Okay, I know I said that I would not be around as often because I lost my computer (see previous posts). I guess that's not necessarily true. Whereas before, I would sit down at the computer and find it impossible to think of anything worth writing, now that I have to section out time to find a computer to use, I have everything to write about! And the funny thing is, it's not really anything at all that I'm telling you half the time. All I'm telling you is my thoughts, and isn't that why I started a blog in the first place?
I seem to have a hard time just saying these things aloud to people. I don't know why. Partially, what I have to say, no one else I know shares an interest. That was one of the major reasons I started a blog. The people I meet in everyday life, while people in themselves worthy of my time, don't share many of my interests, passions, and points of view. That's okay, but online, there are tons of people who do. Perhaps the people who blog all think the same way and so share similar interests. ...I'm sure there are studies about that I could look up.
The other reason I don't share my thoughts out loud like I do on a blog is that very few people are willing to just listen to you ramble on about one topic. And after a while, even if they're listening to you, you begin to feel foolish with your mouth flapping so much. But writers everywhere know how much fun it is to write on and on about one thing, and if they're good writers, they can make that one thing interesting until they're done talking about it. And if they succeed in making it interesting, readers will read with baited breath and drool over every word because it's just so beautiful, what you've written there about just one thing. But spoken words so rarely have the same effect. I wonder why.
And then you get into the area of sharing words effortlessly through online networks, and you wonder how it's different than any other means of communicating. Because it is, you know. Many people find it tedious and cumbersome to read a lengthy work on a computer. I know I do, and so does my father. We both like to print out long documents -- I know, not "green", but much better for the eyes. I love reading other blogs -- poetic posts, posts about Jane Austen, posts about libraries and books -- but if you type in a nice long poem, do you know what the chances are that I'll read all of it? Even some of it? I'm pretty sure such odds are technically incalculable because it's entirely dependent on unpredictable human behavior; but if you judge by my past record, I'd say you have a very slim chance of getting me to read thick paragraphs and long stories online.
So why is my format so like that which displeases me? Because I'm a writer! Gosh sakes, I have to write like this. Paragraphs are a writer's bread and butter. They are the grammar of literature, as my Communications textbook would say. The format of online works may eventually solidify into a definable form, but right now, it's all over the place; and I still write in standard form much of the time.
There's also the feel of words on a computer. An email someone sends me has a completely different effect on me than the letter they send me (and I've had a lot of recent experience). Perhaps its because we subconsciously know that it took more time and effort to write a letter than to pick up the phone or shoot an email. People say that all the time; but I know that I consider anything handwritten to have much more substance, in my mind, than spoken words, or even typed words. We all act on the assumption that anything written down is worth saying -- look at the pages and pages of comment wars on YouTube. Some people say something in their comment that other people take way too seriously. Is it just the lack of body language? I think it's more than that. And I don't know about other people, but I know that words on a page mean so much more to me than words on the screen. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." I'd rather read it in a book than on a screen, wouldn't you? I think we all have the mentality that anything written down is worth the time taken; but people say just anything. (And besides that, emails and spoken conversations can be as long or short as you need; but books and letters have to fill up pages.)
I think the written word is naked. You can't dress it up with elaborate body language or anything to hide the deep feeling behind them. You don't write anything that could be construed to mean more than it does. And for some reason, the words on a computer screen are hidden, are masked, are dressed up. But words on a piece of paper just aren't. Perhaps it's because the online atmosphere has a kind of "anyone could have written this" kind of feeling. No one has to know it's you. If your relatives and friends read the stuff you write online, it's a little more personal and you're a little more guarded; but generally, the Internet lacks credibility. It isn't taken too seriously. A lot of people sort of expect that the real person behind the words isn't quite like the words themselves (even though a lot of people don't question the content).
But when I get a letter from a relative, even though the content is more personal than anything we'd say aloud, I know that it's the real deal. They aren't just saying that; because they're laying themselves open to me in their writing. (Again, a letter generally has to be more than a greeting and a "hope you're well", unlike an email, which can be just that.)
Sometimes I treat my blog a little bit more like a private journal than I should. But I'm not afraid of what I tell you here because I don't know you. When I hear that someone I know has actually looked at my blog recently, I feverishly go through to see that I didn't write anything I don't want them to know. And why should I? But I don't really expect to be held accountable for what I say online -- not until someone I know starts watching, and then I hold back just a bit, depending on the reputation I have with that person.
So perhaps the reason that spoken words so rarely have the same effect as written words is because the former aren't naked, like words written down on paper. So many written things are the author's soul made bare; so many spoken things are the dressed up outer shells we make for ourselves.