Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goodbye to an Other place

I have written before, albeit without much insight, into the nature of Internet friendship, at least in the world of blogging. MySpace and Facebook (and, maybe, Twitter) strike me as somewhat different, and I'm sure reams of paper will be written about how they've changed human relationships, and we're probably not long from seeing a PhD in "Social Networking."

In blogs, though, there is not necessarily the symmetry of "I look at yours, you look at mine." There can be that kind of interaction (I never miss a post by Citizen Carrie, and I'm sure she never misses one of mine - well, not sure, exactly, but there is a level of interactivity there that may not rival the really cool aspects of Facebook, but means somethign to me). There are correspondents who become regulars in the comments section; mine tend to be more sporadic, but they are familiar.

But I think that level of interaction is dropping, that most of us have a one-way relationship with the blogs we read. If I read a post on Robert Reich's blog, I'll probably find it interesting, I may even feel compelled to leave a comment, but I'm under no illusion that he will respond. It would be foolish for me to believe that, and were I to start, there would be a kind of stalkerish thing going there.

Some would say that a community springs up around a popular blog, even if the protagonist never makes an appearance beyond the initial post. Personally, I've found that limited; too many good threads disappear beneath the waves of uninformed mush (my favorite: "I'm first") that sweep over most comment sites.

Nonetheless, we start to regard most of the blogs we read the way we look at a favorite magazine or newspaper columnist. They inhabit a certain space in us, and we come to count on them being there. We know the feeling when a news anchor retires, or a favorite show goes off the air. We miss those people, even though we never actually knew them; in many cases, they're completely fictional (one could make a point that, from our standpoint, the likes of a Robert Reich or a Walter Cronkite are fictional, that they have no form in our minds other than their writing or their on-screen presence, and therefore exist in no more real sense than Beowulf or Jack Reacher, but I'm not going to try to make that philosophical argument today).

That is all preface to my offering a farewell to the folks behind one of my Other places of interest (just turn your head to the rigth a little), Fire Joe Morgan. Here's what I said about it back in June:
Fire Joe Morgan has become a pretty well-known site among sports aficionados, mainly for the ability of the staff to deconstruct (oxymoron alert!) "sports journalism." The name comes from the oft-held feeling that Hall of Fame baseball player Joe Morgan should stick to card shows and get off the air as a baseball commentator (though Joe Posnanski looks a little deeper here, as is his wont). At any rate, the site is snarkily entertaining, though pretty insider baseball.
There's a goodbye message, which says in part (and in parting):
Hello, everyone.

After 21 years, and almost 40 million posts (we'll have to check those numbers, but it's something like that), we have decided to bring FJM to an end.

Although we have not lost our borderline-sociopathic joy for meticulously criticizing bad sports journalism, the realities of our professional and personal lives make FJM a time/work luxury we can no longer afford.

We started this site with two purposes: to make each other laugh, and to aid and abet the Presidential campaign of Bob Barr. Although we failed in the latter goal, we gleefully succeeded in the first, and thanks to a grassroots internetty word-of-mouth kind of a deal, we appear to have positively affected the lives of actual citizens as well, which astonishes and delights us to this day. We really never thought FJM would be for anyone but us. We are thrilled and kind of humbled to have been proven wrong.
They will be missed, dak, Junior, and Ken will.

I'll leave the link up. Humor can become dated, but it can never become old.

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