We know not what we do. July 18, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: blog posts, blogging, perils of blogging, the lawn police
Fellow bloggers, be advised by me. Just days ago, our friend Ben wrote a post for Poor Richard’s Almanac called “The lawn police.” Today, having at last finished a project that had been threatening to finish me for months, I decided to celebrate by going with our heat-seeking friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders to that haven of habaneros and all hot peppers, Jim Weaver’s Meadow View Farm in scenic Bowers, PA.
If this seems like an odd way to celebrate surviving another death-dealing deadline, it felt like the least I could do, given that Richard had managed at last to actually contribute a post of his own to the blog this morning, “The other Roosevelt,” about Teddy Roosevelt. Now, Richard claims to admire our 26th president, and while I have no reason to doubt him, I can’t help but feel that some of the inspiration for today’s post might have been the 50-plus sarcastic phone calls and e-mails he received from (the otherwise, of course, angelic) Silence Dogood on the topic of his non-posts.
But I, ah, digress. What happened was this: Richard came over to our friend Ben and Silence’s country abode, Hawk’s Haven, and we set off cross-country on the obscure little road that connects Hawk’s Haven to Bowers. En route, we passed a house that had been the chief subject of my post, “The lawn police.” I had lamented the fact that while, year after year, the homeowners worked really hard to beautify the property and the front of their home, they left unsightly, peeling tarpaper on each gable end of the house, presumably while waiting for a never-arriving day when they’d add windows and finish the second floor. Of course, the tarpaper completely spoiled the appearance of their home and property. Our friend Ben felt that surely they could tack up some more vinyl siding until such time as they finished the house, if ever, and I said so in the post.
So imagine my astonishment, after some seven years of watching the peeling tarpaper, as I drove by this afternoon, three days after my post, and there was the tacked-up siding. As I stared dumbfounded, Richard blurted out, “Why, they must have read the blog!”
Hard to believe as it must sometimes seem, our friend Ben is aware that all sentient beings on earth do not spend their every waking hour poring over this blog. In fact, I realize that all sentient beings within a five-mile radius of Hawk’s Haven do not spend their every waking hour, or so much as a semiconscious second, reading this blog. The timing of the siding’s appearance was almost certainly a coincidence.
Almost certainly, but not absolutely certainly. In the instant of seeing the new siding, our friend Ben was struck by the realization that, unlike in space, in the blogosphere, people can hear you scream. And your screaming may have repercussions. Perhaps those homeowners didn’t read my post. But what if Mr. Homeowner’s great-aunt Matilda or nosy neighbor Marvin did read the post, recognized the description, then called up Mr. H. and shouted ”Homer! I’ve been telling you and telling you to fix that frickin’ house! Now somebody’s written about what an eyesore it is on the internet! Everybody knows!!!”
In the case of the peeling tarpaper, if our friend Ben contributed in any small way to getting the homeowners to clean up their act, perhaps it was for the best. Certainly their neighbors and all passersby would thank me. All I’d like to say is that our words can have outcomes, for good or ill, that we never can foresee. We write our posts, alone at our screens, in love or haste. We send them out into the world to inspire or amuse, and, if we’re lucky, they find their own wings. Sometimes, those wings carry them to other continents. Sometimes, they carry them next door. But wherever they fly, wherever they land, we hope they settle gently.