MonthMay 2012

Thank you notes

Do you admire someone that makes cool things? Let them know. Send them a thank you note. Write them a letter or send an email. Send a private message on your social network of choice. Write a blog post and email them the link.

Writers and artists make things because they love to create. But there is no creation in a vacuum. If you appreciate their work, tell them about it.

Nothing lifts my spirits more than when someone responds to something I have written. I know people are reading my words when I write them. I can see analytics and hit counts. I can see there are people reading but I don’t know what they’re thinking.

  • Are they enjoying what I write?
  • Do they hate it?
  • Am I speaking to them or am I falling on deaf ears?

There are so many distractions on the Internet it is easy to overlook the human connection behind the words, photos and works of others.

There are people behind the screen names and avatars. There are humans with as much self-doubt and apprehension as many of us feel about putting their work out into the world. Hitting Publish is scary.

Tell them you enjoy it.
Tell them you got something from it.
Tell them you disagree.

It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to be.

This morning, the latest patron letter from Patrick Rhone appeared in my inbox and it spoke to me.

It was a piece called “What’s Broken?” It was all about taking stock of your environment and figuring out the little things that are broken. What small, daily annoyances could I remove from my life to reduce friction?

It spoke to me in its profound simplicity. And for the first time since becoming a patron, I sent him a little note in return.

He responded in kind. It was a short but meaningful exchange. He knew his words had resonated within me and I appreciated his words and I got the appreciation and wisdom from those words.

Take some time today and write a little note to someone your respect or enjoy online.

It will brighten their day and you will both feel good afterwards.

If you’re breathing, you’re OK

Take a deep breath. Let it slowly fill you. Pretend all of this air is all the frustration you’ve had in your day so far. Then let all that air out. Not too fast, but in a slow gust. Breathe out slowly. Let the anger and frustration out. Free it from your brain and lower your stress level. Feel lighter and happier. Feel like you’ve let out all of the poison inside your body.

Everything is better now. Everything is fine now. It will all be OK. It is all OK. It has all been OK since the first day and the first time you took in your first breath. It has always been OK. You’ve been fooling yourself ever since that it’s not OK.

Breathe in. Breath out. Repeat. Everything is ok. It always has been.

On profanity

Profanity on the web exists. People use it. Get used to it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. If you read a writer who uses it, stop reading them. If you stumble across it on a normally curse-free site, it’s not the end of the world.

Profanity is out there

They are merely words and those words cannot hurt you. As the old nursery rhyme goes, sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.1

There is no point in hiding a naughty word behind an asterisk. You’re not fooling anyone. I agree with the advice doled out by Tom Borowski.

If you’re going to use expletives, don’t try to hide them. Just write them out in full or figure out a way to compose your sentence with a more sophisticated vocabulary. For fuck’s sake.

My stance on profanity in my writing

This got me to thinking about profanity and how I view and use it. I’ve always maintained a policy of not using profanity in my writing.2 Whether it be a social network update, comments on a blog or writing I sign my name to and post on my own pages across the web, I don’t curse when I write.

It’s not because I’m opposed to it morally or ethically. I feel I can craft a better sentence without it. There are plenty of acronyms for increasing the impact of the statement I’m making without a curse word thrown into the mix.

I also do not curse in my writing because it’s a distraction and turns away readers. I don’t want someone to not read my words or ignore the point I am making because they hit a disagreeable word.

When I was writing and recording for Splintered Reality I made a point to never use curse words in my lyrics because I wanted to reach as many people with my words as I could. I don’t agree with censorship but the fact remains, if there is cursing, there is editing or censoring and I didn’t want my words to be changed so I wrote them without it.

It’s vital to remember in the age of a connected world, what you say online stays online. What you say will never go away. It’s being indexed, and relinked and quoted across the web with or without your knowledge.

Some people curse like sailors, others never so much as utter a rude word. The web is a huge place and filled with people at both ends of the spectrum and all along it.

But you just used a naughty word in this post

Just as I don’t agree with censorship, asterisks and clean edits of songs, I don’t agree with censoring someone if I quote them.

The F-word appears in this post. It appears in its full and unfiltered glory but as part of a quote. Sure, I could have omitted the last part of the quote and kept it out of this post, but I wanted to prove a point.

I do not write with curse words in my writing but I am not afraid to use them when quoting what others have said. Just as I want to be heard and read exactly as I intended, I want to give others the same courtesy.

Hypocrite

Is this hypocritical? Probably. However, this is my blog. This is my site. This is my space to write on the web that is an extension of myself. This is my front porch where I sit in my rocking chair and yell at you kids to keep off the grass.

As Jeffrey Zeldman wrote recently, This is my personal site. There are many like it, but this one is mine. He is talking about the design changes but the same idea applies to the content.

This is my site. I am not posting on a Facebook or Twitter. You’re most likely not going to haphazardly come across this post in a stream of updates unless you’re previously subscribed.

What about offline

Offline, I do curse when I speak sometimes. I’ve gone between never uttering a curse word to cursing like a pressman.3

My cursing comes and goes. A lot of it has to do with the people I’m around and how they speak. I don’t have any objections to being exposed to it but I also find it jarring in certain contexts.

My policy on cursing in writing is more concrete than my personal language. There is plenty of room for shades of gray and there is no clear-cut answer for me. Sometimes I curse, sometimes I don’t but I keep my writing clean. That’s what is important to me and that’s how I carry myself online and off.

Photo Credit


  1. Yes, I realize that words can hurt but that’s another topic or another time. 

  2. Yes, I know there’s a naughty word in the last paragraph but I’m getting to that. 

  3. If you’d ever spent any time working for a printing company, you’d understand. 

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On Belay

Who are your belayers?

When I was 40 feet in the air on a pole, I knew there was a team of four people who had my back. They are my support. They held the ropes to catch me if I fell. They are my belayers.

They are the support network They allowed me to climb higher and work harder than I could have on my own. I knew, without a doubt, even if I fell they would catch me.

Those four people took away my fear of the task at hand. They took away my doubt because if I failed, they would catch me.

They are my safety net.

Who is your safety net in life? When you climb a little higher or make that leap of faith, who is there to catch you?