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Who's the Victim Here?, April 6th, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: April 6th, 1997
"Who's the Victim Here?" [permalink]
    keywords: world wide web, internet, writing, personal sites, blogs
    soapbox #: 79
    written: April 6th, 1997
    words: 903

"Who's the Victim Here?", an Essay

That I have a tendency to post new articles late probably more than slightly annoys some of the folks who have ventured off the deep end and decided to read the 'Box weekly. Up until now, I've apologized profusely, wishing to provide regular readers with whatever I have to say for the week. I didn't want to miss a week of a Soapbox and I didn't want people to have to keep checking.

But ecce! is it true that there is something to be taken advantage of here? Do mine eyes deceive me? Nay, my reader, thou doest make a most perfect victim, slave to mine e'ery word!

I exaggerate, of course, but in finding something to write about this week, I found it interesting to look at the other side of the coin, from the reader's side. Sure, my example doesn't work as well with my site as it would with, say, Suck, but hey, it still works. Makes a good story.

If you're a regular reader, you probably drag yourself off CNN, Heaven's Gate, or some porn site to see if Ben's yet to update his site. You twoodle around on your desktop while you wait for the site to load (damn that Ben, his main menu is big) and you consider what better use you could be making of your time (wonder what's on the Fishcam). As you battle your will to fill up another cup of coffee, your expectations begin to build in anticipation of a new, updated Soapbox. Look, it's loading! There's the banner, here's all the yadda-yadda...there's the...old Soapbox. Damn you, Ben, get your act together. Coffee cup slams against floor, crushed into dozens of victimized pieces, symbols of your wrath. Not even your love of coffee keeps you from trashing the holy National Public Radio coffee chalice.

You sit there and brood, opening folders in your file directory and closing them just as quickly, wondering how best to exact your revenge on him who wasted your time. You deny it all and reload the page in angstful desperation. You try to rationalize the situation by coming up with reasons why Ben didn't update his Soapbox. You then decide to look for an anonymous e-mailer to send Ben the software license for the new Netscape Communicator Preview Release a few dozen times.

And to think, all this time, I've been apologizing. Perhaps I've been sitting on all this power and control and doing nothing about it! Loyal readers, checking in daily until I update the site, when again their thirst for a new entry returns at the beginning of a new week. After writing one or two slightly interesting essays, I've hooked you into a trap of procrastination and not-so-great expectations. There is nothing you can do about it -- you are subject to the author's discretion. The Fates spin your lives out of sterner stuff than mere thread.

I mean, seriously. What's to stop me from posting a blank document one week just to protest, let's say, stupid forms of protest? What's to stop me from posting blatantly offensive Christian propaganda? Heck, you think you have the power at this point to stop me from putting my rendition of Senator Exon as a beatnik online? In your place, slave!

It is this power that writers and artists lust after in varying degrees -- they want to captivate the viewer or reader to the point where everyone is unsafe from the art's power. It is relatively easy on the Web -- heck, David Siegel can put lines and circles together and people will stare at it for hours, dumbstruck. Maybe that's why writing on the Web is such a good idea -- it lets people explore creative avenues to try to find that pocket of light air and Photoshop dreams that carries one above others. It took a sponsor to command this sort of creative power in the old days. Now all it takes is around $20 a month or less.

Where am I going with this? It doesn't really matter. You're still here. Before I let you go, though, it might be interesting for you to look at what you write from a different perspective for awhile. Imagine that the reader is already hooked on your writing. Skip the process of sucking up to your readers and get to the meat of the matter. Say what you want to say, not what you think others want you to say. New readers won't know the difference -- they'll just think they missed out on the beginning of the conversation with the reader and they'll try to fit in too. I bet it'll make your works more interesting.

Oh yes, and one more thing, think about how addicted you are to some web sites. Yeah, I know you check the rant sites every day to see what the cool thing to hate is for the current week. I know you scour the 'Net endlessly for things that are most definitely "in". You didn't think that by checking Cool Site of the Day and Dilbert every day that you were a cool, independent person with initiative, did you?

Go now. Leave me to obsessively check my Web addictions...


 
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