Last night B had a few of her women friends over for a potluck Christmas dinner. This morning she was telling me about some of the conversations that went on over the egg casserole, broccoli quiche and spinach salad. And several bottles of wine.
There's one woman in particular who annoyed her. "All she does is talk about herself," B complained.
It reminded me of a post I did a few years ago, about one of the dangers of blogging. Are we just talking to ourselves?
Last night, whenever anyone at the dinner table brought up a subject, any subject at all, this
woman felt compelled to present her own experience with the subject at hand
-- and if she didn't have any experience herself, she'd go on at length
about her husband, her children or some other relative. All without the
slightest regard for whether anyone else at the table was interested,
without any empathy or connection to other people's experiences.
Someone in the group mentioned that she'd had a knee operation. "Oh, well, let me tell you about my husband and his knee operation," she insisted. "He had his knee replaced. It was awful!" And on and on and on.
It reminded me of how an old colleague of mine used to make fun of
people who were too self-absorbed, too caught up in themselves. "Okay,
enough about me," my colleague would say loudly, imitating the person and mocking them at the same time. "Let's talk about you now. So ... what do you think about me?"
Does this relate at all to our own blogging? I've
seen comments in the media making fun of bloggers, referring to them -- us -- as a
narcissistic bunch of people who insist on posting to the Internet
every little detail of our lives, and how wonderful our kids are and how cute
our pets are, without any consideration whether or not anyone else in
the world was interested in our lives, or our children or pets.
It made me wonder: Is this what we retired bloggers are doing --
we Baby Boomers, who are incessantly accused of being interested in only
ourselves, and what we are doing and how we impact
I am not criticizing anyone (least of all myself -- eeegads!). And I
am not fishing for reassurance or compliments about my own blog. (Who
me? Fishing for compliments? Never!) But there's nothing wrong with a
little self-examination every now and then. And it makes we wonder:
How do we talk about the issues in our lives, our day-to-day concerns as
well as our more fundamental issues, without falling into the quicksand
of self-indulgence? How do we include other people in our
conversations? How do we keep ourselves relevant as we talk about our
families, our ailments, our travels, our finances, our politics?
The bloggers I know hardly ever talk about their kids. We do hear about people's travels -- but I like
reading about trips to Hawaii and Ireland and Thailand and elsewhere (although they do
make me envious). I actually don't think the important thing is the
subject matter itself, but the way it's handled. Can other people relate
to the experience, or are we just bragging about what we've done?
What about nostalgia? Can we delve into the morass of nostalgia, or
are we being self-indulgent Baby Boomers if we do that? I dunno. I like
the occasional trip down memory lane. Don't you enjoy listening to
Sinatra or The Beatles or Jim Morrison every once in a while?
Anyhooo ... B told me I didn't have to leave the house when her
friends came over last night. "These women are not as raucous as my book
group," she assured me.
Nevertheless, I didn't want to be holed up in
the bedroom, in our little one-bedroom condo, while all these women were talking and laughing
and eating and having a good time. So I went out to a movie. I saw Arrival with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
But I'm not going to tell you if I liked it. I don't want to be self-indulgent.