Ghosts in the machine

Two long time friends from this world have decided to fold up their blogs, at least for now. Possibly even permanently.

The first is our friend from South Africa, Farrago. As she writes:

This was fun, but the fun eventually ran out.

The second is our friend from the UK, Gary Turner, who writes:

What’s brought this sudden change of heart? Frankly, and I’m not sure if I’m 100% on the ball with this, it’s an identity crisis that was quietly baked in from the very beginning but which lately, has been surfaced and exacerbated by my recent spate of meetings. In short, my blog self is not my entire self and I must say that I’ve been cool with that as long as both of those two selves never happen to appear together in the same room. When that happens, it shines a spotlight right on top of that partial disclosure or split identity issue and this is something I’m finding uncomfortable to reconcile.

This isn’t a profound real life personal identity crisis thing, it’s just something that I’ve recently come to notice and realise is a conflict in my blogging terms of reference, and it’s a conflict which seems to have mortally wounded my blogging self.

Farrago brought us Charlie and penguins and beer bottle art. And I remember when Gary and Mike Golby used to back and forth about ‘porridgeboy’. Lately, though, everyone is all serious. Iraq. War. Bush. Outsourcing. Patriot Act. Social Software. Politics. Copyright. Rape. Starvation. Aids. People being hurt and hurting others. Technorati 100, and A listers. Journal versus weblog. Nosy news people crashing the party. Making the Money, baby.

But you know something? We had all this back ‘then’, too. It’s hard to go back to ‘porridgeboy’ and penguin games, when whatever we had then, we don’t have now; and we’re not even sure what it was that we once had.

I’ve been having a conversation, if conversation is the right word for email exchanges, with a long-distance friend about the reality of this environment, and that split between our real selves, and the people we create online. Dave Rogers’ captures this best with:

As authors, we’re too clever by half. We seduce ourselves with the beauty of our writing, until our attention becomes focused on the words and not on the existence. This is ego. We can, and usually do, become trapped in our narratives. Our choices constrained by the character we’ve constructed, by the plot holes we wish to avoid, or ignore. And it’s not just individuals, entire communities, countries, religions, political parties, families, any group of human beings that share a common set of beliefs and goals, all of them can become trapped in their own narratives as well. There’s a lot of that going around these days.

I think it’s truer to say that we’re not “writing ourselves into existence.” Rather, we’re writing ourselves out of existence. We cease to be people, and instead become characters and plot devices.

We’re writing ourselves out of existence, whether we continue to weblog or not. True ghosts in the machine. Or poppies, hidden behind the larger, showier flowers until one day we notice they’re gone.

So we stand in the doorway waving good-bye and cry out, “Good luck Gary and Lynette”, before shutting the door; knowing that if they happen to miss us someday, or miss this funny, bizarre, sad, lonely, non-existent existence we all share, no door can stop a ghost from returning. And anyone can reinvent themselves online, if they wish.

As Dave Rogers says, Don’t believe everything you read. Least of all, what you read here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email