It is so obvious.Â Really.Â I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to see it.Â Perhaps I wanted to be blind.Â To humanize everything.Â But every blog, every status update, every tweet that I read at three in the morning — it’s all about words.
Only words.Â Not people.
Everything is writing.Â Words.Â And sentences.Â And commas.
People write these words.Â Nice people.Â Jerk people.Â Friendly people.Â Even people who don’t care if I live or die.Â Â All writing words that elicit an emotion from me.
But they are still words.Â Â Words strung together in a meaningful manner like carefully chosen laundry on a backyard clothesline arranged by color and size to evoke a specific passion.Â Love.Â Disgust.Â Or laughter.
WordsÂ can create RED FLASHES in my brain, or make me cover me ears to protect myself from the SCREECHING ON THE BLACKBOARD.Â But they are all words.
It is all writing.
You are all writing.Â I am all writing.Â We are all words.
We are not people here.Â Â We are words.
A person, however, must string the words together to represent a thought (hopefully, there is a thought anyway) and then relay those words to blogs, fb, and Twitter.
I am a person, reflected in my words.
I think you are secretly tapping into my brain because I am so feeling like this lately. Sure. There are people behind those words but the words are perhaps TOO CAREFULLY chosen that the REAL person is kinda (or not at all) not there. They have become a character. A victim of their own flat and not so meaningful words.
I loved facebook at first. How great to reconnect with family and old friends. Until I realized that they were only making silly (witty) comments for the most part. It reminded me of being in high school, again. I hated high school. I even got in trouble with my family for making comments on FB like I was talking to THEM in real life. We are a VERY open and opinionated family (behind closed doors…apparently).
These are my family and friends that I am posting on FB to. Not strangers. My FB account isn’t public in any way. BUT, I was told that I shouldn’t post personal stuff on FB because people don’t want to read that. People meaning my family. My family!
These are the same people I could write a best selling book about and make millions if I weren’t worried about being sued or hurting my relationship with them. When we have family get togethers…Oh my. It is a party of all kinds of words (not at all carefully chosen), opinions and stories that make us all scream, get angry, hug, laugh and just BE a FAMILY.
On FB, my family isn’t my family.
They are a bunch of witty and meaningless words.
They are so not the people I grew up with and have good and bad memories of.
It annoys me and I don’t post on FB, now.
I don’t like being witty or forced to being entertaining all the time. I like being me all the time even if that means I am controversial or bitchy at times. If I can’t do that then what is really the point of writing or reading just WORDS. That is boring. Seriously, a waste of my time.
Really interesting take on it all, Neil. Guess I haven’t looked at it that way before.
I was with you…until the last line.
Words don’t make people. People make words.
The second we let it become the other way around, we have failed each other.
So is this going to increase or diminish your obsession with social media?
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me?
For me, this speaks This leaves me with a sadness. And it makes me wish we could sit at a table over coffee — talking or maybe just sitting quietly as we watch the day unfold.
Should have edited that more closely before posting with typos — damn words.
You’re like the Deepok Chopra of social media.
Um, Chris…is that a compliment?
i don’t know. words don’t exist without people to write them. it’s like the often-debated brain-body dualism. there *isn’t* a dualism. brain is body is brain.
if they were just words, there wouldn’t be any differences in the way one person and another person writes. but there are differences, so many.
Nailed it on the head, Neil.
Sure, it seems a bit isolated and self-focused, but it’s also the truth. “Here” we are merely the words we put on the screen. Granted, words represent ideas, places, concepts, people, etc, so they do have value. But in opposing viewpoint to some of the above commenters, they represent something that has value whether I speak/type those words or not. An apple is the same whether I call it an “apple” or a “giraffe”.
We can, however, place personal meaning on words if we choose to.
As humans, we’ve become so indoctrinated with our own self-worth, that we assume that all value is relational to the importance we give it. Not so. None of you know me, I am simply a collection of letters, words, sentences on your screen. I have no delusions about what I am writing. If it has any value at all, it is only because you on the receiving end choose to give it that value and accept it as such. (That being said, I hope none of you are too upset by me saying that I couldn’t help but notice that 60% of the comments were links to your own blogs. None of which had any relevance to the above topic… Honestly, as a non-blogger, it seemed slightly self-serving… but again, you can choose to write me off as an insenstive lout).
Don’t get me wrong, I value using FB, Twitter, and other forms of social media as a way to stay in touch with people, groups, causes, etc. Living a distance from many of my friends and family, I have come to value it as a useful tool to stay connected with things that are important to me. But there seems to be a saturation limit that I hit every so often. Just kindof a “doink” moment in my head where I realize that it seems that I don’t make as much effort to interact in the flesh and blood, and I wonder how much of my “interaction” online is simply white noise. Then I look at my contacts, my FB friends, my RSS feed, the Tweets I follow….. and realize I hardly see 90% of those contacts on a regular basis.
It seems that there is a fine line between the internet broadening my social bubble and keeping me from being truly social at all. It makes me wonder how much of this “social” media experience is just an escape, a minimizing of the amount of time we force ourselves to interact with real people.
And not just these words.
Ben. I think you need to start a blog.
Precipitous timing, Neil. I’m in a new city, with a new job, in a newly renovated home, and it often feels that my only contact with people is via words, not conversely, and those are “virtual” words at that. The more I try to attempt connection through these “words”–trying to meet friends, establish a community in my interests, or posting comments on blogs–I become more isolated, not less. This hardly the most sophisticated take on an extremely complicated topic, but it certainly is my experience.
I’m not sure what Ben’s “60% of comments” were links to our own blogs meant. I’m just here for the laughs.
Ben doesn’t blog so he probably doesn’t know that these trackbacks to our blogs is automatic via a plugin.
Ahhhhh. Yup, didn’t know that. Dang, I just went from being insensitive to insensitive AND ignorant. So….. a successful morning then :]
As for me blogging, Neil, I know there is a serious amount of time, effort, and thought that those of you who blog put into what you do (hmmm, I can’t say that for every blog I’ve seen, I suppose). Someday I might be able to jump into that madness, but I think I have a few personal bridges to build and cross before I’m ready for that sort of transparency. Otherwise it might just end up with me spouting off random nonsense, and possibly more than a little ignorance (*cough*)…
Then again, I’d probably figure out what those plugins are all about.
And your problem with spouting off random nonsense would be…?
i like it that way.
life as abstract.
so many different ways to “order” a life..the words of a life.
Hey, I wrote about this once. I don’t remember what it was called, but in my memory it was all sophomoric, complete with that painting by Magritte, the one that says, “This is not a pipe.”
Come to think of it, I kind of (sort of) wrote about this today.
But I’m halfway obsessed with the concepts of truth, fact, representation, authenticity, and reality, so I write along those lines pretty often.
Like you said, words words words. So many words, but we’re not ourselves on the internet. We’re characters.
Are we really made of words? Does language enable us to articulate absolutely everything? As professional writers – you being one, I’m a journo – it’s tempting to think so, in fact it’s oddly comforting to think so but I don’t believe words can accurately sum up a person. We are, therefore, more than the sum of our words. There are places language just doesn’t reach.
I adore you right now. I just finished my column on the WRITTEN WORD. Are we psychic? Or just twins separated at birth? Either way, I need a latte.
It’s like the internet version of the Homer quote. Now, ‘we are of words and dreams’
Now that this post has been up all day, I think it is time to disagree with myself. The idea expressed is pretty nihilistic. Perhaps it was a fantasy I had last night. That if we were all words, at least online, then we wouldn’t have to deal with the human emotion that comes up through the act of reading and writing. We wouldn’t think of each other as people, wouldn’t bother “caring” or worrying about our own status or the feelings of others. We would just focus on the words, like poetry published in a book, and it would be easier to deal with. But I don’t think that is ever going to happen.
Don’t be too quick to back peddle away from that statement. We may not be just words, but we are far short of fully fleshed out humanity. I have spent a lot of time pondering this problem. In the year and a half since I started blogging, I have poured out more of my innermost thoughts, hopes, dreams than I have in the last 20 years of verbal communication combined. Because of this, I have made some very dear friends, who I only know via the magic of the interwebz. And yet… I am missing something. There is a lot to be said for the real, tangible, physical presence of another human being.
There I said it.
Yes, as much as I would like to hole up in a remote farmhouse, and only communicate with the world through this medium that I can totally control, and regulate, I am also glad that I have a non techie wife, and two lovely children who ground me in the messy details of life. I hate to admit it, but the very messiness of real human interaction, is something I need as much as air itself.
These words were written by a man pretending to be a machine pretending to be a man. Call me Victor or Call Me Victoria just don’t call em late for dinner.
To quote Marshall Erikson, “Hear my words…LAUGHTER”
Obvious can be exquisite, no? It is all about words. But words are not just static little stars. They are constellations. They are skies. They are windows into people and lives and worlds.
Thank goodness for words. Yours. Mine. All of ours.
What a beautiful post, Neil. I’m so glad to have found your blog. Really. I’m looking forward to reading future posts and poking around at some of the old ones, too.
Words are nice. I like them better than people. If I ever had a chance to meet you, Neil, I think I’d rather you just send you words and I’d buy them a cup of coffee. Because just typing the words “buy…a cup of coffee” is cheaper than actually buying a cup of coffee for the Real Neil. Would you like your coffee with sugar and cream, Word-Neil? Here, just let me type “sugar and cream” for you. You’re welcome.