Goofs and Gadflies

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Happy Medium is the Message

'The Last Line Always Remains" was the title of the first book I was going to write. I was 21 at the time. Poetry and prose flowed through an angst quill. The Internet, having not quite reached adolescence, was a 56k buzz in the air as pixels slowly churned in linear formation. The direct access to the Carleton Library Computer was handy for looking up books I would never read. However, in 1994 we had not progressed to the point of personal blogs or Myspace. We rendered our poetry to the pages of notebooks. I set out to write thematic prose musing the salience of youth. The work while lofty in its task, was never metered for public consumption. The pages sit unmolested, in a bin stuffed with memories and memorandum of my youth.

Contrast that with the first few years of this blog. Which when printed and submitted to a few friends with an eye for editing, was told there was a potential book here. What changed? It's the same metaphysical claptrap. There is nothing new under the sun. What is different is that we are now more comfortable with the idea of personal publishing. The notion of credibility not necessarily being tied to the publicity machine of mass media. We are now a society of consultants, of social media mavens, of mompreneurs and camp attendees.

If the medium is still the message, that message seems to be "I'm okay, you're okay". I get increasing levels of validation in reading blogs about new parents. I look at my child and don't feel the need to be superdad or picture perfect. I get this because I read about real people going through life as parents, watching them live it online via social networks. I also read Canadian Today's Parent, but that's different. That's a magazine looking to sell copies and ad space. They need a hook. They spoonfeed how I should feel while reading the articles, by using pictures and colors to denote the anticipated mood. Today's Parent represents a consensus of experience and depth of understanding inaccessible to most people (who aren't friends with doctors, lawyers, chefs, or gym teachers). I need that knowledge, I need to know how to cook new soups and how to arrange my kid's room to help them study. What I don't need is the pressure to live up to magazines haughty goals for personal happiness.

The beauty of social networks is twofold. They provide a quick glimpse into the foibles and cresting achievements of people we have only a tertiary(3 Kevin Bacons or more) connection with. They also allow people to share and learn from these experiences. It's a double benefit. We gain in the actual manufacture of social media content, and we gain in the sharing and learning of that creation. When you post pictures of taking your kids apple picking, you give people the idea that they too can take their kids apple picking. You might even inspire someone to write a blog about the "5 ways Apple Picking can spice up your marriage (The InCider View)"

That is the difference between 1994 and 2010. Then it was Green Day's Dookie and Metallica's Black Album blazing through a stereo rented at Granada. Now it's blogging about apples. Now its raking leaves while the kids do their homework. It's about celebrating moment after moment of growth as a family. It's about pride through preservation.

Welcome to my Carlsberg Years.


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