Introducing "The One-Way Mirror"

Why I'm renaming this newsletter to better reflect its purpose.

Small big news: Can I Be Honest With You? is now The One-Way Mirror.

The best new publication logo I could come up with on a whim.

It hit me like an epiphany - I am now mostly writing open reflections. After years of experimenting with writing technical articles, opinion pieces, and tutorials, open reflections seem to be the thing that sticks. I'm a sucker for reading people's reflections on the web, too, as long as they appear to come from a place of genuine vulnerability.

If you've subscribed to this newsletter, I think there's a good chance that you're here for my honesty. You crave writing that comes from a place of vulnerability that reflects the truths of our lives that, while typically expressed in different forms, are nevertheless a thing we have in common. I'm definitely keeping that honesty.

But is honesty the central theme of this? That's the question I've been pondering, and I think the answer is no.

By renaming this newsletter The One-Way Mirror, I'm trying to help me stay aware of what to focus my writing on and hopefully as a result I'll keep writing and write more good stuff.

The thing I want to write most regularly is the thing I find most lacking on the internet, which is people reflecting truthfully about:

  • where they're at in their life,
  • how they think about their station,
  • what particular things are bothering or satisfying them lately (and why),
  • what choices they're thinking of making and if made, how those turned out,
  • what they really think about people around them,
  • and so on.

That's closer to the central theme that I intended for this newsletter. Is it the central theme? I don't know yet, but it's much closer.

I want to read this from people who are similar to me or who I aspire to be; that is, checking off any of these traits:

  • is 30-ish years old
  • is a parent
  • is in the field of software engineering
  • lives away from the city or country they were born in
  • writes regularly
  • reads a lot
  • is well past understanding that money is not the most important thing
  • strongly dislikes fooling themselves; strongly prefers to know one's true self
  • respects others' differences
  • is unsure if they'll ever find their calling but is searching relentlessly anyway
  • prefers to “say the thing” than hide it between the lines

Recognise parts of you in that list? That's probably why you decided to subscribe, I think!

Anyway, let's tackle the new name choice head-on. A one-way mirror is something you might be familiar with seeing on an episode of your favourite detective drama where the suspect is being interrogated by the bad cop while the good cop stands outside, peeking through one, awaiting her time to enter the room.

A one-way mirror, I realised, turns out to be a great metaphor for what I want this newsletter to be. Each time my voice appears as words in your inbox, I want it to give you a feeling like you're that person standing outside in the dark room, quietly observing what's happening in the brightly-lit interrogation room.

Photo by Kino VN.

So, I'm going on about some topic, and you're standing there observing, forming your judgements and relating it to your own life. You can think of me as a suspect if that makes it more fun for you! In a way, I think, we should all think of ourselves as suspects; when we say we're "reflecting on something" we're interrogating something within ourselves, right?

(A bit of semantics here is in order: it's debatable whether a one-way or two-way mirror is a more accurate description of this contraption where one side doesn't see the other, but the other sees it. But "one-way mirror" sounds more accurate because a one-way mirror seems to suggest that on one side it's a mirror and on the other, it is like see-through glass, whereas a "two-way mirror" sounds more like both sides are mirrors and nobody sees through anything, although technically, as I understand it, these things are always two-ways if you put your face up close enough to the glass.)

Alright, so that's it. To be honest, I've been thinking about renaming this newsletter ever since I came up with Can I Be Honest With You? because... I don't know, I just have this thing about naming things as accurately as possible. And something like this newsletter is extremely hard to pin down because I seem to end up writing about so many things. I use names as a mental crutch and dislike poorly named variables (in programs) for that reason. The old name always seemed to be hinting at what my intention is but never quite captured it fully.

The name The One-Way Mirror tells me what I should be doing (reflecting openly like nobody is watching), how the thing should be presented (without dispensing advice or preconceived notion of being an expert at anything), and perhaps most importantly, it clarifies what this newsletter is about (connecting us at the deepest level through vulnerable, open reflections and dialogue).

I'll need to update the About page.

An ask: if you’ve been enjoying the stuff I’ve been writing and want to directly support this newsletter and my mission, please consider becoming a paying subscriber. One of the perks I really want to provide is a friendly space for closed-door dialogue with a group of like-minded people who value this thing enough to pay for it. Right now we have only a handful of paying subscribers and in my opinion it’s slightly too small to have fruitful discussions (diversity of comments is a good thing in a small and moderated community). Thank you! PS. I don’t want money to prevent you from joining our community, so if for whatever reason you’re not able to afford a subscription, please email me and I will give you a free subscription for 6 months, no questions asked!

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