Share your thoughts

This morning I was reading about my football team’s win, big news mostly because of the quarterback that Coach Jim Harbaugh chose to start (and finish) the game.  In the two articles I perused, at the bottom was that invitation to share your thoughts.  I smiled, feeling it was indicative of this century.  People have always wanted to give their two cents.  Now it’s as easy as breathing.

Occasionally I read the comments after an article, but often they are filled with vitriol, and I stop reading comments for a week or two.  Years ago folks took a reporter’s word not only as gospel, but not even considering offering their opinion.  Letters to the editor was one way to communicate, but most often articles were digested at face value.  Not anymore.

Writing fiction is not like reporting news, or blogging.  As an author, I craft my novels in solitude.  As an indie novelist, I rely on trusted crit partners, but ultimately I release books by which I stand or fall alone.  But for some reason, this morning’s sports stories struck a nerve, being invited to share my thoughts.  I have plenty of feelings on the 49ers quarterback hoo-haa; Colin Kaepernick  better sparks the offense, so leave him in.  But I am one person, and it’s not going to have one iota of influence on Coach Harbaugh, it’s simply my feeling.  I own that notion, like I do my novels, it’s all mine.  I wonder if by being so tempted to share our personal opinions, do they become diluted?  Are they fodder blowing in the wind alongside millions of other voices, swirling in a cacophony of agitated sound.

Or maybe after a long break (and my husband’s Green Bay Packers getting killed by the NY Giants), I’m just feeling crotchety.

During baseball season, my rather hearing-impaired uncle used to sit right beside his ancient red plastic AM radio, games blaring through the small trailer next to my house.  As a kid, I would sit in the kitchen with my elderly aunt, watching her play Solitaire, the announcer’s voice easily noted between thin walls.  My uncle wasn’t a quiet man, always something to say, often loudly, as if we might not hear him.  But I can’t imagine what he would think of being asked to respond to every single article he read.  Having grown up with that generation just steps away, sometimes a part of me is still there, comfortable in past eras where the drone of instant communication didn’t infiltrate or overwhelm.  This morning I just wanted to read a few articles, then move on with my day.  I didn’t wish to be sucked into a maelstrom of opinion (or write a post about it), but that is the way of things in 2012.

When I’m feeling nostalgic, it’s for those quieter moments when I didn’t need to sift through heaps of voices.  Maybe that’s why noveling means so much.  It’s me and my characters, an isolated hush within vast worlds and tiny moments.  As this final week of NaNoWriMo winds along, Chris Baty’s words mean even more; no one else can tell my story.  Those tales aren’t reliant upon tens of hundreds of thousands of opinions.   They are the sole reflections of this writer.  Keeping a firm grasp of my individuality is imperative to maintaining equilibrium in the never-ending drone of public opinion.


4 thoughts on “Share your thoughts

  1. wordsurfer

    I really like what you say here… Just lately, I’m feeling increasingly overwhelmed by all the things I’m supposed to “keep up” with, and all the things one is supposed to have an opinion about. Since, as the other comments have said already, a lot of the comments on news or sports articles or articles in magazines turn extremely nasty and pointless in a very sort span of time, I wonder why it’s still considered better to have a lot, but hateful/bitter comments, than not to have any comments at all. I guess it’s just another thing that “has to be done” – allowing stupid and nasty comments… Love your last sentence. I’m actually inspired now to shut off my internet for the rest of the day. 🙂

  2. diannegray

    Well done for your team, Anna – congrats!

    Online news is becoming more and more like talk back radio and i think this is where ‘share your thoughts’ comes from. The online newspapers want people to comment so they know they’re actually reading. I notice a lot of people say awful things and hide behind the anonymity of the internet so I usually don’t comment unless it’s something I feel particularly passionate about (I think I’ve only commented on those things twice in my life!)

    This is a very interesting post – particularly the analogy you used with novel writing 😉

  3. Melissa Marsh

    You make some great points, Anna. I find that I can often learn the “other” side of the story if I read the comments. In this day and age, finding balanced news is often incredibly difficult, if not possible. The comments can get very, very nasty, though, depending on the site you’re on and how well they filter them.

    I actually took a break from looking at political stuff over Thanksgiving weekend and didn’t even miss it. I feel refreshed!

  4. Jill Weatherholt

    Usually I can only get through a few of the “Share Your Thoughts” at the bottom of on-line articles. I guess hiding behind a computer screen makes some people feel brave. Often when I read those comments, I’m thankful my head isn’t full of such negative and hateful thoughts. I’m also glad my mother taught me, “If you don’t have something nice to say, keep it to yourself.” Your 49ers sure looked good yesterday! Congratulations!


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