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.
I read this and saw a lot of myself through your writing. Being from a creative field myself, I ALSO tend to be self absorbed at times and will just nod when people speak as IF I really care. God, I think I am an ASSHOLE too!!!
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I have always loved your writing, even though I don’t comment that often. You project an image of “realness” which is refreshing after being on several sites of lying bastards. Well done…
That is one of the sweetest things anybody ever typed to me… thanks so much.
I hate to admit it but you tugged at my heart strings with this one. You had me at hello. We may actually have a teeny tiny bit of something in common. This is a great post and I enjoyed reading every word, however your ever changing head to the right of the post was an annoying distraction but yes okay, I did burst out laughing a time or two. I may actually really like you but I have a feeling that fact will not change how annoying you are. Looking forward to reading some more posts.
that was really nice… even the part where you tell me how annoying I am
I have to keep your head from getting any bigger. Seriously, I would need therapy 😉 I actually am nice but no one needs to know that side
your secret is safe with me
you are like a serious doubter
Call me Thomas Spamerica. I like that name. It works, don’t you think?
Captain Spamerica… the spamster… spamola… spamzilla
Spamzilla, I like that. Sounds powerful
Ha… this one got spammed
That ones funny
yeah it is
Well this was brilliant; I hate coming in late to these kinds of posts of yours; I always feel like you’ve moved on to the fifth next thing by the time I get here…though I guess these kinds of sentiments never go away.
Just don’t blink…
Ha I really enjoyed this and I like your honesty it’s so much better to be authentic with people and I can tell that’s what you are aiming for with I look forward to looking through your blog this is the first post of yours I have aeen
Whoops sorry seen
I knew exactly what you meant.
I am glad to have you here and thank you very much.
Great post and I totally agree. I use my blog to share myself and through doing that I have found some wonderful people in this blogosphere. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog also 🙂
Oh no, thank you!
I can’t be certain but I’d like to believe that the people we are online, or at the people we see regularly in the blogging community are offering a sincere representation of themselves or that aspect of themselves that is writing at that moment. Like El Guapo confessed, I swear a lot in the tangible world. I like to drop F-bombs and I love to say the words behind WTF. Of course, I don’t do it too often and never in front of customers. If anything I am more direct on line because WTF, you can’t see me.
Yes, we are real friends on opposite ends of the keyboard.
Reblogged this on Wildersoul Colouring Book and commented:
What a wonderful way to look at online friendships!
i agree with edward, this is my favorite post of yours. i agree with you about the people, the friendships, the connections. i think we are who we are and it all eventually shines through in our writing, even if you are someone who tries to hide it. if any of you were to meet me, i think i am the same in person as in writing –
Then I guess you must be very sweet!
It’s a great post, and points and questions. What is real? What is fake? Maybe the only true part of us is the part that is here. I think blogging is an accelerated form of letter writing. We didn’t lose letters. We just made them electronic and found a way to make the post really fast.
I think people have fallen in love just reading written words, back in the old letter days. Sounds sort of Shakespearian…
Aww. Ya big lug. Like I said a while back, more in another place. Just need to get around to it but I have to render personal service to a long standing account tonight so you take second place to her big time. Guess what I get to do now though?
THIS: I was soooo right about Jessica and her influence in all this. Nanna nanna boo boo. 😀
Second fiddle… story of my life… yes… you were both right…
There is an extreme power to words which many forget, even though we’re reading more from backlit screens. One of my blogger friends committed suicide recently, and it was clear her passing had a sudden and immediate effect; a number of posts were written around that time to address her suicide. However, time has passed, and I can’t help but ask: does anyone remember, or care? I had to write a letter, expressing regret, some grief, and some anger directed at her for removing herself without anyone letting know she was even contemplating doing so, and directed at the community (me included) for not having been aware. Yes, words and blogs do matter, but sometimes I think about the physical act of looking at a screen (desktop/laptop/mobile/tablet), and wondering about the physical boundaries separating us between reader, words, and writer. There’s something different, almost intimate, to the physicality when one holds something as malleable and tangible as a book, and having to slip paper/print between fingers, in the act of turning a page. Thank you for your post!
Thank you. I could make the argument that a lot of people we know in real life will tend to not think about us after we go as often as time goes by… that was a horribly worded sentence… I just mean that friendship anywhere has various levels of depth. Some people are going to miss us more and longer than others. Here and in real life. I suppose it is easier to stop thinking about someone that you never saw face to face.
And books are cool. I love paper books. That is why I put my best work into the stuff I am trying to publish… and why I know that most of the stuff I do on the blog will never end up going into real books.
Ahhhh, Art. You’re a softie inside with the same insecurities as the rest of us.
I do. Really like you.
I agree with Hotspur this is the best blog post you have ever done.
You are a very interesting person and someone I would love to just hang out with. I may never meet you face to face but I know we are friends.
I started the blog to get all the awful, depressing, sad stuff off my chest so I didn’t start using my friends as therapists. Most of the people who know me in the real world don’t see this side of me.
My blog is probably more an honest representation of me than the flesh and blood version. However, since I have started doing duets more of the flesh and blood comes out… I am compassionate, and I love listening to people and their stories. I love inspiring them and motivating them. I didn’t do much of that on my blog until Hotspur came along and got me interested in duets.
What bloggers are spared from:
I will never excuse myself to another room and come back with red swollen eyes from crying.
I will never make you feel uncomfortable because something you say might make me cry.
I will never trip and fall embarrassing everyone around me with my clumsiness.
I will never be able to hug anyone in person, which makes me sad sometimes.
There are so many things a blog limits us from doing but…
I feel free to spill whatever emotion I want onto my pages.
Thanks for being real 🙂
I am honestly moved and humbled by the fact that every now and then my brain can string words together that actually mean something to people… people that I care about… I started the post with nothing but the barest bones of what I wanted to say that sprung from another post, and I am doing more typing because my daughter told me to. I just let the words start going and sometimes it turns into a river.
If I made you feel anything, it is more than worth the time it took to do. Oh, I am still going to do my silly pictures, but I think I will keep taking her advice also.
If friends are just people you like, I have found quite a few here. I am glad you are one of them. Let’s write a duet again sometime soon.
Don’t get me wrong you know I love the pictures…and pretty much everything you do. Your comments on my blog always make me laugh. I am glad to know you! But… your daughter is right…you write beautifully.
I told myself I wasn’t going to cry…
Suck it up man…you’re embarrassing me 😉
We are a lot alike. And I am very much myself on here.
I like that about you!
It’s my only good quality, which can easily be seen by reading my blog. (Does making myself sound like a bad boy get more followers?)
I can’t help. Sometimes I do something shocking… like that whole ‘trying to get everybody to help me write a porno script’ thing, just to make sure that nobody slipped in that was too nice. People who are too nice scare me.
Arthur, I think that as a blogger, you are probably the closest to the real life person than any (or most) bloggers I follow. And since I as a blogger am probably one of the farthest detached from the real person, you are an inspiration, of sorts.
I am glad to be sorted into the sort of inspirational sort of person of sorts. Sort of. Thanks.
I am not very inspireable, generally. “Inspiration, of sorts” is pretty much the highest inspiration ranking I can give to anyone.
I am touched. I have noticed that the highest compliment than I can pay anyone is ‘freaking awesome’… but now people see it and they think I am just running out of things to say.
Exactly. You go all the way to “freaking awesome”, and my range ends somewhere around “good”. I am not kidding: two of the first English expressions I learned were “so-so” and “probably”.
I, too, am hard to impress. I can relate. But I somehow managed to surround myself with people here that genuinely manage to do it more often than I thought possible.
Well said, Art! I never expected that when I started my blog that I would form all these fun online relationships with my “blog family” but they snuck in anyway. How did that happen? 😉
Friendship is a weird thing. You can’t explain why you like someone. You can’t force it.
Love this post!! I express more of my mind on my blog because it is where I feel most comfortable. I don’t have to be the clown on here, I can feel like the word-nerd I want to be. And I, like Guap, tend to say the word “fuck” a lot in my daily life but I can’t bring myself to type profanity. Go figure….
When I was 17 I went into the Navy… long story… and learned how to swear between every single word… more than once… took me a while to break that habit… made Thanksgiving dinner interesting… thanks for the comment.
Well, since this is our Thanksgiving weekend, I’d better break the habit quickly!!
The upside is that most people will actually pass the fucking mashed potatoes faster than the regular kind… but they do look at you funny.
Lol – I’ll keep that in mind if the food is taking a long time!!
Well don’t do it on purpose… that’s just tacky… save something for Christmas…
Dang. Sorry about that.
Sorry about what?
About the hitting of the reply button too early
It happens to all men now and then Ed…
Premature replyulation! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
I thought using the Viagra theme would fix all that!
If you experience a post lasting more than four hours, call your local newspaper immediately…
Being friends means never having to say you’re sorry…
I know THAT’S not true.
I like it when I delude myself into thinking you aren’t being sarcastic!!!
I haven’t been sarcastic in a long time.
There should be a special kind of font for sarcastic typing.
Pingback: I Enwritified THIS THING In Response To An Excellent PMAO Post | Edward Hotspur
That there was all that to this here, hear me there? I hope that when I am here, their there is here, not there, which is neither here nor there, I suppose.
Wow, this was literally the best post you’ve ever done. I agree with and identify with many of your points. They’re all excellent! Believe it or not
I have this same on/off tendency. For one, I don’t really like a lot of small talk. It sounds like you don’t either. Two, because I don’t, I also do that boredom/interesting thing, but I’m afraid of upsetting someone or whatever, so I avoid a lot of people, or don’t seek them out. You might do this too.
The blogs are good because if someone doesn’t like me or my posts or my shotgun approach to blogging, they can just not read my stuff, unfollow, etc. and I don’t know, and vice versa. Whereas in real life, if someone opens a subject that I am really not interested in, I can’t just walk off without some hard feelings.
At the same time, because of this I think peoples’ blog personalities are not the same as their real personalities. Well, that’s not quite what I mean. Peoples’ blog personalities are like an edited version, a Cliff’s Notes version, of their real personalities. And I say this with some confidence, because how many people have blogs to express sides of themselves they can’t express in real life?
It might be a little sad, but when I just noticed that you commented on this post, I actually got excited… not so much in a gay, man-crushy way, but because I have found that I truly value your opinion. And if that isn’t a relationship, what the hell is it? Sure, we don’t share everything. I hope there aren’t blogs out there about murdering rapists telling how much fun they have. And a lot of life is just too boring to share. But I just want to believe that not too many people are wasting time typing about caring about things that they don’t. Or pretending to think about things that they don’t. Or maybe I just hope we are smart enough to spot people that are that fake.
Either way, for whatever it is worth, I am glad having a blog let me get to know you, Ed, even if I don’t know all of you, or even the real you, I like the parts I have got to know. I would miss you if you left. I miss you when you get busy and don’t stop by for a while. Real or not, it feels real to me.
Man, I really do sound gay, don’t I? Not that there is anything wrong with that… sigh…
No, I know how you feel. You are much, much taller than me,
But I might just be telling people that I am tall here on the interwebs to make up for an actual lake of tallitude. I might have just Photoshopped all of those hundreds of photos of me to make me look taller. Thanks for the pingback thingy, Ed!
OOps, hit too early. But you are a pretty cool guy, and you deserve to be a bestselling humorous sci-fi author who is rich in money and friends.
Well don’t get all clingy, Ed…
just say n o to lol
Just say no to yolo and lol or get pwned?
I just hate lol…
While I agree that we’re all our real selves here, we’re only part of our real selves here.
You won’t hear the stream of cursing that comes out of my mouth when I stub a toe, or the fact that every third word when I speak is “fuck”.
Despite that, if we met in real life and had a conversation, you might be able to hear enough to recognize me from what I’ve posted and commented.
And then we’d go out and get in harmless entertaining trouble.
I think we would go out and get into better trouble than that…
And thanks for reading… you sort of proved my point about how valuable this is… at least to me… because I value your opinion… even if you are faking it…