Why Blogging Matters

Nearly 6 months ago, I wrote about my beloved dog Jessie, about how she chose to be part of my family and how eventually we had to choose to let her leave this life. Last night, a man named Greg found that now long-ago post. “I’m scanning and commenting on posts made by fellow dog lovers because it must be therapeutic in some way,” he wrote.¬† He recently lost his 6-year old Irish Terrier and was “reaching out to others who understand.”

Greg’s comment got me thinking. Isn’t that what blogging is really all about — reaching out to others who understand? I went back and looked in my leather-bound journal. I never wrote about Jessie there. I guess when she passed, I needed to share my loss with something less solitary than a diary.

Why do we blog? Because sometimes we need to share something personal with something less solitary than a journal.

A year ago, a young man I knew died by suicide. As a way to both cope with her grief and to provide a support network for others touched by suicide, his mother launched a blog called “Forever Invictus.” One day, she posted a proposal to hold a suicide prevention/wellness¬† fair in New York City’s Washington Square Park. Readers from around the country rallied together to help her realize this vision. On September 17, 2010, the first “Get Your Wellness On!” event welcomed over 1,000 participants and saved a life. The event was organized and executed by a group of people who met for the first time the morning of the fair, but had already known each other only through Esmeralda’s blog.

Tim is an Olympic Silver Medalist in fencing. He has a blog too. So does Maria, a literature teacher in Italy. They don’t talk about death. Tim talks about fencing, about traveling around the world as he prepares for London 2012, about chilling with Apolo Anton Ohno. Tim’s blog has become an online venue where the American fencing community, a diverse and dispersed group of people who share a sport, can congregate and get caught up on the latest news or pick up some training tips. Maria’s blog “Fly High” is an online book & movie club for Jane Austen and Richard Armitage fans around the world. We hang out on Fly High and gush about our love for 19th century British literature and its 21st century screen adaptations.

When I started blogging, I was really only in it for myself. I wanted to write about me. I wanted people to read my writing. I wanted someone to love my writing enough to offer me a book deal. My alter-ego blog, “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband,” has been more successful in this endeavor. It’s where I write about the way we love and are expected to love now. Thousands of WordPress readers responded to my post “You Borrowed My Dylan CD and Stole My Heart, I’d Like them Back Now Please” — a little piece about reclaiming the intangibles when a relationship ends. It seems every past relationship leaves a trail of damaged songs in its wake.

Reading Greg’s comment put Esmeralda’s and Tim’s blogs and the outpouring of response to “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” in perspective. Turns out, when I write about myself, I’m writing about you, and him, and her too. While blogs may be the vanguard of political analysis or the source for the latest entertainment news, at the end of the day, blogging is about community — at the end of the day, we want to read about things we can relate to. Bloggers and their posts remind us all that, no matter how unique each of our lives are, living is a common experience. In this digital community of words and comments, there’s always someone we can reach out to who understands.

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Ben Franklin Lied to Me

What IS the big idea Ben Franklin?

This has nothing to do with the early worm.

Ben Franklin lied to me when he told me “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” He conveniently failed to mention “writing job application cover letters” and “health insurance screw-ups.”

Taxes are somewhat avoidable if I’m incomeless (thank you, refunds!).¬† But since I do want to have some Ben Franklins to pay taxes on (read: to buy shoes with) then I need a job, which means I need to write catchy yet professional cover letters. I have a natural aptitude for self-deprecation, but apparently, when you apply for a job, self-promotion is a more useful skill.

“To Whom It May Concern:

There isn’t a photocopier I can’t conquer, a triple-half-caf-soy-latte I can’t perfect, or a database I can’t manage… I also know lots about John Singer Sargent…etc.”

With each completed cover letter and packaged resume comes a mini-celebration and the glint of hope. I do a little shimmy, walk away from my computer with a self-satisfied smirk, and imagine the possibilities. Maybe this week I’ll get to put on my “interview outfit.’ Maybe next week there will be a contract and the promise of a paycheck. Maybe before the month is out, there will be a new kayak and an apartment upgrade… Yes, with each application the possibility of a new future…and the promise of free health insurance.

Death is more certain than taxes, but since I want to stave off this certainty for as long as possible, I need health insurance. It may not be a catch-22, but it’s a catch-of-some-number.

In 24 hours, I will be officially uninsured again. My university extension plan ends and there will be a month gap before my new coverage kicks in. As an accident-prone athlete with a predisposition for sinus infections, health insurance is a necessity. In theory, under the new health care laws, as a 25 year old in flux, I’m eligible to become a dependent on my parents’ insurance plan. But for a number of ridiculous reasons, that can’t happen for me until April — my 26th birthday is in July, leaving me with 4 months of coverage. Atena Fail. So in an attempt to find an affordable alternative, I’ve put upwards of 20 hours into health insurance related inquiries. Now, I have applications to complete and processing time to wait out.

In the meantime, I’m going to move into a bubble. I’ll have my cellphone with me, you know, just in case Sotheby’s wants to talk to me about that CEO position I applied for…

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