But, I Digress . . .: a brief digression about the massive size of the internet and why you shouldn’t feel bad for calling yourself a writer.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

There’s a scene in an episode of Seinfeld in which a woman cheers on hundreds of marathon runners by shouting, “You’re all winners!”

A few years ago, I wrote a rather short essay that still managed to wander off-topic in spite of its brevity entitled “Everyone is a Writer.” No exclamation point, but it might as well have had one.

My premise was that, in this glorious 21st Century, technology has advanced to the point that everyone could be immediately published and read by readers all over the globe. No pesky publishers or editors. Everyone can now honestly say that they are writers.

What I failed to consider is that the majority of people still aren’t committing a string of alphabetical characters to the ether for possible receivers to “read.” Most people still aren’t writers and don’t want to be writers. They are making fifteen-second video loops, sometimes ranting about some subject they’re pretending that they’re passionate about, or posting memes on Instagram or SnapChat or whatever it is the kids are now into.

It’s true that photo captions are a kind of writing. And many of the monologues don’t really seem off-the-cuff. That suggests some sort of script was written. This may be a loophole.

I mean, Quentin Tarentino was a writer, even before he published his novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Scripts count.

So, what I seem to be saying is that everyone who has even a modest desire to be a writer can instantly publish their recipes, opinion pieces, book, music or video reviews, as well as fiction and memoirs, where millions of potential readers can read it on their various screens. At their leisure.

Of course, the digital landscape is extremely cluttered. At this point in its continual evolution, the internet contains so many bytes of information that the numbers involved require Seussian names such as zettabyte and yonnabyte. To create a relatable analogy the way President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters used to do, there is—right this exact second—enough information that, if all the characters could be printed on paper, from margin-to-margin, top-to-bottom, with no indentations or friendly oasis-like white spaces at all, these pages would cover the entire surface of Earth at a depth of nearly half-an-inch.

Feel free to check my math on this. There is the distinct possibility that anything presented to you by me as factual may not, in fact, be so. One thing is for sure, though. There’s a lot of stuff already there on the internet. If you ever used a search engine, even once, you know there’s a lot of stuff on there. And the amount of information grows exponentially, every minute of the day.

While you have the freedom to self-publish just about anything you want to in digital space, it’s easy for your words to get lost amidst the noise. Your words may only connect with a select handful of people in the world. For some of us, that’s enough.

Maybe I was wrong when I said that everyone was a writer.

It’s more accurate to say everyone can be a writer. Everyone can send their words zipping around the world at lightspeed. You’re a writer before anyone ever reads what you’ve written. It’s just that you don’t feel like a writer until someone else actually reads your stuff. It’s now easier than ever to make this feeling happen.

If you’re reading this, I am a writer. You can be one, too.


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