[Originally published Sep. 3, 2016.]

Alan Jacobs:

Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided to resume my tumblr, on which I was very active for around eight years or so — I’ll have my 10-year Tumblrversary next March — because I wasn’t getting a ton of traffic here and I thought “Why bother to post stuff that almost no one reads?”

I resemble that remark, so allow me to offer some answers.

  • For the sheer joy of expression which requires no external validation
  • To avoid pestering individual friends with long-winded emails
  • For posterity
  • To nurture a self-pitying fantasy of yourself as a misunderstood genius surrounded by unappreciative philistines
  • Montaigne wrote his Essays without an audience for ten years before publishing them (if it was good enough for him…)
  • To give solid form, structure, and clarity to your thoughts
  • Because when you read a lot of books, your head gets filled with words, and if you don’t empty them out periodically, they’ll start talking amongst themselves, and the din will be unbearable
  • To look busy at work
  • For its own sake, as with other spiritual disciplines and practices
  • To be surprised by how often a piece of your writing looks better when rediscovered
  • Because even the latent possibility of an audience keeps you from lapsing into “Dear Diary” self-indulgence
  • For the same reason we do almost anything beyond eating, sleeping, and reproducing: to distract ourselves from thinking about our inevitable deaths
  • Because the older generations walked miles every day to work tirelessly on the website factory assembly lines so that you kids could one day have the luxury of playing with preassembled, smoothly-functioning text editing platforms in any color or design you could want, so I really don’t think it’s asking too much that you take a few minutes to sit down and use the thing without crying about the fact that it doesn’t come with an audience included.