Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, October 25, 2010

My 2000th Blog Entry!

Around 10 years ago I was reading an advice columnist in the Edmonton Journal.  The young lady writing in for advice said she recently went on a date with someone, in which this date mentioned he had a blog.  This young lady went home, read this blog, and wasn’t too impressed with some of the things this man had written.  The question:  should I dump this guy, based on what he wrote in his blog?  The answer:  dump him immediately, because anyone who has a blog is an attention-starved loser. 

Words that hit home for me because I’d been blogging for about six months at that point.  And because of those words, around every six months or so I take a good hard look at this blog, and now, the entire world of my online footprint, and try to figure out why I keep putting out there what I keep putting out there.  No matter what I decide, I ultimately choose to keep going, and I have for at least 11 years now.  It’s been going on for so long that now I’ve hit this, my 2000th blog entry.  2000 entries!  2000 things that have been burning in my mind that I just needed to share it with the world!  

Even though Blogger reports this is my 2000th entry, I know my online footprint is far greater.  I first ventured online in 1997.  The dot-com bubble was starting to expand, and there was just something monumental back then about being online.  I knew I had to be a part of it.  So a friend of mine directed me towards Angelfire, and I set up a webpage to promote my little college radio show.  It was cute.  It was fun.  I also did an opinion column for the school paper, so my website started serving as a handy archive. 

But as I’ve pointed out when I’ve done this analysis every time, things exploded in 1999, when I graduated from college.  I no longer had my college radio show.  I was no longer writing for the school paper.  I grew desperate for a creative outlet.  And that’s when I realized I still had this website.  So I figured I would keep writing my opinion column, and start posting it once a week on my website.  The term “blog” hadn’t entered the lexicon yet, so I kept referring to my online postings as a column.  I started dreaming big with the column.  I had grand fantasies that some publisher would discover it and offer me a book contract.  I still believe that deep inside every blogger beats the heart of a frustrated writer. 

This blog – Midnight Ramblings – I’ve always considered to be a different beast, though.  I started this blog in the spring of 2003.  I was still teaching English in Japan, when my laptop crapped out.  It was still very important to me to be maintaining some kind of online presence, so I wanted to come up with some kind of quick and easy replacement that I could easily maintain an hour a week at an Internet cafe.  A lot of my friends were embracing Blogger, so I signed up.  My online presence was maintained. 

Once I was able to get my computer going again, I even started the column again.  The column and the blog actually ran concurrently until 2006, when I moved to Athabasca.  I said I’d start the column again once I got settled in.  I’ve been here four and a half years now, and I still haven’t gotten back to it.  I always saw the column as being real writing, and not the napkin doodles that this blog is.  And real writing takes work. 

Besides, I’ve got so much on the go now when it comes to my online presence.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a podcast, this blog, a second blog I write at work...it’s so easy to develop an online presence these days.  I was talking to that friend of mine who steered me towards Angelfire all those years ago, and I asked him, “If we had Facebook and Twitter and MySpace and all that back when we were in college, would building an online presence still have seemed like a big deal?”  And he replied, “Probably not.” 

With everything I have on the go online, I sometimes see it as this gigantic forest fire.  What was once a little campfire I built to keep myself amused has grown to this raging inferno.  And, it has come back to burn me quite a few times.  When I worked in a grocery store, I wrote a few columns about the idiot teenagers I worked with, only for those idiot teenagers to be very cross the next day.  That’s when I learned that changing names to protect the innocent can be very little protection.  When I was hunting for my first job in radio, I’d frequently blog about how difficult my job search was going, and some of my professors from NAIT would e-mail me the next day about how sharing such tales of woe could hinder my search.  So I stopped sharing my tales of woe.  Heck, I still have an old classmate from NAIT who refuses to have anything to do with me because I used my blog to make a few sarcastic comments about her blog.  That’s when I figured I should stop writing about my life altogether. 

You  hear far too many stories these days about people who’ve been fired because of something they wrote on Twitter or a picture they posted on Facebook.  10 years ago, those stories first started concerning things people wrote on their blogs.  And as I’ve said, those couple of times I’ve been burned have been enough to make me very, very cautious.  When it comes to wondering what to put online, I’ve begun following a philosophy that one of my professors at NAIT told me as to what constitutes objectionable material on the air:  if it’ll embarrass your mother, don’t do it.

I think I have this forest fire under control, but I still fan the flames with entries like this.  Why do I keep fanning those flames, though?  Probably for the same reason why I started doing this 11 years ago.  It gives me a creative outlet.  There are things I want to do, want to try, and this gives me a platform to do it.  Even though I express it less, that heart of a frustrated writer still beats within me.  And, just like they told me when I was trying to break into radio, you’ve got to keep practicing.  It’s the only way I’ll ever get better. 

I was once told that blogs are for people with little to say and even less to do.  That advice columnist all those years ago called bloggers attention-starved losers.  But the thing is, you’re still watching the show.  And if you bear with me, it’ll become a show worth watching.   

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