I am currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, Americanah, and this is a topic that she touches on in detail through the relationship she develops between the main character, Ifemelu, and her boyfriend, Blaine:
“At first, thrilled by his interest, graced by his intelligence, she let him read her blog posts before she put them up. She did not ask for his edits, but slowly she began to make changes, to add and remove, because of what he said. Then she began to resent it. Her posts sounded too academic, too much like him. She had written a post about inner cities — “Why Are the Dankest, Drabbest Parts of American Cities Full of American Blacks?” — and he told her to include details about government policy and redistricting. She did, but after rereading it, she took down the post. “I don’t want to explain, I want to observe,” she explained. “Remember people are not reading you as entertainment, they’re reading you as cultural commentary. That’s a real responsibility. There are kids writing college essays about your blog,” he said. “I’m not saying you have to be academic or boring. Keep your style but add more depth.”
To me, I think this exchange between Ifemelu and Blaine really connects with what you’re saying here. Yes, Ifemelu was approaching heavy topics in her blog posts in a more lighthearted way than an academic would, but what Blaine was forgetting is that academia is only one medium through which depth can be evoked; it is only one medium through which we examine truth.
Making everything serious by necessitating “depth” is a sure way of killing joy…and it’s a sure way of missing the point.