Maybe you're just passing through and figure it couldn't hurt to ask, and so you do: "I know you don't like to leave your apartment, but I'm gonna be in town ... I'd love to buy you a drink" -- you're nice and friendly and I read these messages several times a month and what do I do? Nothing. Silence. I'd like to understand/explain why. 'Cause it's not that I'm trapped in agoraphobic paralysis, it's 'cause let's say we do meet and you don't like me, or maybe you do like me or one of my friends in a way we can't reciprocate or the ensuing social evolution isn't what you'd wanted and then meeting me kills the desire to read me. Then you'll stop commenting, and I rely on commenting and emailing to give me the cyber-community that reminds me why I love blogging and like that I can do it for free.
[I'll stress: big difference here between literally meeting people (me: this is me! you:this is me! handshake/hug/hi!) -- which usually works, and I love it -- and hanging out -- which doesn't always work. Usually it works better with other writers, and I'm also not referring to logical hang-out situations like: we're working together professionally/artistically, you're in a similar industry in the city, there's a reading, we're in a vacation situation/travel-spot together, you want to date Haviland, etc.]
So I grapple with this -- the balance between being polite/true, between good/self-aware ... is it inherently bad that I'm literally scared to meet anyone new from the blogosphere right now 'cause I think they'll never engage with my written words again -- whether it be via email, facebook, blog, twitter, whatever? I mean it's popular to hate on internet writers who need attention, but whatever, y'all can suck it, it makes sense.
Anyhow, then, when I write -- how personal is dirty laundry, how much honesty is just a bitch, and how much can I withhold while still protecting my friends' privacies? Should I be giving more? Do I overshare? Am I too illusive?
Am I just rude?
The invitations are flattering! I like them! They flatter me and make me happy, as all correspondences from readers do. But: unless we're in a perfect circumstance, it's likely you'll sooner or later dislike me, just like most of my normal friends do, except for the 2 or 3 I see a few times a week. At first you'll think that I don't seem awkward, like I said I would, and then you'll notice that I only have one leg, and then you'll wonder what I'm hiding after all and what happens after that ... I dunno. It's not that I think I'm too cool for you ... quite the contrary, almost everyone is better socially than me. I can carry on a conversation, sure, but I fail at social events, prolonged engagements.
And then I was reading Jessica Roy's piece in New York Magazine: Au Revior! to the New York Media Scene" (Radar's response: New York Media Scene Disappoints Young Girl). Roy, a 20-year old NYU student & aspiring member of the intellectual elite -- has been to a lot of media parties, met or observed many NYC bloggers, attended The Great Jezebel Event of '08, and has some feelings about it.
Here's one of them:
"These people that I had admired my entire New York existence — they all disappointed me. I don't understand how people can exist in such a dishonest way and still call themselves writers. Isn't it the responsibility of a writer to be honest?"
While working at nerve I learned something about silence. Yes! The silence! The endless silence, mediated by Bright Eyes or The Roots and occasional editorial meetings. We communicated via IM only, not talking. These witty, charismatic writers I'd so admired were just like US! Though they were in totally capable of pulling it together for tv appearances and media events -- w/r/t everyday social behavior, they'd just prefer to IM. They weren't rude or cliquey, they were just Writers.
Last week while cruising I observed Ross the Intern successfully charm all reader/meeters w/effortless accessibility, and Ross endears literally hundreds of commenters per post even though he calls vlogs "talkies" which grates me. Wired writes about Julia Allison creating her own stardom, I'm reading about how Sassy's insider-y hipsterdom attracted readers and alienated others and I'm planning a big project right now that explores these questions/walls ... so I've got all these questions?
Are writers supposed to be removed in some sense? And did I feel more comfortable writing about my life, the personal scathing parts of it, when I hadn't already seen so many of you eye-to-eye, and then felt you disappear, like the truth of my social performance betrayed the work? Did your secrets become my secrets? Did my secrets become broken records and you saw the band live already: loud, steady. But it doesn't make you dance anymore. It's those blank dumb eyes in the singer's sockets. Blink. Blink.
Or maybe we're talking and I'm often thinking: "How can I make up for what I'm doing in person via print over the next day/hour/week? How can written discourse fix my failures right now?" Can I write a blog for them and pretend it's for everyone?
Recently I met a woman who'd come into my life through my blog. We had dinner a few weeks ago, Caitlin and Alex came along. She later emailed me to ask: "Why is it that in writing (and perhaps even on the phone) your depth and substance implies a very well developed self reflexive quality, while in person you are almost alarmingly veiled — funny but massively shielded ... almost as if you've built a force-field of buffer personalities?"
Me: "I don't want to meet anyone else from my blog anymore, 'cause the thing is that once they meet me, I end up letting them down in some way that i manage to let down everyone in my life aside from maybe 3-4 people, and then they like me less than they did before."
Stef: "I liked you way more before I met you in person."
Me: "I know you did. See. Case in point."
"I was afraid to be alone
but now I'm scared that's how I'd like to be
all these faces and none the same
how can there be so many personalities?"
-Azure Ray, "November"
So I should tell y'all now that actually I am a monkey named Xavier, and it's better you know now than be disappointed the next time we bump paws at a Dani Campbell-hosted lesbian event. You know, like, I'm a monkey, this is me, eat my ear.
But then I started shifting my policy when my life turned inward -- from the real world to the cyber-world when the real world had done gone -- and picked up some incredible people during that time. We all did, but it felt organic, too. Like if real life was more present than cyber-life, it could've happened there too. I'd still be friends with Carly, Crystal, Stef, Caitlin, Alex, et al.
I have such love & support from these tangible internet peoples; I'm so grateful.
And y'know, happy to see Alex's blue eyes, etc.
But what else can happen?
Maybe we'll hang out once or twice and then I'll start flaking like I do with most of my friends and then you'll lose patience and refuse to comment as a protest of my personality.
Maybe we'll fall in love, and then again, and then becomes now and now we can't communicate in any formats, most of all this one.
Maybe you'll respond to my open invitation to an ambitious social meetup and it'll be the first time I've been out in months and I'll be overwhelmed by everything about that night and then afterwards you'll stop commenting, forever, and I'll feel bad, like maybe I did something wrong when we met.
Maybe you'll email me and I'll write you back or not and freak you out or charm you or not but either way I've broken the fourth wall by responding and it's DOWN and what now?
Maybe you're Lozo and you're punishing me for something, like not providing you with the grapefruits you desired late at night.
People I meet always tell me I'm much less awkward in person than I claim to be in print, but something still breaks during that physical connection that can't be fixed, I think. Why? I dunno, maybe it's harder to compliment when you've put a name to a face, harder to criticize when you're not anonymous, either.
It's hard for me to know why 'cause as a writer I have specific rules to how I behave online regardless of who I know and don't know, so I don't know what it's like for those who follow instinct rather than gospel -- it'd be like how I feel about teevee-watching compared to someone who works in the industry.
My first reader ever is in New York City right now, this week, and we've never met though she's the first person I'd never met that I actually loved like a flesh-and-blood friend. (Crystal became the second) After we'd communicated so much in the personal electronic realm, she stopped commenting here.
And I'm scared to meet her 'cause I've got this feeling that when the fourth wall falls down, she'll see a monkey and not a real girl, and this monkey will do tricks and eat bananas on her pinkberry and make a lot of noise but no music. And that nothing I write down before or after will be enough. I'll do it anyhow, because my want overrides my fear in this situation. That's unusual for me.
So anyhow, the reason I never write back is 'cause I don't want to lose you as a reader or as a commenter. It's because if you were to meet me you might find me alarmingly veiled. You might find Haviland alluringly veiled, which's why I always joke you should meet her instead of meeting me. I guess that's what I want to know how to do: become alluringly veiled or compellingly open or something altogether new that'll transcend three dimensions, regardless of if it smashes in the fourth wall to get there or just shortcuts around it. Do you know what I mean? If so, please comment, I'm genuinely asking.
Also I have this uncanny tendency to read vibes pretty full on, so I'll delete the paragraph about how absurd it is of me to even claim to matter to anything and go on to what happened next -- an event I dreamt about a few days ago, actually.
I've got a little over six weeks to get it together, I'm thinking about fly-fishing in Northern Michigan.