I am currently in an editing loop; I end up there often. I write something and edit it until it is almost unrecognizable. In my work life, this occurs most frequently with writing documentation and least frequently with writing email. Perhaps this should present a clear reason why: long term or stable versus short term or ephemeral.
The things I write personally often fall into the former category. I write intending to never edit it again but also to never remove it, as if the digital file is somehow chiseled in stone instead of a confirmation dialogue away from deletion. Even printed books have editions to clean things up, update, or clarify.
I very rarely go back and rework old blog posts because that would feel not well suited to the purpose of a blog or disingenuous, but is it? Perhaps we need more editing in this world of constant commentary, not less. I have my entire back catalog of posts, which can feel like a run-on sentence at a time when I want to feel clear and concise.
To be honest, the problem is not the editing process. Though my editing can lead to long periods of silence due to indecision as to whether or not to post something at all, if editing becomes a roadblock to posting, there is a problem with the content, not with the edit; perhaps that is where the true disingenuousness lies.
Another word for editing is curation. Outside of writing, I am in a constant state of curation while trying to be intentional about the things I own or that take up my time. But if I’m being honest, there are similar roadblocks in that more physical analog as well.
I have things that seemingly define me one moment and I curate them until I am almost unrecognizable to that previous definition. In my life as a minimalist, I think I have found a clear delineation, similar to my writing: personal versus societal.
I’ve been struggling with those things that are societal and have a certain inherent value that is placed on them as such, even when they have little value to me personally. I initially wrote “obligatory” instead of “societal” because that is the way these things feel, the weight given these things by the greater us.
As an example, technology is so often valued by society in a way that belies its potential value based on use. I struggle with simply throwing things away that could provide value to others and technology is often a difficult thing to recycle. Nevertheless, if I can keep something out of a landfill, I gladly do so. Although that may seem altruistic, I often wonder if it is also a means of holding onto things I might otherwise simply get rid of.
Editing is a fact of life. We edit our writing, our things, our statements in the moment, our beliefs. It is my belief that we need to edit more, especially as editing become more difficult in comparison to the amount of content being produced. The advent of Facebook and Twitter gave the opportunity for everyone to have a voice without the follow up societal conversation around best ways to use that voice and when to edit when the voice is not helpful. Case and point, Twitter still lacks an edit button.
We have recently seen a rise of using these tools to degrade the very fabric of our society. There is a general understanding on all of these platforms that you will likely have to block or unfollow someone if you post something controversial. If now isn’t the time to espouse and promote the virtues of editing more, I don’t know when to do so.
Posted: March 7, 2021