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Sometimes, there’s no math to do.
As inapt as it would be to talk about the bundling of the modern data stack while a brutal dictator is launching a murderous invasion of free and democratic neighbor, it would be even more inapt for me to talk about that invasion. I know next to nothing about Ukraine, other than what’s happening there is a horrible crime, and that maps of troop movements advancing on major cities belong in high school textbooks, not in live updates on the New York Times.
In moments like these, from those of global calamity to individual tragedy, it's hard to know what to do with a microphone. For leaders, it's tempting to tell strained stories about some tenuously related personal journey that demonstrates your solidarity with those who are suffering. For people with audiences on the internet (or with weekly blogs and a vain pride about keeping a publishing cadence), it's tempting to ignore the whole thing, and carry on in the comfort of the familiar. For data people, it's tempting to treat numbers like a universal cipher that grants you the privilege to weigh in on any issue, if only you show your cute little proof. No matter your role, though, the important thing, it feels, is to have something to say.
The lesson I’m trying to learn, while watching a confusing war on a distant shore, is that it’s ok to be at a loss for clever words (a lesson that, given the paradoxical existence of this post, I’ve yet to fully embrace). It's ok to simply reaffirm the obvious—that, while, most conflicts are complex and nuanced, this one is not; there is nothing to add up; there are good guys and bad guys, and this is a war of unhinged aggression. It’s ok to drop the facade of cool detachment and jaded cynicism, and share how you feel—anxious, stunned, helpless, and indiscriminately angry. It’s ok if the best words of support you can muster ring in your ears as hollow and vague—they may sound differently to those who need them.
And beyond that, it’s ok to watch, to listen, and to have no other numbers or opinions to add.