Welcome to Midlife Crisis Crossover’s 1200th entry! In the grand tradition of 20th century comic books and sitcoms that ran five seasons too long, every 100 entries we mark the occasion as a sort of accomplishment and sometimes celebrate it. Not all those 1200 moments have been winners, but they’re integral components in the comprehensive mosaic of the last few years inside my head — the distractions, the fancies, the traumas, the endless parade of lists.
Before I launched MCC on April 28, 2012, I’d already been writing here and there online for years. My early efforts at self-expression and public entertainment comprise a couple thousand Usenet posts (a few longform pieces in the bunch, mostly irretrievable and irrelevant now), several thousand message-board posts (much easier to sort through, a few of them previously transferred and preserved here), and a LiveJournal I kept for a few years but can barely stand to skim now. In 2006 the longtime message board that Anne and I call home received a software upgrade that added blogging functionality for any member who wanted their own little playground contained within the site itself. Between April 2006 and March 2012 I penned 110 intermittent entries before I decided to stake my own separate claim here among the WordPress territories. That virtually invisible blog was good practice in a number of ways, most of them involving some balance of creativity and humility in the face of a mostly empty studio, so to speak.
As part of this MCC celebration that I just realized could technically double as a “Throwback Thursday” nod, we present the following flashback to an essay originally published May 16, 2006. This oddity, which I’ve lightly edited for a broader audience, represents my very first “meta” post about the odd act of blogging. It was written within and for the confines of the internet equivalent of a shed with a single skylight, but I’m a little surprised how much of my nascent impressions still ring a bell today. Please enjoy, and thanks for being here.
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What unit of measurement quantifies blog success?
My thoughts have been unreasonably preoccupied with the new blog feature that came with the board’s last upgrade. Admittedly, many longtime members already have blog spaces at dedicated sites where they enjoy vast networks of friends and numerous additional customizing options (which the more tech-savvy Admins are said to be working on, but it’s sadly low-priority at the moment as far as I can tell). I can understand the reluctance of those folks to double-blog or to convert from one blog to another, especially since in many cases it’d likely constitute a downgrade.
I posted on LiveJournal myself for a while, but grew disenchanted when I began to get the feeling that I shared too few commonalities with my community of choice. A few of them disagree with that, and they’re very sweet to say so. My LJ is still active, but I’ve posted only once in three years to provide a requested “Where Am I Now?” update when someone on my Friendslist poked me. By my reckoning, then, I was functionally blogless when our upgrade’s blogging feature was revealed. For no good reason, the wheels in my mind began to turn much more quickly than I expected as I pondered the notion of starting anew, especially since the two differences in the board’s blogs that likely frighten away the most potential users are the differences that present, to me, the most interesting challenges.
1. All entries are public-view, no private entries allowed.
I imagine that would make most people very selective about what they post. How far are you willing to allow other people inside your mind before they cross the border between penetrating insight and invasion of privacy? How far are readers willing to stay with you if they know there’s a line you won’t cross? Can you convince readers to stay with you all the way up to that line, or did you disinterest them a few leagues back? That’s a writing challenge if ever I heard one.
I have no plans for intimate bedroom stories — ever — and I’ve no intention to share any stories that will result in me sleeping on the couch for week-long stretches while my wife draws up plans for my own eventual malicious hobbling. Beyond that, I’m curious to find my own boundaries and see how much playroom space I can create within them. Of course, it helps that I can’t think of much else about myself that needs suppressing. When you get to be my age and attitude, it’s just less stressful to hide as little as possible, providing you maintain that mannerly distinction between honesty and candor.
(Dirty little secret: the upgraded moderators’ control panel includes the option to allow private entries, but we’ve disallowed it for now — reason being, I think, assorted bug fixes yet to be done. Will this change in the future? Dunno, don’t yet care. If so, I’m sure we’ll spread the word.)
2. Friends within the same blogging community usually know each other well.
At this point most of us sturdy/foolhardy enough to start a blog here share two common denominators: we have the site bookmarked, and we want our own piece of it to use as we see fit. That’s it. Is that enough to form the nucleus of a new blogging (sub)community from scratch? If enough of us keep working at it, can the blogging section grow to become, mean, or do more? Or are we doomed to be a collective of strangers blogging parallel to each other, never intersecting? Time and more entries will tell.
I’ve read every blog entry here to date, even if I haven’t felt compelled to reply to each one just to validate their authors one by one, but I admit I’m puzzled by all those members who gave up after only one or two entries. I have to wonder what discouraged them. Did their view-stats shame them? Did the lack of replies retroactively invalidate the time spent writing? Did they just run out of interesting things to say? Are they frightened because the other strangers blogging here aren’t immediate members of their preexisting cliques? Or did they merely want to test-drive a new toy just long enough until their goldfish-span memory spasmed and moved on to the next toy?
As I said, for me it’s about the inherent challenges. It also gives me a means for exercising my mind and my underutilized writing abilities as I age. It serves a platform for materials and write-ups that I think would be ill-fitting within the context of the more expansive message-board ambience.
And then there’s that potential that I’ll someday foster an enormous sense of self-satisfaction from all of this.
Eyes on the prize, y’all.