So, Mei’s exit from the blogosphere got me thinking. I’ve been isolated since long before the pandemic hit. I did it to myself. Well, my folks helped, and the general shittiness of the world contributed, but really, I mostly did it to myself. I used to have some ambition, but I dropped that when it got too hard, and resented every minute of my life instead. I avoided the kind of conflicts that might’ve meant shit or changed anything, and I revelled in irrelevant sniping and trolling. I went in for the kill when I should’ve called truce and slated others’ weakness without trying to lend them any strength. And this was all part of a grand master plan to push away everybody who ever started to care about me, in case I got reliant. Then the world fell apart, more than once, and I was more reliant than I wanted to admit, and all my friends in the world were on this blog, and they were there for me. I’ve got a lot of skills, and I’m not weak, but I do need people. My own company’s not good for me. And, I realised, there are people who need me, too. They’re trying to start up communities and grow food and build shelters and run schools and fight off gangs in little pockets of green in the desert. And they put out a call for people like me to come and join them, and I laughed about it and decided that, if they were even real, I was better than them. Well, if I’m better than them, all the more reason to go along and help them out. I sent them my vid last night.
I’ve got enough supplies for a few days’ trek, a handset, a solar-powered backpack, a scorcher of a summer’s day and a set of co-ordinates that should lead me on the first leg of my journey to this Dreamtime Town place. Apparently there are tests along the way. I got to walk the direction they tell me past the point I’ll run out of water, and trust that there’s a water hole at the other end. If they reckon I’ve got ill intent, they’ll send me the wrong way. They’ll send scouts to meet me who have to get home safe and give a good report before I get the next clue; they intend to get to know me a little before they let me in, test my resolve, my trust and the skills I say I’m bringing. I guess I deserve that. If I find Frank at the other end, I’m going to swing for the bastard.
You know what, though? Like Mei, I’m not going to blog about the journey, or about the place when I get there. I got a coupla reasons for saying that. First is similar to Mei’s: I feel like a fake. Up until I lost the store, I was blogging to impress, not to communicate, just like the funny announcements I used to make in the old life instead of talking to my colleagues. It wasn’t that I didn’t really care, I cared so much I could’ve bled, but I never could connect with anything real while I was aware of being listened to, being public. I always thought I didn’t care what anybody thought of me, but truth is I care about nothing else. I wanted people to think of me as the kind of person who doesn’t care what people think of me. That’s what blogging, performing, will do to you. You create a persona – you can’t help it – and you get trapped inside it. It’s not a lie, exactly, but it’s not the whole truth. It’s a barrier. You’ve always got to be analysing and describing and advising, never just relating. Wherever I end up, and whatever happens there, I want it to be me who arrives, no pretences. I want to relate to people as myself, whether I like them or not. It’ll be hard work, because I’m not that likeable. Narrating it all for public consumption probably won’t do me any favours, either.
The other reason is kind of for you guys, because, despite all that Mei says, I do fucking love you people, and that’s how I know it’s hell when somebody you care about disappears from their blog without a word and you don’t know what happened to them. So if I say, “Hey guys, I’m going off into the outback where I could starve or get bitten by snakes or trampled by wild kangaroos or anything, looking for a place I probably won’t find, where I half suspect people will steal my stuff and kill me anyway – I’ll keep you posted!” then if you hear nothing, you’ll waste your time and power endlessly refreshing my blog and calling my name into the bleak and lonely digital void, and I wouldn’t want that.
If I just tell you all now that I’m going to stop blogging, as of the end of this paragraph – well, then you can imagine me tilling fields of golden wheat, or sipping a glass of homebrew Mojito in a hammock under the desert sun, or making sarcastic wisecracks at a meeting full of earnest utopians – or go with trampled by wild kangaroos if you prefer, I wouldn’t hold it against you – and you’ll have no reason to suppose me otherwise. In short, if I say I’ll blog, and then I don’t, it can only be bad. If I say I won’t, and then I don’t, it could be good. You can imagine me as you want to. Keep up the work, good or bad or indifferent. And remember, I might still be reading, so watch yourselves.