I need to clear my head. Since the start of the 2011 calendar year (a span of just 48 days), I've written 192 posts for this blog and 39 more for SBNation.com, as well as edited 99 posts that MRW has authored, six of Ron's and three of DJ's. That's an awful lot of work on top of a day job; coupled with staying active on Twitter and in discussion threads here, I've done a lot of arguing, a lot of moderating and the most writing I've ever done in my life. I'm in need of a re-boot.
Every so often, I need to whip up a (not-so-quick) FanPost not necessarily for y'all to read - I've seen other people do these types of brain dumps before, and while usually enlightening, they're almost always hard for me to get through (no offense!) - but just to clear the cobwebs out of my brain. A re-boot, if you will. It gets the juices flowing again, and brings perspective into the equation. If you're not interested in a piece that really has nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills, now's about the time that you'll probably want to stop reading. But I sincerely hope you'll consider reading on.
For this re-boot, I wanted to talk about why I blog.
Football is my passion (thanks, Dad!), but I'm also a fan of the writing process in general, and am rather obsessed with quality television shows. As such, I spend a great deal of time reading and digesting the writings of Alan Sepinwall, who today blogs for HitFix.com covering many of the same television shows that I am consumed by on a weekly basis. (Hey, I'm a writer. I'll get it anywhere I can take it.) I like his work because it's incredibly thoughtful, but more importantly, he excels at something that I am constantly trying to improve at as a writer: presenting subjective opinion in a fashion that engenders thoughtful dialogue.
Sepinwall was recently featured in a column at Slate, where he was presented as a writer that has changed the way television shows are reviewed. (I'd say, as Sepinwall himself says, that he popularized his particular method rather than invented it, but either way, he's a trendsetter.) I'm not in this to be a trendsetter - the trend is set - but I am in it to reach many of the same goals that Sepinwall has already achieved with his blogging.
What Sepinwall does parallels what I'm trying to do here despite the stark contrast in subject matter: generally, Sepinwall likes the TV shows he's reviewing, and so he writes about them subjectively, rather than objectively. I like the Bills, obviously, and am much more interested in having an interesting discussion with fellow fans than I am in parroting my own football beliefs, and in being what I trained to be in college - a journalist. But discussion is inherently subjective, particularly when we are talking about something every one of us is passionate about, and as such, my football beliefs are out there, and our discussions - which are unfortunately not always thoughtful - are subjective and often controversial.
Sepinwall straddles the minutiae of episode-by-episode reviews with overarching, season-long themes and perspectives quite brilliantly, so that even the show's most astute and observant followers seem to gain new appreciation of his opinions and, much more importantly, the shows they're watching together. That's something I strive to do, as well - and in general need to do better. There are tons of minor stories that we cover here, lots of opinion pieces, polls and the like, and I always try to inject those stand-alone discussions with as much perspective as possible. Football is a big, complex sport; that sometimes makes perspective difficult to achieve. But the goal is the same: be detailed, have perspective, and try to help everyone embrace their Bills fanhood in a more appreciative way.
What makes Sepinwall unique, and what makes him an inspiring figure (at least to me) as a modern writer, is that one, singular trick he's become expert at: driving discussion through subjectivity.
I have opinions, though I do not consider myself a critic. Like Sepinwall, I am sometimes loath to the idea of sharing those opinions, because quite frankly, I like to like what I'm doing. Take a stance, and there will almost always be backlash. Even a group with like-minded passions can spew hate at each other; that is the nature of this glorious contraption we call the Internet. As such, I am hell-bent on keeping topics related to football (we don't need to compound the issue by getting us arguing about things irrelevant to football). I don't write about football topics that don't interest me (see MRW's history section, for example - you'd never have gotten that from me), and I take the non-confrontational approach to a lot of topics simply to spare myself the misery of dealing with the fallout.
This is the nature of the beast. Nearly four years in, I applaud the overwhelming majority of you here for not only engaging in the type of discussion I'm aiming for, but for gracefully dealing with me in those moments that I've grown frustrated with some of the lower moments.
But we - yes, all of us - can always strive for better, more thoughtful discourse. Open-mindedness is encouraged, because football's complexity allows for very few hard and fast rules. Sometimes, I believe that we - yes, all of us - get too focused on one particular train of thought, and I often write pieces simply to try to get us, as a group, to look at a particular issue in a different light.
Thoughtful discussion helps us learn, helps us keep perspective, and it can all be accomplished through the lens of subjectivity. It's what Sepinwall does with apparent ease (and lots of hard work) with his writing and his readers, and it's what I want for this blog, as well. I blog to learn. I blog to keep perspective. I blog to be opinionated about something I love, and to encourage the same from everyone minus the typical vitriol you see in a testosterone-marinated Internet forum. I blog to get better, and I blog to transform Bills fans into even bigger Bills fans.
These are the types of goals that are lofty enough to be considered unreachable. But they remain the goals, and I can't creep closer by myself. You've all chosen to make Buffalo Rumblings a major part of your Bills fan experience (thanks!), and as such, the only way we can reach these goals is if we strive to meet them together. If I slip up, I expect you to call me on it, just as I'll be calling you on it if you slip up. If I can get better, tell me where, and I'll provide the same courtesy to you. Let's get this done, Bills fans. Let's be subjectively and respectfully obsessive together.