Sunday, March 15, 2015

Anybody There?

Another friend told me the other day they were deleting their blog. "Nobody reads it any more. I get more comments and feedback on Facebook no matter what I post."

"So," I said, "you're tired of being ignored and want that instant gratification."

"No. That's not it."

Methinks they did protest too much.

Who doesn't like comments? Who doesn't like to know they're being read -- and heard? Who doesn't tap the mic when no stops what they're doing or turns to face them when they speak?

We all do. I'm no different from you. I like to know that someone is paying attention, someone other than the faithful readers who always comment -- or mostly comment when they have time from their own posting and waiting and hoping someone acknowledges them.

Thank you, faithful readers. I appreciate every one of you. Even when you never comment.

I decided a long time ago that I would write what moves me, what I want to share, and even what tickles me and not care when people respond. Someone will see the leaves I write on and give to the winds and if they don't . . . . Well, it shouldn't matter. That leaves me free to be me, free to say what I choose without worrying about  offending someone (usually everyone). I don't worry about pleasing everyone either, although I do take some pains to take the best pictures I possibly can and choosing a picture that illustrates what I write and pleases my asthetic senses. Okay, I do that for you and not so much for me because I can enjoy reading without the pictures. I also do it a bit for me because I like to exercise the artistic part of myself. So, yes, it is a selfish thing, just like writing what is on my mind.

I learned during my time on Facebook that the instant gratification of quick responses and lots of likes that it feels good to have proof that people are paying attention, that the mic is on and transmitting. I also found out that I draw the loons more often than not and that most immediate responses are from people who don't really care what I write. They care that they are paying just enough attention to acknowledge that I'm writing so I will pay attention to them. They really don't read, digest, or often even understand what I write. Moreover, they don't really care because they are doing their best to make sure that people notice them. A pat on the back even when there is nothing more than the fleeting thought someone is there under their hand is sufficient, especially if that person actually likes their comments and posts and acknowledges that they are being read. Or heard. They want to be noticed whether you get noticed or not.

That is not the case with a good friend of mine who stopped reading my posts because I would engage in unthinkable -- and often unconscionable -- behavior. I actually debated and discussed issues with people who flamed, yelled, and sought to change my mind. Had we been in the same room, the opposition would have begun yelling and gesticulating while calling me an idiot and a mindless sheep only aware enough to follow the wooly hind quarters in front of me. Through all the ranting and name-calling, I remained calm and logical and respectful, even when my opponents did not. When things got too far out of hand I would chide them, remind them to respect my rules, and then, when they inevitably continued on their tirade while frothing at the mouth and wishing they could hit me in the face or over the head with a hard and heavy object, I would shut them down. I blocked them. He was upset because I was being savaged and did not seem to realize it. I still smile at his chivalrous care of me. I made him angry by giving the nut jobs on both sides of the discussion space and time and my attention and not being there to defend me. I think he would have waded into the debate and beat them to a bloody pulp had we been standing in the same room. He's a gentleman like that.

He finally had to stop paying attention so it wouldn't make him angry enough to hit someone. I understood. He's a good man and that is not something I say about a lot of men -- or women for that matter. He pays attention. He listens. He reads. Even when he seldom comments, and most especially when he does comment, he cares. We often get into spirited debates that stir the blood and flush my cheeks. No doubt they flush his cheeks too, but you don't say such things about a GUY.

It's funny in a way. We were aware of each other all through high school, but didn't run with the same crowd. I sailed through the halls with a smile and he sailed through the halls usually high and sometimes drunk. He was an excellent student, but he was one of the hippie types with long hair and jeans with tattered ends He is still a bit of a hippie, wearing ankle bracelets, though his hair is mostly gone. He's still a handsome man. I thought he was cute in high school, but I was more intent on studying than dating.

Oh, don't think I didn't date, that I was one of THOSE nerds. Not at all. I dated a number of guys and met my first husband in high school playing Euchre during lunch. I was the only girl in the history of the school that was allowed to play Euchre with the guys at lunch, and one of the few girls who took the game seriously enough that I was invited to play in their homes. They eagerly included me whenever they played, even if it was in my house. My friend wasn't one of those guys. He was busy frying other fish, but we were aware of each other. That was enough then. Now we call each other frequently and sometimes talk for hours, changing subjects quickly, sliding from music to politics to finances to every topic under the sun -- and a few under the stars and moon. We are friends. He listens. He reads. He pays attention. Between us, the mic is always on.

Do  I care if anyone reads my posts? Yes, but not THAT much. I don't care if they comment, and they rarely do. What I care about is that I am writing my words on leaves and tossing them to the winds to land wherever they will. If someone picks up the leaf and reads what I have written, it is enough. If the leaf dries and crumbles to duff and dust, that's all right too. I sent my words on the wind and the wind spreads them.

I am reminded of something one of my teachers told me. "It's enough that over all the decades of teaching, a couple people pay attention, and at least one gets something useful out of it." Now that I have turned 60, I understand that so much better. Not just the words, but the sentiment and the emotion. If a couple people read my words and just one gets something useful from my mental meanderings, it is enough. It is like an author whose work I have edited telling me that they thank me as they rewrite their book, thank me for giving them something useful they can use.

That is all. Disperse.

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