Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Day the Bieber Died

Apparently the most important thing in the world is some irresponsible kid from Canada. 

Apparently it's more important than protests in Ukraine, pogroms in the Middle East, or the lingering effects of natural and unnatural disasters in Haiti, Thailand, or Fukishima. More important, that is, if you like your reality mediated through a glowing rectangle. Or if you're a blogger, which I suppose I am.

I don't think of myself as a blogger, though. Not really.

Bloggers are people who are comfortable in the belief that there is lasting value in internet-based human "connection," and while I've certainly met some very interesting people and ideas through this glowing little demon-box of mine, in the balance I'm not all that certain it's been more good than bad, or more useful and creative than destructive.

I am a horrible blogger. I'm inconsistent in both when and what I post, and I almost never talk about the flash-in-the-pan things I'm supposed to talk about, in order to get more internet-famous.

There are a number of reasons for this:

First, because I'm kind of lazy. I want to retract that and say it's because this website is a secondary creative pursuit and as such, I prefer to keep it low-key, but the truth is that there are plenty enough moments in the day that if I tried to make a discipline of it, I could.

Second, because I want people to think of me as being above all the vapid, echo-chamber nonsense of the internet. I want them to think I'm some erudite, deep-thinking guru who sits in his ivy-wrapped house and waxes eloquent about the Meaning of Life, Love, and Art. It's sort of like that thing somebody once said about Thomas Merton -- that he wanted a hermitage in Times Square with a flashing neon sign over it that read, "HERMIT."

Third, though, it's because I really do feel uncomfortable with the fluffiness of it all.

As I implied in The Perfect Blog Post, the best way to build a large online following is to create in your readership a sense of community... an "US." But inherent in the concept of "US" is an equally-potent "THEM," and no matter how hard any blogger tries to keep it civil and inclusive, it still seems patently obvious that the main reason people flock to a blog is because that blog makes them feel they are part of a group that is different (better?) than some other group.

I started this post exposing my hypocrisy by link-baiting with Bieber's name, because I wanted to A. get attention, and B. imply that this blog is a place where we won't be talking about such frivolity. Here, we talk about important stuff. Meaning-of-life stuff. Suffering-Indigent-Babies stuff.

The truth, though? 

This website is as much an echo chamber as is anything else. Usually, it's an echo chamber for the random thoughts I have bouncing around between my ears - a way to quickly vent the thoughts that don't have the staying power to become a film script, a novel, or a short story. If I talk about "bigger issues," it's usually because I want to hear myself talking about bigger issues, not because I'm actually going to do anything about pogroms in the Middle East, or preventable, malnutrition-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. I don't really see this as a betrayal of the commitment I made long ago to avoid getting angry about things I wasn't willing to work to change, though, because I'm not really angry. If I was really angry, I'd do something. Instead of that, I blog.

I'm kind of being a downer here, aren't I?

Maybe it's because I'm saddened to see so many otherwise intelligent people obsessing over some kid who drank too much and did something stupid.

Maybe it's because my son's had a fever for a couple days, and I hate seeing him suffer.

Maybe it's because I hate being reminded of how fragile his life is, or because a cancer-survivor friend of mine just found out a couple days ago that it's back, and she doesn't know if she can make it through treatment again.

Life is brutish, hard and ugly. And then we die.

It's also beautiful. But that doesn't diminish the darkness, and in that dark context, faith and hope become very, very difficult. And that context is always there, if we open our eyes to it. Faith, hope and love may be all we've got, but sometimes it's hard to feel like it's enough.

Oh, well.

I suppose I could always blog about it.

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Note: I put a lot of time into giving you this (ad-free) reading experience. If this post means something to you, you are more than welcome to pay me back by linking the bejeebers out of it on your social medias. And/or better yet, you could go pick up a copy of my book, "IMMORTALITY (and other short stories)." Dankegratzithanks.

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