(Alright, I admit it up front: the subject line above is an overstated "grabber" to get you to keep reading. But you are, aren't you? Keep going!)
In an entry at VIDEO WATCHBLOG last Thursday titled "The End of Blogging Days - A Rumination,"* the award-winning, well-respected writer Tim Lucas, publisher of the magazine VIDEO WATCHDOG and the author of MARIO BAVA: ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, wrote about his mixed feelings regarding blogging as a worthwhile activity. The post had been prompted by his being invited by an unnamed party into a horror blog "guild." Lucas had politely declined to join on the basis of time constraints and his qualms about blogging. The inviter, whom he had called "an acquaintance", told him he'd experienced similar mixed feelings.
I can verify the truth of this, because I was the secret "acquaintance" and the "guild" is The League of Tana Tea Drinkers. (The use of the term "guild" is Mr. Lucas', and a better one than those of us in LOTT-D have come up to describe the group. Thanks, TL!)
Tim Lucas didn't actually name me or link to this blog (he referred to me only as an acquaintance, which is accurate), and I didn't expect him to. All the same-- oh, the woe! The crushing shame of having my identity hidden kept me contemplating dark thoughts; why I even considered rolling myself into the paper shredder to end it all! Severed heads with drinking problems have notoriously delicate egos! But now, at last, you know the secret identity of Mr. Lucas' acquaintance.
(Above photo, left to right: Tim Lucas, an acquaintance of TL, and author David J. Schow. Below: Schow, Donna Lucas, and Tim Lucas, three people who are incredibly charming and engaging from the first time you meet them.)
And I do have mixed feelings about blogging. As with Lucas, I do sometimes feel "a burden of guilt" when I go several days without posting. (And who needs that?) And, like him, I find blogging an "unremunerative drain on my time and energies"-- I don't get paid to do it, and the time I spend on my blog could be spent doing something that might make me some money. Perhaps I may sometime have to face leaving off blogging for other pursuits. If so, then Lucas' statement "it becomes the secret wish of all bloggers to stop blogging" will seem amazingly prescient. But don't many interests eventually pall or become impractical to continue? Everything passes under the soil of accumulated time. "All is vanity...there is no remembrance of former things."
Lucas says that "blogs do indeed form communities of the heart", but feels they are "a gratifying pantomime of achievement rather than achievement itself." The gratification is "nice...but lasts only for an instant." And when a blogger and his/her blog are gone, they are quickly forgotten: "the nature of cyberspace that allows such disappearances to heal over quickly."
Au contraire, mon frere. One of the first bloggers I ever read, James Lileks of The Bleat (part of his multi-layered, fun website Lileks. com), came to seem like a friend. His writing is personal, and I came to appreciate his sense of humor, his bemused love for his family, and his biting sense of humor. That is, until he became more political (he's very conservative) and his biting sense of humor gave way to negative ranting; I stopped checking in years ago. But to this day I wonder how he is, and some of his memorable posts I still recall. The same is true of Kirk Demarais' Secret Fun Blog (of the larger Secret Fun Spot site)-- some his posts have long stayed with me because of their combination of knowledge about a particular subject and a passion for same, with personal details thrown into the mix. The list of names of memorable posts by interesting bloggers goes on and on, at least for me.
Of course, we come from different perspectives. I'm married to a woman I first met and got to know via the internet, and our marriage was celebrated online by our friends, so I am disposed to think well of online activities ; Tim Lucas, as a writer, has to support himself by writing articles, novels, and screenplays, and blogging doesn't pay the bills; naturally he would have to conclude that very much time online could be harmful to his own best interests.
Lucas and I have in common the fact that we both have made and strengthened many valuable friendships over the 'net, and I have to admit that I've made mistakes in gauging the proper balance of life in the virtual world and life in the real world. Last October, when I accepted the 'post-a-day' challenge for Halloween season, I put a temporary strain on my marriage that I regret. A few other times I've skirted close to it but didn't; and sometimes I've wondered if the time I've spent blogging might be better spent trying to engage friends socially. But time in the virtual world is attractive to my friends too; it seems harder to maintain regular socializing in the real world than it used to.
I wonder how the balancing act blogging requires has affected other, non-professional areas of Tim Lucas' life; I know he feels the desire to blog fairly keenly, as he stated "...if it was financially feasible, I would probably stop VIDEO WATCHDOG tomorrow and write this blog full time... blogging typically invigorates a writer's productivity."
Tim Lucas rightly identifies the regrettable trend of the virtual world to supplant areas of the real world: "All around us, our growing indifference to the world outside our computer screens is causing newspapers with over a century of experience and tradition to topple, venerable bookstores to close, magazines to fold, literature to die." But it now seems as fruitless to curse this trend, however lamentable, as it is to decry the replacement of small businesses with Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and megachains of all kinds, or to rail against urbanization for the isolating anonymity it can bring to people who live near each other. It is harder to buy locally, to know one's neighbors, and to socialize in the real world, but it can be done.
Blogging isn't solely a part of the problem in the latter area. Though it typically does not initiate or strengthen friendships, it does sometimes; I've met a couple people through my blog that I'm glad I've gotten to know. If blogging "doesn't help you to make the hand-to-hand, face-to-face connections that are necessary to anyone's professional advancement" (are there no exceptions to this?), then it has brought me, at least, some, and provided something to discuss with established friends.
The same is true for message boards for areas of common interest have brought me many real and lasting friendships, although it has brought me far more friendly acquaintanceships, such as I have with Tim Lucas. Still, a friend, however found, is an invaluable personal asset. The virtual world, if negotiated wisely, can bring much that is good to one's life.
I'm grateful to Tim Lucas for posting two thought-provoking entries at his blog (the first was Followed up by a clarification of his feelings in a second post titled '690'), but he's good at that. (I'm also grateful to have a natural opportunity to mention him and VIDEO WATCHBLOG; that will surely drive up this blog's hits! Ha ha ha!)
I look forward to reading more by Tim, both in virtual print and real, and to seeing him in real life again, as I did at Wonderfest last year. Listening and talking to him (and David Schow, and many others) was a rewarding, fun and warm experience. See ya 'round, Tim!
* Does this make Tim Lucas a ruminant? (I kid, I kid!)