Probably a lot of it is just ’cause I’m so bloody prolific. “Aw crap, he’s written something else?” It’d be one thing if I posted something once a week, or every other week, like most people. Then they could get around to reading it after a few days… after they’ve read absolutely every last thing there is to read on Facebook; after they’re tired of browsing YouTube videos; after they’re bored out of their minds with everything else on the interwebs and there’s nothing left to read. Then they’ll catch up on old friends’ blogs. Mine last, ’cause I didn’t just write two or three paragraphs. I wrote, as they so regularly tell me, a book.
A book? Where do they find these short little books? Well, there’s the tip-off: They don’t find these short little books. They aren’t readers. They’ll read the bible—in short bursts; a chapter or two to keep up with their yearly reading plans, and that’s that. They’ll read a newspaper article or two, or a magazine article or two, depending on whether a friend emailed it to them, or linked to it on Facebook, or they heard a rumor of an important news event and looked it up. They’ll read a chapter or two of a religious book, one which all their friends or their pastor have recommended, and take about a month to do it. The only books which they will wholly consume in one reading, will be the books they read to their children.
Life is busy, and they haven’t the time for more.
I don’t fault them for this. There are a million things to do, and of course there’s no time for the 1,000 words a day I regularly spit up. It’d be unrealistic of me to expect them to keep abreast of the latest things I’ve posted on prayer, or my current witticisms on Twitter. It’d be an imposition if I required it of them; if, when they asked me, “What’s new?” I replied, “What, you’ve not read my blogs? What kind of friend are you?”
But some of it is, quite honestly, that they don’t care. Again, I don’t fault them for this. Their own lives are busy, and their more immediate concerns are their immediate families: The spouse, the kids, the co-workers whom they have to get along with, their closer friends whom they see more often. I am a lower priority than people whom they value more. They’re very concerned about those people; they’re only a little concerned about me.
In the case of family, they take me for granted—because you should be able to take family for granted. Only a sociopath would demand that family constantly earn his approval, lest he cut them off. (Hi Dad!) This is acceptable behavior for acquaintances, but never family. And family, because we’re not connected by common interests, are far less likely to care about all the stuff I’m into. They read different books, watch different television, don’t care to think about religion too deeply, have different politics, and blow off my views as “that’s just Kent.” In other words: “Yeah, he’s different from me, but what’re you gonna do? He’s family and I love him and we don’t have to agree—and that’s that.”
And lastly, some folks don’t read ’cause they’re worried about what I’ll say. Some of it is their concern that I’ll piss ’em off with my left-of-them politics. Some of it is their worry that I’ll write something about them, that everybody’ll know their business, and they’ll be embarrassed. So ignorance is bliss.
I used to write about friends, back when I first started writing, long before I started blogging. You’re supposed to write what you know, after all. Well, I knew them, and they made interesting stories, so I told those stories. And I discovered that, no matter how embarrassing these stories aren’t, no matter how good they really do come off in those stories, people are embarrassed to even be mentioned. So I cut it out. I still tell the stories, but I never identify the individuals. Even so, they’re still gunshy. I had a boss once who was always afraid I’d “tell on him” whenever he said something dumb. I never did; yeah, he did dumb stuff from time to time, as we all do, but he did nothing really blog-worthy.
I suspect you worry about what other people have to say about you when you have a tendency to be a bit of a gossip. I don’t worry at all about what others say about me. That’s not always a good thing: It still catches me by surprise when I get burned. But I don’t say or post anything that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. It’s a good rule of thumb. So I don’t think people have anything to legitimately worry about. But of course many embarrass easily—and you’d think a relationship with me would’ve cured them of that long ago.