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Why Bother?

by on January 4, 2015

                                                            Why Bother?

                                                       by Marco M. Pardi

                                                      (but you knew that)

NOTE:  Where I normally would put a note inviting readers to comment and participate in discussion I will instead bow to the irony.

Not long ago I was conversing with Dianne about some topics and mentioned that, while I was greatly encouraged by the comments and participation – even if once, of several readers I was puzzled and dismayed that site statistics show so many hits, in so many countries, but it was always the same gracious few who commented.  Dianne suggested I write about this.  For a moment she and I were back at the lake, me listening to her wisdom.  Yet, I was uneasy with the suggestion, feeling that were I to do so it would come off as whining. And,  I did not want to appear ungrateful to the people who do comment, and for whom I have very great appreciation.

This dearth, or even complete absence of comments characterizes another site as well. Jamie routinely carries my posts on her website, with abundant space for comments.  The only comment I’ve ever seen on that site was one taking issue with my grammatical usage.  Not a word on the substance; only a pedantic “suggestion” on grammar.  I envisioned this contributor as a 911 operator, holding all emergency responders in abeyance until the caller clearly and correctly enunciated the emergency in Standard American English.  If I were on the range, that article would have been a “flier”, missing the target completely. I have a couple of times suggested to Jamie that her site space could be put to better use than posting my articles.  She sticks with me.

But looking at the distribution of countries in which readers are supposedly tapping in to this blog site, and the frequency with which they do so, I suddenly looked at the ratio of spam to valid comments.  Spam is shunted to a site sector the reading public does not see, allowing me to review it and see if bona fide comments somehow got sent there.  I was initially curious about some of the spam, being willing to grant linguistic leeway to non-English speakers. But I quickly noticed the very same text recurring from post to post.  It turns out the ratio of spam to comments is, for an average post, well over 100 to 1.  And, recently some of the spam appears to be Denial of Service attacks; huge entries of repetitive lines varying only by a word or two to soak up space allocations on the site.  Ironically, I elected to pay for greater site space, a choice these spammers might not have anticipated.  But, I’ve come away from this with the conclusion that a very large percentage of those “hits” are not readers at all; they are spammers connecting to the site to advertize their wares, trick people into responding to their “comments”, or jam a site with Denial of Service entries.  I no longer peruse the spam sector, I simply hit “empty spam”.

Even decades ago people suggested to me that I write my autobiography.  Some still do.  There are several good reasons why I will not.  But, I have tried writing fiction.  Two short stories I considered quite satisfying went to the recycler.  I liked them then. I still do.  I wrote, and printed, over 800 manuscript pages of a novel.  But, I have great difficulty just making up stuff, my fiction is a threadbare garment.  Submitting that manuscript to the agency censors would have been more than foolish, it would have been career suicide.   

I’ve known and been close to several (visual) artists, some quite famous, some not so.  At first I was surprised to discover so many absolutely heart stopping paintings pushed behind doors, exhibited in closets, or lined up against each other like so many posters in a cheap mall store.  When I asked, I was always given a vague “need to create” reason for their existence.  That hardly anyone ever saw them was of no real importance.

So, thinking of this, I reconsidered my reaction when, in speaking with my friend Mark about his blog he said he really did it for the sake of getting it out (of himself); whether anyone read it was not really important to him.  Okay, so Mark is a Cistercian monk.  Shouldn’t we expect humility and self abnegation from a monk?  In principle, in the abstract, sure.  But to see it in practice, wow.  Mark really pours himself into his posts, he spares himself no effort and no potential criticism.  He says, This is Me: take it or leave it.  And, he’s quite okay either way.  Now that is someone for whom the pistol shot of Pride is a flier; not a scratch on him.

But I’m not Mark and pretending to be like him would just be another fiction I’m lousy at writing.  Besides,  fiction is fiction; lies are cancer.  I’m bad at one and not attracted to the other.  I like seeing reactions in people.  While teaching college I dreaded nothing more than the mysterious class that surfaced occasionally, populated by glass eyes stuck atop meaty blobs.  Pouring myself into a presentation, seeing a hand shoot up, and being asked, “Will this be on the test?”  I did not wear neckties in my early teaching years.  That may account for why I’m here now.  Seeing students visualize an issue from a new perspective, as Mary did, regardless of whether it agreed with mine, was a great personal reward and helped to minimize the skepticism and profound loss of self esteem welling up behind the mask presented to the student body.  Having someone come to the office, as Rose often did,  and open herself up as she developed her perspectives and explored her world without fear of rejection can’t be balanced against a paycheck.  When those things don’t happen, the pay is no substitute.

So, is it pride that lies beneath the enjoyment of seeing people respond to one’s efforts?  If so, I’m guilty.  There may also be a bit of “If you build it they will come” thinking in there, too.  Funny I should fall for that.  My brother has a Captain license and two trans-oceanic yachts moored in Florida ports.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They haven’t come.  I would be swinging from a yard arm if I had to sail on those things for any length of time.  So, as I think of my brother’s enthusiasm for sailing, and my enthusiasm for writing I can understand why so few people want to come along for the ride.

I do have more blogs “in me”.  Driving cross-country eight to ten hours a day without “entertainment” turned on does that.

Ah. The tide’s going out.

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14 Comments
  1. Dana permalink

    Marco, more than I ever, I feel we need your mind, your experience, your voice (and that of the few who comment).

    I have read this particular blog a few times, with sadness and frustration. It sometimes feels like decades ago that I sat in your lectures. There has been a lingering and profound emptiness for me since those times ended.

    I’m glad you have more blogs in you.

    • Thank you, Dana. I was glad then, and moreso now that you were in those classes, and now in my life. Marco

  2. These past few months, I have been very happy that you convinced me to write. Mark’s right; sometimes you just feel the need to let it out, even if no one wants to read what you have to say. Some posts are better than others, but all take a bit of me into the world with them. Like getting an education, writing is not just a means to an end, but an end in and of itself. It is its own reward.

    I get excited each time I see a new addition to your blog site. No matter the hour, I can’t wait to read what you have to say. The world needs more of your wit, wisdom, and intellect. Again, thank you for brightening my world. Rose

    • Thank you, Rose. At some level I feel that our early interactions became the model for what I’ve thought personal connection should be; the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. I look for your posts, and am glad I don’t have to go behind a closet door to find them. Marco

  3. Gary permalink

    Having previously been a blogger and a fiction writer I can certainly empathize with many of your thoughts and feelings, having experienced them myself. However, I do want to take you to task for one statement where it appears (I am sure you did not mean it) you are equating fiction with lies. The best fiction, the enduring works from the best writers, is celebrated for the truths that are told. The art in the fiction is to display those truths through compelling story-telling.

    • Thank you, Gary. Indeed, you make an excellent point and I regret the possibility that my comment could be interpreted to equate fiction with lies. I certainly do not hold that view. Some of the best learning experiences I’ve had came through reading well done fiction, a platform for disseminating ideas in a relatively threat free arena.

      And thank you for your participation. I realize I have not been entirely participatory in your writings, but will take my own example as an impetus to be more so. Marco

  4. Blogs are curious. I don’t think a lot of people feel comfortable leaving comments. There are many sites where it seems to be the goal of those commenting to just attack any other comment . And people seem to take much pleasure when there is an opportunity to correct grammar or punctuation, and completely overlook the comment. All this gives pause to the reader to leave a comment. There are several blogs I follow and I have never left a comment but thoroughly enjoy the site. Amanda Palmer is one that comes to mind. She has had over 6 million views of her TED talk, but on her blog there are very few comments. I don’t think the success of a blog is necessarily how many comments it receives. I understand your desire to have more interaction, but hope it is enough for you to continue writing, knowing many are reading and enjoying, even if in silence.

  5. Thank you, Mary. Actually, you are pointing to one of my goals: I’m learning. I have no doubt that most could find problems with my grammar, and I’m glad those who do comment do so on substance. While taking college English I asked the instructor how one differentiates between a writer’s “style” and just poor grammar. Never got a satisfactory answer beyond the vague notion that fame evens all bumps in the road. Marco

  6. Amanda Palmer’s blog today seems quite apropos to this discussion, with its violation of writing rules and discussion of avoiding internet trolls. http://blog.amandapalmer.net/20150105/

  7. Marco, you already know how I feel about this… if you stop writing, well, I do too ! 🙂 so please keep on blogging !!! `IF NOT YOU, WHO ? IF NOT NOW, WHEN ??`
    To me , your Blog is THE BLOG par excellence !
    As I told you before, you could (should ??) make a book just by compiling all your Blog posts together, or at least this is how I feel. They are fascinating and I know for certain I am not the only one thinking in such way !

    As you know I have the same `problem`. It seems that most people who click and read do not really like to leave comments. And as for my FB group friends, they do comment but almost always on FB only. So , maybe this is the trend ! 😉
    I actually always envied you the many incredibly beautiful and insightful comments you get on this blog !

    Anyway, after reading your post, I ran to my Blog site to look for Spam.LOL. I found almost 13.000 spam ! wow !!! but could not find any way to see what they were about. How did you do it ? I got just numbers, could not open them to have a peek at the contents.
    And by the way, I was `shown` you are my greatest commentator 🙂 well, really, REALLY, Thank you for that ! (but of course I already knew it !)

    I, as everybody else here, am looking forward to your new posts !! Keep them coming , please !!

    • Thank you, Foal. I’m surprised that you, as a world famous author and thinker, get so few comments. Although I’ve tried to sign up for direct notification, the only way I can get to your blog is through Facebook. I will keep writing, and may compile them into a Collected Thoughts book.

      By email I will send you some suggestions on how to examine the spam. But, I’m pretty sure you would find it is just that. The most important thing for you is to delete it so it doesn’t use up space on your site.

      You know you have my deepest and most sincere thanks for your support. Marco

      • Marco, hey, you are teasing me now ?? 🙂 what world famous author ?? let alone thinker !!
        Let me guess, you were having a bad day lol.
        FOAL`s book is known only in this group thanks to your efforts and support (always always grateful for this !!) and on some of my FB Dream Groups !! The rest of the world has no idea the book is even out , completely oblivious of this `masterpiece` 😉 !

        P.S. : Yes, people really don`t leave many comments on the Blog site, but I have seen that after joining some FB groups related to what I write about (as you know, dreams and OBEs), I do get many many many more views than before. Those people do go and read the blog posts because they are about what specifically interests them most ( but as I said before, they comment on FB only).
        YET, from the annual report, I got more views than I had expected. So, if you allow me, may I encourage you and any other blogger in this group to consider joining some of these groups, of course choosing those groups that focus on your same range of interests.
        Sharing a Blog post link there does bring indeed a lot of views and some comments.
        Isn`t it worth giving it a try ? 🙂 at least it worked for me, am sure it could do wonders for you !!

      • Thank you, FOAL. Although I agree that Facebook would broaden the venue, I’m leery of sites such as that. I briefly ventured out on Google and harvested crank comments and my spam quadrupled over night. But, I will take your advice and consider other sites I can find.

        Oh, and I do think you are world famous.

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