It’s just a blog

If I were writing about my own small unknown complex life, I would talk about all of it. I wouldn’t tell every single detail. I wouldn’t share private things that need to stay private. But I would be real and detailed and generic and so very specific about my own life. All of it. The things I’m interested in, mostly, the parts I go back to over and over and keep trying to find more time for. And the parts I have to deal with, whether I want to or not. I would complain a little bit. I would talk about bad and good things. I wouldn’t shame myself for having a complex life, for having big dull swaths and tight-packed calendar days. Both, all; yes, and; hectic, dull.

Mine. My life.

I manage to say a lot of personal things on the internet, and have done so for a long time in various forms and locations, and yet I still censor myself so carefully. I still overthink what I say and if it’s okay to say it, whatever it is. Some of that is from a place of genuine caring, trying to be aware, trying to be careful of others, trying not to mistake vengeance for healing, trying not to tread where I do not belong, trying not to be a dumbass. A lot of it is self-protection. Talking about things that make you feel strong or smart or successful is easy. You have things to say that aren’t inherently humbling. You might have some humbling bits, but you also know the outcome, so there’s no risk. Which is great. None of that is bad, not at all, and I love reading about interesting things written by interesting people who have failed at something long enough to start succeeding, and are generous enough to tell us about it. All of it.

But there’s also a part of writing, of online writing particularly, blogging, that’s all the humble without the security, that’s full of risk, that’s vulnerable even if what you’re saying isn’t necessarily personal or deeply meaningful or anything you or anyone else even really cares about. This thing we do, blogging, is crazy. Really. What a trip, what a concept, what an experience. It’s a place where the public share is instant and your little words can tromp their way across the world before you have time to regret it.

And isn’t that grand?

It is.

Because here’s the thing about a book: a book is a whole damn process. Most books involve a team. Not all of them. There are many self-published wonderful books, created start to finish by a team of one. But it’s still a process, with time and thought and deliberation and time and planning and did I mention time? Time. Time to think about what you’re saying. Time to modulate your tone. Time to connect the dots, or realize they’re not connecting and erase them.

Blogging can be the same way, and it mostly became that way when all the big blogs started calling themselves publications and adopted those magazine-style themes and everything got blocky and image-heavy and it was so annoying and that’s around the same time SEO started destroying the internet with a real vengeance. I was a writer for years and fought learning SEO, as long as I could, until I smacked into the sad truth that I couldn’t make my living as a writer unless I learned how to deliberately downgrade the quality of my writing in order to please the corporate search executive functions. So I learned, and it sucked joy out of my soul and no, that is not an overstatement. It really made me sad. It still does. I’m pretty damn good at SEO but I don’t like that I am. I don’t like that in order to make a living as a writer on the worldwide, wide-open, crazy intense unending fever dream of knowledge sharing I had to tuck inane little phrases into places they didn’t belong to convince the algorithm to love it and recommend it. THIS IS NOT THE INTERNET I WANT. It was never the internet I wanted. It still isn’t, and there’s absolutely no joy in looking at the smashed-up trash pits of social media and thinking, Yep, I knew I had a bad feeling about all that….

Of course I had a bad feeling. And just by the way, I have the same creeping, crawling, ugh-laden oh-no-buddy deep-seated sick-stomach bad feeling about AI.

But blogging?

Blogging is the shit.

I love it. I’m obsessed with it. And I have been for so long. I’m not a real techie person, at all. I think I could have been, or at least more than what I am, but I went a different direction. But I’ve always messed around enough to make little things online, to build little homes and tweak them, and I’ve blogged in one form or another, with varying degrees of consistency, for as long as I’ve been able to access the internet with regularity. So, since about 10th grade.

What a wonder. People all over the world, logging on. Typing out little thoughts. Posting them. Someone else reading them. Boom. Instant. Happening now. Someone responding. Now there’s a little discussion in the comments. Now there’s a new post, responding. There are trends and tribes and camps and disputes. There are deeply thoughtful discussions. There are genius-level things written and shared, casually. There are creative expressions and there are mundane little daily observations and there are ultra-specific hobbies explained in ultra-specific details and there are reams of advice, bad and good. There are stances and generalists and lists and yes, there are assholes too. We have assholes now, and we’ve always had assholes. The history of human civilization is riddled with them. They’re usually the ones in charge, or the ones who think they should be in charge. And the assholes of today will say, See, we only have civilization because of the assholes, you should be grateful.

No, you absolute asshole, I should not and will not be grateful to someone for being an asshole. We’d have civilization either way. And we’d have a better civilization, a better history, a better present, and a better future if the assholes had been contained to small spaces and if genuinely kind, thoughtful, far-sighted, caring people had been in charge.

Anyway, that’s also the story of the internet, and blogging, at least from my limited, non-techie experience. The big corporate assholes and the big piles of SEO trash: we don’t need them. The internet would exist without them. Would exist, and would be better. Cleaner. More room for cool stuff, connections, learning, sharing, growth. We’ve managed to do that good stuff even as social media became one giant trash pile, and interesting little websites became conglomerate monsters, and the deep, frenetic, and satisfying experience of sliding down curvy twisty odd and intriguing connections became a short slide to the same three websites, over and over. When you keep getting the same answer to all your questions, it isn’t because you’re asking the wrong questions. It’s because you’re looking in the wrong place for the answer.

We are the answer. The little gals and guys and gays and theybies. Even the biggest of us (and some are quite big! in certain terms of success) are still little at heart. And we’re all still hanging out here, in little corners around, wondering: Is the part I love still alive?

Sure is, bud. And I don’t know how we kinda take things back, except I think we just have to do it. I think we have to point our twitching little noses into the wind and follow the weirdness, the dullness, the winding paths, the details, the human perspective from a real human, the story that doesn’t make a lot of sense, the daily observation, the weekly log, the tools I like, the photos of my garden, the vacation journal, the personal project, the half-written pages, the typos, the unpolished, the unoptimized, the poem I wrote, the snippet of code that worked for me, the solution I found, the passions, the nonsensical, the opinionated, the friend of a friend of a friend, the here’s a song from my favorite band, the mind-dump excuse of a blog post written with extremely long sentences and a lot of hyphenation and no apologies except for this one, which is not really an apology at all.

Because this isn’t a book or anything serious, so what do you expect. It’s nothing much. It’s just a blog.