When my cousin had minor surgery last year, he decided he wasn’t going to take it lying down. That is, he didn’t want to suffer alone. To brave the microscopic laser and local anesthetic, he’d need a support system. Someone or somewhere so that he could talk through the nausea, the numbness, the temporary pain, the private and altogether too graphic details of his harrowing ordeal.
So, he started a blog.
Adam made a full recovery, but his entrepreneurial-exhibitionist spirit got me to thinking. I like to share. I have things about my life no one else needs to know. What’s to stop me from starting a blog? A little minor surgery? I’ll gladly put my appendix on the line.
Upon more serious consideration, I wondered what I could possibly write about so that people from all corners of the blogosphere might take an interest, might give my page a few hits, might (dare I say it) become followers? What can I say? What do I do? A quick check-in with my internist nixed the elective surgery route. So I had some brainstorming to do.
My mastery of the hammered dulcimer aside, I don’t have any special or unique talents. I haven’t lived anywhere cool or spent more than five weeks at a time away from home. I’ve never undertaken a gimmicky project like wearing the same sock for a whole year or compiling a list of the stuff middle-income people will eat. I haven’t been part of any Internet community since Neopets folded. I don’t have any celebrity doppelgangers. I still eat gluten. I suspect I may be a victim of identity fraud, but that’s hardly original. In trying to determine what was special enough about me to warrant my own URL, I feared I had come up empty.
I was about to surrender myself to a meaningless, blogless existence, when fate and a raging nationwide epidemic intervened. President Obama declares a state of emergency. The CDC goes on high alert, vaccinations and hysteria abound, and I’m stricken with the realization that I could get the swine flu. Wait a gigabyte—I could get the swine flu! Oh, to get the swine flu. To be a part of something historic, something interesting, something I could blog about! A real phenomenon. Blog-o-rific ideas and domain names filled my head: The Quarantine Diaries, Tales from the Crypt, the Chronic Ill of Narnia.
I imagined a blog that combined the emotional resonance of Chaim Potok with the ironic humor of Memoirs of a Geisha. I’d compose a story of sniffles, of headaches, of temperatures taken and taken again, of going to sleep for 10 years and waking up to discover that New York City has been deserted and Will Smith and I have to fight off zombies to ensure the survival of the human race. But, a few weeks have gone by and H1N1—or as I’ve taken to calling it, opportunity—has yet to come knocking.
And of course, for every inspiring blog-to-riches story there’s an equally depressing tale of failure. Of hours poured into posts that only your Mom reads—and she just wants to make sure you’re being safe on your semester abroad and avoiding feral animals because the rabies vaccine is in short supply and pricey; of templates painstakingly picked out and domain names tried and recycled; of home pages refreshed over and over only to find that no one has commented on your pithy semi-fictional dialogue with the King of Morocco. Really, if no one else notices or posts a link to your latest blog entry, then do your indulgent musings count for anything at all?
The answer is no. No, they do not. In the fame game of the Internet, your Youtube value is measured by the 10,000s of hits, by the hundreds of MySpace adds, by the gigatrons of mega-memory. It’s not enough to be thoughtful, you also have to be popular.
I don’t think I can win at blogs. I should probably save myself the trouble and just resign from the Internet entirely. It will be difficult to say goodbye, difficult to remove myself from the modern technological age, from the twittering masses, but as they say—when you close one set of wires, tubes, and integrated circuits, another door opens.