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In the days when [profile] badrobot68 used to write regularly in his LJ, he used to do a feature called News of the Rapture (or something like that), which was a series of photos of stuff that had been abandoned—old clothes left behind in laundry rooms or parking garage corners or empty planters.

The photos had captions.

God is busy! or It’s still happening! or These poor pants never made it to heaven!

Those captions always made me laugh.

I thought of those photos and those captions this morning because the next Rapture has been scheduled for July 27, which is coming up really, really soon. You’ll want to get your affairs in order!

###

[profile] badrobot68 and I became LJ friends because we both had small retail businesses that brokered primarily in small ticket items. My business went under first: I was very close to one of the epicenters of the 2008 subprime mortgage meltdown; the first lava flows from the volcano took me out. He lived somewhat farther away, so his business struggled on for another two years.

We’ve both recalibrated. Moved on. (Moved on with what? I’m sometimes tempted to ask.)

I am 3,000 miles away from the scene of my disaster, and I’ll never go back, even though I still have good friends there, even though there are some scenes there—Del Monte Beach on a foggy day, the Haunted Antique Shop in Moss Landing—that are carved in bas-relief upon my heart. The Universe has been very good to me; I could very easily have ended up homeless, but instead, here I am in extremely pleasant surroundings with something that feels like a life.

He moved, too. Got married. Got a job he likes. He hardly writes at all anymore, which I suppose means he’s happy.

Most people don’t write when they’re happy.

I write whether I’m happy or sad because writing is what I do.

I often wish I did something else. Like illustration! Painting! As we all know, that particular exchange rate—1 picture=1,000 words—favors the graphic arts. But we are what we are. I’m a writer.

###

Our regional public radio network is run by a canny guy named Alan Chartock who figured out long ago that local talk programming and call-in shows are not only cost-effective but a great boon to the little communities along the Hudson River that have their own priorities and their own voice.

The network does a political analysis show every morning, which I listen to when I’m driving. Faithful readers know that I have peculiar politics: They don’t actually align with the progressive/liberal axis though so far as pragmatics are concerned, that’s generally the direction I lurch in.

But it makes me mad to listen to Chartock and Co knock Fox News when MSNBC and CNN are just as bad. Fox New, MSNBC, and CNN are all WWE franchises as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, this morning’s show was devoted to the recent layoffs at The New York Daily News. (I know, I know. Not local news. But the analysts are journos, so, of course, that’s relevant for them.)

The proximal cause of The Daily News layoffs—though none of the Chartock gang mentioned it—is this:

The newspaper was recently acquired for the whopping sum of $1 by a media consortium with the unfortunate name of Tronc. Tronc was helmed by someone called Michael Ferro who got #MeToo-ed and was dismissed. He got to keep his golden parachute, though, and the $13 million payout put Tronc in the red. Hey! That money had to come from somewhere, so 50% of the editorial staffers were laid off.

And that is how it’s always going to be when things that should be utilities—like news sources—are run as for-profit enterprises.

The new editor-in-chief’s qualifications for helming a major metropolitan newspaper is that he used to edit the fishwrap in (ulp) Allentown, Pennsylvania.

###

Of course, The Daily News is merely the canary in the coalmine.

In 30 years, all newspapers will be dead.

Hell! Probably much sooner than that.

###

The real reason why newspapers are gonna go under—and books, too, if it comes to that—is because it’s very, very difficult to commodify writing. Unlike graphic art, there’s no primal piece that’s set apart from all its reproductions. In the world of writing, it’s all reproductions.

Everybody writes! They offer it for free! They beg you to read what they've written, and you don’t really want to! In fact, you wish there were a way to get them to stop writing! Just STFU! you want to scream the tenth time that disgruntled culture architect or that solipsistic ranter scolds you on FB because you're not paying enough attention to their rilly, rilly important work.

(My work is important, too! you want to hiss. But the currency of attention is not and never will be fungible.)

You have sucky sites like The Huffington Post, which has never been anything more than a swarm of rewritten press releases, but then you also have sites like Medium where the writing has gotten better and better and better, and where, increasingly, people with honest-to-God reputations are choosing to publish. For no compensation!

And, of course, you have a billion free blogs.

I suppose this is one of them.

###

I miss some people who used to write a lot on LJ but don’t write anymore. There was a woman called [community profile] quiet_life who abruptly stopped writing in 2010. I keep her on my flist on outside chance that something will move her to write again. There was a woman called [profile] roaring_woman who had a really bad marriage and a whole lot of feral kids; I always wanted to find out what happened to those kids.

I maintain acquaintances with some of the LJ defectors on FB. But on the whole, social media is the illusion of friendship without the demands of intimacy.

It seems to me that there is real intimacy in these journals we keep of our own lives that we share with one another.

When one of the voices goes mute, I feel a bit… bereft.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
rosegardenfae
Jul. 24th, 2018 06:36 pm (UTC)

Oh good one! Most enjoyable read. Special resonance with "social media is the illusion of friendship without the demands of intimacy."

mallorys_camera
Jul. 24th, 2018 06:49 pm (UTC)
Sherry Turkel's line, actually. :-)
rosegardenfae
Jul. 25th, 2018 04:03 pm (UTC)
A good line and she seems interesting as well.
bandicoot
Jul. 24th, 2018 07:26 pm (UTC)
I'm always very sad when one of my LJ friends disappears and I later find out they've passed away. One in a car accident, three from cancer, and I'm not sure about the rest. They just - stopped writing. So when someone else just stops, I wonder ...
mallorys_camera
Jul. 24th, 2018 07:33 pm (UTC)
Right. That's why I often try to forge some sort of off-LJ relationship with the people I like. So I can keep those sorts of tabs on the more generalized ebb and flow of their lives.

Though I haven't with you. For some reason, I'm convinced that if I asked you, Hey! Wanna be FB friends?, you'd say, NO!!! :-)

bandicoot
Jul. 24th, 2018 07:37 pm (UTC)
While I'm on FB under a different name, I'm mostly there to read and comment, mostly on modeling groups and those LJ friends who abandoned LJ and who I now know in RL. Not much of interest there, as if I post at all, it's usually something abstracted from LJ, often with Kat Pix :)
mallorys_camera
Jul. 24th, 2018 07:47 pm (UTC)
You should friend me under your assumed name. :-)

I mostly post Today's Exciting Cat News.
gushgush
Jul. 25th, 2018 12:05 am (UTC)
Everybody writes! They offer it for free! They beg you to read what they've written, and you don’t really want to!

Reminds me of the local Open-Mic music scene, of which I used to be a host multiple times a week at multiple venues.

Everybody, as well as his frikkin' brother and sister, is now a singer/songwriter with lots of time to produce lots of material to play at Open Mic Nights --
the abject mediocrity is absolutely astounding!

And they all seem to have the best instruments and best equipment money can buy.

Don't even get me started about ukuleles... holy shit!

I get it that people are just having "fun" and getting the chance to express themselves in front of other folks; it's all just clean, innocent recreation.
I get it.

But, and I've seen it time and time again, there's a line that gets crossed where people start taking themselves very, very seriously -- and then it's on.

The advertisements, the fliers, the PM's, the telling everybody about when they'll be "doing a set" (3 songs) at the next Open Mic at around such-and-such time at XYZ Brewery, all start happening in fairly short order.

Then come the personally-written reviews about their great night at the OM (attended by exactly 4 people: mom, dad, their SO and the host).

Then come the cd's that were somehow recorded that night and reproduced at home, being sold at subsequent OM's.

Then comes the next move into a "proper" studio to make a real recording with a real producer. Even then, most don't hear what should be painfully obvious: they're painfully weak.

I shouldn't complain. I've made somewhat-decent money hosting these events over the last decade with my own paid-for sound equipment, and I also know studio guys who gladly accept money from newbies to do what they can with their sound.

It's all just clean, innocent fun, yes, but I'm done with dealing with Open Mic Prima Donnas, it seems to make me quite cynical.
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I guess the difference is that you don't need expensive equipment to write. :-)
fuzzilla
Jul. 25th, 2018 11:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, sounds like a lot of poetry/fiction open mics. I guess you don't need expensive equipment to write, no, but some people sink their money into self-publishing.
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 11:54 pm (UTC)
True! :-)
gushgush
Jul. 26th, 2018 01:27 am (UTC)
The fact that some of these people have such nice expensive instruments is a sort of twisted, Pearls-Before-Swine situation...
That is to say, they would probably sound just as bad on cheap, thrift store stuff.
mexpatriot
Jul. 25th, 2018 12:20 am (UTC)
Most people don’t write when they’re happy. No truer words...
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I think that distinguishes writers from people who write. :-)

Writers write regardless of mood. :-)
mexpatriot
Jul. 26th, 2018 02:13 am (UTC)
You keep seeming to want to distinguish what I do and what you do.

Even if I don't publish, I write every day. It's a compulsion. I have to do it. This has been the case since I was very young. I have self-published a lot. But I really only care about the process. I love doing it.

I'm nearly done turning my dissertation into a popular book.
mexpatriot
Jul. 25th, 2018 12:30 am (UTC)
It seems to me that there is real intimacy in these journals we keep of our own lives that we share with one another.

When one of the voices goes mute, I feel a bit… bereft.


I feel that, too. So many people have gone away.

NewsMedia: Again, I seldom pay attention. I get e-mail updates from The Economist, but since Zanny Minton Bedowes (sp?) took over, it's really become shit.
badrobot68
Jul. 25th, 2018 04:52 am (UTC)
I'm definitely happier than I used to be. Love my job, enjoying the adventure of living in a new place, even 3 years later. And always happy to see you & a handful of others still using LJ. I still read it every couple of days but don't have too much to say. Life is mostly work work work, and I doubt that's very interesting to many people.

The "Signs of the Rapture" posts were started by a couple of other LJ friends, and they actually have a FB group for them...I know you don't love FB, but here's the group if you're interested:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1537350919848049/

I still laugh every time I see clothing on the sidewalk.
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:42 pm (UTC)
I laugh, too. And I joined the FB group! :-)
badrobot68
Jul. 25th, 2018 04:57 am (UTC)
Also, you'll LOVE this! I was at work a few weeks ago when some random guy about my age came up to me and said "I think I used to know you on Live Journal". He told me his name, and he was indeed someone I was mutual friends with about 12 years ago, who had literally just disappeared one day, never to post again. He lived on the east coast but now lives just a few blocks from my work. SO WEIRD!
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:44 pm (UTC)
Did he recognize you from Green Shirt Thursdays? :-)
badrobot68
Jul. 31st, 2018 04:13 pm (UTC)
I knew him long before that even began! I think he was already gone when GST was happening.
melissa_maples
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:16 pm (UTC)
a feature called News of the Rapture (or something like that), which was a series of photos of stuff that had been abandoned—old clothes left behind in laundry rooms or parking garage corners or empty planters.

I love this idea!
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, you'd be a terrific contributor. Signs of the International Rapture! :-)

Edited at 2018-07-25 08:45 pm (UTC)
lookfar
Jul. 25th, 2018 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have that same feeling sometimes when people disappear. Ten years ago, littlelizzyann stopped writing, and now the comments section of her top entry is just me, revisiting every three or four years to ask after her.
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 11:05 pm (UTC)
I kinda want to do that, but it would make me feel too pathetic. :-)
lookfar
Jul. 27th, 2018 02:11 am (UTC)
No! Not pathetic, constant..
mengus
Jul. 25th, 2018 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'll write again someday, I'm sure. Right now, I'm finding artistic expression in restoring historic houses, so I guess I'm fine that way. Unfortunately, what you said is true; I write when I'm unhappy, and it's been quite awhile since my last existential crisis. Haha

Still love reading your words, however
mallorys_camera
Jul. 25th, 2018 11:03 pm (UTC)
You're one of the people I miss.

Some day, I'll make it to your general area—Pennsylvania near Lake Erie, right?—and maybe you'll be kind enough to give me a tour of one of your works in progress. I have a real passion for historic houses.
mengus
Jul. 28th, 2018 12:20 pm (UTC)
i
I live in the Pittsburgh suburbs, but surely!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )