I’ve been thinking about why writing publicly has become so difficult for me recently. I struggle to get coherent ideas down that I feel are ready to share with others, and stand up under the scrutiny of a reader. I have lots and lots of half-formed ideas (you should see my draft folder.) But stuff that makes it past the “Publish” button is rather rare anymore.
I really think this is because I have embraced a set of worldviews and ideas that require a lot of nuance and parsing, that aren’t easily applied in a quick way to the events of the world. And that fact, alongside the danger of being very quickly denounced or branded in some way as an undesirable based on a misunderstanding of the nuance I am embracing, has put the brakes on my desire to share much out in public anymore. I’m trying to overcome that fear.
I recently read this piece at Persuasion by Yascha Mounk, about the dangers of what he calls “180ism.” This is the tendency to set our opinions not based on fixed principles or virtues, but rather in opposition to what the “other side” thinks about an issue. Thus, if the person I perceived as my opponent believes X, then I must believe Y, because I surely couldn’t believe X if they do. This worldview doesn’t leave much room to explore options Z, or W, or V, because a key component of 180ism is that once I’ve committed to Y, then everything else becomes the X I know I hate. And this really captures where I am. Most of positions and ideas have swam into areas outside of that X-Y dualism, and I worry about alienating old and important friends and allies and being labeled as dangerous in some way. So, I choose to not opine nearly as much anymore.
Anyways, like I said, I’m trying to overcome that worry. I hope I’ll be given a fair hearing if I do.