This post will be edited and reposted infrequently, both as a reminder to anyone reading and as a warning to myself. Especially for those of you who might have family, friends, or enemies. (These three categories are often fluid.)
We are all subject to fatigue, brain farts (medical terminology – sorry), inattention, sloppy thinking, etc. Mistakes will happen, words will escape our grasp, and meanings will be implied that weren’t supposed to be.
Sometimes, even when you are willing to write perfectly, you lose the initiative and get lazy. This type of writing often turns out to be the simplest possible method of expressing yourself, but you won’t recognize lazy writing until you start to revise it.
Even the best writers sometimes fail at adequately expressing ideas.
Everything written can and will be taken out of context. And when you least expect it. And in the worst possible way of interpreting it. If you write a few words about why you dislike licorice, your words will be later applied to indicate that you hate small children and drink your own urine.
Sometimes, what we write is used in context and still wrongly interpreted either through the reader’s malice or through lousy writing.
Every reader has active filters, affecting the meaning of words. Not all such filters can be avoided by stellar writing. (A crazy person can pick up your words and falsely believe that you are threatening their lives. An argument to the contrary doesn’t appease the crazy person – it only serves to amplify the belief.)
Continuing to explain an idea after a reader or listener has expressed hostility or less-than-gentlemanly response is a waste of time. You can’t “win” once this occurs. Stop trying.
Being right is an illusion. When you were younger, you falsely believed your ideas and actions to be correct; you aged and discovered that many of your thoughts, actions, and beliefs were probably just dumb. This process is still going on – but you can’t see it. That’s part of the human condition.
Even on a particular subject, people who have studied the subject exclusively their entire lives cannot agree. This is true with hard sciences, and it is doubly true for “soft” or subjective ideas. Someone is wrong – and usually, everyone is wrong to a certain degree, including me. And you, too.
Since everyone knows that I preach that it’s okay to change your mind if you’ve learned something new or experience something honest or new in your life, be prepared for the infinite shelf life of the modern written word. You might have espoused horrible ideas when young and later recognized the error of your ways. However, when you’re 35, don’t be surprised when a self-serving revisionist uses what you once believed as current evidence of your stupidity, vileness, etc. They’ll quote you at your worst possible moment. That you no longer think it will be irrelevant.
Waiting until you are perfectly able to express yourself usually means you’ll never get around to it.