Those days aren't completely gone by any stretch, but they are muddied by the vast amount of permission we've given each other to think ourselves worthy of thought and justified in our opinions. We are, all of us who write anything as permanent as a blog, present webspace included, guilty of taking permission but not always with the responsibility that goes with it. In part it's because there's been a narrowing between the parallel roads of "immediacy" and "permanence".
Breaking the wall for the moment (which is, after all permitted since this IS my blog, whatever "my" means), I find myself suddenly on a quest to take more lightly ideas expressed casually.
I am keenly aware of what happens when I read something written in haste for whatever reason. "Haste" is the word of the day in this instant publishing of blogs, IM's, SMS, Tweets and other microblogs. So why the hurry? Sometimes it's the post-it note mentality driven by easy to use technology. What used to be a quick reminder to self, stuck on the cupboard, is now publicly viewable, and has impact on those around us. Sometimes hasty words happen because we don't have the margin to think, so we process out loud. And of course, as witnessed a while back when I saw two teenage girls texting each other at a movie from opposite ends of the row, we shoot hasty words sometimes because we "can".
In the end what keeps coming back to me is that there's one element in all this that is the most human of all. Trust. I feel comfortable with someone seeing an "impermanent" idea of mine, because if they are my reader, they're trustworthy. I am bolstered by the myth that what I might say in an electronic transfer, will be taken with a grain of salt, because we all know there was no "editor" or "publisher" involved. It was a casual comment. Or was it?
I'm more aware than ever that nothing I write is really impermanent. Not any more or less than harsh or kind words I speak. I can change a person with what I say to her. I can make him do the impossible, or create for her an impossible self image with simple conversation. And even more so, through "inked" words. The reader goes back over and over the text and, for better or worse, feasts on the meaning. Permanence. They are changed and so nothing said or written casually is truly fleeting. (With the exception of the likes of a shopping list or party greeting: "hey", "how's it going?", etc)
And so I'm trying to weed out those idiotic tendencies from my garden. It's the editors and publishers I miss most. Those professionals, the ones who know gardens, who can take one look and say, "you know, a little fertilizer on those over there, and if I were you, I'd prune in the next week..." Until then, may I learn at least to know what's important enough to explore, and what is best left stuck to the cupboard door.