This is the end of a journey that began in the Summer of 2012 that has seen a number of events and changes here and abroad. The tiny blip of history that this blog has covered has been a reiteration of the phrases Change is inevitable, Time marches on, and Life goes on.
I would be remiss if I said I never imagined what would this final entry look like. It hasn't been very often, but I have thought about it. Conversely, I would also be remiss if I did not admit that what thought I did give it, as I sit here now writing this, was pretty much useless. This is truly a you-never-know-until-it-happens moment for me.
Social media vis à vis the Internet is an amazing tool. It allows, among many things, the opportunity and the platform to express yourself. That is a good thing. Like almost any good thing, it can be abused, too, so the precarious balancing act of freedom of expression and being socially responsible is ongoing.
Putting yourself out there sometimes requires a healthy sense of ego. This is not necessarily true for members of law enforcement or public servants such as firefighters, paramedics, and doctors, as they may be simply providing information. More along the lines of performers, public speakers, and others who are the focus of attention, you have to feel, even if it's just to a small degree, that what you have to say matters and that what you have to say should be heard by others. You can believe that and share what you have to say with a small number of persons, but putting it out there for the whole world to see requires a healthy sense of ego. It is only when the intent is purely egotistical or even egomaniacal that a more careful look needs to be taken.
My own intention for this blog was not simply to get attention or to tell everyone how right I am and how wrong they are. (Those who disagreed with my viewpoints may have felt I was doing the latter, and all I can offer is that such was not the goal.) In fact, in my very first post on June 19, 2012, I offered the following clarification:
"I do not think I bring anything necessarily unique to the blogosphere, save for my
own voice. I just thought it would be cool to have a place to air my opinions, to
praise or to vent, to get things off my chest, etc."
In the years since, I added to that list shedding light on topics and issues that I felt needed more attention.
Similar to downloads in podcasting, there are two schools of thought on blogs: focus on the number of views or don't focus on the number of views. Focusing on them could mean, although not a clear barometer, that you only want a high view count, along the lines of having more and more friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Not focusing on views could mean, again not a clear metric, that your focus is on content over counts. I am squarely in the latter of the two, as both my total views of 12,000+ since 2012 and my not posting with any regularity attest.
Allow me to address for the last time the point of my not posting on a regular basis. There is no shortage of things on which to comment. My feeling has always been that I have something to say and it should be put out there, but not everything grabs me strongly enough to comment on it. By strongly enough, I mean I may have strong feelings about something, but I need to feel ... inspired (I guess is the word) to sit down at write about it. Maybe compelled is the more accurate word here. The words of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato -- although it is highly contested if they are, indeed, attributable to him -- have been my guide (and there are many variations of this):
The foolish one speaks because he has to say something.
The wise one speaks because he has something to say.
Well, I hope I'm a wise one.
As an offshoot of counting/not counting views, my goal was not to make me feel good simply by getting a lot of feedback. Still, one glaring omission over the years has been the scarcity of exactly that. The small amounts I have received have been very much appreciated. However, it is impossible to tell with any certainty if those of you who have ventured into my tiny piece of social media real estate did so out of finding my musings utter nonsense or something meaningful. My hope was for the latter.
Speaking of nonsense, humor has not been at the forefront in this blog. (Unless, as aforementioned, you only see this blog as nonsensical.) What smattering of humor I have incorporated now and then has been two-fold: 1) my focus has been on pretty serious topics, so humor has not always be appropriate; and 2) humor is not a strong suit of mine. My friends might find #2 odd since we joke around frequently. I have found that when I want to be intentionally funny (trying too hard), I am just not funny. What laughing my friends may do because of something I have said is purely an in-the-moment chuckle and not a result of a carefully thought-out routine. In other words, stand-up comedian is not a career path for me.
I mentioned views earlier, and here are some of the more-viewed entries of this blog:
- A documentary about the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 on its twenty-fifth anniversary
- An exposé on the ridiculous manner of firearms sales in this country
- A report on the Northern Peruvian Pipeline which showed problems with pipelines similar to our own
- A 2015 commentary on mass shootings averaging that year to very close to one per day
- A tribute to blues legend B.B. King at the time of his death
- A two-part piece on Meniere's Disease [part 1 - part 2]
- An explanation of the unsafe nature of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking")
- Some musings on human behavior and animal behavior
By far, very far, the most-viewed posting of this blog was the one about the military son of a friend of mine, Anthony Howell, who had served in the Gaza Strip with a multinational peace-keeping force and who had gone missing while stationed at the Army National Guard Base, 11 Bravo, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The first post alone -- there were four total -- received over 800 views. When you add the initial posting with the three updates, the total number of views reached over 1,150. As I noted last Spring on the occasion of this blog's 200th post, Anthony is doing well, living in Tennessee with his wife Alexandra and their now two-year-old daughter Maisey.
I have taken pride in doing the best job possible with this blog. When expressing my opinions, they have been purely my opinions, and when I have stated facts, I have researched them. I have done my best to get it right, but I have not always done so.
After all this time, I have two clear insights stemming from the writing of this blog:
1) We can do some wonderful, terrific, and good things.
2) We can do some horrible, disheartening, and bad things.The trick is to which one are we willing to give more of our time and effort, for each one brings about a different kind of world.
If nothing else, the main thing I hope you will have gleaned from this blog after all these years is that our best efforts need to be encouraged and our worst efforts need to be exposed and stopped. In other words, even though this blog has not primarily been philosophical in nature (although philosophical points have been touched on from time to time), many of the themes covered, if not the topics themselves, point to the necessity of our making the world a better place. Although not my original intent back in 2012, my hope is this blog will be seen as my small contribution to that goal.
I know I have said this before, but allow me to say it one final time... It gets harder as you get older, but you have to try and hang on to a sense of amazement about the world. One microcosm of that is the Internet. I know we take it for granted, but I remain amazed at how the Internet connects people from all over the world. To that extent, seeing all of the different countries from where visitors to this site have come has remained mind-blowing. To know that people from half way around the world in China and several places in-between have visited here is nothing short of incredible to me.
One criticism, if I may, that I would offer relates to the Internet and other means of connecting with others. It has been said that the world has gotten smaller and it continues to do so. We are becoming more and more connected to one another, and that is a good thing. However, all of this electronic and digital connection does not necessarily bring us any closer relationally to one another. (Although an argument can be made that enjoying successes or speaking out against atrocities in other parts of your own country and the world is a form of being relational.) Long distances and responsibilities aside, we often replace face-to-face visits or even phone calls with texts, E-mails, and social media posts. Showing me what you are about to eat for dinner does not make me feel closer to you as a person. It is a paradox when what makes us connected sometimes makes us more distant. It's what I would call interimpersonal.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may be asking why am I ending it. Well, the short answer is simply burn-out. I noticed early in the Fall of last year that my posts were becoming even more infrequent (i.e. none in September or November last year). The death of my dear friend Ed in late October and a long list of personal issues I have been dealing with for some time have begun to weigh heavily on me, more so than usual. While I have enjoyed writing this blog, and one can argue it is a form of distraction for me (even though not fully), focusing on myself personally is what is most needed. To ease any concerns you may have, no, there is nothing health-wise that is problematic. (Well, nothing, aside from needing to lose some weight.)
On one more personal note, my perspective on my life has not included many things about which I have felt a sense of pride. A sad commentary in and of itself, to be sure, however this blog does not fall into that category. I am proud of the work I have done on The Keyboard Commentarian. And yet, my greatest wish is that any enjoyment and/or meaningfulness you have received from it far surpasses any amount of pride I feel.
All of this is not to say that I have nothing left to say. There are things now and there will be things in the future about which I will have something to say. As they say, "Never say never," so I may, at some point in the future, want to return to the blogosphere. It may be under the banner of The Keyboard Commentarian once again or something new. Should I make the decision to return, I hope you will be as welcoming and interested as you have been all these years.
And so, after six-and-a-half years and 225 posts, the end is here. I have never taken you, dear readers, for granted, and I have tried to never let you down. I hope that you have found this blog both informational and inspirational, and that it has added something good, something positive, and something helpful to your lives. I cannot thank you all enough for your readership and support. For me, calling you all dear readers was not merely a cordiality; it was meant from the heart. My deepest thanks to all of you.
As I bid you all farewell, may you all fare well on this journey we call life.