Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First Step

At the request of a good Twitter friend and some others, I created this personal blog to share my thoughts with family, friends, colleagues and even complete online strangers (for those voyeurs and curiosity seekers I suppose). There is still some hesitation to make my personal thoughts public, however, in light of recent personal recognition for my online efforts to promote local bands and charities, for now, my musings will be published for all to see. It's a bit scary. It makes me think of Tweedy's words in the Wilco song, "What Light" where he shares his thoughts on his "public art".

And if the whole world's singing your songs

And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone's from now on

And that's not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight

I've had similar thoughts about my writing on music and the surprising reactions I've received from family, friends, publicists and artists. I was reminded of my high school classmates reactions to my sports reporting at the Tustin News. They were surprisingly forthright in their opinions of my work, occasionally cornering me in person to express their displeasure at something I wrote that they disagreed with.

The fact that published words mean so much to people is something I have learned to respect. There comes responsibility with writing to the web, paper or text. With the power of words come the moral obligation to tread lightly where people are concerned. And nearly everything we write affects someone personally.

A good example of this is a short comment left on the Austin KXAN YouTube page. My friend, Lorrie Meyer's company, Bonza Lounge was profiled on the station this morning. It's a dating site that has a different angle than eHarmony or The site encourages group activities so that people interested in meeting others in their area can do so both efficiently and without worrying about awkwardness in a traditional blind date.

As is the custom with most news agencies, the two-minute spot was posted to their YouTube by the time I looked for it. I was so excited, I quickly copied the link and posted it to Twitter to share with my friends and followers. Someone must have seen the link (not a Twitter follower) and made an insensitive comment regarding Bonza Lounge users.

This person who is an older, white man nearing retirement age may not have realized his comments would bother Lorrie so much. Or that she is unemployed and desperately searching for a job while she attempts to create a web-based business with no working capital and only one employee, herself. But the fact is, his comments hurt. He hurt Lorrie where it matters most, her potential income. Bonza Lounge is a startup company. Lorrie has just begun to gain some traction with the help of some of her Austin Twitter friends.

I decided to write this person and explain how his comments affected people and asked him to remove them. I tried to appeal to his sense of moral values which I assumed to be similar to my own since he is a resident of Austin which in my book means you have no excuse for intolerance, ignorance or insensitivity because real ATXers treat their neighbors with respect.

The primary reason I still reside here after my divorce in 2003 are the people. I have little family here, less friends than in CA where I grew up and no real business advantage. CA would be easier for me professionally. But Orange County, although beautiful does not have the kind of people and community that exists in Austin. People CARE about each other here. They say hello to their neighbors, hold the door open for each other and share that secret smile that says we KNOW we live in the greatest town in Texas and we are PROUD of it.

What's the point? To demonstrate how powerful words are when used properly and with care. While this was being written, the gentleman (I can safely call him that now) read my carefully worded message to him and removed the comment. All I had to do was ask him nicely. Thank you kind sir.