Sunday, December 01, 2013

One Voice, Hold the Wilderness

On the first day of December, the first day of Advent and the first day of Holidailies, I have come to realize that this tiny, insignificant, sometimes self-indulgent, and more frequently-than-I-would-prefer ignored corner of the Internet is ten years old.

Over the years while this page has been redesigned and links have been added and deleted, the posts have remained an eclectic mishmash of verbiage: from inane to humorous to serious to poetry (with Haiku being my personal favorite). There is also the customary postings of pictures and YouTube clips, depending on my mood, the time of day, the time of year, the insanity of my calendar, the insanity of my family and friends, and the reading on my current boredom and/or procrastination meter.

The creation of the TunaNews came as a result of some on and off forum postings and daily recaps for yes, gasp, a reality television show (Hello, Big Brother 2003).  During those long chunks of time when nothing was happening, we'd post anyway, often telling humorous stories of our "real" life.  Because I had a nine-year old, I had plenty of fodder.  At the end of the summer, and with a bit of nudging, I created a "blog", which, back in the olden days (ten years ago), was a much newer idea.  Without the presence of Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social platforms, blogs were a major way to communicate with people who chose to come visit.  It was fun.

Time passed, things changed and the Internet grew into a much, much bigger machine.  It became possible to track how and when and why people visited our sites.  Weekly, daily, and even hourly stats became as important as the content on the page, and sometimes more important.  It was fun for awhile, but then started to feel less like communication and more like competition.

I don't know when exactly it was that I began to feel overwhelmed by the noise.  The Internet noise.  The explosion of blogs in every format possible led to websites able to track the latest postings of blogs you might "subscribe to" so you wouldn't miss anything.  This, in my case (of course) led to subscribing to everything.  Literary blogs.  Cooking blogs.  Political blogs.  Essays.  Humor.  Parody.  News.  I didn't want to miss anything so I subscribed to everything and immediately got BURIED by my interests.  And then instead of not missing anything...I missed everything.  

After blogs came Facebook and Twitter.  Oh my.  And Instagram and Flickr and Pinterest and Lord knows what else.  More and more people added their voices, not merely wanting to be heard, but needing to be heard . Obsessively working in overdrive for the elusive click of the ticker.  Wanting the stats.  Cross-posting once, twice, ten times a day.  Sure, you still had to choose to come visit but it was a short trip from a kind request to a gentle nudge to an annoying nagging to click through to hear their voice, read their opinion, laugh at their joke, cry at their story, or copy their family recipe.  And then not only were the writers fighting for readers, the readers themselves became equally competitive, vying for most comments, wittiest rebuttals, most antagonistic troll-bombs, or a mutual love-fests via re-posts and thumbs-ups.  People were fighting for two things -- validation and a voice.

I understood it and still do: this the overwhelming need for validation and to be heard.  But for me, a middle child who prefers a peaceful, balanced coexistence, when the noise of the Internet got too loud, my response was to not add to the cacophony.  So I silenced my voice and stopped writing.

My poor blog sat for days, weeks and months at a time.  This time I've almost gone a full year without posting and it's been several years since I checked a blog counter or looked over my stats.  Yet to this day, my blog is my homepage and every time I go online I feel both guilty and sad that I'm staring at a story that is 350 days old.

In Advent we hear about "a voice in the wilderness crying".  Although the Internet is probably the furthest thing possible from a "wilderness", there is a very real and palpable loneliness that comes part and parcel with all of the people and the postings and the memes and the quizzes and the games and the noise.  Despite all that, I'm going to dive back into Holidailies and spend the month writing.  Maybe this month will give me some insight into my voice, my words, my content and my contribution.  While I'm no John the Baptist and I'm fresh out of hair shirts, I hope to rediscover my voice and its purpose in this otherwise noisy world.


harmony said...

I think the idea of the internet as a wilderness is actually pretty apt. There are little hidden pockets of wonder, and vast reaches of emptiness, despite the noise and chatter. And if you aren't careful, there are trolls.

You are one of the blogs I always enjoy reading during Holidailies. I am glad you are here.

MissMeliss said...

I was just looking through the collection of "opening day" Holidailies posts, and was so happy to see your link. I've been largely not-blogging, either (but, I have a podcast, and a zine, and, and, and) , and have committed to this month, at least.

You've always been one of my favorite reads. And I love the metaphor of Internet as Wilderness.

It's both accurate and timely.

KatJam said...

Trollbomb! BOOM!

bozoette said...

I'm so happy to "see" you! And wow - Teen Tuna is a college sophomore!