Awhile back I posted a nifty little poll on my blog asking you, my dear readers, what you would like me to write about.
You voted. Thank you.
I made sure not to check the results until the poll closed, but the current results were displayed to voters, and so my readers who I also know in real life kept reporting back to me that the winning category was overwhelmingly “stuff about life: relationships/friendships/making-your-way-in-the-world. maybe kinda self-helpy but hopefully not in an obnoxious way”.
This was not necessarily the news I had wanted to hear, but I had gotten myself into this ‘tell me what to write’ mess and I would deal with the consequences – no matter what they were. Sure maybe after a decade in grad school I wanted someone to hear my anthropological take on politics and culture, but whatevs.
So imagine my surprise when I logged on to see my polling results and found the following:
The votes were pretty much split evenly between three categories: stuff about life, culture & sh*t, and politics & the world. This was good, if unexpected, news.
More surprising to me was the fact that somebody had voted for me to ‘please stop writing’. I figured it was one of those legendary internet trolls I kept hearing about. But it bugged me. Like back in the day when I was teaching and I would get 29 great teaching evaluations from students but the 1 evaluation that was negative – or just didn’t sing my praises as ‘like, the best teacher I’ve had’ – would gnaw at me for days.
So I did a little digging and I was able to obtain the IP address for the user who had cast that fateful vote (welcome to the internet, people!). And then I called a tech-savvy friend of mine – I wanted to know if I gave her an IP address if she could find out more about who it was. It wasn’t like I was going to freak out on the person, I just wanted to know.
And when she called me back she fessed up. SHE was the one who had placed that single vote in that category because she needed to ascertain how much weight any one vote had. This would make it easier for her to skew the results of my poll. Why you ask? Because, indeed, the ‘stuff about life’ category was leading the votes, and my friend wanted to make sure that she didn’t “have to always read about relationships and bullshit”, so she had voted in the poll like 20 times to make sure there was an even distribution into two other categories as well.
This was my fault, it turns out, because I hadn’t set the poll settings to limit one vote per IP address – although this same friend is internet-smart enough to be able to cast her vote through ghost host IPs. Though I doubt she would have put in the time to do that. But the point is, she could have if she wanted to.
So what’s my point here? Well, there’s two really. First, this whole poll and IP address fishing expedition kept me thinking about what Liz Lemon famously called the interwebs. If you read my post about the film Disconnect (if you didn’t, you can read it here) you’ll know I’ve been thinking about privacy and identity in the age of the internet. Given the recent revelations about NSA collecting internet data on US citizens this topic seems more timely than ever, so you can expect a post or two about that.
Second, I did hear you, and if you really want to read “stuff about life” then I’ll write some stuff about life. Because I’m here to make you happy.
One thing though (and I kind of can’t believe I’m quoting Ani DiFranco here, but hey – it’s a good quote): “art may imitate life, but life imitates TV”. This is something I think is really interesting – so simultaneously important and outmoded – television. I know, even the word makes me think of some Pleasantville old-timey black and white with rainbow ears and knobs TV.
But at its heart, TV shows are stories – and, from the time we are old enough to “see spot run” we learn about our world from stories. We learn how to make sense of this world through stories. And we inevitable make up our stories own along the way.
All that is my long-winded way of telling you that – heads up peeps – I’m gonna write about TV. And movies. And stories.
But I’ll write some ‘stuff about life’ too.
One rule though, no crying. There is no crying in this blog. This is a cry-free zone.
See you again, soon.