So long to the life we used to live
My old man taught me to say “so long” whenever we parted because he contended “goodbye” should be reserved for permanent occasions, like the one Emily Dickinson refers to here:
Good-by to the life I used to live,And the world I used to know;And kiss the hills for me, just once;Now I am ready to go!
Goodbye seems especially ill suited for this occasion: while True/Slant writers and readers will scatter to diverse corners of cyberspace, that universe is nothing if not a network, and we will never be more than keystrokes apart.
It’s up to us to keep it going.
Nonetheless there is a passing to note here, an achievement to acknowledge, many thanks to be given.
My colleagues have written more ably and eloquently than I can of the community that thrived here, the conversations started, the friendships forged (I won’t name names, for fear of leaving one out–you know who you are).
I’ll focus on one particular accomplishment that still surprises me, happily, every time I log in.
When True/Slant came along the world needed (in addition to love) an economically viable way for readers and journalists to find one another and converse in civility.
In the end Forbes would testify to True/Slant’s economic viability, but right from the beginning True/Slant attained civility. For the most part, people here disagreed, as the saying goes, with all due respect. And without, as my colleague Caitlin Kelly said, trolls and flames.
In a comment on his own farewell post, my colleague Michael Humphrey says, “Perhaps civility will be the great legacy of T/S.”
But I believe True/Slant surpassed civility and attained a unique style of conversation better described as “collegiality.”
The difference is that we don’t just get along–that’s civility–but we trust one another. We have mutual respect and confidence in our ability and our intent.
That came to be the case not just among those who occupy True/Slant’s Mountain Lair, not just among the site’s 300 contributors, but most remarkably, among the million-plus readers who visited us each month and those who chose to return and comment.
This was a place where we knew one another to be in pursuit of the good, no matter how we might differ on the best way to get there. That’s why trolls and flames found neither purchase nor harbor here.
And this is no small achievement on my beat, which is harassed everywhere else by half-cocked skeptics. Skeptics brought their doubts to True/Slant, sure, but found they had to back them up. They had to be fully-cocked.
True/Slant’s community spanned the world, but was so coherent in its collegiality, it got so you could spot a newbie by his inappropriate bluster. It’s not hard to imagine a hypothetical True/Slanter, either commenter or contributor, who stumbles into town all roughed up by the wild ways of the world wide web, spewing sarcasm and snark and superiority, and finds that here it gets him nowhere.
He leaves in a cloud of frustration. But something draws him back, almost against his will, some scarcely definable allure in content and platform, and gradually he learns, as we all did, to disagree with all due respect.
Thank you colleagues, commenters, readers for the collegial conversation we have enjoyed. Let’s take it everywhere.
How was it achieved?
Collegiality took root in the technologies developed by Andrea Spiegel and Steve McNally and Roger Theriault, blossomed in the professionals selected by Coates Bateman and Lewis DVorkin, flourished under the hands-off leadership and hands-on assistance provided by all those people, plus editorial Jedi Master Michael Roston and our sherpas, Kashmir Hill and Katie Drummond.
Thank you, denizens of the Lair, for making this collegial conversation possible.
As many other writers before me have noted, here we were free to write. In freedom we turned to one another for examples, and we found some of the very best. They did what Emily Dickinson had long ago advised:
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant—”
So long, for now.