Over at Mostly Harmless, the Mostly Thought-Provoking Constructivist has asked an interesting question:
What better way to acknowledge how truly awful a week this has been than to try to start a meme asking people to describe the posts they chose not to write out of respect for the recent dead?
As longtime raincoaster fans know, we’re so not about the memes here, but this one has jolted me out of my minimeme-izing mood and I’ve gone ahead and submitted it to Digg and Reddit, and you may second that if you so desire by clicking on those links.
I see eteraz has observed a moment of blog silence; I respect that and thought about doing that, but it did not seem authentic to me. A blog is silent until you post; for me, the best tribute I could give was not silence but meaningful speech. I did resolve not to speak on the issue unless I could usefully contribute; bandwagon-jumping is particularly abhorrent on a hearse.
As for me, well this isn’t going to cover me in glory but the fact is that I believe the first thing I posted after I learned about the shooting was an amusing and utterly flip quiz, At What Price Would You Sell Out? I generally resort to quizzes when I have nothing to say but want to feed the blog anyway, and so it seemed; as I posted it I thought, “well that’s bought me a few hours at least.”
The shootings sat in my brain for the next several hours, as I resisted the urge to learn more about them. That sounds strange, but after the ordeal I went through with the Kimveer Gill posts, I was not in a hurry to jump back into that trauma soup. In fact, I first learned about the Virginia Tech shootings when I was checking stats and saw that suddenly my Gill posts were doing very well.
Finally, I decided to give in to my impulses and find out what actually happened. It was clear the blogosphere was going nuts trying to find out information, and the police weren’t giving it out, so it became something more creative, more positive, than just sniffing at corpses; it became possible to, by finding and disseminating the truth, to help in some way. I spent some hours researching and saw that, one by one the mysteries were getting cleared up faster than I could possibly do a roundup. Any efforts on my part would only be duplications, so I didn’t make any roundups.
I only posted the cellcam video from Jamal Albarghouti, because watching it raised a lot of questions. Not questions of fact; questions about what it was like to be living through something like that.
I’ve always preferred questions to answers, but maybe that’s a character flaw.
Then I went right back to posting flippant things: a Will Ferrell video and an admittedly valuable but incongruously satirical political post about duelling manifestos from the amazingly irrelevant Michelle Malkin and an imaginary lizard from Buckaroo Banzai. I had promised Robert Chaplin to post about Teeny Ted from Turnip Town and his 10 Counting Cat video, which are both marvelous on any other day but Teeny Ted, the smallest book in the world and normally very newsworthy as well as amusing, was completely overshadowed by my subsequent post on the Bath Disaster, in the wake of the Virginia Tech debate.
It’s like I was eating doughnuts when what I really wanted was beef. Having finally posted on the Bath Disaster, I felt that I could relax. Three posts is a low amount for me in one day; I’ve done as many as 12. In this case, though, it felt as if the quest was complete; I’d done an original and meaningful contribution to the discussion around the meaning of death and what actions the world could take going forward, both on an organizational level and on an individual level. I felt proud.
And, I’m ashamed to say, I saw almost instantly that it was doing well in hits, and I said to myself, “It’s okay, I don’t need to do any more posts tonight. That will keep the blog going for hours.”
I really did.
The next day, I didn’t post because I wanted to leave that post at the top of my blog, and because I felt sure it wouldn’t hurt my standing to do so. I had promised Robert I’d post 10 Counting Cat, but the thing is: it’s about a cat that kills a lot of birds. It’s not really about anything else. It was certainly a bizarre choice to put up in that context, but I did it anyway; if there’d been no promise, there’d have been no post today. I did register that it was tasteless both absolutely (which we’d have no issue with, ever) and in context; it’s not as if I didn’t know. And then I topped that off with a post about Zeta Males and whether a robust virtual life would divert them from a fatal spree.
And so, the tale of what I didn’t post is really not the story at the raincoaster blog. Taste and context have never really been my forte, to say the least. This blog is like a sack of amazing things: dip your hand into it and you could come up with anything from an Archduchess to a dingleberry.
Overall, things balance out, but in the short term, with a fine lens, it can look pretty ugly.