Dear Mr. Schaeffer:
I am a federal judge who has a weblog. That fact in itself might make me seem quite unique, but you must consider that there are over 4 million other weblogs. For this reason, even though my weblog is quite popular and receives many stimulating comments, the time that it would take to identify my weblog from among the 4 million others imposes a very high cost, or barrier, to any enterprising reader who might be inclined to try to identify me. That is why I think I have a comfortable curtain of anonymity to write to you from behind. It is also why I am prepared to explain my problem to you in the exceedingly straightforward, unadorned, and simplistic style to which I have grown accustomed since I began my venture as a weblog author.
Here is my problem. When I embarked on my weblogging experiment, I was hoping that it would make me, if you will excuse my use of the vernacular, quite a bit more “cool.” Although in my own mind, I rarely concern myself with my public image and consider myself cool enough already, in my weaker moments I often long to alter the negative popular impression that I am a “cold fish,” an impression fostered by a profile of me in a magazine called the “New Yorker,” which is a weekly news periodical that your readers may or may not be familiar with.
In short, Mr. Schaeffer, what I failed to understand when I began my weblogging experiment was the “snarkiness” of the “blogosphere”—both terms which, as a federal judge, I rarely have an opportunity to use, either in my court opinions or in my many published works of non-fiction. Since I started my weblog, in fact, far from being “cool,” I have been met with nothing but criticisms about my writing style and my choice of blogging topics and the “implied author” that my weblog supposedly conveys—someone who is cold as the vast Antarctic, unsentimental to the point of being cruel, too one-dimensional to be hanging around with Nobel Prize winners, etc. etc. etc.
Is it me, Mr. Schaeffer, or is it my weblog? And if it is the latter, what can I do to fix it?
Signed, a Federal Judge Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
Dear Judge Posner:
Relax. Your weblog is just fine. Sure you have your critics, but for the most part, they’re just jealous. That’s something else you might not have realized about the blogosphere: it’s infected from top to bottom with petty jealousies. I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t be jealous of someone who can look beyond complex social problems like AIDS and war and natural disasters to the simple economic principles that explain their causes, their effects, and (on good days) the solution to the very riddle of human existence itself?
With that said, I must admit your weblog is a little dry. My suggestion is that you try some cat-blogging. Try it each Friday. As with countless others, it will probably make you seem quite a bit more human. Not that you don’t seem human already, of course, but in comparison to a cat, the contrast will be striking. Take my word for it.
Your friend, Evan Schaeffer
1. Advice to Federal Judges #1 (A Possum Story)
2. Advice to Federal Judges #2 (Please Call Me "Your Honor")
3. The "Advice" Category--all previous advice posts