Be a Lighthouse

April 13, 2022
Confidence: likely

A few times a year I’m asked by people what’s the value in maintaining a blog. To their eyes, a blog is a liability. Not only is it extracurricular work, it also, (they say) limits personal growth, since the old things you’ve said stick around. Furthermore, in today’s age of hyper-cancellation, keeping old ideas around is downright dangerous. Who knows what ideas will be out of vogue next week?

None of these problems bother me. I like writing — attempting to serialize ideas into prose acts as an excellent forcing-function. Writing it out makes clear the bits which are weak, and ideas get fleshed out as I try to glue together the disparate pieces. Often, a second essay will be born from the digressions that happen while writing the first.

Furthermore, I’m OK saying I was wrong and stupid in the past. Its a necessary part of growth, and of intellectual honesty — which itself contributes to getting smarter. After all, learning is really hard if you are lying to yourself about what you already know.

As for being cancelled, well, fuck it. If it happens, it happens. But I’m a small target with no audience to speak of. I’m about as uncancellable as can be, and I guess I’ll worry about it if it ever becomes an issue.

So those are some reasons why to not not have a blog. But, as we know, the law of the excluded middle is bupkis. So, why have a blog?

Blogging acts as a lighthouse.

Lighthouses are famously easy things to spot. They broadcast their presence far and wide. It’s their only function. Being a lighthouse makes you easier to find, which is to say, it helps advertise your existence to the sort of people you’d like to find.

Once a month or so I get a cold email from someone who has found my blog and liked it so much they wanted to get in touch. Almost by definition, these are my people. They are people from all around the world, who are thinking about and trying to solve the same problems I am. And that’s a magical gift that I wouldn’t be able to find any other way.

Being a lighthouse is the most important piece of advice I have that isn’t already in the mainstream spotlight. Importantly, it transcends any particular tactics. You don’t need to blog to be a lighthouse. Putting stickers of things you like on your laptop makes you a lighthouse at the coffee shop. Starting (and advertising) a local club for one of your interests makes you a lighthouse.

Niche things, by definition, are hard to find community for. So do your part by organizing enough neg-entropy around you that members of your desired tribe will recognize you when they see you.

Be a lighthouse! You never know what marvelous people might find you.