I have to confess; I am concerned about people these days. I’m especially concerned about younger people. My grown kids. Their friends. The world of youth-dom and young adulthood. I hang around my kids’ friends. I like them. I enjoy hearing about what’s important to them. I like keeping my ear tuned to the pulse of life. And they are right there with it. They keep me connected.
But, I have to admit, I am disturbed. I watch them in groups, each glued separately to their iPhones. Even in a party setting, they are separately tweeting and facebooking and texting (sometimes to the person who is sitting less than six feet away from them). And then, of course, they’re photographing themselves and sending the photo to facebook to show the world what they are doing in that moment. I’m trying to understand; I really am.
I went with a group of young thirtyish-something gals this weekend to a winery. We took a tour of the vineyard and the cellar, and the whole time, these hipsters were taking pics of themselves to post on Facebook. See what I’m doing? Isn’t my life grand? Don’t you wish you were me? I’ll bet if any one of them was asked a technical question about the presentation, they would have flunked. Miserably.
So, what does that mean? Does it mean that I’m better than they? That I got more out of the wine tour? We all had a great time, and they perhaps got as much enjoyment and enlightenment as I did. So, perhaps it’s my age, my distance from all the new technology. Maybe they are gaining something that I cannot even fathom.
As Khalil Gibran wrote:
“You’re children are not your children…
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
He also wrote that, “Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
The question is this: Am I living backward and in yesterday or are they living life through tweets and facebook rather than actually living life? While they are texting their life for all to see, are they, in fact, missing life? And, perhaps, these same questions can pertain to blogging, as well. Are we cataloguing every moment to prove that we exist, or are we actually in the moment? Are we living it or are we telling others that we are living it—I text, I tweet, and I post, therefore I am.
Thoreau knew, intuitively and instinctively, that he could not both live his life and write about it. He had to make the choice. Do I live it or do I write about how I envision my life to be? So, think about it. You can either live your life, or you can write about it. You can tweet it, facebook it, text it, blog it, or you can just go out there and live it.
I have to think about why and how I started out with this blog. What was my purpose for jumping into this? I’ve never written anything even vaguely autobiographical. I don’t want to write about myself. I don’t even want to write about people I actually know. I’m a novelist. I write fiction. I make up stories. I am, you see, a Paid Liar.
In the beginning, I have to admit that I thought this would be a way to market my old books, the old books I wanted to turn into eBooks. Capitalism and narcissism gone amuck! I say old books because they’ve been out of print for some time. But back in the 80’s, I wrote and had published a bunch of mediocre books. Okay, so they were pretty good books in their genre. Romance and Suspense. And they sold well. And I had a following. I won some awards. I was sent on some pretty awesome publicity tours with good looking limo drivers and fancy hotel suites and unlimited bar tabs. I had one book that was actually made into a movie (although I didn’t know about it until it was already on Showtime, so that sort of gives you a clue as to how much clout I actually had in publishing circles). So I had, as the saying goes, my fifteen minutes of fame. Whooosh. Gone.
So I started this blog with that one intention in mind. Marketing. But right from the beginning, I realized that what I had embarked upon was going to be something else entirely. I immediately knew that I wanted to write about things that were important to me, things that, just maybe, were important to others, as well.
I read other blogs, and I see how others handle these things. They blog, they tweet, they facebook, and somehow they seem to know what they’re doing. They know how to add great Tags and Categories and Google-friendly search prompts. They, in short, know how to garner readers.
Over the past month, I’ve found that I’ve become a bit obsessed. I’ve gotten caught up in Site Stats that tell me how many clicks I’ve had, how many Likes, how many search tags have resulted in visitors to my blog. What’s up with that? Why should I even care? That’s not what this blog is supposed to be about. This is not about readership, followers, or subscribers. This is not supposed to be about Me. I absolutely do not want this blog to become a Tweet. That is not the message I’m trying to convey.
Christian faith demands that we live our faith. As the song goes, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” Our life, as followers of Christ, is our message.
Our life revealed to our children should not boil down to what we tweeted about our days or to the slightly imbecilic grinning photographs we snapped about our daily misadventures. Our life, to our children, should be how we lived Life. How we faced the day to day problems and joys and trials and triumphs. Life is lived—as Rick Perry likes to put it—with boots on the ground. It is in the hard work of everyday connections with those we encounter.
Those who I meet in my daily life are the ones who should know who I am.
“My life is my message,” Mahatma Gandhi once said. So, the question I need to consider is this…Is my life my message? Or is what I tweet or facebook or blog my message?
Just something to ponder…