just call me raegen

STUPID, MEANINGLESS LIVES UNITE TO DISCUSS UNPOPULAR OPINIONS

Category: Social Media

Virtues of a Private Blog, and Why I’ve Gone Public

Before I start on the actual subject of this blog, I’m going to do a shout-out to a band some friends of mine from high school invented that I think of every time I hear or see the word “public”: Public Hair.

Best. Band. Name. Ever.

And now, my blog.

As some of you already know, I maintained a private blog for two and a half years (2006-2008). Some of you even read it, as you (hopefully) do this one.

I’ve been thinking about it lately — why I stopped, why I started again, why I started a new (yeah, “a new” — get it? Not a typo.). While I do like WordPress — you know, now that I’ve figured out what all these new, fandangled tools are and how they work — somewhere deep inside me, I’m yearning for what I know is an impossibility: Myspace will once again be the social networking site everyone’s wasting their lives away on. (Yes, no matter how much any of us hate Facebook, it seems the only “cool” choice at the moment. And who doesn’t want to be cool? ::gags::)

Teenagers

What are they looking at? Oh, right — the gods have smiled down upon them, homogenizing their looks to today’s standard of attractiveness, thereby making them all popular! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do I feel this way? It’s simple.

1) Privacy. As implied — well, actually, specifically meant — by the phrase “private blog,” I was able to control who could read my blogs. There were even different levels of privacy, so some blogs were accessible to everyone on my page, some were accessible to a smaller list, and some were accessible only to me. (Yes, I realize WordPress offers similar functionality. But not in the same way as a social networking site does, because the two are not the same.)

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

I, for one, miss you, Myspace. You were a gentleman and a scholar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this control over accessibility important?

2) I’m a hater. I don’t deny this in the least. I won’t say I’m proud of it, though obviously cavalier. In order to spare the lives of those I despise and stop myself from going on a one-woman moron-extermination spree, it is necessary for me to vent. Vent I must, and vent I shall. This can be done on a private blog, where trusted friends — those who can keep their mouths shut about not only the existence of a blog, but also what is written in it — are the only ones who can read it.

I know what you’re thinking: One of these people could easily bust me out even from a private blog. True, but that’s why I said “trusted friends.” Have I misplaced trust before? Sure. But my friends today are actually amazing, not to mention the fact that they have better things to do with their lives. Uploading my blogs to public spaces in order to expose my innermost sentiments, gentle readers, is more along the lines of some stupid shiz a few of my choice ex-lovers might’ve done — if they hadn’t been deleted eons ago, that is.

I'm All Petals

“She loves me… She loves me not… Wait, she loves me not? SABOTAGE!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a public venue, I have to be all cryptic and shiz. Sometimes that makes for better writing. Other times it just makes for a headache.

3) My friends were more vocal in private. Turns out my friends are haters, too — which is probably the thing I love most about them. But everyone nowadays fears the repercussions of personal political, religious/spiritual, sexual, and all sorts of other beliefs being found inadvertently by family, friends, employers, potential employers, etc., and later held against them. And what’s worse is that these fears are completely justified. I completely respect them.

Donald Trump enters the Oscar De LA Renta Fash...

— I had HR cyberstalk you, and it was discovered that you used the word “boss” in your blog… — Sir, I meant it in the ’80s way, as in, “Your toupee is…” — You’re fired. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess I’m either just totally bold or irretrievably stupid to even write what I’ve written thus far, all things considered. I wouldn’t go as far as to say public blogging makes any of us writers brave; we either don’t care about the repercussions or we care more about what we have to say than suffering said repercussions. I’m sure it’s clear to my regulars which category I fall into.

Still, at this point, you may feel I’ve built a convincing enough argument in favor of private blogging. You may also be thinking, “Why did you change the formula here, lady?” You are right to ask a question like that. I am still asking myself questions like that.

English: "The Thinker," by Rodin, in...

Why am I here? Oh, right — I’m a statue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A journal might be a good place for your thoughts,” you might say, to which I’d reply, “A community is as well.”

See, I chose a public blog this time around. No one held a gun to my head. Yes, writers do just write for the write of it, but they also write to communicate with others, to give voice to the unspoken, to hear a response from outside the encapsulated mind. Call me shallow, call me narcissistic, call me downright egomaniacal, but I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I genuinely believe my thoughts have value. I know I don’t think like most people, and while it took me a while to figure this out and accept it, I’m not ashamed of it. I see that my thoughts may be different for a reason, could have some meaning and purpose in the world — but they’re useless if I don’t share them.

Care Bears Movie II introduced the Care Bear C...

Sharing is caring. The Care Bears taught me that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And I feel the same way about the thoughts of friends who’ve approached me recently because of this blog to talk to me about starting or restarting their own sites. You know I’ve encouraged you, and I’ve done so not only because you think outside the box, too, but because you’re actually skillful writers as well (unlike so many out there, which is why I have the job I do). So get to work! I, for one, will read you.

I know there are people who won’t ever read my blogs. I know there are people who will read them and not give a crap. Neither of these facts discourages me, and they shouldn’t discourage you. Because there are souls out there in the world searching for someone else to understand them. We are those people they seek. We have something to offer at least one of them.

White van man, Bolnhurst

Come here, little reader. I’ve got some candy for you… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t only want to talk smack in my blogs (I said “only”), so it occurs to me that writing publicly might actually be a practice in maturity for a person like me. Again, I will never claim to be mature, and those of you who know me in the realie know how absurd it would be if I tried. I will never be mature. I’m not even sure I aspire to it, but I can attempt to practice it, at least.

But I don’t believe you shouldn’t say anything or keep it private if you have nothing nice to say, because if we all did that, all of the injustices in the world would continue on without ever being questioned, let alone stopped. I may never have anything nice to say to or about particular people or things in life, and to them, I may remain silent, but this — this is my domain. I own this.

John Betjeman's gravestone

I call this spot, yo! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So here I will be my crotchety 30-something self in all its offensive glory, because I’ve spent too many years of my life not quite “fitting in” (::gags again::) to not have figured out how to carve out a special space for myself. I will continue to tell anyone who reads this what I find wrong in this world — agree or disagree, which is your right. And I will give voice to these things because it is my right, my way of expressing the personal responsibility we all have to at least try to change this world for the better, though some of us refuse to claim it.

I love my family and friends, and I want to hear from them. I want to hear from people like me as well, strangers looking for a kindred spirit. I want to hear from people unlike me, too, because hey, I have plenty of enemies; what’s one more?

So here I am, and here I plan to stay for a while, in all my public glory.

Just don’t tell my boss. 😉

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Seven Things About This Versatile Blogger

I recently got a nomination as a Versatile Blogger from Lolosofocused — one of the stupid, meaningless lives (SMLs) united with my own. (Before anyone gets insulted, please see my “Manifesto” blog for the details on what I mean by that.) Thanks, Lolo!

I believe this is a for-bloggers, by-bloggers recognition, which just stands as further testament to the power we have on the Interwebs these days to further connect with people and thoughts we may not have had any other access to previously as well as facilitate connections on behalf of those we feel would appreciate additional exposure. One interesting task I’ve already begun is to trace back through the root of my own nomination to see the foreparents who came before me, what’s on their minds at the moment, and just get a general sense of all that’s out there — and it’s a lot!

These are the “rules” for the Versatile Blogger Award, should one choose to accept the nomination:

1) Add the award to your blog (which I think I’m doing through the writing of this blog).
2) Thank the blogger who gave it to you and include a link to their blog. (Done above.)
3) Mention seven random things about yourself. (Is anything random? But see below.)
4) List the rules. (Done here.)
5) Give the award to 15 or more bloggers. (Lolo assured me that “even if (I didn’t) have 15, that’s cool, but (I should) still let someone else know (I) like their blog. I will do this, but I will also point out that I have already devoted an entire page of my blog to the SMLs already united.)

Now on to the seven “random” things about me. I’m hoping some of these will be able to surprise even my oldest of friends:

1. I’m a huge fan of nicknames — both giving them and getting them, though I only give them to people I like. I’m currently writing this from the bed of one of my best friends in the whole world — also my oldest friend (oldest meaning I’ve been friends with him the longest, not that he’s, like, 100) — who gave me my first friend-created nickname: Miss Perfect. Those of you who know me IRL I’m sure understand why.

perfectionist measuring and cutting grass

This is a picture of a perfectionist measuring and cutting grass. When I live again in a place that has grass, I will resume this activity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. I was once a cheerleader. This proves two things: a) not all cheerleaders are stupid, and b) cheerleaders can be or can turn into feminists. You’ve been warned.

Postcard of CornellUniversityCheerleader1906 C...

Sorry. I just couldn’t bring myself to post a picture of today’s cheerleading fashions — aka slut gear. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. I went on to become a poet, wearing a vinyl dress while giving my last reading in my graduate program.

Gothic Model Lady Amaranth wearing Nightshade ...

Not me, but close on that night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. I love the artistic (say, David Lynch) as much as I love the worthless and asinine (say, Will Ferrell) on film, and I am willing to watch a Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games movie, but I will never — you hear me, never — read a J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, or Suzanne Collins book. That is just asking too much. This is what we literary elitists call genre fiction, and if I’m going to devote any amount of time to reading — which for me is always considerable — that book must teach me something meaningful about myself or in some way transform me. Genre fiction doesn’t accomplish this. In musical terms, it would be the difference between Bach and Madonna.

Cover of "Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)"

Don’t take the bait! Read real literature!

5. I was one of the first to see the phenomenon that is The Room, thanks to my good friend JohnnyGnu82! This was back in, like, 2003/2004, when I lived in L.A., when one theater at Laemmle’s Sunset could house the entire audience. And I will be there when Tommy Wiseau achieves his dream of screening it at the Staples Center. If enough people loved The Room, the world would be a better place.

Staples Center

If you make a terrible movie, they will come. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. My favorite book of poetry is Louise Gluck’s Averno, gifted to me by MC, blogger and poet extraordinaire. My favorite fiction is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

7. I do believe in a higher power, but I’m spiritual, not religious. My partner’s name is Jesus, so I think God must have an incredible sense of humor.

Okay, I’m off to enjoy a real-life reunion of stupid, meaningless lives now. Until next time…

You’re not trying to have a real life, now, are you?

Almost as often as we receive articles about either the latest and greatest in the trade I write for or unadulterated self-promotional pieces, we’re receiving articles about social media — how to engage in it, how to make it work for your business, how to get to Pg. 1 of Google, etc. Most of them give the same kind of advice — useful, though somewhat canned. This week, however, brought to my desk a fresh perspective on the subject.

Well, let me back up. The subject was initially TV, actually. The author of this particular piece (who I’m not at liberty to reveal, since we haven’t published the article yet) was discussing the death of cable TV in favor of social media or some sort of social experience. A coworker about five years younger than me and of that generation that for the most part grew up in front of a screen started talking about Hulu, where you can comment on programs as you’re watching them, and how this brings a whole new dimension to the experience. “Imagine interacting with other people who are watching what you’re watching at the same time but are somewhere far away,” was the gist of what she said… which kind of made me wonder what was wrong with interacting with the people you have sitting next to you on the couch — presuming you have any — while you’re watching something on the tube. (Oh, man! I can’t even use the term “tube” anymore for TVs; they’re all flat-screens instead of CRTs!)

Help! I've become so obsolete, people leave me in the mountains!

To be honest, I’m not sure I’m very fond of a world in which I could be closer emotionally to someone I’ve never even met (but who sure does enjoy the show I like!) than I am to my family or my lover, a world in which anyone can be made a star regardless of hard work or talent (and yes, I am referring to “Jersey Shore”). The weirdest part from my point of view is, OK, you want to be social, but you don’t really want the “burden” of having to actually meet people in real life, do the hard work of building a genuine relationship, or take the chance of getting rejected and subsequently take a hard look at yourself and improve thusly. Of course, some people are so deluded that they probably wouldn’t have any friends at that rate — or perhaps I just wouldn’t be able to tolerate very many people who’ve crossed my path in life long-term. I will say, though, that the friends I do have, I feel a genuine kinship with and have typically had for years, if not decades. But we had to build those relationships through actual face-to-face interaction, even if time and life eventually took us to different places in the States and abroad.

OK, maybe what’s even weirder to me is that I can see how easily this online behavior could lead to groupthink. I’m terrified of the brainwashing of the masses… though, of course, it’s happening anyway — as evidenced in one simple way that stands out big-time in Vegas: girls who have to wear the trendiest clothes even though their body types do not by any stretch of the imagination or fabric allow for it; yes, I’m talking to you, skinny-jean wearers! There’s nothing wrong with your curves, but in case you haven’t noticed, skinny jeans are not their friend!

Epic fail.

But I digress. Honestly, do we really need to know a total stranger’s stream of thought while we’re trying to watch a show? Once again, that zero-attention-span, instant-gratification mentality seems to dictate that a TV show could never be enough to entertain us. That means there’s something wrong with entertainment today, in my estimation — not that we need yet another distraction from our distraction. Maybe if they’d actually get some writers up in there instead of train wrecks they find on the street, we wouldn’t be having this problem. And PS – I know some great screenwriters and playwrights. They are out there.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that many a friend not walking storage spaces for movie quotes have been annoyed by my sister’s and my ability to hold entire conversations with each other that make no sense to the outsider — the outsider being someone who hasn’t watched the particular movie we’re quoting or doesn’t remember it well. Two things, though: 1) being sisters, we obviously already have a relationship established with each other that didn’t start online behind a screen, and 2) we do this after we see a movie, not during. I do do this with a few friends as well — you know who you are — but I made these friends IRL, as the kids would say, not online.

Fish make good friends because they don't talk back. Hey, come out from behind that rock and listen to me when I'm talking to you!

I have to say, I really am torn on social media, and I’m sure the evidence — I mean, “timeline” — I’ve left in my wake with respect to it in recent years proves that. Granted, I’m a private and paranoid person, I was pretty sick last year, and during the few years before that — well, my real friends know what was going on in my life at that time. And they know it not because I put posts up all over Facebook — as one of my friends called it, “the passive-aggressive way of keeping in touch” — but because we had face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or even — gasp! — letter exchanges via snail mail, during which time, I was able to find out what was really going on in their lives: who was struggling to get over a former lover, who was looking for a new lover, who had loved ones pass on, who had loved ones enter the world, etc.

It’s sad, really, because I think so many people out there feel incredibly lonely. They turn to social media to fill the void, but it generally only serves to isolate them even more in the long run from genuine relationships that will truly satisfy them. Please correct me if I’m wrong in my assessment. That’s just the way I see it.

On that note, I’ve got to go plan my shopping list for the guests I’m having for dinner. Fava beans — check. Chianti…