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What is a thought leader?

The idea of having my own column would have, some years ago, sent me into a frenzied panic of mindboggling excitement.

Reason 1: My once delusional belief in the transformative power of newspapers. I figured that a written opinion is an official record, and if it’s in black and white, someone, somewhere must take notice, consider my recommendations, and initiate change. They had to. It was the newspaper, the expert mirror of society. Oh look, the Easter Bunny.

Then the internet happened and blogs erupted everywhere. The death of reasoned analysis gave way to the cult of the amateur. The media became democratic; while discourse became idiotic. The public sphere seemed a messy space, fraught with inaccuracies, and laden with textual junk. R.I.P Habermas.

Reason 2: The cathartic effects of writing as a young, naïve, idealist with rose-tinted glasses and loud opinions, slowly declined as I began understanding the analytic potential of complicated academic jargon, long-dead theorists, and painstaking argument-building. Forget newspapers, I wanted to become a professor.

But life happens in cycles and now I’m lost somewhere in between having an appreciation for academic writing, while also loathing its empty grandiosity; still writing for newspapers because I feel it will actually get read by real people, but having to accept that today’s hard work is wrapping up tomorrow’s fish and chips. But I still see the glass as half-full, and I still see “social transformation” as a do-able agenda. All the while, energetically trying to keep up with an abyss of content online in a seemingly endless pursuit of “truth” and “quality”. And then I remember postmodernism.

Occasionally, I drop articles into the abyss and wait to hear it hit the ground.

So with my own blog space up and running at long last, after opting to write as part of a network for a couple years, I’m left pondering the obvious: now that I’ve conceded and joined club, what exactly is a, umm, Thought Leader? And where is the best place to voice these thoughts? And who am I leading, and where to?