Why I Write Reason 20: It Keeps People at a Distance

Because I grew up prior to the internet age, I hold some opinions many people find to be strange. One of them is around the relationship between the artist and the consumer of that art. Short answer: there isn’t one. It isn’t a transitive property. If I read a book, whether I love it, hate it, or am indifferent to it, I have a relationship with that book. The author wrote the book, so they have a different relationship with that book. That doesn’t mean that I, in any way explicit or implied, have a relationship with the author. That’s not the social contract, or even the assumption. At least, it was before the coming of the internet.

When I was a kid, if I loved a book, or a band, or a television show, I couldn’t go to their Facebook page or Twitter account or official website and blast off a message to them. I could write a letter, but that took effort and intention. I’d have to locate an address to sent it to, which wasn’t always easy pre-Google. I’d have to think about what I wanted to say, write it longhand or type it neatly, put it into an envelope, find a stamp, and drop it in the mail. Even then, I wasn’t guaranteed any sort of response, not did I feel entitled to one. No one casually dropped an opinion on anything, and only did so if they were particularly passionate about something.

Most of the time, when a creator makes something, they infuse everything they want to say into that creation. When they release it into the world, they’re done. It’s a statement, not an invitation to open up a dialog. It’s not the start of a new conversation, it’s the definitive end to a particular train of thought that the creator was having. People are free to discuss the work among themselves, to adore it, despise it, or be completely indifferent about it, but the creator’s participation beyond that isn’t mandatory. Odds are, they’ve moved onto the next thing they want to create.

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