For some reason, the only time I listen to NPR is when I’m in the car. That’s true whether I’m at home or on the road, but I think I get more exposure when I’m working out of town. For one thing, when I pick up my rental car, its radio is usually tuned to something so annoying that I bolt in panic for the low end of the dial, where public radio usually lurks, and start scanning. When I find the local NPR station, I cleave to it like Ishmael’s seaman’s chest, and don’t venture from it. In Seattle, I’m more likely to divide the time between KEXP or KBCS” and the NPR station, KUOW.
Monday evening I was driving here in Milwaukee and they aired a segment by a woman named Julie Zickefoose who mused on how computers, and blogging in particular, had altered her relationship with her husband. (You can listen to the 3-minute piece here.) For instance, they increasingly expect the other to have read their respective latest blog entries before venturing personal inquiries. She says her husband evinces disappointment if she hasn’t read that day’s entry before bedtime. They also look at daily events in terms of their blogworthiness, and apparently scrap a little about who gets to carry the little nugget off into a corner and process it.
I find this piece interesting because, lately, computers have had palpable effects on our marriage as well. Most of them salubrious, I think. For instance, we IM during the day, not obsessively, but in a pleasant, distractedly conversational way, as if we were in the room together.
Blogging has been more complex in its impact. I began my blog in January, 2003. I didn’t clue Mrs. Perils in to it for over a year - not because I was doing anything illicit, but because I wanted it to take on a shape without the pressure of having people I know reading it. Once she started reading mine, and by extension others, she was eventually bitten and started her own. Which she eventually told me about.
Our styles diverge a bit, however, and I don’t foresee us fighting over bloggable events. She posts daily, and you can pretty much tell what she’s been up to and what she’s been thinking by reading it. My posting is more sporadic, and I’m trying for more of an entertainment than for anything revelatory or journal-like. (I saw you all blink with wonder when you heard “entertainment”) I throw in the photos and jokes and clown noisemakers. I may negotiate a little with the facts (but in a straightforward and honorable way) to make a story. Mrs. Perils flatly says I “lie about her” here, but I deny that. As with the people in our lives, some facts are our friends and some aren’t. The ones that are get cosseted, and the ones that aren’t are either shunned or “rehabilitated”. (Think Oprah would buy off on that rationale? I might get Freyed when I get home.)
Both our blogs have, I think, enhance our relationship by bulking up the bandwidth of our personal communication, despite (or because of) the fact that the communication is not exclusively interpersonal. The danger, I guess, would be to become so enamored of a blog that you regard it as your primary statement, and your interpersonal communications become mere footnotes or shorthand references to your blog. For instance, I’ve been upbraided by my brother for saying little or nothing in our family emails. “We don’t want to have to read your blog for information,” he’s said, and he’s right. (But read the blog anyway - it’s fascinating.)
So, Ms. Zickefoose poses, in a humorous way, some interesting questions about how technology overlays our most important interpersonal relationships. With us, as with her, it seems to be mostly to the positive side, but worthy of periodic evaluation.