David Roberts of Grist said goodbye-for-now to the Internet last week—Eli quoted quoted him here—because he hated what the Internet was doing to his brain:

I think in tweets now. My hands start twitching if I’m away from my phone for more than 30 seconds. I can’t even take a pee now without getting “bored.” I know I’m not the only one tweeting in the bathroom. I’m online so much that I’ve started caring about “memes.” I feel the need to comment on everything, to have a “take,” preferably a “smart take.” The online world, which I struggle to remember represents only a tiny, unrepresentative slice of the American public, has become my world.

Thinking 140 character thoughts, smart phone separation anxiety, tweeting on the toilet—I feel David's pain. But his comment about feeling a need to have a "take" on everything leapt out at me.

Where does that come from? Okay, some writers/bloggers/tweeters are born with a genuine and innate need to comment on everything—try and stop them from sharing their takes—and, fuuuuck, it must be exhausting to be them. But many of us have that need beaten into us. Because God help the writer/blogger/tweeter who fails to comment on everything. Failure to comment on a story big or small—because you don't have a take, smart or otherwise; because you don't have anything particularly important to add to the debate; because the point you would make has been made already by someone else (or thousands of someone elses)—results in your being mau-maued by followers and commenters who regard your failure to have a take on whatever-the-hell as a moral failing and/or a heresy and/or something worse.

For example...

I haven't had much to say about Chelsea Manning. It's true. I haven't had much to say about Edward Snowden either. I've read some smart stuff about each whistleblower, I've passed some articles along, I've retweeted a few tweets about Manning and/or Snowden. But I haven't blogged or tweeted up a storm about Chelsea and that is not okay with Mark Kackstetter and other freelance assignment editors lurking on my Twitter feed and in the comment threads here on Slog.

For the record: It's not that I don't care about Manning or about the issues raised by her actions and her prosecution and her transition. It's just that I don't feel I have anything of value to add to the conversation. And it's not just Manning: I haven't had much to say about the ban on gay blood donors (serious issue!) or Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs (unserious issue!) or what the hell is going on in Syria (serious issue, yes, but one that I am disqualified from having opinions about in public). And I have been angrily called out again and again for my failure to tweet about Manning and blood bans and Miley, etc. It's as if my failure to have a take on absolutely everything somehow violates the terms of a contract I don't recall signing.

To my fellow writers I say...

We don't have to have a take on everything. Yes, if we fail to comment on something—if we fail to have a take—small e-mobs gather under our e-windows demanding comment and waving our failure to comment over their heads like a bloody shirt. But fuck 'em. Don't let the Mark Kackstetters get inside your head. It's okay to sit some shit out. Sometimes writers get to be readers too.