I'm going to turn comments off on this post. I'm about to overshare and embarrass myself. No need for you guys to join in.
So on to the oversharing: I recently got quasi-promoted. New title, a little less poor, and few more pieces in the magazine. Obviously, I'm pleased with the development. I don't share this with you guys to brag, but to hopefully help you understand what this audience means to me, in particular, and to The Atlantic, as a whole.
For whatever reason, when I came here, the higher ups left the comments policy up to me. I wanted to have a comments section, but I didn't want it to be a jungle of ad hominem and venom. I didn't want people hanging out in the threads and using the comments section as a kind of anger management device.
Like everyone else I wanted as many commenters as I could get. But more than that I wanted reflective commenters--the kind of folks who said things that I thought about after I walked away from the blog. As part of that, I wanted to close the distance between the writer and the reader. I think a great deal of the unwarranted frustration we see on blogs has to do with the sense that the host isn't actually listening.
This rather vague comments policy has been successful in some ways, and less successful in others. Sometimes we all sound the same, and that's a problem. I don't get as much writing done as I'd like, and that's a problem. But I'd rather grapple with those problems, than have a comment section that looked a stall in the Men's bathroom at Madison Square Garden.
I say all this to say that whenever I have a conversation about this blog with the higher ups, they always--without fail--mention the comment section as one of this blogs most valuable elements. I am tremendously grateful for my relationship with colleagues here at The Atlantic.But just as much, I am tremendously grateful that you guys show up, read, think, and comment.
Rightly or wrongly, whatever success may come my way, I still see myself as the college dropout. At some point I'll have to start telling a different story. But for right now, with all that's happening in the industry, with my record of scholastic ineptitude, I feel tremendously grateful that each day you guys show up to witness the musings of some random dude, whose most notable feat, until recently, was getting tossed out of high school twice. (I would add fathering a child. But my co-d did most of the work.) That feeling is, in no small order, is because of this assembled community--commenters and lurkers. The Atlantic has many more notable feats in its history. But I know, again given these times, that from the top down the feeling here is still the same.
In short, thanks all.