In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes a housing crisis in hell. It’s not that houses are too hard to come by, but too easy. Don’t like the house you live in? Just imagine yourself a new one, and, poof, there it is.
It sounds like a dream come true, this world where material comfort isn’t constrained by the laws of physics or economics or the time-space continuum. If you can imagine a house, you can have a house. No contractor. No mortgage. No zoning hearings. Poof.
The problem is that the homeowners are never content with the homes they own. This is hell, after all. You quarrel with your neighbors, so you imagine yourself a new house, out in the suburbs where you can have a little more room for yourself. But that new house doesn’t make you happy either, so you move again, a little farther out. Even there in the exurbs, new neighbors arrive, disgruntled before they get moved in. You quarrel, you move… Lewis’s hell is forever expanding.
Friction and gravity and inertia–the physical facts of the universe–may be a drag, but I will say this for them: they make it hard to pursue every bad idea that crosses our minds, every self-indulgence that darkens the heart’s door.
The Internet reminds me in many ways of Lewis’s hell. It promises us a frictionless existence. It makes it so easy to put your ideas into action. Easy to buy stuff. Easy to say stuff. Just look at your email inbox. How many of those jokes and hoaxes and heart-warming (if not quite true) stories would you have gotten if the sender had to ask himself, “Is this really worth a 43-cent stamp and the trouble of finding an envelope?”
Which brings me to the matter at hand: blogging. Setting up a blog is only a little more difficult than imagining yourself a new house. I’ve accidentally set up about five just in the process of starting this one. There are no barriers, no friction, nobody to say, “That’s not good enough for public consumption.” None of that is bad in itself, but I’m a little daunted by the thought of having so little friction to slow the progress of a thought from the mind to the public domain.
Strange to say, but the ease of entry for a blogger is a big part of what has kept me from entering. I’ve been afraid that I would, like the failed tower-builders Jesus talked about, find it easy to start but impossible to continue. I started a blog, in fact, in 2006. When technical difficulties caused it to crash a month later, I was so relieved that I wasn’t able to make myself start back until now.