Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sincerity on the Internet

I spend a fair portion of my time reading, writing, thinking about writing, and talking about writing with other people.

As often as I spend talking about writing, I must spend half that time talking about often I wish I'd had thoughts of half the quality of Joe Posnanski's stray ideas. Go read his post and, if you're interested, read the article he's linked to, then come back here. I'll wait.

Who wants to expose their hearts on the Internet? Who wants to admit -- except in some deeply ironic way -- that they really and truly like something? Who wants to lay bare their enthusiasm, open it up to the boots of cynics and skeptics and snarkers? Much better to start a "Fire Rex Ryan" Web site … or poke fun at Yuni Betancourt.
I think this is the really cool thing about little kids: They don't know enough yet to be cynical or overprotective.
I'm not really big on enthusiasm. I'm a jerk, I'm cruel, and I think everything is stupid. But I can wish for sincerity. I think a part of why we (I) spend so much time pouring over our culture is because we keep trying to understand ourselves better, with a wrongheaded idea that understanding can bring back some of that child dancing at Disneyland enthusiasm for life.

I'm not sure wonder works that way. I look at authors or actors or politicians, and I see the same person over and over: a person performing for me a charade of the person they think I want to see. (I think that freedom from that kind of character performance might be a part of why I love baseball so much, and why the steroid scandal hurts so much, but that's a thought for another time). We have become (as a society) so good at parsing layers of meaning that we can't believe sincerity.

Maybe none of this is a new thought. But it can't be healthy to live in a world were we feel it's impossible to be genuine because the risk of someone else laughing would hurt too much, or where we can't afford to allow someone the chance to get a leg up in whatever rat race we're running because they've seen our soft spot.

So a little sincerity: I admire so much of what Joe Posnanski writes. I'm going to try to be like him when I grow up (see? I made that last bit ironic because it feels safer).

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