Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hide Your Blog; There's a Killer on the Loose

I'm going to let you in on a dark secret.

I'm a killer.

My victims are usually blog postings, but if need be, I'll strike down a thread on an e-mail list.

I got my start young, well before there was such a thing as an online community. The cool kids with the Corey Feldman, devil-may-care, lessez-faire attitudes would congregate before school, and if one of them was nice enough to slip me a "what's up?" or do one of those half nods that start with the head at even level and end with the chin slightly raised, I'd take the bait and try to participate in the conversation, which would then fall off the proverbial table with a dissonant clang. I was then left to try to pretend I wasn't being stared at or pitied.

Understand, while our peers were chillin' to Axl Rose as he slithered around asking, "Where do we go now?" my friends and I were obsessed with decoding the lyrics to the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." Decidedly uncool.

Of course, as I got older and priorities shifted and perspective was gained, it no longer was about being cool or in, but about relating to people. And since I am a nice, quiet guy, I have found lots of friends who are happy to have me around. But that doesn't stop me from killing conversation at work or in church board meetings, or in venues where my presence has less to do with selection and more to do with function. You see, the problem is, I need an editor. I can take any healthy, lively, pertinent conversation, and start to interject my thoughts (or dumb jokes, or anecdotes), and before I've taken four breaths, I've gone so far out of bounds that no one can wrestle the conversation back on track. I also, apparently, have a weakness for run-on sentences.

This brings me back to your blog. Beware.

I've noticed an uncanny parallel between my face-to-face conversations with a group of people who didn't necessarily invite me into their huddle and the threads I find my way into in online communities and personal blogs.

You see, I don't post much. I generally am content to watch passively as discussion goes on around me. Truthfully, I'm practicing restraint, as I don't want to say something unless I have something to say. Which is why what happens next perplexes even me.

Eventually, a posting will come around to a book I've just been reading, an album I've been listening to, a movie I saw, or a traffic accident I narrowly avoided. If anyone is qualified to make a statement now, it is me, and if I've ever been timely in my words, that time is now. So, I loft my words of wit and wisdom ever so gracefully, like a Great White Dove of Enlightenment into the crowd who have gathered around to struggle through a seemingly unsolvable conundrum. The dove ascends, turns, dives, and hits the ground with a spectacular thud. Conversation stops. The once-lively topic is now dead and limp.

So you've been warned. If I find my way into your online neighborhood, you'd better lock your blog.

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