Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reading Comprehension

Just when I think no one ever reads this blog, just when I think that I might be getting bored with blogging, just when I wonder whether I ought to scrap the blog altogether, some crazy comes along and makes it all worthwhile.

When I am in one of those moods where I am convinced that nobody pays attention to what I write, I will randomly pick out a newspaper article and make fun of it for no real reason. Though this is not, strictly speaking, a humor blog, I do try to exercise my wit whenever possible. Sometimes I go beyond snarky and post something just for the hell of it.

One such post was this one from last November in which I made fun of a news story concerning illegal dumping in the Pittsburgh area. I typed the thing in a hurry, hit the post button, got one comment from a regular reader, and quickly forgot about it. I was blogging for the sake of blogging. I just wanted to blog about something, anything, just to keep in practice.

More than six months passed, and I noticed that, according to my Site Meter stats, that particular post was being passed around in Yahoo! Mail, mostly in Great Britain. I'm not sure why there would be a sudden U.K. interest in illegal dumping in Pittsburgh. Eventually a locally based individual decided to leave a comment.

Ordinarily I just ignore comments that appear on old posts, but this one just begged for a rebuttal. For one thing, the first half of the comment was written in a completely different style than the second half. It didn't take long to discover that the first half was an unattributed copy-and-paste of a Wikipedia definition. The rest of the comment was angry and apparently typed out in a hurry -- not unlike the original post. (The commenter also seems to be a young woman. Something about the style.) Site Meter was able to tell me where the commenter was posting from. The internet makes low-level detective work a snap.

I could have fired back with an equally angry response, but I decided to step back and think it out before responding. I tried very hard to stay serious and not get snarky -- unlike the original post, which I admit was not one of my better efforts. I teased just a little, but made my points and moved on. Someone else -- or possibly the anonymous commenter using a new name -- followed up with an even more level-headed comment, which satisfies me. I'm going to let it go now.

This episode has shown me that my blogging is more than just a virtual chanting into the wind. People really do pay attention. I'm still not sure that I want to keep doing things the way that I have been, however. For instance: Last Wednesday, I typed out a couple of posts critiquing commentaries from the local newspaper. I haven't posted anything else since. In the past, I would have felt satisfied with those posts. Now I feel like I'm in a rut. The paper's editors will always say something that I disagree with, and the columnist is always going to say something stupid. I've done it so many times in the past that it feels useless to continue.

This is not to say that I am going to quit blogging. Those who quit usually come back. Douglas Bass came back. Bogus Gold's Doug promises to come back, eventually. Even Honnistaibe came back, and he's dead! I could go on and on about bloggers who enjoyed temporary "retirements". Time off helps. I had almost three weeks away from blogging when I was on vacation last month, and I still haven't "recovered" from my absence. Chalk it up to the weather.

So I am not going anywhere -- for now. I just won't be posting as often as I have done in the past. I have thought about scrapping the archives and starting anew, but why? I can't change my past, no matter how embarrassing some things may have been. And if you don't like it, well...I can't change that, either.

Have a nice day!

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