journalism

You Just Shouldn't

If your response to something you dislike or disagree with in your chosen subculture is, “I just can’t with this,” you’re writing in the wrong place.

Non-writers can afford the luxury of being too triggered or disgusted to respond to something. Writers focusing on one particular niche topic may feel free to disregard or shrug off ideas in a different niche than their own. But if an idea in your subculture starts to gain traction—any attention or viability at all—excusing yourself from the conversation with “I just can’t with this” probably means you should excuse yourself from the conversation entirely.

This isn’t a knock against people who have wounds or trauma that make it too difficult for them to address certain subjects. And it may just mean you need to narrow your focus. For example, if you, a fashion blogger, have experienced emotional trauma from fat-shaming such that you can’t write about body image issues, fine: you’re a fashion blogger who doesn’t write about body image. If, on the other hand, you claim to be a fashion blogger who does want to address body issues, but every fifth article you read on the subject makes you shut down for the day, you probably need to stop writing on this subject.

I can hear you thinking now, “Oh sure, invalidate my opinions because of their strong emotional component.” Nope. Your opinions are totally valid. Your status as a writer is not. If you want to have a voice in a certain discussion, you have to be present for the entire discussion. Nice, considerate people—people who already feel kindly-disposed to you and eager to hear your thoughts (that is, the core of your existing audience)—will listen to whatever you have to say, even if you need to duck out of the conversation halfway through. If you want everyone else to pay attention to you, though, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and stay in the conversation, refusing to back down in the face of not only strong, direct opposition but unintentional triggering as well.

If you want to call yourself A Writer, you don’t get a choice about this. Do you think war correspondents with PTSD get to keep their beat as long as they don’t have to see anything too grisly?

The Story About the Story

Yesterday Apple announced the upcoming version of its desktop operating system, Mountain Lion, or for people who don’t like kitschy names that are easy to lose track of, OS X 10.8.

You can read about its new features at… well, pretty much everywhere. Despite that, to me the announcement of Mountain Lion, apart from its earliness, is not that huge a story. The story about the story is actually bigger than the story.

Yes, I used my title in my post. You’re free to leave if you don’t like how I run things around here.

You can read over at Daring Fireball how John Gruber and an undisclosed number of other Apple/Tech journalists were invited to individual presentations by Phil Schiller showing off the features of the new OS. This is pretty strange because I can’t ever remember Apple introducing a new product in this manner. They either do a quiet website update with a press release or throw a big event in Cupertino and invite everyone in advance.

But from Gruber’s description, they essentially replicated the format and tone of one of their big events, just for one person at a time. No one knows how many of these mini-keynotes they did, although I suppose you could walk around on the web and count the number of tech writers telling the same story. So far I’ve only seen it from Gruber and Andy Ihnatko. UPDATE: It turns out Andy Ihnatko was not included. He’s apparently just really quick on the draw, because he had that article up like lightning.

Anyway, check out this quote from Gruber’s story:

But this, I say, waving around at the room, this feels a little odd. I’m getting the presentation from an Apple announcement event without the event. I’ve already been told that I’ll be going home with an early developer preview release of Mountain Lion. I’ve never been at a meeting like this, and I’ve never heard of Apple seeding writers with an as-yet-unannounced major update to an operating system. Apple is not exactly known for sharing details of as-yet-unannounced products, even if only just one week in advance. Why not hold an event to announce Mountain Lion–or make the announcement on apple.com before talking to us?

That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.

“Now” presumably being delicate shorthand for “now that Steve’s gone”.

Interesting things afoot at the company I love.