A couple of weeks ago I password-protected an eight-year-old blogsite of mine. Around a hundred of its most recent posts (except the very most recent one of all) will still, I expect, be available via RSS. About that, there is little I can do.
I assume, since on occasions it was quite a self-revelatory place, some will have thought this is because I have something to hide.
This may be true – in the sense that I would prefer some things not to have happened to me ever, prefer some things not to have required a retelling; but in reality, I think it has more to do with:
- my needing to self-reveal in a different context (this one, on this blogsite) and in a different way (this way, with a more dispassionate discourse); and
- a simple desire for a wider renewal.
Certainly not a sense of shame about my previous perceptions of my life events.
I always used to think the grandest virtue of the best Internet was that intent to permanence which good linking and link maintenance promoted.
I first started blogging in 2002 or 2003, I think it was; I picked up again with simple HTML pages in about 2004 for a time, having removed the original blog from the web; I then got to the point where I also felt obliged to remove the HTML blog from the web, sadly (maybe – or maybe not) without keeping a record of its content.
All very poor web practice, or so I thought at the time. A poor web practice I felt a bit ashamed of.
I then began, first on Blogger and – latterly – self-hosted WordPress, my third incarnation which kickstarted in 2006. I’m not currently intending to get rid of it – thus the password-protection; but I am coming to the conclusion it belongs, after fits of leaving it and then returning incompletely, in the past.
I read, recently, one of the grandest virtues of the Internet – more accurately here, the worldwide web – was not its permanence but actually its impermanence. Almost as if the only way to properly rise from hyperlinked ashes ever was to burn the ether’s undergrowth first. And all this time, there we were, believing how important it was not to be creating broken links along the way.
Perhaps for government services it remains important not to be doing so.
But for intellectual growth and renewal of individuals like myself, I’m coming to quite a different conclusion.
I was asked, this evening, on the selfsame subject of this so-called Internet, if it was normal to go around telling friends and acquaintances about one’s new relationship statuses and so forth.
Of course it was, I replied.
I suggested it was now very difficult to be a private being in any context.
It was suggested back to me that most people live rather uninteresting lives – that is to say, not uninteresting in themselves but of little interest to the important amongst us.
This is true.
And it is reflected in social media and networks. If you want to post pictures of cats, of takeaway coffee, of big English breakfasts, of break-ups and drunken nights-out, of photos of empty profundities, of hollow quotes and their unsurprising origins, of cute offspring doing stuff with kitchen appliances … well, all the aforementioned things type you as normal. They’re also much liked on these social media and networks.
So if they’re liked so much, they must be normal, right?
But woe betide anyone, like myself for example, who’d like to pursue a different kind of self-revelation: of personal honesty; of intellectual discovery; of a curious searching and moulding of multiple trains of thought.
Take an idea and see where it leads, in the hope that the next idea or ten down the line might be worth it.
If you don’t start, you’ll never get there. That’s the thing about journeys.
And they don’t, always, have their destinations written on them when you buy the ticket.
It’s not better than the cats, mind. Cats with daft faces, doing daft things, make people smile a lot – even laugh out loud.
Making people smile – making them laugh out loud – is good for society. As long as such people don’t smile at but smile with each other.
OK. So my kind of self-revelation – the stuff which talks about conversations I’ve had or thoughts I’ve come up with or other stuff which sets me down as, maybe, a bit of an insufferable bore (as well as a leaky-colander type) – isn’t your kind all the time. But I can only see a coffee-franchised takeout cup of coffee so many times, you know.
I’m sure it’s the same for you too, if you think about it.
That kind of stuff, in the kind of short lifetime we barely own, doesn’t really fill me with too much joy.
And that’s what this journey without too much of a destination-laden ticket should really be about, surely.
We should pursue joy with as much effort as we can. If I password-protect a blogsite with thousands of links, into and out of, it’s not only to hide stuff I no longer wish to talk about. It’s also to remind myself that renewal is the game of life; that ashes are needed in order that we might rise again.
In fact, neither is it even the brutal act of virtual vandalism we might once have considered it a while ago, in other, quite different, moments – but, instead, a deliberate attempt to maintain faith in a previous time of now lesser utility.
At the same time as we try to escape the limitations of writing oneself down.
One more thing. As with this blogsite, few people ended up reading the one I started in 2006. But there I did aim to fix the century.
Here, I only aim to help us understand our destination.
There’s a difference.
The difference lies in a decade, rather wasted.