NOTE: I have had a more-than-usual amount of crappy tech snafus in my blogging and personal life the past few days. Rather than bore you with all the bytes that bit me, I decided to reblog one of my earliest posts–written shortly after I began this blog two years ago. I’d like to think I’ve become slightly more technically adept since then, but…
Some of the explanatory material about WP was necessary because at the time I had more email subscribers than fellow bloggers. I had fun writing this piece, and I hope you’ll have fun reading it.
The title of this post might also be “Blogging While Aging Ain’t for Sissies!” It is directed at those of you who—with astonishing alacrity—sped to my site last evening immediately after receiving the WordPress email announcing the publication of “Should We Get Smarter With Our Smartphones?” and found…nothing—no content. I don’t know who you are, but I know there were many viewers (I’ll tell you how I know shortly), and I regret any annoyance or frustration you may have experienced. So I thought I’d tell you what happened—and what I was doing while you were gazing at the blog equivalence of radio silence.
As I may have/probably have mentioned before, I am not a techie. I knew I was venturing well beyond my comfort zone when my older daughter, who works for a tech firm and has been encouraging me to start a blog for some time, suggested I begin by buying the book Blogging for Dummies. Some may have taken it as a portent that I found that book nearly completely incomprehensible. But I was determined to see this project through—somehow.
So my venture into the blogosphere is taking some effort. I’m not whining here; nor am I suggesting the effort isn’t worthwhile. I’m committed to building a blogging community because a) I love to write; b) The New York Times doesn’t seem to think all the letters I send them are fit to print; c) there are so many issues that I want to learn more about, and this format allows me to delve into them and share what I’ve learned; and d) most importantly, I am deeply committed to the idea that dialogue undertaken with respect for opposing views is an essential component to our democratic process—and its rarity is one of the many serious problems we now face as a nation.
Little by little, the blog has come together—largely with the help of the WordPress “Happiness Engineers,” a group of people who come to my assistance with considerable knowledge and extraordinary patience whenever I’m stuck. I’ll subsequently refer to them as the HEs, which you should regard as a gender-neutral term. They do so via online chats, so if they’re rolling their eyes, I have no way of knowing. But they are invariably polite, and at the end of each of our sessions together, when I’m imagining they’re about to say, “Enough already! Figure it out yourself, dammit!,” they actually say, “Come back and visit any time. We’re here to help!”
Last night was supposed to be a “big reveal” for my developing blog. I’d pulled together a home page using copyright-free images. (I really wanted the Dialogue image to picture Dorothy Parker and friends at their Algonquin Hotel roundtable, but that would have been too costly.) This page is still a work in progress, as limitations in the software’s flexibility require some workarounds that I haven’t yet mastered, but I felt it was ready for viewing. I planned to release it in conjunction with the Smartphone posting, which I expect to arouse some controversy but I believe is worth the effort. I pressed “Publish” on my computer and went to my phone to check, and found: no home page, no updated menu, and no Smartphone content. We were just about to sit down to dinner…
So my spouse-who-sometimes-borders-on-saintliness brought the salmon, sweet potato, and salad he’d prepared up the stairs to my desk, while I explained to the HE of the evening what had happened. At the same time, I was watching the metrics of my blog that WordPress provides: a graph showing the number of viewers and the number of views that occur each day. And damn, those numbers were soaring! It was simultaneously lovely to see so much interest—and mortifying to think what the viewers were seeing—rather, not seeing.
The mindfulness relaxation breathing that has become a part of my life wafted away from me, and in its absence I scrunched my shoulders as I tried to follow the HE’s instructions. Even worse, the process of filling my hungry stomach by means of using a fork became too distracting, and I began using my fingers to shovel the food into my mouth between the stages of our chat. Worse still, without a napkin to remove the food from my fingers, I—a normally fastidious person—wiped my sticky fingers on my pants. I remember thinking, fleetingly, “Oh well, I wore these to the gym today anyway.”
Pondering this totally out of character behavior later, I envisioned a clash between my reptilian brain (the part that governs fight/flight/freeze, as well as hunger) and my prefrontal cortex (the part that governs complex thinking and behavior). Last night, the ole lizard ran rampant across my computer.
But step-by-step, the HE led me out of the morass. I’m not sure why, but I had to create a page called BLOG to enable my home page to link to the blogs. OK, Done. But what had happened to the content?
“Annie,” the HE wrote, “you had two files with the same name: one had the text; the other didn’t. You chose the wrong one.” I then deleted the empty file from the menu, clicked on the appropriate choice, clicked on “Publish,” and sighed with relief to see on my phone that the intact version was now available, home page and all. I cleaned off the sticky dinner residue from my keyboard and desk, and so ended this saga.
So, once again, I apologize. I hope that those of you who were frustrated by the nothingness on my blog last night will return at your convenience to read “Should We Get Smarter With Our Smartphones?” And I really, really hope you’ll let me know your thoughts. I’ve added the following words to my profile, which appears in “Published by annieasksyou”: “These postings depend for their enrichment on your participation: your ideas, insights, knowledge, opinions, and personal stories.” I’ll spare you the Tinkerbell analogy, but I am so very eager for this blog to be characterized by meaningful dialogue.