Blogs make you superficial, not thoughtful

From a recent interview:

I’m amazed at the amount of time people spend on the internet. I’m not against technology, but all tools should be used to their best advantage. We should be spending our time on things that have staying power. Instead of on the latest thought of the latest blogger – and then moving on quickly to the next blogger. That makes us more superficial, not more thoughtful.

J.I. Packer

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9 thoughts on “Blogs make you superficial, not thoughtful

    • Chris, I would like to believe you’re right and your remarks make me hopeful for our own little endeavor here, but isn’t there another underlying problem Packer points out: the insatiable thirst for the new that drives one to flit from blog to blog looking for the latest thought or insight? Packer causes me to question again our motivation here (see the tagline) and to question my motivation in visiting favorite blogs. What exactly am I on about when I write or surf?

      And to your point, what makes a blog thoughtful?

  1. Kent,
    I think it’s good to question our motives, but again I think the insatiable thirst for the new is nothing new and blogging isn’t necessarily an inherently shallow project. One can easily jump from book to book, only reading introductions. The motivation is different from the medium.

    A blog is thoughtful to the extent that it shows evidence of the author’s own voice, so that there is a conversation with others rather than a parroting of others’ thoughts. Excessive quoting without commentary, or even sharing links, while never completely unhelpful, can evidence a lack of self-involvement. Obviously blogging requires a lot of time and energy (it’s taken me 15 minutes to write and edit this comment alone!). Sometimes we only have time to share the catalysts of our own thinking (blog posts, news articles, etc.), while in the meantime we are working out our thoughts in our own voice in “real life” through conversations with friends and family.

    • I don’t read Packer criticizing the “blog” medium as such (and I wouldn’t myself) but the ways in which the medium is used and toward what ends it leads (I read you saying the same regarding “thoughtfulness”).

      His point seems to be that fliting from blog to blog cultivates the wrong kind of intellectual habits. This is worth considering. And what kinds of activities would lead to the right kind of intellectual habits? Packer does not address this…but if it were me, understanding requires time and one should invest that commodity with great care.

      • That makes sense, Kent. I think your title, “Blogs Make You Superficial, Not Thoughtful,” threw me off the track a bit. Thanks for sharing this, and for your excellent and thoughtful blogging all around.

  2. Pingback: Is Blogging Superficial? – Inhabitatio Dei

  3. Gents, just stumbled on your blog. Looks like you’re doing some great stuff. Well done. It’s funny how I found you. I’m working at the moment on a paper for a doctoral seminar at Duke. I wondered what I’d find if I googled “social trinitarianism.” The entry that popped up, lo and behold, was a review you wrote of Franke et al’s book on the topic. Then I click on your recent entry and see a Packer quote. This is funny then because I TA’d for him for three years while studying at Regent College. I collected all kinds of Packer quips, from the sublime to the strange and sometimes to the disagreeable, and many remain with me to this day. It is funny lastly because of the paper I’m writing. In it I’m exploring ideas related to theology and “practice.” One of the texts I employ like a beast of burden is Vincent Miller’s *Consuming Religion*. His is one of the most helpful books I’ve read on ideas related not simply to consumerism, but to the phenomenon of commodification. To be crudely brief, his argument is that the problem in our culture is not that it breeds in us consumerist appetites (which it does), it is that it breeds in us an appetite to treat all products, including spiritual or ecclesial ones, as objects of consumption. In Miller’s reading, the manner in which we relate to blogs, whether rightly or wrongly, may actually be completely invisible to us.

    So my two pennies to this thread of comments is: 1) I agree with you that a problem does not lie in blogs per se but in how we “handle” them, and 2) I suspect that the problem will never lie in any one media technology but in the cumulative manner in which we employ them in our lives. My anxiety level grows only when I see people inordinately using media technology to, well, mediate human relationships, or relationship to God, or as an easy alternative to engagement with the slower processes of physical nature, which, as you well know, resemble the slower processes of genuine spiritual transformation.

    In any case, a friendly hello to you and all the best in your work.

    Kyle: FYI, I’ll be giving a talk on art and beauty at Biola U. next March. I’ve had a few very enjoyable exchanges with Todd Pickett. I’m also friends with Don Sunukjian. So, yes, I guess, the world is small after all?

  4. Quite small David! Good to see you on this side of the water, at least weighing in. Many of us here have some connection to Aberdeen in our own PhD work. You should come over for the SST conference on theology and the arts in Manchester this April….
    Geordie

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