// quitting

I love that the second scene in David Fincher’s The Social Network is of Mark Zuckerberg writing his blog, criticising Erica Albright, the girl who has just broken up with him in a bar. It seems like such an accurate description of blogging on film, and a perfect summary of Zuckerberg’s character. He’s a figure who writes in his attempt to communicate, and in the online world he has profile and status. His comments are a statement of how he believes his thoughts to be worthwhile, an assertion that he is here and he should be heard. Sure, he’s a social disaster and so most of the film depicts him sitting on the outskirts of the parties that are going on around him, but his blog (and facebook) are nonetheless his attempts to connect with a world that seems to have forgotten him.

I’ve been thinking about this the last few weeks. The other day, exhausted and burned-out on this blog, I wrote this:

You have no idea how close I’ve come to quitting this blog lately. Watching my numbers crumble to a third of their original size almost overnight, developing envy for others who have managed to get huge numbers by posting articles that are hurtful, divisive or badly thought-out (and then boasting about those numbers afterwards) and being paralysed by the fear that maybe i have simply lost it, that i have nothing left to say. It’s all happened, and it’s hurt, no lies. Honestly, I’ve been seconds away from ditching the whole thing for a while now. And then finally, yesterday night, I decided to do it.

I decided that I was done with trying to say useful things, because I was no longer capable of even saying useful things to myself anymore. I decided that I was finished with listening for God’s voice in the ordinary life and finished with trying to talk about it. And i resolved to walk away from this internet community that has built up over the past couple of years and focus more on building real community instead. I nearly sat down and wrote all of this in a post last night, but instead exhaustion crept over me and whispered, “do it in the morning.”

When I woke up the next day, I took a deep breath, fought the urge to hide beneath the covers, and hauled myself out of bed.

I am no more likely to stop writing this blog than i am to stop getting out of bed. Some mornings it is the last thing I want to do and it feels like i cannot face it, but i haven’t quite yet. I have given up on a lot of things in my life – friendships, relationships, happiness, ever being tall, ever being well-built, multiple novels – all because of that seductive voice that whispers in my ear.

The one that tells you to quit. That your dreams are ludicrous. That faith will lead you only to pain. That you will never be loved, will never be worth it, will only be unwanted.

All of us know that voice at some time in our lives.

I have given up on so much over time and I’ve given in to the attacks on those things, but there are certain things that are non-negotiable. Because if you keep giving ground, sooner or later you end up robbed of everything you have, and unable to get out of bed. It has taken me a long time to realise this, but I can see it now. The Bible talks about Satan as a thief, out to steal from us all that is worthwhile and valuable in this world. He won’t stop. He won’t go away if we give ground. He will just keep stealing all that we have.

And so the only answer is to fight. Sometimes it might seem like a weary fight and often it will feel like one that has no end, facing the same temptations again and again, fighting off the same lies even years on. But listen, I am not giving up. This is too important to me.

I have given up enough ground to the enemy, and it has to stop here. So I am sticking this one out, irrespective of the cost. I am tired of quitting too soon – because of fear or pain or attack.

Satan has taken enough that is good and valuable from me this far. But it’s gone far enough. He is not having this.

I wrote that a couple of weeks back, and it’s been sitting in draft form for a while. The reason behind that is because I’m simply not sure whether to carry on anymore. A couple of writers who i really respect – Donald Miller and Anne Jackson – have both talked about shutting down their blogs over that period, so maybe it’s just that time of year or perhaps there’s something in the water. Matt over at the Church of No People talked about writing a blog for your own benefit a few weeks back, to encourage you to think and reflect on circumstances that you might not otherwise reflect on, and he’s got a point. But I can’t help thinking life would be a lot easier if I didn’t write like this.

In the end, all of this is an attempt to communicate. There’s been some discussion about the value of online identity lately, but I think David Fincher is onto something in his depiction of Mark Zuckerberg. We all want to be seen, want to be recognised as worthwhile, and for the people who write blogs, that affirmation comes from those people reading and commenting. So long as there is a community and so long as people are talking, then it’s valuable, but nobody wants to be writing solely for themselves – in fact, i’d argue that even the people in journals don’t want to be. We want somebody to share all that junk with one day, even if it’s not now, otherwise we wouldn’t have written it down.

That explains why I haven’t taken this blog down yet, though. I haven’t decided on whether it’s a community that’s still worth persevering in, or whether one day you call it a day and focus on putting your efforts into community elsewhere, probably offline.

I haven’t decided to quit yet, and if I do then it won’t be because I decided it wasn’t worth it. This has been a great experience, and I appreciate all of you who’ve been such a large part of it over the past couple of years. But in the end, if it ends up coming down to the difference between living life online and living life out in the world, I won’t lie to you. I might end up choosing the latter.

  1. Hey, I hope if you decide to keep going that it’s a fruitful and enjoyable endeavor. And if you decide to hang it up, I hope you use your time fruitfully and enjoyably!

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