Monday, September 12, 2005

The End of the Line

Regular readers have doubtlessly noticed that my frequency of posts has greatly decreased. This has partly been due to my family’s cross-country move. But it’s mainly been due to what you could call blog-out. Yep, I’m fried.

Political blogging is a consuming hobby. Unlike collecting stamps or gardening or writing poetry, there is an unceasing immediacy to blogging. To keep the reader traffic flowing, to keep getting quoted on the cable news channels, to keep getting linked by bigger blogs, you gotta keep writing. Slow down and you lose readers. And readers are the point for most of us. Without readers, you might as well be writing in your diary.

At first, the pace was exhilarating. But then it became burdensome. It cuts into my job during the day which means my job cuts into my time with my family in the evening. And that’s just the effect it has on the allocation of my time. Blogging also creeps unwanted into my mind, alters my perceptions of the world. Every event becomes a source for commentary. Every news story a debate just waiting for bloggers to draw the lines.

Now, I love good debate. That’s why I changed the format of this blog to focus more on ideas and less on news. But, you know, not everything in life is a debate. Not every world event is a chance to pick sides. Some things just are. And sometimes reactions just need to be left raw. To debate can be to eviscerate.

And to say blogging is a form of debate is giving most who practice in the medium too much credit. There are extremely good blogs out there, but most blogs are just noise. Most bloggers aren’t citizen journalists or even citizen essayists. They are citizen spin doctors. They aren’t debating ideas. They’re spinning the truth. They’re wasting their intelligence and time trying to force every event, every moment into their pre-conceived notion of the world. They don’t want to add to the national debate. They want to keep debate from ever happening.

Sometimes I think too many people in this country have stopped trying to change the world and are now just trying to redefine its truths.

We created The Yellow Line as an attempt to battle that trend. I’m not claiming a purity of vision. All I’m claiming is that Joe and I (and those who’ve joined us) have made an honest attempt to keep truths as truths and our opinions as opinions—and we’ve tried not to mingle or purposefully confuse the two. We haven’t always succeeded, but we’ve always made the effort.

Yet I have come to wonder if being a tiny voice for reason in the blogoshpere din is worth the tremendous personal effort that goes into this blog. I wonder what real effect I can actually have here and what price I’d have to pay to achieve it. I wonder if blogging is the best way for me to make a difference. And I wonder if I can achieve much more good with my time by focusing on other paths.

So, after a little less than six months of blogging, I am retiring. The Yellow Line will stay alive should all the contributors who post here want to continue to use this forum. But I’m done with blogging for now.

I want to thank all those who’ve read my words and all those who have taken the time to comment intelligently on them. My frustrations with the form of blogging are only a small reason why I’ve made this decision. The primary reason is my want and need to spend my time differently. And while I am highly critical of many bloggers, I want to make it clear that I have nothing but respect for the writers who contribute to The Yellow Line—they are what’s right with the form.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the energy or will to join them.

I will leave with this last comment: Our political system is in serious trouble. The vast majority of leaders produced by our parties are partisan hacks more interested in political power than in governing wisely or even well. We need change. And the people, I’m convinced, want that change. Not just minor adjustments, but fundamental change.

I think the time for talk is quickly passing. It’s now time to act. I’m not sure what that means for me, but I know it will include me in some form or fashion. I may be leaving this blog, but I’m not giving up on the fight.

I’ll see y’all around.


At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your posts -- well thought out and articulated. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

At 11:52 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

You want be gone for long, Alan… God gave you a wonderful gift of word- I think it’s in his plan for you to use it…
Until then my friend,

At 1:00 AM, Blogger Tom Strong said...

I'm sad to hear it - and glad that you're taking a step in a direction that is meaningful for you.

I think you are right about blogs, in a sense anyway. They are not the tools for organizing that they are often made out to be. And the kind of organizing they do support is often the most dispiriting kind.

Perhaps I'll write a post about it (after my vacation, that is).

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Charles Amico said...

Best of luck in whatever you decide to do. I too have enjoyed reading your well thought out material and will miss reading your views. But consider maybe you just need a break for a while. I found that writing and sharing my views is a release of built up emotions whether they are pleasant emotions or anger. You might find writing is helping you in ways you are not aware of presently and both time and distance will give you a different perspective. If it does, I will still look for that day right here at The Yellow Line.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Dennis Sanders said...

I'm sad to see you go, Alan, but I can understand. Take care of yourself.


At 9:35 AM, Blogger Jerry said...

Sorry to hear that, Alan. I was glad to find this blog, what, a little more than a month ago. You are right, the blogosphere is 99% useless garbage -- which is why I was so happy to see a forum like this, where people from different sides of the aisle (or even the center of the aisle) could argue about important issues in a constructive way.

Let's hope that more bloggers (and, more importantly, more Americans in general) pick up on this way of debating.

Have fun with all your new-found free time! ;)

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Art Allen said...

"Sometimes I think too many people in this country have stopped trying to change the world and are now just trying to redefine its truths."

I've never heard it put better than that.

Very well done sir. I undesrtand your frustration and I hope your vision continues on strong. I know I will be doing my part as well.

Best of luck.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Tom - doubts and all said...

I am sad. All my best, and keep fighting for change.

A liberal friend -

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Sam Nicolas said...

Come out of retirement soon. Your reach is farther than you think.

-Sam Nicolas

At 5:58 PM, Blogger fmodo said...

I've enjoyed your work. I hope you continue to participate in the ongoing conversation.

Take care.

At 6:41 PM, Blogger gljunket said...

Thank you for "who you are" (at least as I know you from this blog), what you've done, and I'm sure, what you will do. I've learned from you and your a good way. Best of luck! You will be missed here.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger GSR said...

I've enjoyed your blog. Wishing you all the best!

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Shaun "OMac" Daily said...

Sorry to hear about your leaving the blog. I had you two on when you were first starting out and I am amazed at the progress and respect The Yellow Line has in the blogosphere.

So true about the political system a mess, I had Matt Unger from the American Centrist Party and he made so much sense that I join up.

Thanks for doing what you could to help make a difference.

Subject2Discussion LIVE Wednesdays at 6pm PT

At 8:19 AM, Blogger amba said...


I hope you will check in here, or somewhere, from time to time to let us know what and how you are doing. Because you will be much missed. You've become a friend, and just as friends can come out of nowhere in the blogosphere, they can vanish again, which is extremely disconcerting. Find a way to stay in touch.

I wonder whether this disenchantment with blogging -- which I'm also feeling, in a way -- is part of the jolt Hurricane Katrina has delivered, much as 9/11 jolted us out of our dot-com trance. Reality just trumps commentary.

I don't know if The Yellow Line will survive your departure, but one thing I hope, especially after reading his post "Storytelling," is that Tom Strong will keep writing on it. Does the world need his staunch and supple take on things? I don't know -- I hope so -- I just know that I do.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...


Words, which are a precious commodity in the blogosphere, are lacking at the thought of you no longer posting your intelligent thoughts for the world to see. Please give us a nibble every now and then.



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