Backstage in My Blog World: An Explanation and an Apology–Revisited

jeshoots.com; found via unsplash.com (not a perfect likeness)

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.

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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.

Cheers!

Annie

29 thoughts on “Backstage in My Blog World: An Explanation and an Apology–Revisited

  1. Feel for you, Annie. And agree with Dennis. Just converted to a new computer. Yesterday. Nothing is going right. New passwords needed for everything, including the opportunity to comment / like here. If you don’t hear from me in next weeks, send out the St. Bernards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no, Denise! First, I’m sorry you’re going through all that; it’s enough to make me think twice about ever getting a new computer! Second, I would miss you terribly!

      But if we need the St. Bernards, what is their beverage of choice?

      Like

    1. Hi, Christine–

      Welcome to annieasksyou! I’m delighted to have you join me. “Frustrated and sporadic dithering” has a familiar feel to it! I hope the HEs are helpful. They do try…

      Like

    1. Hi, Neil. Thanks. I’m glad you liked the image; I thought it was quite appropriate. I eschewed one of a woman who was flat-out hysterical; fortunately, I didn’t reach that point either two years ago when I originally wrote the piece or this past week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This experience would appear to have answered the initial question “Should We Get Smarter With Our Smartphones?” in the negative. That which involves the unholy use of smartphones will not end well. We should blog with computers as Zeus intended.

    While pencils are probably high in fiber, I’m sure the sweet potato and salad were far more nourishing.

    At any rate, I’m glad you overcame the initial rough patch, and I hope the recent snafus (blogospheric and especially personal) will soon be overcome.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Infidel: I appreciate your concern, and I’m pleased to report that at this very second, I am experiencing no tech snafus.

      I am hard-pressed to understand my fellow blogger’s denigration of smartphones per se, when they are surely a technological advance over their predecessors, and I understand that this blogger is normally quite supportive of technological advances. Do you think that when the civilian space force lifts off, assuming they have personal phones in their possession and the cell towers in space are reliable, that such phones would be flip-top? I think not. Of course it is possible that they’ll simply have the most advanced computers available—as Zeus intended.

      Like

      1. Hey, if a flip phone was good enough for Captain Kirk to tell Scotty to beam him up…..

        On my dislike of smartphones, not to threadjack, I’ll be concise.

        1) They allow the user’s location to be tracked. I don’t want to be tracked. For the same reason, I drive a 1999 car and don’t want to get a newer one.

        2) They take people out of the moment in situations where this is a bad thing. It’s bizarre being in a public place and everybody is staring at a gadget in their hand instead of paying attention to their surroundings. I’ve heard of people on dates interrupting their conversation to fiddle with some gadget. And how often do you see people at some event video-recording it on their smartphone? People are becoming so fixated on recording their experiences that they miss out on experiencing their experiences.

        Yes, I use the internet a lot and I don’t go out much, but when I do go out in the world I want to be out in the world. In any event, I don’t have a smartphone and never will.

        (I do differentiate between technology and gadgetry. When I talk about technology I mean the big stuff, like the internet and vaccines and space probes and aging reversal.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. All true, Infidel, except smartphones are more than gadgets when they’re tied to health needs.

        I was thinking that if you won’t give up your 1999 car and flip-top phone, how will that mesh if you succeed in life extension? Will you need to ensure that a mechanic with the appropriate parts will accompany you on your journey? But then I realized this scenario was a failure of imagination on my part. No need to respond—unless you have ideas to fill in my blanks. (Brain chips, for example?)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. People seem to be becoming more aware of privacy issues. I can hope that over time there will be more demand for things like cars that don’t include technology to track the driver’s location — and that manufacturers will supply what the market demands. As to phones, the only reason I even have the flip phone is to call AAA in case the car breaks down, which rarely happens. If it weren’t for that I probably wouldn’t have a mobile phone at all. I go for weeks without even turning it on.

        I’m prepared for the possibility that living forever would pose challenges I can’t now anticipate. However, I think that whatever challenges arise from being alive are preferable to the alternative.

        I gave up chips along with the rest of the junk food, and brain chips don’t sound at all vegan (nor healthy). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, people are becoming more aware of privacy and the fact that we own or should own our data. I fear that for most of us, however (with the possible exception of you), that train has already left the station. Everything’s out there.

        As for brain chips: bleh! Forget I mentioned them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m impressed that you bought and read Blogging for Dummies. I am more of a fly by the seat of my pants blogger so I’ve never read anything formal about it. As for a post not being where it should be, ain’t it the way? Tech can be great– or not. More often the latter in my experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ally: Though I bought Blogging for Dummies, it would be a stretch to say I actually read it—as in, completed it and derived knowledge therefrom. I am comforted to learn from the comments here that I have company in my techie struggles. “Tech can be great—or not” is a conclusion I share!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A humorous read Annie! I can picture your frustration. I too am impressed by your purchase of Blogging for Dummies, and also your husbands meal preparation and even room service delivery! I was only able to start my own blog with the help of a very smart summer student at the library who had her own WP blog. I’m so not a techie and have not even used the WP mobile app thingy as my cell phone doesn’t have a data plan, other than during free wi-fi zones. I’m sure it’s useful, but as I never go anywhere I can easily use my laptop.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Joni. It’s interesting to see how we non-techies are muddling through our techie world.

      I do love my smartphone, though I limit the time I spend on it normally. However, I am currently finding it useful to help me ensure I get more exercise walking around in my house than I otherwise would. Combine that with a good podcast or music—or the occasional phone call; I’m not a lover of phone calls—and I’m making strides (not technologically, however).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Annie.. you gave me a much needed laugh. I “lol”ed my way through! It brought back memories of my younger sister encouraging me to buy a computer and helping me pick it out. After the daily phone calls, I quickly transformed her from an “HE” to a “UE”. After purchasing more than one “for Dummies” books, I’m resigned to the fact my laptop and phone will remain smarter than I, but I would never trust them to cut my hair.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I chuckled aloud while reading this. Just today I had a similar series of snafus while writing (yet again) an incomplete draft of an as-yet unpublished piece…. I probably need to call in the HEs…😊
    At any rate, I am determined to contribute something to the blogosphere soon!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “dialogue undertaken with respect for opposing views is an essential component to our democratic process”
    Exactly,
    and thank you, Annie, for persevering in your blogging.

    Stay safe,
    -Shira

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my, I understand. Having just been through a change in smartphones, next came the new smart tv, and now I am preparing to dive into a change from what used to be “the family computer” to a new laptop for Marianne. I could probably stand to make some theme upgrades to the blog, but I think converting to the block editor should be all the tech I have to deal with until at least 2025.

    Like

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