My Vanity…

So I have been thinking about blogging and vanity.  I don’t think blogging necessarily causes vanity. However, it does do a good job of making a profitable and very seductive place to foster it.

But then, haven’t all means of writing things down given us this? Ever since the printing press, or even printing itself, that is, the making of printed characters, we have been able to show off and/ or attract attention using this medium. The writer is notoriously a vain creature, or at least extremely self-absorbed. This does not necessarily mean arrogant, so much as dwelling very strongly in the self, and spending a greater time than average thinking inside his or her own box.

This admittedly intensive activity can lead to some other… less savory pursuits  to either make the thinking stop already, or even the casual abuse other human beings around one for the sake of a story, or an idea, or even, an interesting experience to blog about later.

Once again, the technology gains us nothing save convenience, pervasiveness, and depth of use. That is, the reach is potentially wider, the penetration is broader and the damage can be pervasive and hard to flee.  A former embarrassment was only embarrassing to the man, his neighbors and his community. Now it becomes a meme that travels the globe, and if the embarrassment is sufficiently acute, it becomes a memorable YouTube phenomenon that is remembered for years at least.  Meeting one person can spell the difference between a career in a given field and being unemployable.

In this  freewheeling wonder of the future, where there are no rules about proper behavior, it can be anything, and be done through no fault of your own. Schadenfreude is powerful drink, perhaps more truthful than booze. So not only is the potential for world clenching ego surfing with all the nightmarish cult of personality that implies is possible, but so is a far reaching humiliation that was once only true in the minds of the most pessimistic depressive is in your grasp.   Worse yet, it will be there always for them that know to look for it.  Memory is worth nothing, but research is an all-powerful tool.  It is as if the scribes of Egypt got the mystical powers over destiny from the bards of old Ireland.  Scary stuff.

The only thing that saves you is that there is so much data that the average person is overwhelmed by their own friend’s facebook/linkedin/twitter/google+ addictions to ever care about what happened to some shlub on some train on such and such a day.  You know, unless he died, or hurt himself in a really funny way.  It’s America’s Funniest Home Video on Acid, Crack and Speed all at once.

Next week, we all get our own Television Stations. It’s practically already here. What’s then after that? I’m afraid my poor human mind is too limited and bound by my own time to know. This is why I don’t write science fiction.

Sometimes I look at all this and think that the only way I’d get peace in this world is if I renounced it entirely and spent the rest of my days alternating between hard work and solitary and group prayer.  But some days I think I was an old woman around the time I turned ten, morphed into a tween sometime around the eleventh grade, and did not leave adolescence until a few years ago, only to have bloomed like a bone flower into an old woman.

What is ironic is that I was afraid of all this even in my teens, even in college, and even today.  I have not looked at the future with a truly un-jaundiced eye since I was eight years old. I can even tell you the day… I was in school and we watched the Challenger fly upward into the sky… only to watch is shatter in a ruin of lives and a mangle of unimaginably expensive equipment.

You see, the blow was even greater to my young mind because of the very personal nature of space travel. I wasn’t even that much of an enthusiast… that was my father. It was largely that the parents of friends of mine developed the space shuttle. They never did seem very proud of it, either.  Always muttering about the meddling of bureaucrats and the limitations on their ideas by Congress, and how a truly good and functional idea could only carry on with more freedom.  They even ranted about how unsafe it was, thanks to the restrictions placed upon them by self-same Congress. Keep in mind, these were engineers. If you don’t trust them to call it as they see it, what the hell are you paying them for?

The truth of the matter is– freedom hurts. It has a cost. We have the freedom to say whatever we like to whomever who comes by. But we are always responsible for it and– even for what we cannot foresee.  By breathing, we take risks. We cannot live in a risk free society and still be free.

That is why writing, and choices are dangerous. We have no idea what affect they will have on the people around us, until it comes back to haunt us.  We generally don’t think about what affect our writing and focused thinking has on what we value, who we try to be, and what we habitually do.

 

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