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why i blog
an instrospective about why i write on the online
by erik lars myers (@TopFermented)
10.17.11
writing

This past week I published a piece on my blog Top Fermented that garnered a fair amount of attention, both positive and negative. The piece was titled, "Why beer rating is crap" and was a short piece detailing why I think that beer rating websites are completely meaningless.

As I noted, it got a lot of traffic. To be fair, I knew it would. The major beer ratings sites online, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, both have fairly passionate and loyal fan bases, and here I was saying that they were kind of a waste of time. I expected a backlash. I knew that many would disagree with me, but I was happy to see that many people also agreed, and equally as happy to see that some who disagreed took the time to reasonably state their cases against mine.

In the course of the exercise, however, I seem to have had some fairly typical "Internet Dickwad Theory" troll responses. Vulgarity, people calling me names, saying that I was like a monkey slinging shit or that I'm some sort of complete idiot for offering up an opinion that they merely disagree with.

It's honestly made me wonder - why the hell do I bother? Why do I bother putting my opinion (and sometimes work and research) out there merely so that I can have some random internet asshat fill my comment thread with slanderous obscenities? My mother might read that stuff! (Mom, if you're reading this, don't read that stuff.) Why do I bother putting the work into creating something if people aren't going to respect the time and effort and completely trash it simply because they disagree? What are they going to gain by being douche-y to me? Do they want me to stop?

No! They're just... people. They're small, unhappy people whose only solace is to attempt to lift their own station in life by belittling others. I get it. Even if I think it's immature and asinine, I get it. But that doesn't make it any easier to ignore.

It's been weighing on my mind all week - why do I put myself through that? I don't get paid for the blog (in fact, I pay - it's a loss). I don't run advertising. I don't see any personal gain from having higher traffic numbers today than yesterday or anything like that, and I know that healthy chunk of the internet responds to blog posts by drunkenly smashing their face against the keyboard. So why bother?

The answer I've come to is this:

I write because I need to.

I can't imagine this to not be true for most other writers. I write because I have things in my head that need to get out, and the way I can do that is by putting words together and publishing it somewhere. The act of writing itself is cathartic, but the act of publishing it is like setting a wild animal free. It ceases to be a private part of me and a becomes and tiny little part of the big world where somebody might see it. They might agree with it and sympathize, or they might disagree and debate - and if they do so, if they take the time to write things back to me, then we've both grown and I get to have other things in my head begging to get out.

It's so much more than some sort of ego trip or some sort of belief that I know more about something than other people. I don't run a news blog. I'm not looking for a big break. I do it because I want to have a candid discussion with the world at-large and I want to do it in a medium where anyone - everyone - can see it and chime in, even if they think I'm wrong. Hell! Especially if they think I'm wrong!

Half the reason that I write things is because I disagree with something! If others didn't disagree with me, then what would be the point? It's easy to slap 1000 words together that will gather bland platitudes through broad agreement. It's difficult and daunting to put an honest, but unpopular, opinion out into the world, and even more so to attempt to defend it.

But this experience - this first real flamey-troll experience I've had (I mean - there have been others here and there, but nothing quite so vitriolic) - has made me come to a new realization that I plan on applying to life:

If everybody likes what you're doing, you're probably not taking enough risks.

There is no reward without risk. Progress has never been made anywhere by everybody agreeing with one another and taking the world just as it is. Disagreement is the path to growth.

So I'll stick by my opinions, and I will carry them forward out into the world from my head. I will continue to dwell, ponder, and ruminate upon everything that I encounter and acutely explicate onto the page (or the webpage), not just because I need to but because everyone should.


ABOUT ERIK LARS MYERS

Writer, beer drinker, brewer. Not necessarily in the order. For more, check Top Fermented and Mystery Brewing Company.

more about erik lars myers

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COMMENTS

katherine (aka clevertitania)
10.17.11 @ 8:40p

There is an instinctive behavior associated with being in any way associated with the arts. Whether you're a writer, painter, musician, etc - if you are driven to create you know that the only way you'll continue to improve isn't just by writing, but by getting feedback on what you've already written. Who among us wouldn't (thematically) kill to have a favorite writer just give us notes on one piece of our work? And we know, with that one set of notes, the quality of our work would increase exponentially.

And that's what the internet gives artists - instant feedback and constant chances to improve upon ourselves. It would actually be dumber not to use it, because the good outweighs the douchey. That said ... I WILL block a comment that's just nasty and not remotely constructive.

tracey kelley
10.22.11 @ 1:28a

Yeah, blocking nasty comments on a blog or FB is one of the few times moderation is a really good thing.

I totally understand getting thoughts out into the open, be it on paper privately or in a public forum such as your blog or our delightful Intrepid Media. It's cathartic, provocative, powerful stuff.

Or sometimes just monkey doo. :)

lisa colburn
11.3.11 @ 8:43p

Yes, your mother often does read "that stuff"... !@#!!



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