dear internet from 2001:

how’s it going?  i miss you.  here’s what we’re doing with the internet in 2007:

1.  twittering.  every time we wake up, eat something, go to the store, make a phone call, go to the bathroom, get stuck in traffic, or stand in line for an iphone, we can tell everyone about it in 140 characters or less.  this is what we do instead of spending time creating things.

2.  taking blurry cameraphone pictures of the food we just ate and posting them to flickr.

3.  making websites that consist solely of aggregated RSS feeds from flickr, twitter, and  why write anything substantial when we can just pipe in content from other places?

4.  using wordpress themes and blogger templates instead of designing our own websites.*

these things are technically innovations, but they don’t feel that way to me.  i loved you, 2001 internet, because you enabled people to create and communicate in ways that really meant something.  i liked reading what my friends thought about their lives and about what was going on in the world.  i liked reading what strangers had to say, too, as sometimes those strangers would become friends.

but it doesn’t happen that way anymore.  it’s easier to spend two minutes letting twitter and create our content for us than it is to sit down and think about what we want to say.  these things that were invented to make it easier to communicate are drawing us near while pushing us away from each other.  it’s convenience at the expense of creativity.

i don’t know, maybe everyone’s families and children and internet-based careers keep them too busy to do things the way they used to.  maybe all the meaningful things on the internet are happening somewhere else, somewhere i haven’t looked.  or maybe the internet’s too big now, making the quality next to impossible to find.  what i do know is that the personal web doesn’t seem so personal anymore, and it’s making me sad.

we used to gaze deep into our own navels and find something of substance. now it’s just pictures of food, rss feeds and aggregated links, in 140 characters or less.


(*i don’t mind when people who aren’t web designers or coders use templates.  that’s a pretty old debate, and i’m generally happy with the removal of barriers to entry for the non-web-savvy.  but the rest of you have no excuse.)

hello, world!

number of people at work i’ve told about this site: 3
number of people i did not tell who now know anyway: 2

at least there are two that i know of; there could be more.  when i started this job i figured that if i made some friends i’d tell them about my site, and i couldn’t prevent anyone from googling me and finding it, but as a rule i wouldn’t tell people.  eight months later my site is familiar to more coworkers than i’m entirely comfortable with, and i’m not sure how i feel about it.

there is, of course, the initial panic regarding the work-related things i’ve chronicled here.  someone at my old job kept a weblog under an assumed name, and when she told me about it, i immediately went through her archives to see what she’d written about our office.  i imagine my new coworker readers will do the same on my site, but everything i’ve written about work has been fairly general and doesn’t mention anyone by (real) name.  i’ve been so general because i was afraid that this would happen.  in that sense, i’m prepared.

what i’m not prepared for is how uncomfortable i am with my coworkers knowing so much about me.  i’ve kept this site for nearly seven years; my jobs, my classes, my breakups, my embarrassments are all chronicled here for everyone to see.  and while i love the idea of friends and family and complete strangers reading what i have to say, acquaintances are a different matter.  for acquaintances, this site is a bizarre sort of shortcut to all the wonderful, terrible things that have happened to me, things i would never have shared with them otherwise.  when i pass them in the office hallways and we nod our hellos, my nod will be one of hello, but their nod will be one of “so, i heard your neighbor offered you drugs,” or “so, you did aerobics last night!”  it will be weird.

i’m no stranger to holding things back here to avoid hurting my friends or family members.  for the most part, i’ve made my peace with that.  but i really hate the idea of holding things back to keep my coworkers from knowing too much about me.  if i did that, i’d never write about anything at all.

in my head i’ve envisioned the worst-case scenario: having to choose between keeping this site and keeping my job.  bluishorange has been in my life longer than any job or apartment or boyfriend or dog ever has, and as such i think i’d be unwilling to give it up.  after all, to be a writer is my ultimate goal in life, and if i can’t share my ridiculous thoughts about all the stupid things i’ve done, i’ll never be the kind of writer i want to be.

when i found out about my new coworker readers, one of my first thoughts was: if i’d started this site under an assumed name and kept it that way, i wouldn’t have this problem.  but i’m not really an anonymous kind of girl; if i were, i’d wear polo shirts and athletic shoes and my hair would be one color instead of three.  no, when i have something to say, i want to claim it as my own.  i want it to say ALISON HEADLEY at the bottom of the page.  for me, to do it any other way would feel like a cop-out.

dear new coworker readers,

welcome to bluishorange!  i’m not going to change this site because of you.  please don’t ever reference it in any conversation you have with me; it would destroy the illusion.  and for god’s sake, don’t tell any more people.