A typical Saturday morning conversation at the Bjella house goes something like this:
“I’m off to play with my racquetball friends, dear.”
[muffled sounds from under the covers]
I speak loudly in case she’s still asleep, because I am a good husband and know she wouldn’t want to waste a moment of her day, warm and cozy in bed, “WHAT DID YOU SAY, DEAR?”
“I SAID, If they are such good friends, why do you always come home covered with red welts?”
I tell her they aren’t welts, they are hickeys.
Without missing a beat she says, “shouldn’t you be spending more time with your Facebook friends?”
“You know, the people who don’t pelt you with racquetballs? The ones who ‘like’ you?”
Admittedly, I’m new to the whole social media thing, about six months since I lost my online virginity. So, I say, “but everyone is always so nice on Facebook, with their hundreds of friends, always so supportive…” It feels like the Stepford version of Disneyland, without the cartoon mice. Which is surprising, given all the cats on Facebook. Lots and lots of cats.
She says, “Maybe that’s how people really are. Nice.”
I let that slide with a mere cocking of an eyebrow.
“It’s all so… so make-believe. If our physical friends acted that polite around us, I’d probably call the police. Besides, it’s a veritable popularity contest for ‘likes’.”
“Better not say that, or you won’t get any,” she says.
I reply, “We’re still talking about ‘likes’, right?” I have to tread very carefully here.
I tell her I don’t have to worry about ‘likes’. “First of all, nobody will ever read this far into my post. Second, I have you and your mom. You two are my groupies.” Sure, I have to ‘like’ some of my own posts on Robyn’s behalf using her computer, but still, it’s nice to have groupies. Even if they are sort of guilted into it. Forced, really (I know things about them).
“So why bother to post, then? You don’t post cats, and nobody has the attention span to read anymore, so why bother?”
That’s a good question. And, the second time someone has asked me that this week (so, if you are reading this, here’s your answer). Upon reflection today on my ride, I thought of many reasons, but these are the unexpected ones (and if I had time I could come up with more).
- Together with sketching/drawing, photography, and that brain sucking machine I saw on Star Trek, writing completes the panoply of tools at hand to capture thoughts and memories, and share them, too.
- It is a means to interact with friends, a way to talk about the things for which there is no time in the brief moments you have together, between cheers, while watching your kid’s basketball game. It is a way to ‘talk’ to busy friends on their schedule, those that have the time or inclination to read, anyway. It’s also a way to target those friends who are interested, without boring those who are not. As hard as it is for me to believe, there are actually people out there not consumed daily by architecture… well, we all have our passions (probably shoes).
- Most of my life is spent drawing and visualizing, which is about form and function. Writing has forced me to think. Actually think. To think deeper (but not quite Deepak Chopra deep) about just about everything, not just the visual. In fifty-one years I haven’t had to do much of that. Yes, of course I read and take in other people’s thoughts about life, but rarely have I reflected on my own. It’s amazing what you learn about yourself.
- It’s difficult. Easy things are boring. ’nuff said.
- It forces you to become a better writer. I look at each post and ask if I was you (were you?), would I read it. If it’s obviously boring, which it usually is, I ask how can I make it more interesting without including porn (if you follow this blog long enough, I may just get there). Turns out it’s much like architecture, which requires training yourself to approach things in new and hopefully interesting ways (come to think of it, maybe it is like porn).
By way of example, here’s my Facebook post as originally conceived during my morning ride. Nice and inoffensive (probably would have received a thousand ‘likes’ from Robyn and her mom):
My typical Saturday morning ride to the courts is an especially beautiful one today, because of a fresh snowfall… if you can get past the grey sky. The ride is an easy five miles, most of which is a mixture of trails and tracks. Happy to say no injuries today. Good thing, because my ribs are still recovering from a spill a few weeks ago.
It’s quite amazing to live 10 minutes from the heart of a big city (Minneapolis) and rarely have to ride on roads. I love this place. Except the cold. And the mosquitos. And the guys who hit me with racquetballs. Here are a few pictures from the ride this morning.
If you read another post from me like the one above one, you know I have given up and am spending the entire day in my bathrobe, talking to cats. And I don’t have cats.