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Thursday, November 04, 2010

UNNECESSARY YOU


This is one of what may be several posts that will attempt to answer the question: “Where the hell have you been for the past year?”

It’s a fair question you ask. Since participating in NaBloPoMo last year and successfully posting for 30 days in a row, I cranked out just over a dozen posts in the other 11 months. That’s a pretty serious drop off when you consider I used to average about 10-15 posts a month here. So what exactly happened?

The two obvious suspects are a person and a country. The person is Eliza, our delightful daughter who was born about a year ago. Her arrival in our lives has been one of the most wonderful experiences ever, but it seriously eroded the time I have to spend on things that aren’t my children.

The country is the Faroe Islands. In the past 18 months, I’ve devoted more and more time to my media projects about the islands, including a blog, http://faroepodcast.blogspot.com , a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/faroepodcast , and a podcast/radio program. The obsession with the Faroes started right here on this very blog and has ballooned into a multi-media non-empire enjoyed by literally dozens of people around the world. But interviewing people from other countries and editing programs and researching topics takes time. Much of that time has come out of my sleep time. The rest, comes from here.

There are other, more niggling things that chipped away at the foundation of this blog. Being able to share stuff quickly on Facebook and Twitter http://twitter.com/matthewworkman makes me feel like I’m connecting with people and being somewhat creative, which was the main purpose of this blog.

But the silent killer in all this is a much more subtle thing… the very vastness of the web itself. I’ll explain…

Way back in the early 1990s, before the internet was a going concern, I wrote a humor column for a weekly newspaper written by naughty students at BYU. Considering the audience and venue, it was actually pretty successful and earned me a small degree of local celebrity that I used mostly to try to score with girls.

Apart from the ego-boost, one of the things that kept me going was the feeling that what I did actually mattered. There were basically two outlets for student writing in Provo back then: the on-campus newspaper (professional and excruciatingly dull) and the off-campus paper (funny, irreverent, occasionally irresponsible). With the stifling atmosphere at the school, we at the off-campus paper really did feel like we were doing God’s work. Sometimes we’d get letters from some student who, like me, had left home back east to attend school in Utah and felt completely at sea in a place others literally called “Zion.” The letters would typically say things like, “I was just about ready to pack up and leave this humorless hellhole when I stumbled across your paper. Made me feel less alone, like maybe there was a place for me here after all.” I lived for letters like that.

With the advent of the internet, the doors were thrown wide open and the possibility of writers gaining a worldwide audience was available to anyone with a computer and access to the Information Superhighway. (That’s what we used to call it back then, the Information Superhighway. Now gather ‘round kids and I’ll tell you about something called a Palm Pilot…) The internet has largely delivered on that promise. There is an abundance of great writing to be had from thousands of sources around the world. Indeed, one of my colleagues from that naughty student newspaper has gone on to international fame by doing nothing more than being an amazing blogger.

But the downside of all this great stuff is that there’s just too much of it. Even if you devoted your every waking hour to it for a week, you could never possibly read all of the great stuff that was posted on the internet on this day alone. So does the world need anyone else adding to that pile of ultimately unusable data? Probably not.

So therein lays the irony. The same internet that empowers the individual also renders him utterly expendable.

Of course, I had always written here for myself, rather than any specific audience, so perhaps that’s no excuse either. All I know is that I’ve been at this for four whole days, and I’m so tired I can hardly stand up. If I’m going to write another 26 of these, I’m going to need more sleep or more Pepsi, and probably a combination of the two.

1 Comments:

At 5:22 pm, Blogger Darrell said...

Well, I have missed you. You'er my BloggerDaddy, and it's been intresting to watch your life change. As it has, so has your humor.
Your were funnier when you were unhappy; but, hey, that's a good trade-off.
I probably won't make 30 straight days, but the more you blog the more I feel pushed to blog.
The size of the readership is just irrelevant.

-DR

 

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