I wondered how other bloggers did it.
I wondered how bloggers always manage to respond to comments so quickly. I wondered how they are able to be so active in conversations on Twitter and Facebook so regularly. I wondered how they are able to be so immediately accessible on so many different platforms. I wondered these things… because I am not nearly as quick to respond (if ever), or active in dialogue, or immediately accessible. I’m just not. And I was starting to feel like a blogging bad guy. A wannabe. A loser.
I had an epiphany just now.
The epiphany I had was this: I walk away from my computer. I only sit at my computer during the day while my daughter is at school, and sometimes on weekends, or in evenings after she is in bed. But I only have my daughter with me four days out of seven, since she spends the other three days with her father. So when she is around, I try really hard not to get lost in computer-la-la-land.
When I walk away from my computer, that’s *IT*.
There are no annoying alerts to announce a comment is waiting for my approval. I have auto approve so the conversation is open at all times without my presence being required. My spam filter pretty much catches any comments that are… well… spam. And I’m not going to stop what I’m doing with my daughter (cooking, coloring, watching a show about mermaids, playing with stuffed animals, wrestling, or chasing the cat) to respond to a comment. I’m just not. My computer / desk job thing works around me, and not vice versa.
I don’t do alerts.
Alerts feel bossy and intrusive. When they “bing” at me, it’s like they are trying to make me do something I don’t want to do. If I walk away from my computer, there’s a reason for it. I don’t want someone — someTHING — ordering me about, forcing me to talk on Twitter or comment on Facebook. If I walk away from my computer, I don’t want to talk to people online. I’m not at my computer. I’m doing SOMETHING ELSE. Something non-computer-ish. Something that involves family or private time.
I hate things that make noise at me.
Honestly, even the ringing of the phone gets on my nerves, because it is quite insistent that I answer it RIGHT NOW, GODDAMNIT. And I don’t want to. Sometimes I yell at my phone, “You’re not the boss of me!” but then I check the caller ID just in case it’s important. I rue the day caller ID was invented. I miss the simpler times of screening inbound calls by listening to the caller’s message. Phone calls could then be returned at *MY* leisure. Because I’m the boss of me. Not technology. Not other people. Not anyone. Just me.
Here’s the rest of my epiphany.
Other people? They don’t walk away from computer-la-la-land. They have iPads and iPods and doo-dads and whatnots that bing and ring and alert them to all forms of instant communication. And they answer to it. Here’s what people are doing, which I am NOT doing because when I walk away from my computer I refuse to answer the siren call of being constantly plugged in:
Out on a drive when you receive an alert that someone has “atted” you on Twitter:
respond at next red light.
Eating dinner when you receive an alert that someone commented on your Facebook post:
put down your fork and comment back.
Putting clothes in the washer when you receive an alert that someone left a blog comment:
let the water fill while you respond.
Granted, these people got up and left their computer, but they have not left computer-la-la-land. They carry computer-la-la-land in their pockets. They have permanent residence in computer-la-la-land. They take this shit VERY SERIOUSLY. It’s important. It’s a blogging MUST. It’s just… what you have to do if you want to succeed. You must never take vacation from computer-la-la-land.
I guess I don’t want to succeed.
Not if it means I can’t leave computer-la-la-land. Not if it means I’m a prisoner to alerts. Not if it means I must be at the beck-n-call of people I’ve never even met and who probably wouldn’t even like me if we met in real life. Not if it means I never get a fucking break.
Blogging is supposed to be fun.
I mean, I treat it as a job, but as a nine-to-five kind of thing. I didn’t sign up for a computer-la-la–land visa. I only want to stop in and say howdy, drop my two cents, and walk away from my computer when I’m done. All those blogging “how to” advice columns tell me that visits are not allowed. I cry bullshit. I say unto thee, “Foul ball!” I am calling out those naysayers on their shenanigans. It’s a trick, and it’s designed to keep you glued to your chair. I’m not smart enough to figure out what the ulterior motives are behind this nefarious plot, but I *AM* smart enough to see that something smells fishy in Denmark.
Not, like, FOR REALZ Denmark.
I’m speaking of metaphorical, Shakespearean Denmark. Denmark in this particular instance represents computer la-la-land. It doesn’t take a genius to see that allowing my blog to own my ass is, in fact, stupid. Nor does it take a genius to see that having the savvy to walk away from my computer is liberating and allows me to engage in real life activities.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate comments on my blog.
On the contrary — I do sincerely love them! But I love them most when they are given freely, with zero expectation of reciprocation. In a contest, I love my children’s live comments much more than the words of any stranger. And fuck you if that’s a problem.