Weighing in on 2008’s Hottest Discussion.

Serious blogger is thinking serious thoughts.

As mentioned a few days ago, my life has been dramatically changed by the purchase of a shiny new Macbook Pro laptop over the holidays.  The addition of the precious has improved my blogging/writing life in ways you cannot imagine [case in point: that sentence took 15 seconds to type, as opposed to the hiccupy minute and a half it could have taken on my previous G4 iBook].  Not only do I now have contemporary content creation software at my disposal, I have a machine that can actually use it effectively.  Which leaves me in a dilly of a pickle.

I’ve been blogging off and on for over a decade. I’ve OpenDiary’d, DeadJournaled, LiveJournaled, Blogger’d and WordPressed. If I had to divvy up how much of my collected blog output has been worth a damn, and how much has been the self-centered blathering of a guy who thinks his experience makes him unique, and should be forced onto the world through the anguished clacks of his keyboards, it’s probably still a disappointing 30/70 split.  You can imagine my horror when I discovered that most of these blogs are still floating out there in the Internet ether, bemoaning all the women who wouldn’t love me or fights with my parents while I lived at home.  I had my finger on the delete-trigger for a moment, but couldn’t bring myself to erase anything I’d actually “finished,” immature though it might be.

Point being, since  the post-LJ days [say, 2006 onward] I’ve backed away from the “here’s what I’ve been doing in my awesome life,” mode of blogging so many of the young and blonde have cornered in the last five years or so.  I admit I try to build a certain cult of personality on PFG [as all blogs do], but I also try to keep said cult centred on how I see the narrowly focused aspects of the culture I talk about here, and not exposing all my foibles and rare drunken nights of debauchery, complete with an entire photostream of the night’s events.

BUT.  I now live in a world where, still about three years behind the curve, I have technologies  that allow me to engage with the world of the Internets in the fashions of the day. Now I can record videos of me rambling in poorly constructed meandering sentences about the issues of the day and upload them to YouTube instantly.  My last laptop didn’t have any YouTube functionality because it didn’t know YouTube existed then.  I can take a million photos with my phone and upload them wirelessly to any number of sharing services, or transfer them to my laptop via Dropbox.  I could aspire to be one of the beautiful people, but that has no interest to me anymore, and it was only recently that fact crystallized for me.  But to understand why, we gotta go back.

I don’t know why I was sitting at my office desk a couple of weeks ago thinking about Emily Gould.  Rather, I didn’t know I was thinking of her at the time, I was trying to remember the name of the woman who wrote that memoir with her own flower tattoo on the cover that someone likened to a contemporary Bell Jar [the someone was Curtis Sittenfeld, and she should be ashamed of herself].  I vaguely remembered the author had a web series where she cooked with authors, so I pulled Gould’s name from that and Googled her to get the name of the book.

Emily Gould and "Richard Yates" author Tao Lin preparing a raw salad. Or, hell on earth. You decide.

Googling Emily Gould’s name is a tumble down a rabbit hole of self involvement that just seems to loop back around on itself ad infinitum.  Gould writes about herself and people write about Gould writing about herself so they can criticize Gould for writing about herself, creating this grotesque uroboros of self-importance all the way around, as the feedback loop of criticism and self-justification goes on and on  and onnnn. She’s the poster child for online overexposure, both its benefits and detriments.  The former Gawker editor parlayed talking about herself into a navel gazing cottage industry, even scoring herself the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine in the process, happy to trot herself as the cautionary tale for what can go wrong when you treat the internet as a movie about your life and  your friends, lovers and coworkers as supporting characters who have the nerve to get mad when you publicly expose them to the judgment of strangers.

Now look, I’m not trying to join in the perennial flaying of Gould, which has been going on for almost five years and evolved into amateur sport in some online circles.  I’ve read only enough of her work to know I don’t really wish to engage with it any further [and for the record, I tend to feel that way about most contemporary memoirists regardless of gender, before anyone tries to lob the ‘you wouldn’t say that if it was a man!’ card. I found the article by Gould’s ex about his time with her equally irritating].  But if the goal of something like the Times piece was to be a warning [and I’m  not entirely convinced it was], it certainly did the job.  I certainly didn’t need Gould’s experiences to remind me that the internet does not exist to serve my vanity, but it did serve to confirm my earlier inclination that the purchase of some new gadgets is not an open invitation to find myself fascinating again.  

So no, while blogging will be easier with the new machine, there will be no sizeable uptick in content for content’s sake.  My drunken revelries will not be chronicled, there will be no JPG underwear dance parties, I will not add a definite article or adjective to my name.  Because on the one hand, I like to think I keep my fucking mouth shut unless I have something to say [while feeling like I have a fair bit to say about everything], and on the other, frankly I’m too cool for you internet, you don’t deserve to have all of me.

But I’m in a giving mood, and the 200th instalment of Poetry for Gravediggers is upon us, so I wanted to do something special to commemorate it.  So for once, I’m actually willing to entertain the idea of personal content, and have opened myself up to be “interviewed” by some people I know and respect and think could ask interesting questions.  If on the off chance you’re a reader and want to know something, ask away through the typical  channels, and I’ll answer it. 

Almost three years I’ve been with this, and only 200 entries.  Such cruel mathematics that is.


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