Writing is art or did it become something else?

Dear Bloggers,

The last couple of days rain has been pooring down and due to the bad weather I once again sat musing about the past and I write on a piece of "nostalgia of the long gone years" I sit behind the computer and think back to my childhood that I was laying on the floor playing with a couple of miniature cars and my mother meanwhile handled the vacuum cleaner, I still remember the typical smell of soft soap and feel the warm air blow from the vacuumcleaner onto my face. For me a reason to write my earliest memories down.

I therefore look forward to your earliest memories. And maybe you would love to share that with all of us.

How far can you go back with your memories? I cannot tell that as these imprints are absolutly different per person. I know that there were quite a few events in my childhood that I can pick up as they are forever printed in my mind. Just everyday things, nothing special.

For example, I remember that I once stood in the dining room in front of the table and I was determined to sse something on the table. Just standing on my toes and holding onto it I was able to look at some items on the table. That was the first moment to me of being proud as I felt very big because I could look across the table for the first time instead of looking against it. No idea how old I was, but it os strange that you remember that moment and that feeling.

I have two sisters and one brother, I was the youngest. My father worked in a factory and my mother was a housewife so we were an ordinary family. I was dropped of every schoolday by my mother at the kindergarten, who continued with groceryshopping and housework. My mother made the most delicious coffee and my father was reading the newspaper in the cozy living room in a lovely big armchair. Then the TV came on to watch the evening news. Life was not that complicated at those years. If you wanted to comment on something you had to do that in person or write a letter to newspaper and send it by mail to them. It would make you think first. 

These are sort of my earliest memories. So they go back to my fourth year of life. I wonder how far you go back memories. In our present time everything is much more hectic. We have become terrified of missing something, the so-called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

In the opinionstorm of print and broadcast the storm continues to print paper and the role of reflection. And the people who really read, can often write better as a matter of fact.

Besides seeing writing as unique art or craft that can teach many, there is a third form: thumb typing. That is everywhere. We live in a time when everyone writes and no one reads. And gives opinions. Published in a second. What is the function of editorial pages as the slow process of printing and paper making way for fast printing and sending?

In the summer of 2008, I first came into contact with the iPhone which at that time was for the first time in the Netherlands for sale exclusively for the phone company T-Mobile. This device accelerated ease the mind revolution that was going on in evening talk shows, blogs and reader comments in the Internet published pieces.

In those days you rather read a book as many other passengers on the bus or train or they were hiding behind a small free or paid large newspaper, suddenly everyone was putting himself or herself to writing. At first only textmessages, but soon via mobile internet we could write on almost anything. With the iPhone and its imitators were also Facebook and other platforms accessible. On train platforms and in waiting rooms and train chairs in rows for cash, bike and even in the car you see people sitting fixated tapping their small personal screen. Even Her Majesty Queen Beatrix had noticed this: "People communicate through rapid brief messages," she noted in her Christmas speech 2009.

The newspaper editors were to be exempted to remove a sludge of invective between the reader comments. For direct response digital was something different from the classic letter to the newspaper. Every drunk could, once ended up at home, his twaddle hurtle directly to a site without a stamp and without any reflection. He did not even had to count to ten.

The late ramblings in the pub became public. Anti-Semites, racists, violent characters, many anonymous.

The question is: Is there someone out there who reads three hundred reactions on an article about asylum seekers still? We thought we let everyone have their say. But the people under our articles appeared to consist of a dozen people who responded to each other, including a bitchfight between an artist from Rotterdam and a lady from Spain.

A number of sites managed to perfect the art of swearing to a profession, and sometimes it's funny too. All authors. More and more people made their own little newspaper on Facebook, some with thousands of "friends". It could even shorter, with 140 characters on Twitter, launched in 2006 and 2009 really established in the Netherlands.

Everywhere you had to respond and scold became an art how can insult someone as hard as possible and then preferably also anonymous. Yes those are the real heroes in our society. However, it takes all this attention only briefly. Because they are greedy for sensation and as many people should be destroyed. And after a day or two it has been all forgotten again. Because you have to be on time with the new little storm.

In this digital bath full of hissing fury remains a printed and online opinion page in the newspapers regularly a stunning slow journalism island. Submitted papers to read and talk about and corresponding. Checked information. Topics devise and get there in the best possible author. That can come from the Netherlands, but as well from the US, Germany or Peru. Preferably not someone from the editors, because they are having enough text elsewhere in the paper. Many experts, writers and essayists that protrude above the mass opinion. That show what the reflection of paper for printing and has the nervousness of Twitter and a blog. A good opinion piece is simple: it contains a clear opinion contained in an argument with examples.

If that is in theory.

If authors are skilled with the pen, they quickly in the newspaper. Knowledge and expertise is a recommendation, but it can also turn against the author. Too much knowledge is assumed to be known, you get lost in details. Others are afraid to upset colleagues so alone desirability as "sustainability" or "future-proofing". Which often mean the opposite of what is intended. With opinion pieces is no diplomacy businesses.

Ask for a clear piece is sometimes like you are strapped with your hands on to a bicycle and get on it. Politicians rarely want to give a non-predictable opinion. Timing is also part of their profession. There is the distinct ideology of a party, but everyone knows already. Not surprisingly, the ANWB who wants to build more roads. And every article on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raises many reactions against but the arguments are the same age and known as the battle itself.

I've got respect for the men and women who send every day ten to fifty pieces and letters in the electronic mailbox of the newspaper to ensure their voices. Especially men like me, middle age or older, who want to share their experiences. In good spirits, while only two pieces of post, internet with it some more. Brave they fall for the papers firing squad, and the rejection they take on in a sporty way.

Why women dare to come less often with their opinion? Besides being less confident it should also be efficient: why do all that work to do with a very uncertain outcome? At least that is my opinion,

Fortunately, there are people who can still be thankful sitting down with a real newspaper who are still being made for real readers. They can often also write well. They know a lot, point out mistakes, put in a letter of two hundred words telling you the difference between a piano and a keyboard or the possibilities of a vacant building.

That kind of spontaneous reactions, surprising authors, new topics, deliciously absurd entries and commentaries I will miss, because more and more newspapers are getting in trouble for the simple fact that people no longer buy one to quietly sit down and read. Now I have myself thrown in the army of millions of enthusiastic writers. And I secretly hope that someone actually will read my stories.

The Old Sailor.


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