The Art of Mystery

In Esquire, S.T. VanAirsdale argued recently that we’re on the cusp of a rebellion against over-exposed celebrities: that tomorrow’s stars will not be Twitter-whores like Bieber and Gaga but virtual recluses in the mould of Greta Garbo and JD Salinger. If that’s true – that fame and fortune will soon be inversely proportional to social media exposure – then God help someone like me: someone who can only dream of the level of success attained by Salinger or, uh, Bieber.

The above was written by Paul Carr at TechCrunch as he explains why he shut down all his social media accounts (save Twitter). The gist of the article is that sharing all the nuances to our lives as we do with social media removes the mystery of the person. Doing so actually clues in the reader that the person is no one special.

If you’re one of the three people in the world not already following Kutcher (I’m another), then take a moment to browse his latest tweets: with every 140 character nugget, Kutcher becomes less ‘social-media savvy husband of Demi Moore who was in that show once’ and more ‘over-enthusiastic teenager with a cellphone’. The more we know, the less we want to know.

It occurred to me as I read this that I expressed this same sentiment previously.

Before I ceased logging online, I wrote logs that detailed a bumbling cacher fortunate to find his way home, let alone a cache. While that was factual, the emphasis of the logs were on the misfortunes I encountered. There was anonymity at that time. It was fun and there was some back-and-forth play in the logs with other unknown cachers.

All that changed once I met the caching community. Prior to the first event I attended, I had met but a couple folks on the trail. When I walked into the Burger King people called me by name.

The “magic” of geocaching wore off for me the moment I attended my first event. That goes a long way to explaining why I do not attend many events these days.

It is true I shared a photograph of me at each cache site with my logs, but I was unknown to everyone personally. When I walked into the Burger King, everyone knew me. While that did in fact freak me out, it was the popping of the mystery that occurred. I felt as though, perhaps incorrectly, that I could no longer write the kinds of logs folks had read from me personally.

I longed to be that mysterious guy that puzzled folks. Ken thought I was some old man from my logs. Ha! I recall some interplay with StayFloopy in the logs. But as soon as I presented myself, well yeah, the fun was gone.

As folks learned, I have an opinion. And then I was asked for it. And of course, it didn’t jive with other people’s opinions. And then there was turmoil. Sigh . . . And what was once fun and exciting, became a chore.

It took some time to get over it all . . . longer perhaps than I realized/wanted. Now I participate totally unbeknownst to anyone. It has to be that way. The audience is gone and so it the mystery. It had to be.

Back to Carr’s premise, I am going through many of the same inclinations. This blog has always been the anchor for what I do. It is me and mine. It is not dependent on others, although I welcome those who visit. I realized some time ago it is my outlet for things. If it suits the reader, have at it. If not, I will walk alone . . . publicly. This is what keeps me accountable for what I say.

Some pop in and hang for a while, but most move on eventually. That is fine. That is how I am approaching many social media these day. I struggle with Facebook. Just what am I supposed to be doing there? It seems to me it mirrors the stereotypical high school mentality. Folks who knew me in high school understand I was never part of the crowd. I have signed up for nearly every social media service there is. I have drawn back on most. Sharing my software use is not something meaningful for me, for instance.

I am not giving it all up, but I am rethinking my participation. I finally got accustomed to Yelp, after shunning it for a long time. It looks, however, I am jumping on as Foursquare/Google is about to launch to bury the service. It would be typical.

And that is why my blog is so special to me. It is the one service that will not go away, unless I pull the plug on it. Do we truly see Twitter being the focus a decade from now?

Anyhow, I sympathize with those who want to be less public online. I am never going to be a mover and shaker in the world. I am a father, husband, and teacher. That is important enough for me.

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