PlannerDan's Blog


Near Fort Worth, Texas, USA
September 22
Much of the same stuff applies. I'm a married guy--quite married, in fact. We are pushing our 44th year of bliss. In fact I am a grandpa; and wear that title proudly. Over the years I've learned a few things. And tend to share it--tactfully, I hope. I'm a professional, which only means I went to school and got all the degrees. It took years to do it, and has added a little to that experience thing. I'm fortunate to be doing something I love for a living. But, even then, the work place can become boring. However, those times are few and far between. I have two passions in life. I love to write. Sometimes I do that very well, sometimes not so much. But, I've realized you don't have to be good to write; you've just got to really want to. My second passion is my dog. I am a dog person. I'll try not to get mushy and obsessive about it. Pet owners can sometimes do that. I will write about my black Lab, Max; however, I promise to be restrained. I know how those crazy pet people are. Other than that, you will find out more about me from my entries. They likely will be sporadic, because I obviously have a life outside this virtual universe. But, I will try the best I can to make a worthy contribution to the site. Can't ask for more than that.


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OCTOBER 3, 2011 5:40AM

Blog Blindness

Rate: 7 Flag


       An intriguing concept occurred to me yesterday.  No doubt it is not new and I am just slow to realize it.  Writing, yes even blogging, is somewhat blind; or at least it has the ability to severely limit the visual image of who the author is.  We are all anonymous when we write in here; or at least as anonymous as we want to be.  We see what the author wants us to see.  The author sets the limits on our vision.  As visual creatures we tend to accept what we can see.  When absent from the physical presence of a person we accept what they give us to read. 


       Think about it.  When you read a blog your mind automatically paints a vague image of the author—accurate or inaccurate as it may be.  You are given a few clues, as to the characteristics of the author, when you first enter a blog site.  You are usually provided with a name or at least a handle.  If the author’s name is ‘George’ you automatically form a masculine image.  If it is ‘Susan’, a female image similarly develops.  If the page has a biographical sketch, you may have an enhanced image of the person.  Some pages will have a photograph which may substantially complete the image.  As you read the article, the photo along with the traits provided by the biographical sketch gives us an image to which we refer throughout the read.  Interestingly, I suspect each of us has a different and unique image of the same author.

       Sometimes, we learn about the author as we read the piece, gleaning information that builds the image as we read.  It’s like one of those “Transformer” gadget my grandson has.  It morphs from one image to another as the story develops.

       But, sometimes I have nothing to go on—no bio, no name, no information; I’m totally blind.  Perhaps I have a handle like “Restless Spirit.”  That gives me no hint as to gender, age, nationality or race—the basics of the image.  My mind has difficulty dealing with that lack of data.  Nevertheless, out of the void an image of the author will coalesce.  Perhaps it’s more of an impression of an image.

       I read a blog yesterday that illustrates this image building phenomena we possess.  The article was written by someone with an ageless, genderless, handle—much like the “Restless Spirit” of my example.  The style of the article was light, humorous, and very skillfully crafted.  Don’t ask me why, but I sensed a male influence on the piece.  I perceived an active middle-aged man, intelligent and probably college trained, a professional, and without nationality or race.  However, since I am a white guy, I imagined him the same.

       As I progressed through the article, enjoying it completely, my image began to change.  Hints in the article began to tell me he was probably a little older than I imagined him.  I had him pegged at about thirty-eight.  As I read, his age began to move into the forties.  And then one sentence destroyed my image and jolted me to consciously stop reading and consider what I had read.  The sentence was, “Such a thing does not discourage this seventy-five year old grandmother.”  My image scrambled for a second or two and reformed consistently with the new information.  I continued to read; however, with a new image of the author.

       This experience left me amazed at the power of the written word.  I mean, any of us can write in such a manner as to be young in the minds of our readers.  It is the outside facts and data that control that image.  But, given a lack of outside information, a person may be any age, gender, nationality, or race they wish to be, depending on the skill of the author.  It is likely an author’s writing will eventually give way to indications of their true self.  However, with enough skill the image can be maintained with some consistency.

       This anonymity is in most cases harmless.  Other than messing with my mind it does not hurt anyone.  However there is a sinister element with this anonymity.  The fact that any pervert or coward may hide in the recesses of his closet and spew whatever drivel they wish in total anonymity, beyond the measure of accountability, is disconcerting.  It is dishonest and can be hurtful.  However, please understand that person is not the focus of my article.  No, I am focusing on the author who chooses anonymity and remains within the limits of civility and propriety.  As for myself, I am quite happy with who I am and don’t seek to paint my image any differently than what it actually is.  However, I would appreciate you imagining me fifty pounds lighter.  I’m on something of a diet.  The old saying, “you get what you see” applies.

       The whole aspect of literary vision fascinates me.  We are all blind in here to some degree.  None of us sees clearly.  Each author is imagined according to the outside information which they provide.  In some cases we have met other authors in real life, which has always been a pleasant experience for me.  But, it has always caused me to alter my image somewhat.  In many cases the only image I have of an author is the one I have painted in my mind.  I wonder how many times the image differs with the actual person.  Heck, I have discovered the image which I hold of someone I know in real life can be different from the actual person.  In that case, I rather prefer the one I built in my mind.

       So, as you read this and form the image of PlannerDan, I hope it is a pleasant one.  Only, remember, you may wish to drop about fifty pounds from the image…and don’t forget to put my black Lab, Max, at my feet.  I guess that’s about it.

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I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.
Excellently written which is only as I expect from Dan Darlin.' You know, that skinny young man racing over the fields with Max before settling down in his office.

There are good and bad sides to all things in life, but the choice of how much to reveal in the ether is I think a good one on the whole. Being able to portray our characters and concerns through words is something that has helped me tremendously through the last decade.

As for others, I guess I'm fortunate in that everyone I've met in the flesh from writing has been pretty much the same person I envisaged them to be.
I like it when bloggers have real faces - saves that imagining something and then having to drastically revise when new info surfaces. Tho I can certainly understand why some people don't do for-real mug shots. I have little to hide, but still prefer to keep my spheres mostly separate.

I'm 75 too, tho not a grandmother, and somewhere, maybe on an e-list, somebody commenting on some callow opinion of mine mistook me for a teenager who would, hopefully, eventually achieve some measure of maturity. Haha, too late, it'll never happen.
I have often wondered what my writing has conveyed to those who read my articles. So much so I framed a blog that challenged those who read me regularly to try and describe what they think they know about me...But didn't post because I was worried that the first thing people would say would be that I was Icky and Self-absorbed. ;)

I truly enjoyed your take on the issue...
What you see is what you get with me. Still, I have been surprised by a few people here.
Well written and well said. I enjoy trying to guess what OSers look and sound like, based on reading several of their posts. Most often, in the event I have a chance see a photo or hear a voice, I am dead wrong! LOL

Linda: Thanks, Darlin'...wish I could have been one of those you met in the flesh on your recent trip to the Colonies...maybe next time. Or perhaps I will get a chance to travel to England...

Myriad: Your example is immature funny.

Linnnn: You should do it...wouldn't be interesting...kind of a "guess who I am" entry.

Miguela: Ah, but what is it folks see? We are so limited. Even with photographs there is still much for our imaginations to work with.

L: Your thumbnail is a perfect example...a zebra. All I can guess is you are female...and that is from your name....however, I have known males with the name Lesslie. Hmmmm...I'm imagining
There are so many things that I write but do not post here. Mostly to protect the innocent. But I have shared some of the heaviest parts of my life in this blog and it feels good. Over time people have come to know me and vice versa. But do we ever really KNOW anyone. There are depths to being that take many lifetimes to discover. People are amazing and bloggers are the most amazing of all. Good post. Thanks.