Back Dating

OK, I’ll come clean. I do the bunk of my writings on nights and weekends, and as you may have noticed, I don’t post during either of those times. The magic that squares that circle is the little Schedule button that WordPress offers.

Magic!

With my blue Schedule magic wand, I write a post, choose a future date on which I want it to be published, and presto chango, it happens. (I do this because I want to post regularly, but I don’t write with the same regularity as I want to post.) However, as is often the case with magic, black magic lurks. I found this out when I accidentally scheduled a post for a month that’s already passed. Presto chango, it happened. WordPress published my post and slotted it in between previous entries as if I really had written that post a month before I actually did it.

Black magic is then magic run in reverse, but I got a sick feeling in my stomach seeing it happen. (I corrected my mistake. Unfortunately, this means those of you who get sent my posts immediately after publication is going to see the piece twice. Sorry about that!) The ability to back-date something completely contravenes our notion of record keeping. How can we reliably document our experiences, chart our evolution of thoughts, or establish precedence of publication when WordPress allows us to turn back time and create the illusion of having done something when we haven’t (yet) done it? I have some qualms about editing published posts that I’ve, by and large, quieted, but this , to me, is a much bigger deal.

I admit that there is asymmetry in my reaction. Obviously, I have no problem with scheduling posts for the future. I’m going to do it for this particular piece as soon as I finish writing it. This is natural — there is inevitably some lag between my having a thought, putting it down on paper, and then finally sharing it with the world — but to display to the world that publication of the thought at a date before which I’ve actually articulated it feels . . . very, very wrong. Perhaps there’s something technical limit to which WordPress will allow me to back-date my posts, but couldn’t I pretend to have been blogging much earlier than I have if I just post-date my blogs to, say, 2007? Wouldn’t you think me much smarter than I really am if the back-date functionality convinces you that I wrote these posts when I was, say, 18? Isn’t that wrong, and weird, and unfair, and confusing, and just plain bad?

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