25 December 2008

If A Tree Falls

My friend stopped blogging because he got tired of no response. I feel him.

Hardly anyone comments these days at SITC. During my "heyday," every post generated an average of two responses but they came straight to my email address, rarely appearing in the Comments section of the blog. Sometimes I wished folks would post to the blog so other people might be inspired (and released) to comment. Like being the first to get up and dance at a party, freeing the seat-dancers and wall-clingers to venture forth.

Back when blogging first burst onto the scene, a good friend urged me to throw my hat in. I don't remember exactly why now: maybe she liked my writing or maybe she wanted to keep up with my life (I was still 'on the road' at that point). Or maybe, knowing how I've struggled with a largely unexpressed passion for writing, she was encouraging me to follow my bliss.

Whatever her reasoning, I resisted because I have a thing about clutter. Of all kinds. (When the book came out about HSP (Highly Sensitive People) I attributed this trait to being an HSP. Since then it's been suggested there's no such thing and HSP was just the next trend in navel-gazing.) Blogging seemed like clutter to me. Like the world needs the noise of one more person sounding off about her pet peeves and sharing the minutiae of her little life. Like cyberspace needs another URL.

It's a crowded, cluttered world already. Sometimes the most generous contribution one can make is to sit down and shut up.

(Photo used courtesy of PhotoA.nl @ flickr. Used under the Creative Commons license.)

But I've been documenting my life in one form or another--diary, letters, journals--for most of my life. And given the human need/desire for visibility and contact and the Blog's obvious potential for meeting both, it was inevitable that I would succumb.

But blogs--and cell phones and computers and the internet and blackberries and etc--have only incompletely realized their potentials to make the world a smaller, cozier, more nurturing place--so far. You show up and write...for who? Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, former lovers and who knows who else. Like walking into a dark room and sensing someone is there. But maybe it's your overactive imagination; maybe there's nobody there. Or maybe there is someone there who doesn't respond when I call "Is somebody there?"

Recently the same friend who urged me to start blogging sent a link to "An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube" by Michael Wesch. (The whole clip is embedded below because I don't know how to create an excerpt. It's long but there's some worthwhile stuff in here if you have the time.) (One of my favorite pieces is the little guys at the 13:40 marker...)

"Collapse of context" is one of several provocative ideas offered in the clip. The context for human communication continues to change. Past generations spoke to each other face to face in real time, waited weeks to receive a letter from miles away or longer to read a published book by someone they'd never met. Fast forward to Now where we make videotapes for people we've never met who may or may not be watching.

"Collapse of context" is also "expansion of possibilities": online we can pretend to be anyone--any gender, age, nationality, class. We can be voyeurs without seeming rude or deviant.

We can also ignore each other or disappear more easily.Thinking about the new etiquette required in virtual social networks like FaceBook, I asked "How do you respond when someone you don't remember from high school requests admission to your network?" Several people I know pretty well say "Just ignore them" and I flinch.

When I googled "disappear" to find an image to insert here, I found this one in the context of a piece entitled "If Your Blog Disappeared, Who Would Miss It."
It's like I was saying the other day, about coincidences and mistakes.

Maybe no one would miss Sojourner in the 21st Century if it disappeared....when it disappears -- as, of course, it will some day. It wasn't so much my friend's blog that I missed when it disappeared; I missed him. A voice in The Village was gone and I wondered where he was.

I have the idea that at some point I'll dump the entirety of SITC onto a CD -- or whatever storage technology is current at that point in time -- to stick in the box with my journals and song sheets and other life litter that will perhaps never be accessed by another living soul. Or maybe.... Somewhere down the line, a descendant will wonder.

In the 21st century, trees can fall and be heard generations later.


  1. I understand about the challenge of blogging, and wondering if the world really needs another one, or another book, or pop song, or musical, etc ... And then I am thankful for the many who said, "Oh, what the bleep" and created *Their Eyes Were Watching God*,*A Streetcar Named Desire*, *Gypsy*, *American Beauty* ... or whatever they said to themselves to come up with a finished project. The truth is we never know who's reading or watching.

  2. so true

    also true there are plenty of finished projects the world could have done very well without....

    At this point, I blog mostly for myself and posterity. Anyone else, anything else is lagniappe.

    Most interesting to me are the ways in which human interaction/psychology/conventions are changing as a result of computer-based technologies....and how challenging if possible at all it is to define or assess what we're seeing...... Fascinating, exasperating, and strange.

  3. Sojourner,

    A witness. Someone to hear and hold our story. I totally share your desire for this lush experience... to have someone get me, feel me, challenge, hell, just tip a head, you know? Yes. You do. Which is precisely why I'm so thrilled to have found this cyber-HotSpot. Definitely my kind of hang-out. Thanks for putting yourself out (t)here.

    An unapologetically navel-gazin' HSP who digs your blog ;-)



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