Friday marked the fifth anniversary of my ponderings, my thoughts, my blog. As usual, it passed with little fanfare. But on December 5, 1998 I started this whole online journal thing. I’m amazed it’s still going.
Part of the reason such a milestone passed with so little noise is probably due to the fact that I was a bit miffed. Maybe I have reason to be miffed, and maybe I don’t. Either way, I do recognize that’s there’s a large bit of pride swelling up inside, and for that I ask your forgiveness. Pride is rarely thought of as a sin, but that doesn’t make it OK. Being an introvert I wouldn’t think I’d be especially vulnerable to pride, but I am.
I was miffed because a few days ago I posted an entry asking for a response, and I didn’t get the response I was looking for. I didn’t even get the response I expected. I posted an entry proposing this whimsical idea that perhaps the readers of this blog could help me get a new computer. Of course I’ve been bemoaning the sad state of my computer for some time now, and in my financially fragile state just buying a new computer isn’t much of an option.
I thought a plea to the masses would be fun. I could do a hokey pledge drive with goofy graphics and all sorts of ways people could help me raise money. Of course donations are the simplest and most direct method, but probably the least popular. I was thinking why not harness all the methods of support that don’t really cost anything. Amazon.com is one of the biggest. You buy products you were planning on buying anyway, and I get a cut. It doesn’t cost you a dime, but it helps me get a new computer. And there were other ideas, products I could sell, auctions I could hold. And of course a lot of it would be simple motivation for me to liquidate my junk.
It was a grand idea. I didn’t think it was totally off base. Asking for donations is never a popular thing to do, and that’s why I wanted to put the emphasis on methods that really don’t cost you anything. The whole thing was really more of a project to build momentum, mostly momentum on my part. At the same time I had this idea that it’s not such a terrible thing to ask my audience for some support. It’s not like I’m a beggar off the street asking for something for nothing. I’ve been writing these thoughts for five years. Some of you enjoy this site multiple times a week. I’m delivering an honest service, and it’s not out of line to ask for something in return. You pay $30 for a yearly subscription to a magazine, so what’s a one-time shot of $5 to support a web site? At least that’s what I thought.
I should have realized that there’s a vast majority of people out there who want to get something for nothing. I’m one of them. I read magazines and do research in Barnes & Noble because I’m too cheap (and frankly can’t afford) to buy all that stuff. In an age when people would rather download songs than pay for them, how can I expect that same audience to give money for some words on a page. Laughable.
Of course I really held out hope that things like referral links to Amazon and the less direct forms of support would really come through. And I really liked the idea of putting together a version of FX-77 Spacefighter, the story I wrote in third grade. I actually pulled the story out the other day and looked it over. Believe it or not, it’s a full blown series. There’s FX-75, the prequel; FX-77, the original; FX-77 Part 2, the sequel; and FX-78, the second sequel.
So I had a grand idea and some rather high expectations. I was hoping one of two things would happen: 1) Everyone would rally around me and jump at the chance to buy T-shirts and bid on photos and donate money and buy their Christmas presents through Amazon. Of course not everyone would be gung-ho. Some would just share ideas and give suggestions, some would wish me luck out of their own poverty, but for the most part it would be supportive. 2) I wasn’t hoping for the second possible outcome, but I did recognize it was much more likely to happen. That second outcome would be a bunch of people throwing water on my idea, basically telling me I shouldn’t use my audience like this, it’s a crazy idea, I won’t make any money, who do I think I am, don’t be such a conceited jerk there are other people in the world who need money.
In the end, neither of those expected outcomes happened. I think apathy happened instead. A number of people did respond, some even exceeding my expectations with their ideas and willingness to help. But for the most part I received the equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders. Eh.
I probably should have seen it coming. But some of the problem, again, is my swelling pride, expecting my audience to rally around me as if I were some literary superstar. I’ve said in the past that I write these thoughts for me, and in some sense asking for donations or even support is violating that simple notion. So please forgive me for my pride and greed. Just because I have comments doesn’t mean people will comment, and just because they comment doesn’t mean I’m going to like what they say.
If you were one of the many Eh’s, I don’t blame you and I hope you’re not feeling bad or sorry. This is more an example of botched expectations on my part. I was miffed at you for something you didn’t do, and I just need to learn to deal with the reality. I should have listened to my mother.
One of the comments I received in particular really burned me. Again, the comments are an open forum and I should really be prepared for that kind of thing. But I guess I’m not. For the most part, I don’t think people have any understanding of my situation, being an unemployed freelancer who collects unemployment some of the time, and I shouldn’t expect anyone to understand that.
For those of you who don’t know, unemployment is a service of the government that exists as a safety net for the economy. It provides minimal support for people who lose their jobs so they can get back to a similar job in their field and not have to face financial hardship like defaulting on loans, eviction, or bankruptcy, all of which are an even more expensive drain on the public. Sure a person who lost their job could take a job at the Gulp ‘N Blow to make ends meet, but they’ll most likely come up short. And even if they do manage to make ends meet, they have no time or energy to pursue a position that will put them back on track for their career. They’re stuck in a dead end job. Instead, unemployment allows them to pursue that job, to regain their position in the economy, so they can continue making money, paying taxes, and being a productive member of society.
Maybe some of you think the fact that I don’t have a job right now is lazy. Frankly I feel lazy sometimes, though the only time I’ve ever sat on the couch and watched TV was one day when I was too sick to sit at the computer. But whether or not I feel lazy, I need to look at the long-term picture. Sure, the Gulp ‘N Blow will help pay bills, but is that really where I want to be? Is that even a helpful place to be? Considering my debt, it’s not a place I need to be. A low-paying job would help, but in the end I need to make more than that. My debt demands it, not my lifestyle.
And I’ve certainly questioned where I’m at. I’ve cut expenses everywhere I can. I took a hard look at the computer I was thinking of getting, the 20 inch iMac, and I realized I’d probably be much better off with the budget-friendly eMac.
So yeah, I was miffed. Not so much at all of you reading this, but more at myself and the situation I’m in. Patience is never easy, and I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s going on. I’ve been financially adrift since July, and that’s not easy. Freelancing has been a great solution lately, but the nature of freelancing is unstable, and that’s just as scary.
In the end, I’ve decided not to do any kind of ‘Mac for a Monkey’ fund-drive. I’ve learned a lot about these thoughts and what I want them to be. I’ve learned I need to expect the unexpected and move on. If you’d still like to support these thoughts, great. You can make a donation or buy things through Amazon or PETCO, and I appreciate it.
I’ve also learned that I’m busy and I don’t have time for this. Maybe the flood of work I’m struggling not to drown in will produce enough excess cash that I can afford the Mac. Maybe it won’t, but I’ll get lucky and my computer won’t die just yet.
Sometimes I think I need to recognize an idea as an idea, and not invest so much in it emotionally.