” jobs as well.

    That should not be seen as a rebuke of those who professionally blog or write.  As Austin will attest, I would place Andrew Sullivan in my top five bloggers in almost any category.  He’s one of the reasons I started.  But as much as Austin and I sometimes wish that we could spend more time doing this, or do it semi-professionally, there’s a real part of me that wonders if I’m not getting better at it because that’s not the case.

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    • I grew up in that area and most of my family still lives there. You are correct about it being a very conservative area. I think that is probably good as it will keep you out of the bubble. I have the same dynamic where I work. I also have to agree that blogging full time would be warping. I think it probably turns you into an advocate for ideas rather than an analyst of ideas. Keep doing what you do.

      Steve

    • Aaron-

      Spot on…

      How many people do we both know in our worlds who have allowed themselves to be consumed by a particular narrative? Their outlook changes and all of a sudden they’re compromised their critical thinking skills big time.

      I enjoy your blog because you’re not bound to a given narrative except for improving the access, quality and cost of health care delivery in the US. You have supported this administration many times and taken it to task many times. I love your inclusion of studies, reports, graphs, etc. It makes it easier for a non health system researcher type to understand.