I’ve always loved the written word! Once an avid reader & journal keeper, these days my reading is mostly Face Book statuses, & my writing is pretty much limited to ad copy for real estate ads. My daughter, a Journalism major at a prominent college in our state, has been after me for quite some time to write something. First, she attempted to persuade me to write a novel, but after seeing my broken attempts at stringing together a coherent chapter of a book, she suggested I try writing some freelance articles. I told her that the novel was too depressing. The magazine articles would just be rejected, so why bother?
She finally said that perhaps I should just do a blog at first, as a way of getting some of my words “out there”. I am not quite sure where that is – the internet has proven to be a sometimes fun, but sometimes dark & creepy experience for me thus far. I mean, I love my Face Book account, & how it enables me to keep up with friends, family & colleagues, but I have inadvertently started trouble on Face Book on more than one occasion. Who knew that people would be so adamant about college athletics? Or so paranoid about their photos being posted? Or so self-centered that they would view congratulating one’s children on their accomplishments on one’s own Face Book page as being snobbish? In real life people celebrate, commiserate, discuss, & debate just about every subject under the sun, right?
I quickly found out that social networking sites are not “real life”, & that they include all sorts of virtual realities & games, as well as a totally different set of rules. Well, maybe there are no real set in stone rules, as is evidenced by the fact that people who would never be rude or assertive in a face to face setting can be wildly confrontational online, & that people seem to think that it is perfectly fine & acceptable to “borrow” or “steal” another person’s words (i.e. their statuses) without so much as acknowledging the original author’s existence. I am pretty certain that most of these “borrowers” would never come into my home & “borrow” my belongings without my permission, so why do they think it is okay to take my thoughts from me?
I also used to post queries on genealogical web sites, as I, along with millions like me, became amateur sleuths in search of long lost ancestors. Once, I came across a really great lead which promised to be the proof that many genealogists had searched for over decades of time. I began nearly a one year exercise of trying to locate the source. Every time I tracked down one of the posters, they simply refereed me to a different poster. Finally, after many months, I was able to track back to the original poster – imagine my immense disappointment at learning that the proof that my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather was a Minute Man in the American Revolution was none other than <insert drum roll> ME. Yes, someone had actually taken a snippet from an online brainstorming session between myself & another genealogist, wherein we were SPECULATING (it was VERY clear in the thread) about this link, & re-posted it as fact. That was all it took to scare me off of the genealogy forums.
Another time I was visiting a forum about a health issue I was experiencing, only to have people leave rude & hateful replies, stating that such & such symptom did not go with that particular issue. Well, sorry, but it did, it does, & it has been scientifically proven, so there! I found that some people post very pointed remarks, expressing their opinions as fact, when they have absolutely nothing to back it up. I left that forum, as well, & fled to the Face Book world of my friends. I infinitely prefer this semi-private setting, except when things get a little unfriendly, as they can do from time to time.
But I digress. Yes, I love communication, & the idea of a blog was mildly appealing to me. (Although the very word “blog” is basically unappealing to me – it reminds me of a “blob” – something without good form, hastily thrown together, & lacking real substance.) Still,I toyed with the idea of starting one, but changed my mind – who would want to read it, I asked? Then I started a Grooveshark music account. I was thrilled to be able to add some of my favorite songs for free to a play list that I could listen to at whim. I was puzzled, though, when I began receiving emails from them stating that I had new “followers”. What? Unknown, faceless people online had actually signed up to receive notifications whenever I added new songs to my play list. Really? While a little flattering, I found this to also be a little creepy, so I hastily deleted that account. I began using my Face Book as a sort of “mini blog”, but found that I was frequently too verbose, & had to spend time editing what I was “thinking” for brevity. So, when my daughter kept after me, I finally decided to give in, as all of my heretofore excuses for not doing so were a little lame. She even told me where to go to create this blog of mine: “WordPress.com”.
I logged onto my Face Book account this morning resolved to take a peek at what all of my friends were up to, then I was going to get straight too work on my new blog. Oh, no! Right there in the News Feed was a link to a fellow real estate agent’s blog – & it was on WordPress.com! This would not do – I texted my daughter & told her that I could not blog after all, because everyone would think I was copying the other agent. “Do it anyway, Mom!” she commanded. (When exactly did my little girl start ordering me around, I wondered?) “Okay, fine, I can do this!” I thought.
I went to this site to start writing. First, I had to create an account. Simple! “I can do this!” It asked me what I wanted my new blog to be called – no problem there, as I had picked out a name many months ago. For safe-keeping, & because plagiarism is one of my pet peeves, I Googled “Random Thoughts of a Random Mind” only to find that it was already taken! Hmm, not so random, I guess. Well, on to “Deep Thoughts of a Shallow Mind”, but it turns out that is a Country Music album title. So I tried “Shallow Thoughts of a Deep Mind”, but that is the name of someone’s web site. I was beginning to get a wee bit frustrated. “Lou’s little nuggets of wisdom”? Too much like some Chinese guy’s “Little Nuggets of Wisdom”. I texted my daughter. I can’t do this blog thing, I whined, because I can’t even come up with an original title. Again, she commanded me to persevere. She even suggested a title for me. It was a good title, but if I was going to create a blob or a blog or whatever, it had to be mine, & mine alone. Finally, I came up with the title “Southern Soul: Simple, Strong & Sweet”, & I was most delighted & surprised to find that Mr. Google did not show it, at least not on the first few pages of hits.
So, NOW I was ready to write, right? WRONG! Next I had to go to my email to confirm my account. Easy. Done. Then, I had a post that said “Hello, World!” Funny, I did not write that. SO I went to read it, & it told me that “after you read this, you should delete it & write your own post with a new title, above.” Problem was, I did not know how to delete the post. Five minutes later, I figured that out. Now, I had to come up with another title. Gee, this blogging thing is going to be harder than I thought. Next, I had to choose a theme. I spent about ten minutes looking at the different themes before settling on the “Tapestry” theme. Wait – I could not get that one, well at least not without forking over $75.00! Next it asked for a time zone, telling me to choose the city closest to my own. Let’s see, as I scrolled past cities with names like Lubumbashi, Iqaluit, & Syowa. SIGH! This was MUCH harder than I thought it would be. I gave up after about ten minutes of that – my time zone is only off by about seven hours – people will just have to get over it. When can I start blogging? Look at that tab first – what is it? “Upgrades store – supercharge your blog”? Supercharge it? Heck, I just want to START it, for heaven’s sake! And what on earth is a “widget”, anyway?
Miraculously, I finally found the buttons to start blogging, even though I could not get the picture of my choice to upload on my oh too slow “high speed’ internet. So, I started typing, & here I am. I am sure my daughter, upon reading this, will wonder what on earth possessed her to encourage me to do this. Perhaps it’s because she knows that writing makes me happy, & relieves stress for me. Maybe it’s because she, like her little brother, thinks that I “talk too much”. (I would write “LOL” here, but I don’t really find that amusing, LOL.) They might think that if they have me busy typing then they won’t have to spend as much of their precious time actually listening (or pretending to listen) to me. Or maybe I am really just a college experiment for her – she IS taking psychology AND is writing a paper on “Citizen Journalism” right now. Maybe they have some grand experiment to see how many Baby-Boomers they can talk into spilling their guts online to total strangers. Maybe it’s none of these.
Regardless, I am at the end of my very first ever blog. Just as I had feared, it turned into a big blob of a blog. If you like it, please feel free to comment. If not, please have pity on me – after all, heretofore I was a “Blog Virgin”. I will try to do better next time. Now, off to figure out what that widget thing is all about …