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  • Lance Mannion
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Beautiful post. Funnily enough, and you may not have read my email (or perhaps you simply chose not to respond), I asked you for advice not too long ago: I wanted you to help me figure out what to do with my life. And yes, frequently, life doesn't seem like it's worth living, so maybe I'm like those people who wrote to Alda.

But after I didn't get a response, I did the sensible thing and had a long talk with one of my mentors, who helped me figure out what I want to do.

So you're off the hook. :)


Toughen up your hide, guru empath. Your conversations with yourself are why we come here. It doesn't matter if we agree or disagree. We're paying attention.


Lance, and I mean this in the kindest way possible--the people who react in anger the way you describe are NOT worth the effort you just put into apologizing to them.


Hey Mr. Mannion, I come here to read your well-written opinions and please know I appreciate them. I'm probably one of many who came here on the recommendation of James Wolcott, and to me his endorsement is high praise indeed. And you've definitely more than made good on that. I know absolutely nothing about you, but I enjoy your writing and POV on things.

I'm sorry that there are troubled people out there, either asking advice or berating you for whatever their own issues are.

It's funny you bring up Alan Alda in the beginning of your post. Got me to remembering: He was a local presence in the Hamptons when I grew up there, and I remember as a teen in the 80's being in line behind him at a chi-chi sandwich shop. It seemed like the whole place was silently electrified at the presence of such a celebrity in their midst, but being a punkish misanthrope decided to ignore his presence. I said hello to my classmate behind the counter, too cool to acknowledge the TV star at my elbow. My classmate was fairly agog at the Alda's presence. There was flop-sweat. Alda was I think sanguine at having 20 people gawk (I dunno, I was to cool to look, lol).

When I left the shop I actually felt sorry for Alda- it was the first time I saw how people will observe a celebrity as an animal in a zoo, and I thought how unpleasant that would be, people staring and whispering. Feeling the right to have an opinion on you, what you do.

Which brings me to the last part of your post: blogging (prominently, with readership) isn't celebrity, but there's a similar amount of exposure, people thinking they know you, a fair amount of kooks and lost souls. Basically, you get the worst parts of "fame", without the Swiss chalets, money, and frolicking with starlets.

It's hard to expose your personal thoughts regularly, and negativity stings. But in the same way creatives always remember one bad review and forget 99 positive ones, I do hope you realize what talent you have, and how many people truly enjoy your writing. Please keep at it.


So true: "It's one of the reasons for writing, to see the thoughts going through your head stated in actual words instead of feeling those thoughts all in a jumble."

What happens after you've written them, though? Do they go away? For me, it settles things.


So I would like to say to anyone who's ever felt that way or who might feel that way in the future when reading some post of mine, I'm not trying to tell you what to think.

I'm trying to figure out what I think.


This is exactly what I try to get across to my students; their papers are not "proofs" of absolute truth, nor are they simply "opinions." They are the work of people sharing what they think, explaining how they got to that point, and hoping that others will join them for the ride.

Blogging adds the opportunity for the readers to talk back during the process, but, really, if what someone says doesn't work for you, getting huffy at them for having thoughts that challenge your own isn't very productive. Critique the logic, point out the implications, offer your alternative interpretation... but getting offended merely because someone in the world has failed to help you maintain the pristine bubble of your unchallenged thoughts? That's just sad.


Old son: you, Sara Robinson and James Wolcott are reason sufficient unto yourselves worth getting on the internets every day.

Your voices feed my sanity.

Well said, and thank you.

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