Wednesday, September 06, 2006

One Year Before the Mast: A blogging anniversary

One year ago today, I posted my very first blog entry at Under the News. It was a comment on the then-simmering controversy over whether it was offensive to call Hurricane Katrina's evacuees "refugees" -- or whether it was just another example of our tendency to over-correct language to suit political ends. My opinion jibed with media critic Jeff Jarvis' observation:

"The cardinal sin today is to offend (and) the clearest badge of victimhood is to be offended."

In the past year of blogging, I have doubtlessly offended and been offended -- and learned that the blogosphere is no place for sissies. It's a free-wheeling Tower of Babel, part Mad Max, part Dante's Inferno, and part Burning Man. It is a place where much is genuine yet little is accepted as absolutely true. The perverse food chain in this digital taxonomy affords the tiniest organism a certain parity with the meat-eaters. I have often imagined the blogosphere to be a simulacrum of our Earth, in which every human motivation is represented -- from the meek inspiration to speak one true word to an obsession with eviscerating anyone who disagrees. From a millisecond of existentialism to millennial intellectual cleansing. Lambs and lions.

A few weeks after I began blogging, Hurricane Rita hit my town. I rode out the storm at my newspaper and thousands of people dropped in every day to see the eye of a storm through our eyes. Many stayed on to this day, new neighbors who haven't moved away.

In this simulated world, I've seen neighbors talking over back-fences, town meetings, shifting international alliances, cultural narcissism, charity without borders, espionage and sabotage, all-out explosive war -- albeit usually minus the actual explosives. It's inadvisable to expect the blogosphere to be somehow more utopian than the real world, and in many ways, it is more frightening.

Some of the posts closest to my heart engaged nobody. Others with less passion inspired vehement and vitriolic discussions. The fun part was never knowing which would trigger something marvelous. And another thing I noticed: Some guy named Anonymous is always a smart-ass.

I've made many new "friends" and met only one of them. I join (and am joined) in blogo-conversation by some every single day. A few come and go with the casual comfort of real-life friends, and a few have fallen away completely during this past year. They have shared something important to all our futures: Ideas. They have all challenged me, and in some way they have each left their mark in my mind. We haven't always agreed, but nor have we been disagreeable ... most of the time. Face it, the blogosphere is where curmudgeons go when they die.

A new year begins today. I hope to make new acquaintances, as well as keep up my conversations with my correspondent-friends from the past year: SingingSkies, ChanceLucky, DemocracyLover, Ranando, Mike Landfair, Genie, ThatCleaningLady, LilFeathers2000, Jill, Sparkle, GoHuskers, LoveRita, Trench, Melanie Mattson, BooksellerChick, Robert Gray, Frank Wilson, Jason, Laura James, Bookworm, Michael Gillespie ... and, of course, Anonymous.


Mover Mike said...

Congrats on one year. I'm glad you stuck around.

Ron Franscell said...

Hell, I'm glad YOU stuck around!

Chancelucky said...

Happy Blogiversary Ron.

You know, I'd read this blog even if you didn't have me linked here :}.

I like to think of our interaction here as an example that blogging can be used as a way to build bridges instead of walls between bloggers who often have very different political views.

I hope you keep this place going another 25 years.

SingingSkies said...

Congrats on your anniversary! What a wonderful gift you've given in the conversation you've shared with us. Thanks! I've been stretched, challenged, enlightened, amused, encouraged, and uplifted by the topics you've brought up. Here's to many years more!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo.

You look like a monkey and you smell like one too!

Seriously, happy anniversary.

Long live the Revolution!!


Jill said...

Wow! One year! Hang in there! Now I have to go back and see when I started.

Love, Rita said...

Happy Anniversary. It's been real!

Thanks to your blog, I have not only had my feelings on cetain matters affirmed; but I have also been forced to form opinions on issues I might otherwise have ignored.

I have truly enjoyed the association, more than I can say. Here's to many more years of the same!

That Cleaning Lady said...

It's been fun to argue with you on occassion, though we "know" eachother through my family, and I worry sometimes about offending you, and getting told upon. I have appreciated your affect on my, giving me pause to think, things to absorb, or be PO'd about. I'd love to have been able to chuck a bag of buring dog poo over your back fence a time or two over the year, and figure in years ahead I'll feel that way again. Thanks and HAPPY Anniversary!!!