A place to play the fool

The Fool, Tarot, Card, Magic, Fortune, Divination

Buying a domain for your blog is very much like getting your first business card. It’s like that photo Will Smith takes in The Pursuit of Happyness. The one where he’s standing in front of all the handheld scanner machines he has to sell with a big hopeful grin.

The rest of the movie however looks like this.

You burst out onto the world wide web with a song on your lips, ready to share your life-changing ideas and middle-of-the-night philosophical discoveries with a waiting, appreciative world. And then you realize 10 people including your mom read the last 3 things you wrote.

An existential crisis brews in the dark recesses of your mind, and a voice whispers in your head “Why waste your time on this? Why not do something better and more fruitful with your time?”

So you open Facebook, scroll, scroll, scroll till the question ‘Wait, why is this called scrolling again?’ manages to never pop into your head. You laugh at two memes and call three people stupid. You get outraged by the thoughtless opinions of the uncle two doors down, and close the app. You open Instagram and post an excellent picture of a stupendous sunset, which gets 1/15th the number of likes your pretty friend got for a picture of two fingernails with the caption “carpe diem”. You delete the apps in disgust, and re-install Twitter, home of threaded gyaan and clubhouse rejects.

Finally, here’s a place for your poignant rants, distilled into 280 characters with the last 12 being “thread (1/n)”. The first 5 tweets get ignored, so you try replying on a trending tweet only to find out the dogs of hell have been unleashed on you, with notifications calling you ‘rice bag convert’, ‘anti-national’, and ‘sickular’. You finally start to realize there is no winning the social media game, unless you get a personality transplant or gender change, although the latter would probably provoke a whole other category of modern-day Ku Klux Clan members out to defend ‘real men’.

The above series of events has been playing on loop for several years. But every year, I renew my domain and ask myself at what point you are supposed to stop calling yourself a writer or blogger. You can pretend to be busy for a month or two, and claim writer’s block while working on your magnum opus for a few more, but if your last piece was a year back, your bio might need to say retired blogger or writer taken before his time.

But blogging is hard, due to a variety of philosophical questions from choice of topic to why the hell you should write a blog instead of a journal. And then of course there’s the need for proofreading. Typos are like speed bumps that ruin a glorious drive on the highway, and grammar errors spotted by readers are like a speeding ticket you get in the post 3 days later.

My passionate hatred of proofreading was a big motivator for starting a podcast with a friend. I figured its a lot easier to just record ourselves talking, but turns out podcasting is not as simple as that either. But I’ve learned a lot from podcasting in the long 3 weeks I’ve been doing it. The biggest lesson so far is that you’re a podcaster as long as you keep podcasting. It’s one of those things that sound brain numbingly obvious but is also really profound. It applies to any creative endeavor. What kills you isn’t the reception or lack of it, but your reaction to it.

One must take inspiration from the Vogons, whose poetry is of course the third-worst in the universe.

The prisoners sat in Poetry Appreciation Chairs –strapped in. Vogons suffered no illusions as to the regard their works were generally held in. Their early attempts at composition had been part of bludgeoning insistence that they be accepted as a properly evolved and cultured race, but now the only thing that kept them going was sheer bloodymindedness

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Even with bloodymindedness, another problem remains – what do I write about? I have always had the attention span of a butterfly, even before social media was invented. The name of my blog is vague enough to give me creative elbow room if I can just figure out what I want to elbow around. It even has an unintended excuse built-in. Many read the URL as ‘A Pathetic Indian’, which I would assume lowers expectations.

The answer came from a good friend who had the following insightful feedback for our podcast- “Good initiative, but why do you play the fool before getting to the topic?.

Apart from making us tighten our intros to reduce episode length, it made me laugh, but there was something there to think about. There is a place for each type of content. A podcast, although a more freewheeling format still has to get to the topic promised in the episode title quickly. If people are spending 30-90 minutes listening to you, they don’t want a 15 min exhibition of your sense of humor. Similarly, Instagram is for pretty pictures, Facebook is for communal bloodletting and LinkedIn is meant for your latest epiphany on the merits of a 4 day week. A blog on WordPress however can be a lot of things. I own the website so its up to me to make the rules, and to you to stay the hell away.

I have realized that what I need is precisely a place to play the fool. I need a place to disrespect genres and misuse categories. I want to write a post and then derive the title from it, instead of the other way around. Good writing, like love, sleep and happiness come along by accident. But you need to lie in bed for any of the other three to happen.

With that, let me share my linktr.ee, a guide to my different digital assets and what you can get from each.

P.S: This is the first time I included my real name on the blog. In a world with Pegasus, anonymity no longer seems to have a point.

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