Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's the point?

You have been charged with High Facebookery, how do you plead?

Not long ago, I took part in something of a social experiment that took Facebook by storm. I dubbed the exercise "Twenty-Twenty" but I'm sure there are myriad names for it. The point of the exercise is to do two things: (1) write a series of twenty "random" things about yourself in no more than a few sentences, and (2) tag twenty of your friends so they'll see that you've created the post and ask them to write a similar piece and tag you in return.

The idea is clever. It gets people thinking about various and varied aspects of themselves and begs them to post it for all to see. In addition to that you are guaranteed a limited audience for your self-expression, which is at once healthy and the engine that drives the entire experiment. The hypothesis behind it all is two-fold, "People love to talk about themselves. They like it even more when there is an audience to project and reflect themselves off of..."

I am not immune to this. I must admit something of an addiction to filling out questionnaires, personality tests and posting my own written pieces of self-expression. The mere existence of this blog is evidence of this, and I'm never really certain that many people read it.

I ask myself, "What's the point?"

Assymmetric Conversion is an ego blog. It's not claiming to report on events that you can't find out about somewhere else, and it doesn't claim some special knowledge or hints and tips for living. It's a personal site where I post my own thoughts for no other reason than I have them and have the time to write them down for the Internet to envelop and consume like so many sand castles before the tide. However, this does not explain why I continue to publish my thoughts and opinions. So, why?

It's not for personal reasons. It doesn't stand as my only record for my thoughts and experiences. I have a journal for that sort of thing, though I must admit that I don't update it all that often. As well, my personal diary contains much more than I'd like to let known. It's more a record of thought and emotion than a record of events and activities. I have an odd relationship with my emotions, and I have an innate mistrust of letting anyone know what I'm feeling and thinking.

"Anyone" usually won't get the nuances because I'm not yet skilled enough to express myself that way.

My blog isn't anonymous. I don't use it to express unpopular opinions. I'd like to think that I can stand in the Sun and let my thoughts known in one way or another. Communication is communication. It doesn't always have to be words.

The only alternative is exhibitionism. An altogether common cry of "Look at me! Look at me! I'm so very interesting!"

I'm not all that fond of my own physical existence. From the first time I was told that I was smart, I have been a being of thought and ideas. I judge myself on the quality of my thoughts, the results of my theories and my ability to gather, retain and synthesize information is all its forms. I wish to be intelligent, knowledgeable and wise; not strong, fast or possessed of great endurance.

I find that there are several reasons why people write ego blogs. One is validation. Another is self-discovery. The other is entertainment. I find that I blog here for all of these reasons in one way or another...

Calling Marcus Aurelius, Emperor Aurelius, are you out there?

I have a cynical side, some say it's an entire hemisphere, and it's been telling me that people only write to validate themselves in order to exorcise the aspects that they dislike about themselves. In writing here and in other places, am I white-washing my past as some temporary fix for my general malaise? No doubt people do this all the time and in different ways. How many times have you heard a group of people sitting around talking about their past relationships and it never seems as though they're willing to admit that they had a part to play in the downfall? If you were to go by how people present themselves, we have a lot of victims of fate, betrayal and greed. It's very rare to hear or see someone own up to their shortcomings in a private forum, let alone a public one. Do I seek validation? You bet I do. Do my logical sides think I should? Not really, no.

I blog because I seek feedback. I contemplate my life. I am introspective. I find that this only gets me so far. I cannot, in good conscience, take up a person's time face-to-face whining about my existential angst, nor could I afford the service professionally. Still, I blog becaus I wish to know more, not only about the world, but also myself.

If you're not powerful, entertaining or attractive, do people really want to know who you are? Even then...

The third option isn't likely a reason that I blog. I find that I'm not all that concerned with how entertaining I am as a writer. I'm not writing for The Office or The Daily Show. I'm writing for a blog that maybe a handful of unique visitors read in a year. My life just isn't that interesting.

My day-to-day life isn't all that interesting. I'm not a spy. I'm not knee deep in amazing adventures, political or sexual. I'm not a traveler, nor a journalist. I get up, I go to work, I come home and do chores. Sometimes, I watch a movie or consume other intellectual property. I react and respond, but not in any unique way.

My blog isn't a soapbox. You can load up more expert and eloquent men and women left, right and center. I offer no insights that haven't already been written or spoken by better people than me. I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I still have to stand on tip toes to see where I'm going because it's getting crowded up here.

Everyone has them, everyone loves them and hates them at the same time.

I've thought entirely too much about this subject. What do I have to offer that I'm fairly certain that people will be interested in?

The only answer I have are those little black diamonds that result from mistakes made and consequences unforeseen: secrets.

My secrets. Your secrets. Others' secrets.

The realm of secrecy is dangerous territory. You need only to remember your own secrets and what would happen if they were to find their merry way into the hands of the very people you keep them away from... we all have secrets, no doubt, but I think we hoard them too. What do you know about your best friend? Your spouse?

There's an economy of secrets out there. Holding them is like possessing something of value. Once cashed in, they lose much of their worth. They're markers, vouchers of trust. I wouldn't reveal others' secrets, for the repercussions of that are far too high. I like the people whose secrets I keep. I would never violate their ever-tenuous trust in me unless safety was at stake, and even then...

I find that my life is one lived with no more secrets than I expect you to have, but when I think of why I would continue to write this blog, I find that the only things of true value that I could offer are my secrets.

Am I going to do that?

I'm not sure yet.

Where would I start? What's interesting?

I'll be doing some research. Then, I'll get back to you.

Be seeing you,

- J.

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