Or: Talking is so yesterday…
I did a post the other day about loneliness. And I received a lot of comments from you all that really got me to thinking about why we do what we do in this strange world of words and images. I have often said that I have the best commenters on WordPress. If you go down and read the comments on that post about loneliness you will see exactly what I mean.
And as I was answering those comments and thinking about those comments, I has one of those ‘ah ha’ moments. Those moments where something so simple that it might actually be a universal truth suddenly rises up and presents itself to you. A thing so simple and ordinary that we might have never really bothered to examine it closely before.
I have done lots of posts about how we are all here trying to connect with the other people who share this big, blue, floating asylum with us. I have compared it to dating and a few other things. And I have set before you many questions about what it is we are looking for here that we can’t find anywhere else. I have told you that my wife thinks that we aren’t ‘friends’ because we have never met in real life. But my little moment of epiphany was simply this: Blogging is real life. Blogging does matter. Blogging is just as valid of a way to connect with other people as conversation is.
Oh sure, some of you may present yourselves in a manner which has nothing to do with who you are in your daily life… Not me, if you are wondering. This is all the real me. I don’t fake anything here… But even if you pretend to be someone other than who you are, you can’t really hide the real you. Oh, you can tell us you are taller than you really are, or more attractive, or change some of the details. You can lie about what you do and what you like.
But you can’t pretend to be smarter or deeper than you really are. You can’t fake what you are passionate about. You can’t make up the parts of you that are important, that make you who you really are.
And that is when it dawned on me. Blogging is as deep, as personal, as intense, as meaningful, as real, as talking is. After all, what tools do we have with which to share our ideas, our dreams, our desires, besides words? And are words we type less important than words we speak?
We might miss out on subtle visual clues. We forgo the joy of seeing the smile when we say something amusing, the glint in the eye that tells us we are connecting. But we also gain quite a bit by using a keyboard instead of our lips. The conversation is not constrained by time for one thing. I don’t know about you, but when I talk to people face to face, I can be sort of a pain in the ass. I only have two modes. I am either interested in the conversation or I couldn’t care less. I have no middle ground.
I told you once about the Arthur Browne show. That is what my family calls it. If someone or some people come to my house for the first time, it does not take me long to figure out whether or not I really want to get inside their heads, or let them inside mine. If I do not feel that connection, I would just as soon read a book… or write one. But if they interest me, if they set the spark alight, then I try to give them the show. I want to show them my blog, all my art, play them songs, read them stories, sell them my book, tell them my life story.
Once again, can you see why it is hard for me to make and keep friends? I don’t, if I am brutally honest with myself and you, do this to entertain them. I do it to entertain me. And because I found them interesting in some way, it is like I am saying to them, ‘hey, you might just be deep enough to understand some of what I am trying to say, so shut up and listen and then tell me how clever I am.’
Okay, brutal honesty sucks… I might actually be an asshole…
If you combine that with that thing I have also told you about, the fact that I have led a very interesting life and I have stories that outdo most people’s stories on almost any subject, you can see how I might just annoy the hell out of people.
I imagine that many of you have similar problems when relating to either groups of people or individuals. Creative types tend to be a little bombastic and full of themselves. But I also bet that many of you have the exact opposite problem. And I can relate to that also. Because I will… once again… tell you one of my darkest secrets.
I am shy. Really shy. Once I know you I wont shut up… unless you bore me… but I can’t just walk up to people and do the schmoozing thing. So I can also see how many of you, especially when stuck in a group setting such as a party, might just feel like you are fading into the background. You feel overwhelmed, like you can’t get a word in edgewise. Particularly if you are at a party with me… sigh…
So yeah, I tend to talk fast and loud. I speak over people. I am not a good listener. While the other person is talking I am too busy thinking up my next clever response to listen to what they have to say… oh, man, I am a world-class jerk… or they bore me and I couldn’t care less what they have to say.
There is one other downside to speaking face to face. When you spit words out of your face, they vanish pretty quickly. The evaporate. And I have a sneaking suspicion that most of my words melt away inside people’s memories just as fast as they float away on the wind.
Now back to this weird blogging thing we do. These words do not fade away. We might not be carving them on stone or painting them on a cave wall, but they will probably outlive most of us. How freaking awesome is that? We are achieving something close to temporary immortality… if you will pardon the contradiction in terms… My grandkids, someday, can read my blog to find our why they are such freaks.
Take the ‘about’ page on my blog. That was like the first thing I ever typed here. Now I haven’t checked the stats on it for a while, but I still see people ‘like’ that page now and then in the comment menu. Words I put together a year and a half ago still amuse people to this day. Yes, that page is a blatant attempt to try to use reverse psychology to lure unsuspecting people to my blog… and it still works now and then.
Words matter. But they only matter if people read them. Every crazy, silly little idea I put in this blog gets more attention from more people than any words I say out loud on any given day. And every now and then I type something that really moves people, makes them think, makes them reach inside themselves and come back with comments that lead to other comments and new ideas and new ways to think about things. I hope that might happen with this post. And I only did this post because of ideas I had when reading the comments on that loneliness post. That is power. And that is connection. That is a relationship happening. That means something.
People ‘like’ other people for lots of reasons. But the only kind of like that really means anything, that isn’t just a shallow physical attraction, is the kind of like that involves what the other person is… not how they look or what they do for a living… Words are who we are. Spoken or typed, they are the only way we can let someone else inside our heads and our hearts. That is why I will never fake who I am on this blog.
I want you to like the real me.