I woke up this morning and realized I’d made myself a little sad with what I wrote yesterday in Real. I think some clarification is in order, if only to ensure that I made the points I truly intended.

I certainly didn’t mean to say I think writing is an inherently fake and therefore useless endeavor. If I thought that, it would mean what I’ve been doing and loving all my life — reading and writing — is pointless. For me, there’s hardly anything more powerful than words. Maybe nothing is. And exchanging them through conversation in person, over the phone, though a screen, or on actual paper — all of those things, done intentionally, are real.

Words, pictures, sound, movement — writing, photography, film, art, music, dance — when done well and thoughtfully, they evoke feeling. That’s what makes them real. There’s nothing fake about creating something to communicate a feeling, or putting your emotions into something and sharing it. That’s what connecting is — sharing something that’s important to you and having others recognize it. And thinking about how you’re going to present it is part of that. It doesn’t mean you’re lying or being artificial about the original intent or feeling.

Words are important, and it’s important to choose the right ones, to be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it, to consider whether it really reflects what you mean. Online, it’s often easy to neglect to do that, or to have ulterior motives about the words you select and how you wield them. Perhaps that is where the problems begin.

It’s a real loss when words lose their heft and get tossed around like paper airplanes with sharp edges. I think that’s what I meant to say. We should never stop using them, and honing our skills at using them. In some ways, they’re all we’ve got.


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