To Blog is to Blurt

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Rabbi David Wolpe:

Seeing something I have written in print always evokes the wish that I could snatch the words back, if only for a moment, to correct or change them.  Manuscripts of notable novels and poems are almost always indecipherable squiggles, cross-outs, arrows, editing marks.  Second, third and fourth thoughts are essential for clarity and elegance of expression.  As the great Thomas Mann put it, "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."

But the Internet puts a premium on speed.  To blog is to blurt. Quick, you got an email, so respond.  If you were responding in a letter, you might take time to think and think again.  Speed is the friend of reaction and the enemy of thought.

For years I played tournament chess.  The first move that occurs to a player is rarely the best move.  Chess players learn to sit on their hands, to force themselves to slow down.  I fear we are raising a generation that has never learned to sit on its hands.  Our children are learning to respond instantly rather than thoughtfully, and assume spontaneity is always to be preferred over deliberation.  At times the true path is the one requiring patience.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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