A Rumination on Social Media Platforms

I spend a fair amount of time and effort in writing, as those who follow this platform and others on which I work (such as the Tales after Tolkien Society Blog) can guess. (How effective those efforts are, I do not know, and though I hope they are quite so, I do not know that I want to know.) And I’ve recently made an effort to return to posting on yet another platform, one I had been more active on and seem to have neglected for quite some time. Another webspace has been detailing my efforts in that regard; I look forward to seeing how matters play out in that regard. But of moment for this webspace is some consideration of the social media platforms themselves–not only this one (since blogs do count as such), but of the others on which the materials here appear.

Related image
A fair sample.
Image from HuffPost, used for commentary.

For the sakes of ease and of retaining the sanity I (arguably) retain, I tend to replicate materials across platforms. That is, I post in one place, and the post either populates across my media platforms or, in one case, I copy it over “manually,” so that those who view one platform and not others can see it. Doing so has the advantage of getting what I write in front of as many eyes as can be expected with minimal effort and less expense (because, though I would like to make more money from doing this, I have yet to do so–though that is a matter for another time). The problem, however, is that the process also tends to homogenize my self-presentation across those same media. While it is the case that having a consistent “brand identity” (and there is something indeed problematic in describing people in such terms, but it is one of the prevailing paradigms, and I cannot escape my social contexts) can be beneficial, the idea of different platforms, of different media, is that there should be difference of presentation among them.

Each constitutes a different context, addresses a different audience with a different purpose. What I seek to do in this webspace, for example, is to present myself as an engaged scholar and teacher, and as a writing professional. In another I maintain, I carry out any number of personal ruminations, opening my efforts up to critique but writing primarily for the practice of it. (It does seem to have been helping. I am writing better now than previously, if the results of some of my workplace writing are to be trusted.) In yet another, the aforementioned Tales after Tolkien Society blog, I also work for scholarship and cultural commentary. I am not ashamed of any of those presentations; I would not make them public if I were. (That I keep a personal journal, and in pen on paper, might be looked at in that respect, at least in part.) But I do not know that what I show in one context is necessarily the best to show in another. That is, I do not know that all my media platforms ought to be all that consistent. They ought not to be identical.

Ought they?

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A Rumination on #WhanThatAprilleDay 2019

Image result for chaucer
Riding and in his litel woolen hatte; image from Luminarium.org, used for commentary.

The Greatest of Geoffreys writes in his most famous of works, incomplete though it is, that

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open yë,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages):
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
(And palmers for to seken straunge strondes)
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

Now is April come, and though no showers fall upon any given patch of ground, and though March was no drought for many places, still do I hearken to the call of the Greatest of My Name, who did have many problems in his life and was the cause of no few of them, yet still stands as emblem and encapsulation of the time and place in which he lived. For today is Whan That Aprill Daye, upon which those of us who know celebrate again the older languages we have studied, both those whose heirs yet live and those that have perished without issue yet are still kept in memory and regarded with wonder and amazement by those who serve as votaries to them in a secular priesthood that makes too many martyrs.

Though I am expatriate or exile from a country that I have loved but that will not accept me, one of many cast upon the waves to drift across strange currents, still do I look to the words written in days long gone by, seeing in them wisdom to be spoken again today and every day, though perhaps in words made new, since more move ahead than look behind, as if in fear that something will break upon them in pursuit and not relax until it takes them into itself and makes them other than they are. But I know myself not to be enough; I will never suffice if I remain as I am, and I wonder if the future has a place for me, or if I ought to let the past overwhelm me.

There remains virtue to be found in the works of the past, though many will not think so, and many others will look to them not for virtue, but to justify the corruption of the world they would instantiate and extend. There remains much in them that is to the bad, of course, but that is not less true of today’s works than of those that precede them; all are equally the products of human hands and minds, and there are none of us pure in all of ourselves. On this day, when we are exhorted to look to the past, it is a thing that bears remembering–for we cannot truly move ahead until we know whence it is that we have come, until we understand the forces that have shaped us from before we could be aware of them, looking at what has formed us awry that we may set it aside, gathering to us more of what has been good, that we may be the better for it.

There is grace to be found in the giving of gold
To seekers of solace in summer and cold
And workers for wisdom who once thought themselves bold;
Give, thus, and gently let you your grace hold.