-The life of a blogger is tough. It's not as easy as some people seem to think.I was lucky enough, due to the happenstance of attending the same high school 25 years previously, to have lunch yesterday with nakedjen, one of the Internet's best-known bloggers. She was in town to attend blogher, a gathering of female bloggers. Since we graduated, she had been through as many life-altering, conscious-expanding events as Andre in My Dinner with Andre. And she has written about all of these events movingly in her blog. She has been (an incomplete list) a Deadhead, naturopathic doctor, film marketer, daughter, computer marketer, sister, blogger, animal rights activist, wife, theater director, divorcee, and tea maker. All because she answered the wake-up call. She had a scary-ass medical event in her 20s (on her blog, she tells the story much better than I could), and realized how lucky she was to have every day after that.
My wake-up calls were not medical: I stepped in front of a bus in a London, and someone reached out to pull me back. I tried to thank him, but he was just annoyed to have to save another American when written on every street in London in HUGE letters is "look left" just for our benefit. I also almost stepped off of Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher (doubtless, a more romantic end than whatever awaits me now, but I'm glad it was postponed). When I looked down to see where I could place my next step and had 300-foot vision, all I could think was: who would find out? And the cincher: WHO WOULD CARE? I had a friend whose teacher implored her on graduating from college, "Make yourself interesting." I lived by that, but I realized on the Cliffs of Moher that you have to live your life so that other people cared when you died.
We all have these moments, but only some answer the alarm clock. I told nakedjen about an ex-girlfriend of mine who was thrown through the roof of a car and broke her spine. I visited her while she was recuperating. "Yeah, I suppose it should have changed my life," she sighed and sucked on her cigarette, "but it didn’t really." Well, it did change mine—as did hearing her dismiss the event like that.
Near-death experiences, divorces, travel, people: wake-up calls happen every day and from many sources. The point is to listen to them. Answer the call.
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Another thing that we talked about was the business of blogging. nakedjen is FAR more the experienced blogger end technophile than I am, so I was somewhat flattered when our thoughts were similar. Having gone to the same academically-rigorous prep school, we both wished that people paid more attention to spelling, grammar, and ethical journalism. (A blog is a journal, and journal is the source of journalism.) nakedjen’s yardstick for whether to post something or not is whether she would comfortably say it on a crowded street. I would alter that to a coffee shop filled with neighbors, family and friends. Because the Web is crowded with those people or people who know those people (not for nothing is it called the Web), and there are repercussions for what you post.
People don’t think about that sometimes. It’s like driving. People are meaner in their cars than anywhere else because (1) they feel protected by the metal box and (2) they feel they can make a clean getaway. (Lost in all the talk of cars’ toxic emissions is their production of toxic emotions.) On the Internet, one can hide behind avatars and personae. It’s easy to write a post from the voice in your head or heart heard alone in your room and not think about the effect it might have if spoken aloud in that crowded local café. And that issue of the effect something would have if spoken leads to another invisibility of the Web: writing is speech set in ink. The human (think of that adjective) voice is being lost on the Web. It’s becoming like an animal in the zoo. People are instinctively moved by it but don’t seem moved enough to preserve the ecosystem it needs to survive. For my part, I bought a microphone and intend to post podcasts and vlog entries to address the issue.
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Just the day before, my wife and I were in our favorite local restaurant, The Bottle Shop. I've written about them before. They provide an alternative to our suburb's family restaurants or corporate fat-cat restaurants. My wife and the owner were lamenting that we seem to be the "invisible minority" who appreciate what they offer. I warned them not to underestimate the invisible minority; we just elected a President. Maybe "invisible majority" is a better term. And I think what nakedjen and other bloggers do is give voice to that invisible majority. Bloggers must keep in mind the effect a post might have on someone they know, but also someone they might not yet know. It may help someone else to read you articulate what they could not or felt they could not express. They may feel alone yet invisibly be part of a majority. It’s a delicate balance.