One of the highlights of attending SXSW 2004 was going to a very entertaining blogging panel. Amongst the panellists was a very funny Justin Hall, who struck me as being a unique blend of someone who could be entertaining, funny, *and* knowledgable at the same time. In other words, someone I could aspire to liking, if I had heard of him before that day. Then amongst the morass of weblinks that get thrown at everyone all the time, I forgot to check out his website. (This is before I discovered Bloglines and the point of RSS feeds – to help you catch up on your web reading!)
Then I caught this blog entry from Robert Andrews (I’m sure we’ve chatted a few times in the same office but my memory of him looks very different to his photograph) which related the very sad and depressing tale about how Justin pretty much had a breakdown trying to correlate the desire to write, create and publish with the equally strong desire to have a relationship and love. All documented on this horribly frank and emotional 10 minute video.
Jill has pulled out further quotes from the video, which encapsulates the dilemma that Justin, and probably alas many other bloggers who have taken it to heart, is feeling:
“I publish my life on the fucking internet and it doesn’t make people want to be with me, it makes people not trust me and I don’t know what the fuck to do about it.”
“I’m alone because of what I did. And I’m going to be alone because of what I’m doing.”
It is very disconcerting to see someone of Justin’s “stature” (for want of a better word) brought to a very low point (the framegrab of the video is enough to make your heart plummet over the misery of a fellow human being) over the desire to create, and the desire to love, and finding the two are quite irreconcilable to some people.
In my own minor way, I’ve faced the same dilemma and problem. While blogging has opened up new avenues, introduced me to new friends and is something I have fun doing, it’s also had some consequences…
I’ve probably lost a couple of job opportunities, I’ve had to avoid a New Years’ Eve party, and some of my friends should rightly be ignoring me because of frankly-expressed opinions that “local” people don’t exactly want to hear.
Never mind the small tiny problem in that all my workmates and local mates seem to be perfectly aware of this blog – which is a huge shame since (with all due respect) it’s not aimed at them. It’s aimed at people outside – and the content would be hugely different if I could be assured that “real life” people weren’t reading this. But with the ubiquity of Google and the Internet, that is more-or-less impossible.
So despite my frequent holidays where I muse on the possibility of stopping, why do I carry on?
– Partly because I like the sound of my own voice 😉
– I don’t have any other outlet for expressing myself.
– It’s nice to occasionally get useful feedback from people who aren’t your immediate friends.
– I hope to make some new friends and new connections.
But if people like Justin – who lives in a city that presumably isn’t blogger/media-unfriendly – find that blogging, personal expression and finding new friends/connections are mutually incompatible goals that lead to heartbreak, what hope is there for a nobody like me? Time to book that slot in the lonely Old People’s Home then…