Sunday, August 5, 2018

Seriously Everybody

We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon...
 - Dale Carnegie

I think everybody should have a website. Maybe you think that's silly. Probably you think that's silly. Why does everybody need a website, I can hear you asking.

I didn't say need.

I think everybody should have a website for a very similar reason that I believe everybody has a story to tell. Too few of us ever get a chance to tell that story to an audience greater than children or grandchildren, and unfortunately we don't live in a society anymore that places great value on words handed down through the generations.

I'd almost be willing to wager that many of those in my and younger generations would be willing to argue that any words or stories that are worth remembering are already written down, somewhere.

Clearly, I disagree.

I think I first had the idea, riding in the car to somewhere or from somewhere with my dad, listening to This American Life on NPR. As far as I could tell, they were finding stories in regular, normal people that you might run into on the street. And as I've grown older, I've come to realize that it's very often the people who live on the street, not just those who you meet there (and subsequently return to their houses and apartments when the day is done) that often have the more poignant and interesting stories.

That's not to say that the family man, third generation plumber and happy with his lot in life and hoping his son follows in his footsteps just as he followed in his father's footsteps doesn't have stories of his own to tell. But the weathered rock face has seen both more storms and more sunrises than the one that's been sheltered from the worst of the wind and the rain.

I wanted to see someone take a village and turn it into an omnibus. Collect the stories, possibly polish them a bit--not because they're inevitably rough around the edges, but because spoken language doesn't always easily translate into written language, because the roughness is part of the charm--and publish them.

And rinse and repeat.

This was before I learned of the downside of the internet, before the internet was this big trundling thing where everybody had not one voice, but every voice they could ever need, before the internet was millions and billions of people crying out for attention, rather than a few small, lonely voices, crying out into the darkness and the void, looking for light.

We have a problem, now, where we have more creators than observers, and the majority of the observes cluster around a few very large flames, while the smaller flames, still and silent, try very hard not to sputter out.

The number of moths we draw has no bearing on the worth of our lives.

The idea of writing a book or series of books of small places in the world that nonetheless still have stories to tell and stories worth being heard has stuck with me through the years, but it's never gained much traction in any of my forays into starting a project. It's unfortunately very work-intensive for very little reward (measured in moths, not in flames), but the growth of the internet has changed that.

More people than ever, and each day, ever more, have access to the internet, and there are a surplus of free services out there that would allow every last candle to leave a few semipermanent drops of wax on the world. All it takes is the time to do it.

The quote I chose for today really isn't relevant to this idea. What it is relevant to is a friend of mine who I am currently advocating starting her own blog. My advocacy is more fed by this idea of mine, though as I've presented it more by promise of some small amount of additional income.

She has stories, this I know for a fact. She wants to share them, this I know to a degree. She's told me she's considered starting a blog, but unfortunately, the consideration seems to be about as far as she's gotten.

I want to help, and I've already offered some generous start-up advice, but I don't want to push. Well, I want to push, but I'm trying very hard not to. There's a few things she seems to be worried about, and I believe that most of them are very small things.

I wish she'd just start writing, and worry about the rest of it later. And I will worry about the other eight billion of you later, don't worry, your time will come soon enough.