Today was the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av. It isn’t a holiday that most American Jews celebrate, probably because it is the saddest holiday of the Jewish calendar, and it occurs in the middle of the summer when the sun is shining and the beaches are open. Jews have never been good at scheduling.
It is a day of fasting, one of mourning for the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, as well as all the awful things that have befallen the Jewish people. And there are a lot of them. The Book of Lamentations is read in temple. In Sephardic communities, it is customary to read the Book of Job.
At first, I forgot it was Tisha B’Av. That is, until I took a walk to Main Street to get a bagel, and discovered that the kosher bagel store closed. This section of Main Street has a sizeable Orthodox population. I immediately noticed a group of Orthodox men, looking somber in their black coats, walking to temple. They passed the public library. In front of the library were laughing kids playing “tag.” They were shouting and chasing after each other, the energy of childhood in the air.
“You’re it! You’re it.” one kid screamed and laughed.
It was quite a contrast — the somber men in black hats on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar and the joyous, wild children playing their game.
Online, my virtual life occurs at breakneck speeds, much faster than the ones I notice on Main Street. It is impossible for me to see contrasts that rush by on my monitor. My brain cannot work that fast. On Twitter, I follow “friends,” each reporting on their fast-paced lives in a chaotic mess of the sublime and the repetitive.
Last week, a blogger “twittered” that his sister had just died. A few responded with condolences, but within seconds, a new thread was growing on the subject of “Do You Think You Can Dance?” In a nanosecond, we all switched gears, onto the new topic, and the death of this woman was knocked off the page, into the unseen digital archives.
Unlike the visual contrast of the mourning Orthodox Jews and the playing kids, both human beings expressing the flip sides of daily life — sad and happy — there is little to grab onto in a virtual world. There are just bits of information, equally important and equally irrelevant.
When I see the rate of data flow online, it occurs to me that one day, my final moments will be announced on Twitter, and it will last about ten seconds before the subject matter is changed. That’s a depressing thought. Am I so inconsequential, another minor subject equal in value to someone’s lunch or the latest category on Alltop?
Megan of the Velveteen Mind wrote an interesting post last week about “blogging rockstars.” She suggests that this is a silly concept — we are all regular folk, writing in our underwear, from Dooce to the newbie. I’d like to approach this subject in another way. Rather than dragging the Dooces of the world to the level of the guy in his underwear eating Cheerios from the box, why not say everyone has potential rockstar talent just like Dooce? I know, it sounds like bullshit, but isn’t that the point of the whole bloggers’ interview experiment? If you end up being a blip on Twitter as your final moments scroll off the page — and it will happen that way — why not make believe that you are a rockstar while you are here?
I am a rockstar. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I am. I write. Perfect. I wouldn’t be able to write a word if I didn’t think — deep in my heart — that I had something special to say. Why bother writing then? I could be jumping rope or watching porn! So, instead, I write this blog, making believe that I am a blogging rockstar. And if you tell me that you’re a rockstar, I will think of you as one, too.