Steve Martin had this bit about the lasting effects of a college education. You can take a bunch of math courses and it will be forgotten in a few years. But you take just one class in philosophy and it can screw you up for the rest of your life.
If I understand it correctly, solipsism is that branch of philosophy that basically says you are the only thing that truly exists, that everything else is a projection, your invention. If that’s the case, I want a re-do because I didn’t get it.
If I did, I’d be enjoying my second or third act after retiring from a long if not overwhelming career as a professional baseball player, then as a best-selling published author (but for a good book, not something like Lenny Dykstra’s latest memoir that somehow wound up on the NY Times list), and then as a sportswriter.
If I were doing this right, I would be living comfortably though not ostentatiously. One home and one car would do me just fine, although a getaway place somewhere in New England might be nice, too.
But instead, I sit at the precipice of 60, too young (and poor) to retire, but too old to fit into the new paradigm. No matter how smart I might be, no matter how quickly I can adapt to new computer skills and far-flung programs for social media and clicks and SEOs, I fear I will never get a chance to fit in. As I scour the various job boards, the descriptions for positions under the broad “editorial” banner are almost like a foreign language in the qualities employers are looking for. Everything seems to have a finger in finances, with requirements spread across many platforms instead of focusing on just one. The modern journalist, it would seem, has to be as much of a master of internet analytics as the ability to just write good, compelling content. I do a daily thing for an organization with a Facebook page that takes an hour so or. Basically it’s just posting a few links to germane items, no heavy lifting involved. But I’m told by my higher-ups that I need to write shorter. I don’t want to be that “things were better in my day” types, but my generation had enough powers of concentration that we could absorb more than 140 characters at a time. We didn’t have so many distractions that we couldn’t concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes. (See “Nosedive,” the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror.)
I’m sure some of my contemporaries will back me up: in addition to writing stories, columns, etc., you also have to write a blog and/or host a podcast and/or provide video. Personally I have no problem with that. I’m actively hosting three blogs right now and one of them has a podcast component. But one of these days, Congress is going to enact a 30-hour day so we can get everything done, because 24 just ain’t getting it done. In the meantime, I guess I have to focus better.
More later. Or not. Because if I am doing this thing right, it really doesn’t matter, does it?