I am an unpublished writer.
We all are, here in the blogoshpere. It may be hard to tell from my recent offerings, but I do, from time to time, have little flashes of competence. Not that the following is one of those, of course, I’m just saying. I wrote this originally about 3 years ago. I had recently broken up with (been broken up with?) a girlfriend, been laid off, and was recovering from an injury that left me in crutches. It was not, by all accounts, a good time in life.
So, I wrote things. Some depressing, some funny, some dramatic, some almost publishable (maybe). Here’s one (slightly edited) sample:
Public Privacy: a diary for the 21st century
Spy through the keyhole
I lead an examined life. In a normal situation, this might make me the envy of my directionless peers; but, in my case, it’s slightly different. This examining and scrutinizing of the life I lead, is actually done largely by strangers. Me, I’m still blissfully ignorant.
Like a growing number of people, my existence is represented as eloquently as I can make it, open for business and signing autographs…on the web. Through a medium colloquially known as “blogging” (as in, “to keep an online web log”), I keep a veritable “Dear Diary” on the internet for anyone to see. And, if my obsessive monitoring of my site’s statistics tells me anything, it’s that “anyone” is, on average, 190 people a day.
Think about that figure for a moment if you will. At first glance, it’s not so impressive, but think again on a more reality-based scale. These are not people that simply pass me on the virtual sidewalk, averting their eyes to examine a line of newsstands that suddenly catch their attention; or, even more likely, individuals passing that did not avert their eyes…they weren’t looking at me in the first place. Instead, these visitors to my world are intimately involved. They know what I did today, and how I felt about it. They’ve heard my Silicon Valley Story of Woe and Resurrection (well, the resurrection part is still forthcoming, but the woe!). They’ve been along with me for trips to Hawaii, New Years parties, Christmas with the fam, and pedantic ramblings about work, or lack thereof. These strangers are not merely strangers. These strangers are spectators, and they all have the same dossier entitled, “David Kleeman: A Life?”.
And there’s the rub.
Consider: If 190 flesh and bone people were physically near me enough to know the kinds of details about me that the online community is privy to, the craft-services costs alone would quickly bankrupt me. And as for getting around town, how many clowns can really fit into a VW?
Why then, you ask, subject myself to such investigation? I would posit, why not?
To take a more scientific approach, we should examine the internet community itself. Unfortunately, looking at a cross-section of this still somewhat underground club, reveals no easy answers. To re-coin an oft-used phrase. Bloggers come from all walks of life. Tech-savvy web-heads, unemployed programmers, bored housewives (and househusbands!), college students, high school students, elementary school students…almost every niche of society is represented on blogging’s roster. What, then, binds these people together with a common colored thread? Well, to be honest, I don’t know. I do, however, know my own story.
Like many tech-tinkerers, I had had web pages before. There was the awful one-page monstrosity of my early collegiate years. Purple marbled background, long scroll all the way down the page to find various links to interesting airplane pictures and news sites that I never actually went to. A few years later, I supplanted this experience with a better-developed monstrosity. This one had content that was, if not valuable, at least palatable. There were sections about me, about aquariums, about drawings and paintings I’d done, and an ill-planned never-finished section on circus freaks. After that, though, where else was there to go? More circus freaks?
Fast forward a few more years and introduce a new way to update a web page consistently and often with interesting (to me) content, “blogging”; and, like most, I started blogging because I knew someone else who did.
“So, you just put whatever you want up there, then?” I said.
“Yes,” she replied, “whatever I want.”
“And you do this everyday?”
“Almost everyday. Personally, I don’t do weekends, but some peop…”
“And it’s like a diary? I never was able to keep a dia…”
“I never could, either! For some reason, though, this is so much easier…”
“I don’t know, I don’t think I’d have anything to say.”
Now, nearly four years later, I may have not had anything of quality to say, but I certainly gabbed it up. It is easier than a diary, somehow; and, unlike its predecessors that hid behind cheap locks or under pillows, a blog is something you find yourself wanting to share. You want visitors to your site, and wear their increasing numbers like a clichéd badge of honor. Uncensored thoughts, feelings, and ideas splayed out for the possible readership of millions (though “thousands” is a more realistic number for even the most popular of weblogs), and nary a care in the world. Having a blog is a hobby for me, but one that is very dear to me. Although the enjoyment is hard to describe, the reality of the voyeurism remains. Having a popular site is like having emissaries of society look at you with the eyes of the masses, and nod their approval. Either that, or it’s an easy way to look like I’m working.