This is, more or less, the anniversary of when I started blogging. I say more or less because I started Serendipity last year on February 4, 2012 by writing an opening post and creating an “about me” page, but after that, I did almost nothing until May.
Maybe I just needed to write. Perhaps it was all the pictures I had never shown to anyone. I know the heating up of the political season had more than a little to do with it, the increasing noise of politics rolling through America like an out-of-control freight train.
I had been trying to ignore the whole thing.
It’s not that I am disinterested in politics. Far from it, but I was and remain unhappy with America, her handling of the election process, the failure of everyone in both parties to address real issues in favor of mud-slinging. Anyone who was even tangentially in touch with the greater world could feel the rumbles of that train. Eventually, it would leave no one untouched.
Maybe on some level it’s a good thing. At least it got people involved. Eventually, it pulled everyone into a vortex. We all have a stake in America. Even non-Americans have a stake in us. We aren’t supporting players on the world scene. Our name goes up above the title when the credits roll.
It doesn’t mean that we do such a great job. We get mixed reviews at best, but it’s not like some other nation is doing so much better. It’s easy to take potshots at the U.S. We are a big target, a larger-than-life bullseye and anyone who isn’t blind can hit us. I must be more of a patriot than I think I am because I get pissed off at people from other countries who rage about our politics. Clean up your own mess before you criticize ours. But I digress.
I got sucked in. By September, I was deep into the tornado of the American Presidential election. From my perspective, as a senior citizen with serious financial concerns, dependent on Medicare and Social Security that was supposed to keep me alive in my old age, the Republican position on these issues scared the pants off me.
Mind you, there’s no way to be sure any candidate or party will keep campaign promises after the votes are counted, but we don’t have unlimited choices. In the current universe, we get to pick A or B and if we aren’t happy about the choice, the only other option is to become politically irrelevant — vote for a third-party with no chance of winning or not vote at all. It’s a choice many people resent.
But. If there’s a better way to elect a country’s leaders, I don’t know about it. I’ve lived under parliamentary rule. It’s different in theory, but practically speaking, you still wind up picking A or B because any other party for which you vote is going to hook up with A or B after the election as part of a coalition. In the final analysis, all representative democracies are two-party systems. The mechanics are different, but the result is the same.
So I started dipping my oars in the water and eventually, I went from dipping to strenuous rowing. All over the Internet, from Facebook to private email, there was a passion and intensity to this election I’ve never seen before. Shouting, ranting, verbal violence, racism, classism and a scary amount of ignorance made my head spin and my stomach twist into a knot.
I’ve always enjoyed elections. Politics is our national sport, the only one where everyone can play with no restriction on age, physical abilities, or talent. This was not like previous elections. It was disturbing on many levels. So much rage on both sides, so much hatred spewing from so many mouths, right and left. There was no room for the voice of sanity, civility or commonsense. Although things have cooled off, there’s a roiling anger, a seething unrest that is almost palpable and scary.
Americans are unhappy. Discontent with their government and leaders. Many are angry about how everything has been handled for the past 20 years or more. It’s not only this election; it’s the direction of the country. There are good things that have happened … but there are too many bad things being ignored by everyone who could do something.
That was when I began to participate in the blogging world. As the U.S. sunk deeper into a particularly violent political battle, I got a leg up from the activity. Without the election to grab people who normally ignore news, I would not have gotten so much attention. It was mostly luck. This isn’t humility. I’m not especially humble or modest about my writing. I have personal insecurities galore, but I’ve spent a lifetime writing and I do it pretty well.
It reminds me of the conversation I had with our dentist. He’s frequently criticized for having a lousy “bedside manner.” I like him because he’s fast and he’s good. His prices are average or lower than average, you can get an appointment immediately any time you call. He’ll get done in two hours what most dentists stretch out for weeks or months. I commented how much I like the quality — and speed — of his work. He looked at me. “I’ve been doing this for more than 35 years. If I’m not fast and good now, I should be doing something else.” Right you are, doc.
I kind of feel the same way. If after all these years of calling myself a writer and writing professionally as well as just because I love it … if after all that I’m not good at it, I should pack it in and watch more television.
Mostly though, I knew the Internet is vast. The virtual world is crammed with voices clamoring for attention. I figured the odds of my getting heard was small to none. Surprisingly, I was wrong and I am grateful to have been wrong. I wish I’d risen from obscurity to a this highly localized celebrity by dint of brilliance, but it was more like dumb luck. I wrote something that got picked up by Google and pushed me to the top of the search engine. I reblogged a post that went viral. A few other popular posts and suddenly, I had an audience. I thought they would go away when the election was over, but apparently there are people who think I am worth a few minutes of their day. In a world so busy and frantic, that’s no small thing. I’m more than a bit awed when I realize that I’ve had over 46,000 hits in about 6 months, starting from zero. Once you get rolling, the process continues on its own momentum.
It could end as fast and as randomly as it began. I am aware of the fragility of this sort of thing. Popular today, forgotten tomorrow.You can get back to nowhere even faster than you rose out of it. This is particularly true when you really don’t know how you achieved success in the first place. It happened, but it wasn’t a result of anything you did intentionally or could replicate.
Popularity means permanently treading on eggs. It is wise to have a goal beyond just racking up numbers in the win column. If you have a star to follow, you will probably survive as numbers surge and without apparent reason fall through the virtual floor.
So, here I am. One year since the “official” beginning, 6 months since I began to develop an audience.
Where to go from here? I can’t not write. It’s like breathing. Gotta do it, so you’ll keep hearing from me, though this site is getting a bit huge and more than a little unwieldy as a result of 859 posts. They are hard to wrangle.
A couple of days ago I deleted a bunch of posts, mostly reblogs, on which I got neither “likes” nor comments, just to lighten the load. I find myself in the awkward position of having to post fewer things, especially reblogs and photographs. Distressing, but I will deal with it somehow.
I’ve never been able to pick a focus for my blog. I can’t see this changing because I often don’t know what I’m going to say until I start saying it. I don’t want to get more specific. Much of the fun of blogging is the unexpectedness, the lack of structure. Not answering to a boss or having someone reminding me of an upcoming deadline.
So this is my blogging birthday. See? There’s a single candle on my cupcake. Let’s blow it out together and make some wishes, shall we?
Don’t tell me your wish. If you tell anyone, wishes don’t come true!