Sunday, January 09, 2005

Public speaking

I’ve been thinking about why I started this blog. There are a number of reasons, but the most surprising thing I’ve come up with - having not realised it before - is that blogging gives me a chance to be listened to. And I mean “listened to” in the sense of being read, obviously, but they feel the same.

In 3D life I’m usually shy. (Imagine the quiet people you can’t remember from school or work, and I’d be one of them.) I don’t usually have much to say unless I stumble across a great conversation about something interesting. Chitchat seems like a waste of energy and often I just can’t be bothered, beyond just being polite and trying not to cause offence. I know that small talk greases the wheels of community (or something) but so would talking about anything meaningful. This is probably just me being selfish and lazy, though. I can’t be bothered making an effort unless there’s something in it for me.

Blogging allows me to work out something to say, and then write it, consider it, rearrange, tinker, fiddle, and present it in leisurely fashion. This is something I can’t do in real life: when I say something there, it jumps directly from my brain out my mouth, and there’s no-one ever on guard-duty. I often say really stupid and regrettable things, which I then do regret, at long length. And yes I know everybody does this at times. And I know there’s no point agonising about it. What’s done is done; what’s said is said; get over it. But. Blogging at least extends the journey between brain and listener/reader. It gives me the opportunity to say what I really think, not to stumble over the jumble of rocks tumbling out my mouth.

Also, I don’t get interrupted, I don’t get hurried. There’s no increasingly-tense silence as someone waits while I try to think of an answer:
Them: “How’s it going, then?”
Me: (thinking: How’s it going? What is it? How am I going? How am I going?)

Go on, laugh. I’m an idiot (who’s also laughing).

For one reason or another, in conversations with people I don’t know well, I usually end up being a listener. Often I’m prompting them with questions just to deflect attention from myself. Listening feels much safer than speaking, and I’m a coward. Sometimes I’m listening to be polite. Sometimes I’m listening to give the other person due respect and attention. And obviously if the conversation is interesting, I’m listening because I’m interested.

But blogging gives me a chance to be the talker. And you the reader give me the honour of feeling listened to. These are valuable, good things. Yay, I say.