Good and Not Good

I can’t blog because I don’t write well. Or, I think I can write, but I don’t have any good ideas, so my blog won’t be good. I’ve heard both of these ideas expressed for why someone can’t start a blog.

A lot of people are obsessed with knowing whether or not certain things are ‘good’. You see a movie, so your friend asks, “Was it good?” Someone at the party is eating some little thing, so you point to the platter and ask, “Is this good?” Or, you’re thinking of starting a blog and keep asking yourself, “Will it be good? How can I make it good?”

Critics tell you whether a restaurant is good or not, a certain band is good or not, a make and model of car is good or not. The underlying idea is that there are two things – ‘good’ and ‘not good’ – and everything falls into one of those categories.

But here’s a question I think is better: Ask instead, “What is this good for?”

A car is good for getting you from one place to another, regardless of the make and model. Seeing a movie together is good for a date – Even if the film is not good, you won’t blame each other. And a blog is good for exposing your ideas, and being exposed to ideas, regardless of how “good” you think they are.

Is an antique hand-cranked drill good? Compared to a corded power drill, it is not as good at drilling holes. It’s slower, and more work and the edge of the hole is sloppier. But if you’re out in yard, far from an outlet, and need to make a hole in something right now, a hand-cranked drill is good for that, even if a hand-cranked drill is not as good as an electric one.

People often ask that question of artwork. At the art museum there’s a statue of a minotaur wearing a party dress and it’s splashed with red paint. OK, it’s good, but what is it good for? What is art good for?

And someone will offer some lame defense like: “Oh, art is good for the Soul. Art enriches the Soul.” Good for the soul? Whose?

So here’s an even better question, I think: Rather than ask “Is this good?”, or ask “What is this good for?”, ask instead, “Who is this good for?”

The restaurant is good for the hungry traveler, even if the food is not good. The art is good for the artist, even if even he does not know why there’s a minotaur in a party dress. And the blog, I don’t know. But I think there are people it’s good for, too, even if you don’t think it’s good.


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