Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out

After almost two weeks as a blogger, it's high time for some wild generalizations and sweeping conclusions about this experience from yours truly, no?

First -- as predicted, my debut and the ensuing shock waves have apparently shut down Wikipedia. Weird.*

Speaking of the mighty wiki, let's start there. Think of Wikipedia as the town square, layered with a feast of fliers on every Dickensian lamppost. Its senior contributors keep a tidy aesthetic and I generally trust them on matters of democratic access to information.

As for the motley crew of websites that allow much of this information to flow so freely, let's be clear. Facebook is the detention hall, or your living room, or the lounge at the Senior Center, depending on your demographic. We're passing around artful doodles of this and that, with all the productivity of an episode of Wheel of Fortune. We're quite literally spinning our wheels. I know that some people can visit Facebook without clinical side effects, I just don't know if I'll ever be one of them.

The Facebook News Feed has become like our customized morning newspaper, and maybe tweets are a broader form of email, like the braggart descendant of IM. Or (for the Lutherans, not to mention the Luddites), Twitter is for nailing missives to the doors of your neighbors, be they friend or foe. Like the boy in the tweed cap selling newspapers, breathless as he paces the square, offering insistent headlines. And hey, news flash, I have totally been putting stuff on Facebook that belonged on Twitter! That's where you put links to articles. It's just the rules, evidently. We're passing notes (back to the detention metaphor) with our tweets, where Facebook is more like decorating the walls in the hallway. Ah, the Facebook ...Wall. I daresay M. Zuckerberg and I would not have been friends in school.

Pinterest, as far as I can tell, allows us to peek in everyone else's windows and spy on them. Or sift through their storage units.

As these distinctions in egalitarian media are becoming more accepted, it brings me to the idea of a blog. I wrote my first in 2001, and it was a labor of love. Love, of course, was spelled h, t, m, l and my page's theme was sparkly red Hello Kitty. (I know, I'm a badass.)

This was before FAQs were expressed as such, and blogs were still called weblogs, as if some vital data was being logged. Doesn't it sound like part of a nautical chart? The term was soon handily shortened to 'blog. I begrudgingly gave up that apostrophe, and the term weblog, once I realized it sounded like the equivalent of offering to send you a facsimile, using the facsimile machine. My blog was an offshoot of a Yahoo! account, and I extracted the codes from their tutorial, copying instructions from my laptop onto fathoms of Post-It notes. It took me about a week to put up exactly four pictures of our move from Alaska to Nevada. I built a few more scrapbook-ish pages and let it go at that.

It's been fascinating to read the blogs of people I know, over the years. Their design choices display personality in a way that's slightly more organic than Facebook or MySpace templates. I celebrate the moment we all had a slot on these centralized sites as a net gain since it includes many more people than blogging ever will. But all our pages look the same. I digress.

My point is one of decision, mindfulness --- I don't want to be shouting in your living room. If the Facebook News Feed has become the morning newspaper, then its full-page ads are boring me. Mine included. Maybe a blog can be a more settled space to opine. I'm no longer standing in the street, wringing my hands over rotten tomatoes, but instead resolving to go inside and make you a sandwich. If you tuck the pickles into your napkin and toss them, I'll never know. Take it or leave it, the etiquette of what we're doing online bears examination.

Thanks for the support and networking from so many dedicated  bloggers, Catholic and otherwise. And the readers. There appear to be some readers!

There's a million ways to go, you know that there are.


  1. If this is death by analogy, then it is a fine way to go. Loved the Pinterest/windows comparison!

  2. You're too kind! I'm new, I'm eager, and this was posted while still a sloppy mess. Gah. Thanks for stopping by, I enjoy reading your observations about family life.

  3. Fantastic thoughts! It seems one of our biases as Americans is if it's newly invented, it must be good! I have been recently inspired to write more letters- in kind of a counter culture reaction to texting and Tweeting. I see a lot of comparison between working on a well thought out letter and a blog: The chance to ponder deeply on a matter and strive to put the right words to it- this seems to be fitting to the human calling. Have you ever read any Neil Postman? He loves to delve into the cultural and individual impact of all this new technology (he passed away in 2003 so he wasn't even able to comment on the FB phenomenon!)

  4. Davidson Clan, I'll have to look for Neil Postman. I need to return The Closing Of The American Mind to you guys ... your husband's notes in the margins gave me just as much to think about as the book itself did!