As a member of the generation which was born just before the middle of the last century, I worry that a few things which I cherish might be disappearing
The ability to communicate with the written word is one of those things. Closely related to that is actually putting reasoned words down on paper.
Writing about life's challenges, triumphs, and disappointments has been a wonderful blessing to me. I have often heard it said that bottling up your feelings can destroy you.
Somehow my fingers on the keyboard have kept that from happening to me. Often, I work out any of my issues with the words that I write. Many times I have advised team members that the best way to handle an email crafted in anger is to let it breathe overnight and then see how it tastes in the morning. If it is palatble twelve hours later once the sun has risen, then it is okay to send it.
Writing things down often works even better than those wonderful debates that we used to have around the table after dinner during college. Sometimes you would come away feeling a little whipped after one of those encounters. Writing usually lets you resolve things in a way that makes accepting a tough conclusion a private event until you choose for it to be otherwise.
Unfortunately we are now in a world where reasoned writing is becoming less and less common. Those wonderful letters so full of information and feelings that we used to write to each other are long gone.
Pages of thought have now been replaced by clicking on the "Like" button on Facebook or a few words of quick comment. Sometimes we even feel lucky when an abbreviated sentence is tweeted.
This turn of events worries me because I believe learning how to express your opinions on paper is perhaps what made our society what it is today. As a student of the American Revolution, I can assure you that it would not have happened without the reasoned discourses which either started in print or found their way into print after substantial debate.
While you might create a revolution with Twitter, it is far from certain that Tweets are a good basis for a decent government. To have a society that can create a lasting government, you need a body of thought that supports the ideas of the people. It is more than just some random thoughts about freedom and certainly it needs to be put on paper and discussed.
If you are someone who reads a lot, it is easy to put a new book or set of ideas in context. If you want to understand a person, the best way to do so is to read what they have written. You might gather some ideas from what they have Tweeted or posted on Facebook, but it will be far less accurate than the understanding gathered from articles or books which they have written. If you want to challenge someone, read what they have written and find some holes in their reasoning. Attacking someone's character because you do not agree with them is a fool's errand.
In spite of the value of the written word, many people cannot seem to grasp that writing is more than just putting words on paper or a computer screen. Writing involves reasoning and backing up your opinions with the opinions of others.
I have actually written articles and submitted them to an editor who as editors often do picks a title that will grab attention. After the article is published I have had people, who obviously have read no further than the title, attack not just the article but me personally. The only thing they seem to know about me is that I have an article with a title that they do not like. It would be lost on these folks that I did not even pick the title.
I have often wondered what people in the future might deduce from my Facebook postings or the things that I might have tweeted over the years. I sometimes tweet opinions that I find interesting but which are ones that I do not personally embrace. It would be hard to really understand who I am by studing my tweets.
Many people today believe they are well educated. Yet they refuse to read words with which they cannot agree. I amazed that someone who believes they are a well versed person could possible hold as true ideas which they have not allowed to be challenged by the thoughts of others. Truth is always born in the crucible of debate with other ideas and with other people hopefully even more knowledgeable than one's self.
I have written three books and thousands of other pages since I started writing in earnest a little over thirteen years ago. One book, A Week at the Beach, An Emerald Isle Travel Guide, is about where I live and how much I enjoy living there. Our second book, The Pomme Company, is about the twenty year journey that was my career at Apple.
Perhaps as one of my good friends said the most significant thing about my Apple book is "the control and measured perspective" that I brought to the book while preserving my passion for the subject. To be able to step back from the situation you lived and provide perspective is what you strive for when you write a book.
Our third book, A Taste for the Wild, Canada's Maritimes, really describes much of how I got to be the person that I am. Not all is in the book as there is another book a little earlier and maybe a few chapters on those ten years of farming.
That my three books are electronic books has also worried me so I have already formatted our book, "The Pomme Company," for print. In celebration of being married 40 years this summer, I might spend the fifty dollars or so that is needed for that one print copy. I am sure once I see it in print, the other two books will follow.
Those printed copies will join the many treasured papers and some other books that I believe are so necessary for a worthwhile life.
My good friend, RJ Berrier, who died after many years as a newspaper editor in 2000, used to say that most people only get their names in the newspaper a few times in their life and sometimes only twice, once when they are born and once when they die. RJ believed they deserved to have their names spelled correctly.
I would go much further today.
First if you want your obituary done correctly perhaps it is best to write it yourself but understand it will not be easy.
Second if you really want your story to be told correctly, there is no other way than to either put pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard.
Trust me it is worth the effort.