Pardon Me, but My Obtuseness is Showing

I’m going to try to pull a Jeff Ward here and tie together a bunch of disparate crap to explain my obtuseness, as if it needed an explanation. When I wrote yesterday’s entry I was unaware that Mike Golby was undergoing a crisis of sorts over at his web site.

So, when I read Jonathon’s entry about “families” I was unaware of much of what appears to have motivated him to write. The problem is that my “virtual community” has grown way too fast, and I’m having trouble reading all the entries that I normally read. It used to be in the “good old days,” say a month or so ago, I used to read all of the sites I link to every day, and sometimes more than once a day, particularly because I was never sure when they would update their site.

The list has grown and I keep another longer list of sites that I visit many times before I ever link to them at my site. At the moment, I’ll have to admit that I’m beginning to have problems keeping up with reading them. I’m no longer reading ever site every single day. Unfortunately, the problem has been exacerbated by a new favorite toy, NetNewsWireLite, a RSS newsreader. I’ve begun to use that tool to tell me when some of my favorite sites have updated their page. Unfortunately, only a small number of sites use that technology. In regards this apology, it’s particularly relevant that Mike Golby’s site doesn’t tie in with this newsreader. To make a long story short, I’ve begun to rely on this reader far too often and find myself neglecting some of my favorite sites only because they’re not listed there.

Another problem I’m having with virtual communities is that we don’t always know the same people or follow the same conversations. The incomplete diagram below indicates part of the problem. Jonathan has a different circle of friends than I do, even though we share a number of the same acquaintances. To complicate matters, even though I never address some of these people directly, I have followed their conversation on other sites, particularly Shelley’s site, and I’ve occasionally followed their pages directly. I even know, for instance, that Joe Duemer and I both had David Wagoner’s classes at the University of Washington. The problem is that it’s not always possible to follow the conversations carefully enough, and we pull a “Shelley” and end up with a foot in our mouths, he says as he tries to extract it without magically disappearing an entry.

Mike Golby is one of these shared “acquaintances,” but obviously Jonathon was doing a much better job of keeping up with his writing than I was. It wasn’t until after I offered my rebuttal to Jonathon’s, and Joe Duemer’s?, argument, that I realized I was probably only a footnote in it and Mike was the main content. Of course, I realized this only when I finally got around to catching up with Mike’s page late last night.

While I stand by what I said yesterday, I am in full sympathy with Mike’s stand and agree with Jonathon that Mike’s site is a vital part of the blogging community. I first encountered Mike when he made a reference to my discussion of Kerouac’s On the Road because we had very different views of the book and of Kerouac. At first I was a little taken aback by the stinging rebuttal of my review, but as I’ve read his site I’ve slowly realized why his view was so very different from mine. He comes at the book from a very different background than mine. Having read his site has even made me see Kerouac from a different perspective. In many ways, Mike is the “Kerouac” of blogging, offering us many of the same insights that Kerouac brought to the wider community.

As I’ve noted earlier, I do temper what I say on my site somewhat because friends and relatives occasionally read my blog, but it would be a terrible loss to the blogging community if Mike felt like he could no longer be honest and forthright about his feelings because of the objections of a few family members.

Unfortunately, Jonathon is also right that the “perfect” family is probably over represented on the web, while there is far too little exposure to those who are struggling to transcend their background. As an ex-teacher and ex-caseworker, I know that far too many people are caught up merely trying to survive and have neither the desire nor the ability to express the pain that they are feeling publicly. As a result, they are often stereotyped and shoved aside while less-deserving, but more vocal, “chosen” people try to design the world to fit their needs and punish those who don’t fit in.