Monday, August 01, 2005

Blog Buyer Beware!

That should really be conspicuously posted on the top of every blog as a warning that the contents within should be taken with a grain ( or in some cases) an entire shaker of salt.

On the face of it, one might reasonably assume that when people publish regular personal details of their lives, their thoughts, feelings or even just what they ate for breakfast, that the poster is telling the truth. I mean, blog communities are supposedly made up of folks who want to share real information with each other. There's generally an unstated expectation that unless it's obviously fiction, people are trying to connect with each other around real life experiences with the online world simply an extension of our living rooms or local gathering place.

Such an assumption would be incorrect because of a fundamental difference between the virtual community and real life - accountability.

In the real world a person's credibility is measured daily against their every statement and action - even facial expressions, body language and quality of their voice. It's relatively easy over time to gather a fairly accurate picture of the nature and character of an individual.

It is virtually impossible to do this online. The very medium itself provides sufficient anonymity that a blogger can create an entire persona - a new life if you will, without anyone, sometimes even themselves being the wiser. There are none of the day-to-day checks and balances that prevent people from misrepresenting the truth, exaggerating, or simply misinterpreting facts. A reader is totally dependant on the online writer's honesty, good intentions, memory or even their perception of reality. And we want to believe the poster - we really do. Particularly if they are cute and friendly. Add an untenable situation; a bad husband,wife, boyfriend,girlfriend, mother, father, a boss who fired them without cause, etcetera, etcetera, and we all want to ride in on our white horses and rescue, or at least commiserate with this unfortunate poster who clearly has been victimized by people and events beyond their control. We seldom say; you know, I don't quite believe that. Why would we? That's an unfriendly statement and in any event we don't want to believe we've been regularly misled by someone with whom we presumed to have an open, honest caring virtual friendship, even if it wasn't intentional on the poster's part.

I remember the C.B. radio craze during the '70's. I was about fourteen and couldn't wait to get one and talk with people from all over. I used to keep it turned on all the time, hoping someone I knew would sign on and want to talk with me. Or, simply listening to snippets of conversations people were having, deciding if I liked their manner enough to introduce myself and make a new "friend". I met the most interesting people on the airwaves in this way.

Let's see, there was the very sexy woman who flirted all night long with every guy she heard on the air. She turned out to be an eleven year old girl who's mother obviously had no idea what she was up to - I shudder to think about it. Then there was the rock musician who played all the clubs. He was forty-five and still lived in his parents basement, totally unable to get any job much less a real music gig. Then there was the guy across the street from me having an on-air affair with a hot married woman whose husband was abusive. The reality of course, was somewhat different.

I know these things because after months and months of developing what I thought was close, on the air relationships with these folks and building a picture of them in my mind, we all finally met. You never saw a group of more dumbfounded, slack-jawed, confused and disturbed people in your life. When the "rock musician came face to face with the eleven year old who had been calling him her husband over the airwaves for two months I thought he would crap himself. How she even managed to come into the city from another state for this group "reunion" is still beyond me. Or more to the point, what was she expecting to happen when everyone saw who she really was. The whole event was surreal and rather frightening to me. I didn't understand what had happened to these people I thought I knew so well.

I went home later that afternoon and unplugged my C.B. radio and sold it the next day to the guy across the street. I was done. I felt betrayed, duped, and made a mockery of. And the worst part of it was that I allowed it to happen because I wanted to believe these "friends".

Blogs or C.B. radios - it's all the same. There are many people who just want to honestly connect with other people around similar interests. I still optimistically believe these people are the majority. There are folks who are using the medium to further their creative writing skills, letting us enjoy hours of entertainment. And then there are those (I still believe only a few) who want something quite different from the experience. These people need external affirmation and confirmation to help define themselves. unfortunately how they define themselves is somewhat fluid and often quite different from what an objective observer would see. They want us to give them the attention that perhaps they are unable to get elsewhere, in a forum where they feel safe from discovery.

We tell our children not to believe everything they hear or read, but I think sometimes we forget to remind ourselves to take our own advice. Until we see each other face to face and over time meet our friends, family, and community we really have no idea what kind of people we have let into our lives.

Blogger Beware!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My Ex is my best friend

It was one of those bone chillingly cold, windy, yet damp winter evenings on the waterfront here in NYC that made me wonder why I dragged myself away from the fireplace to go to this party. A friend was throwing a big dinner on his boat and asked me twice that week to come and I couldn't refuse. So, braving gale force winds, I climbed over two old tugboats to get to his schooner which was rafted outboard on the frozen river. I was so not into this that I almost turned around just before I opened the deck hatch, but I was already here and decided to make the best of it.

As I stepped inside, the sounds of conversations and laughter drifted up from the main cabin and I found myself feeling oddly nervous about joining the crowd. I finally climbed down the companionway and looking out over the heads of about thirty people I didn't know, I again almost turned around and left. My eye was drawn to this woman sitting across the room who was facing away from me talking to a man. All I could see was the back of her head but it looked very familiar.Then, for no good reason she turned around and stared directly at me and instantly we both broke into a mutual grin.

Have you ever been someplace alone, a crowded venue where you didn't think you would meet anyone you knew? Then suddenly you spot your best friend over the throng at the same time they spot you, and you both immediately are happy and relieved to have found each other and you breathe a sigh of contented relief. Well, that's exactly what occurred in that moment. We couldn't stop beaming at each other and waving hello. I pantomimed my intentions to quickly greet our host, make fast party rounds, doing the old grip and grin routine with colleagues and then would come get her. She mimed back ok and I was off.

The party was suddenly fun and when I worked my way through the group towards her, she automatically made room on the sofa for me, edging over some guy that was schmoozing her up and we gave each other our undivided attention. Nobody else in the room existed but us. We immediately fell into that close, comfortable conversation that is reserved only for special friends that one has known forever.About fifteen minutes passed where we caught up with each others lives, discussing the little things that only good friends want to know or will listen to, when at the same time, we both stopped in mid-sentence and stared at each other with dropped jaws. We had come to the mutual realization that neither of us had any idea who the other person was. Well, we spent some time confirming this, both laughing at ourselves and yet still not quite believing it to be true. We soon left the party together so we could go somewhere quiet and catch up with our old/new friendship.

I've know Kazia for almost six years since that unusual but wonderful evening. We dated for several years and have been split romantically for several more, but from the moment we locked eyes, there was no doubt that we had always been, and always would be best friends. We just hadn't met each other yet.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Why me?

Simone: She's my good friend that I met early last year while we were both going through a tough time professionally. I joke that she picked me up in a bar - she jokes that I'm an ass. Actually, the truth is somewhat in the middle (no, that doesn't mean Simone picked up a half-ass in a bar, thank you very much).

Here's the thing though; when we first met, she was very clear that what she most needed was a friend. Well, okey dokey, I do friend really well. And anyway I wasn't looking for a date since I'd only been separated from Kazia for about a year and a half at the time and wasn't ready to date yet (so sue me, I'm sensitive that way). As our friendship grew, it became clear to me that her feelings had changed. Simone started regularly telling me that she loved me. Of course I assumed at first that she meant it as a close platonic love. I was wrong. Then she started to make remarks about wanting to sleep(why do they call it "sleep" if no one does?) with me, and while it was very flattering (and arousing since she is a beautiful woman and I was a monk...) I had become absolutely clear in my mind that we weren't suited for each other on very core issues so I couldn't take advantage of her feelings for me and just "do her". More to the point, I'm not a reptile - I can control my baser instincts. I still believe she needs me more as a friend, and I'm stickin' wit' dat!

on that note, I must say that in addition to Simone being a real hottie, she's the total package. She's brilliant; she's funny; She's kind, and generous to a fault; she's built with extremely strong moral fiber; she makes truly offensive amounts of money; she's an honest to goodness Indian princess; she loves sex (she says); and she loves me unconditionally. Couldn't ask for more? Well then, that's why I couldn't do it. I know we would wake up a year from now, and I would probably feel the same way I do now and that would be so unfair to her. I love her too much to ever hurt her that way.

Oh!! The irony!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

One minute we're shopping for furniture...

... and the next, we're up to our nips in the ocean! I love the beach!!

The Speregen clan and I went shopping for sofas yesterday because the weather forcast predicted rain all day. Well, it never did, and we were pissed because we share the same belief: "Never shop when you can swim!". So... hot, sweaty, and not really feeling the love for anything we sat on, we all decided to pile into the car and shoot out to Rockaway for an evening dip (and hopefully some bodysurfing).

Hannah (in the pic with me), just recently 14, and who I've known since she was only a picture on a sonogram, was a bit out of sorts and needed a good dunking in the ocean as only I can provide.

Anyway, we didn't get out of the water till after dark, and found ourselves almost stepping on sleeping seagulls nested in the sand as we walked back to the boardwalk. It's amazing how washing off the day in the ocean makes me feel 20 years younger and emotionally light as a feather.

Zoomed back into the city (after being dropped off at the train in Brooklyn) cleaned up and ran out to a barbeque in Soho and afterwards, drinks with friends and Patch.

Ooftah! I'm ready to do it all over again today.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I guess you'll never know...

... unless you sign for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My apartment revisited (I wish)

While it's not finished (still need radiators and windows replaced) it's far better than it was. At least I will now feel comfortable having a party here. Of course, I still need some new furniture.

You and the little noodle should get a kick from this.

It's right up your alley.
Umbilical Brothers

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

For missing your phonecall...

... I shall cut myself into chunks and reduce my own house to rubble!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My apartment (and something else)

What I miss...

How my smile really feels.

See, I'm smiling. No really, I am.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Do Not Look at This Post! This Means You!

Do not read any further!

I'm warning you!

I really mean it!

I'm not going to say this again!

Don't make me pull the car over!

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

Don't cross this line!


OK, don't cross this line!


If you keep reading, there'll be no dessert!

What can I do to make you stop?

Just below is the part I don't want you to see - Please stop now!

Turn back now!

Last gas for 100 miles!

This is it!

Here it is!

I'm not kidding this time!

The Message

Take care of yourself honey. I really meant it when I said you helped heal me. Thank you for everything!


PS: For not listening to me, you're grounded. Go to your room and think about what you did.