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Like a Bat Out of Helen

The crazy thing is, I never wanted to be a "Jewish blogger," or a political one for that matter. I have never been a single issue kind of girl, and I fear a "niche" as much as other, smarter, more marketing- savvy people often seek it.

I started writing that last blog post merely as a Facebook status. Blogging was not on my To Do list that day, as I had a copywriting deadline.

barbara-gordon-batgirl-258x300But seeing as the history of the Jews is rather long, and maybe I was a little agitated once I wrote the first sentence, it became what it became. These are visceral times, where I guess passion, and only passion, is what makes its way into people's consciousness.

And by the way: I am SO relieved that the written word still has power, even in the Age of Video. Every web-related conference I've been to in the last two years has indicated that I am rolling Paleolithic by not integrating video. (I prefer to see it as "classic"...) But anyway, I love words, and for at least this week, I've been vindicated.

I think the stunning, instant, viral response (views of the post are well into the 6 digits and my inbox is fuller than Carrie Bradshaw's closet) has much less to do with the quality of the rant and more to do with global mood. It strikes me very plainly that political correctness on one hand, and a real sense of baseless shame among Westerners, especially Jews, on the other, has created a space where righteousness (He hit me first!!!), truth (...After she took my toy, spit, and called me an idiot!...), justice (...Now nobody gets a treat since you can't get along), and kindness (...but maybe both of you want to sit with me and hug for a bit since it seems you need to remember you are siblings) are frequently confused with one another. Could the average reader (not you, of course) have easily defined the difference without the parentheses?

Of course, they are not the same at all, and the consequences of this conceptual tangle are potentially disastrous for a society. Unweaving these notions from each other and clarifying each on its own is a good project for writers, or for parents, since the political and (highly politicized) academic establishments seem to have largely forgotten how, and the mainstream media is the worst offender of all. Viva les Blogs!

Luckily, however, I learned this week how - despite all of the chasms news outlets attempts to dig, in order to fill the spaces between people with a story - humanity is essentially dying to connect. The success of the social web lies in the human need to hear and be heard, see and be seen, learn and teach...lurk and be stalked. (I wanted to see if you were still paying attention.) (Also, you know who you are.) Facebook, especially, floored me in its global reach, and in its contagion quotient.

That some of us feel that others of us are occupying too much space here or there; essentially wrong in everything we stand for; or absolutely fabulous and can do no wrong, is not as important as the fact that WE CARE TO TELL EACH OTHER ALL THESE THINGS. If nobody wanted to share - criticism, recipes, life stories, opinions, medical information, news as it happens, or details of our intimate lives - the internet would have shriveled up and died along with Ask Jeeves. (Yes. I am THAT old.)

At its core, the internet is an altruistic institution. People volunteer hours and days and years of their time posting things - like how to install memory in an HP mini or how to change a filter on a Mr. Coffee or play Sweet Child of Mine using tabs - without any agenda other than to help the next guy. Do not underestimate the power this gives us as a human race, and the wonderful thing it says about our species.

I am deeply encouraged by the fact that people today from the four corners of the earth can find each other online. I welcome all my new readers and virtual friends, and am thrilled to have you here. You are my birthday gift!! (Today!)

Just 15 years ago, most of us would never have met. I am hopeful that the open, empathic, and multi-cultural space inside our little screens provides us with the inspiration to reach out in real life, too.

Watch out for the non-connectors. They are the ones I am worried about.

The Word Well


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