Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Shot An Arrow

I've been thinking about blogs and wondering about the affect of blogs on the people "out there." Just what happens to those words we pen? What might they do to others? I was reminded of the Longfellow poem below:

I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth,
I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

I began to have my own "Longfellow" thoughts as regards blogging.

I shot some words out into space

At a fast and furious pace.

They hit some person in some place--

I know not name nor know the face.

Then words came flying back to me,

Some slow, some with alacrity.

No clue had I what would ensue

When I sent out my words to you.

I sing my song, in tune or not,

And find returned another's thought.

A choir singing different parts,

Yet all united through their hearts.

I flex my bow, an arrow fit.

I loose the string then ponder it.

Where is it that my words will go,

Now that I've shot them with my bow?

If you've an answer, please let me know.


Ezzie said...

You never know. :) You'd be surprised... an old debate I have with some people, but apparently words have an effect - even if a small one - all over. And those effected people have an effect, too. And those...

Anonymous said...

I can tell you one place your words landed. We had company for lunch today and I turned the talk to retirement. And thanks to the comments on your posting I had some things to toss out that I wouldn't have had otherwise. And then I mentioned the Purim drinking. Lunch was interesting to say the least!

SuperRaizy said...

I agree with Ezzie. I've only been reading (and writing) blogs for a short time, yet I have learned so much and have become sensitized (is that a word?) to many issues that I had never thought about before. Blogs definitely have an impact on their readers.

G said...

Count me amongst the "little to no discernible impact" camp...I know, big surprise:)

As I have typed elsewhere...'Everyone is trying to fix this or call out that, complain that something is unfair or that it doesn't work right. What keeps getting missed is that eighty percent of the time, and this might be that point I was talking about (or maybe not, who can tell), NOBODY CARES. It's true, we may think we do and some even go so far as to pretend they do but really...uh uh. All that mostly happens is either like minded individuals confirming each other's ideas and world views or opposing viewpoints getting all riled up while constantly talking past each other. Nothing happens, nothing changes and for sure nothing gets resolved.

Sounds pretty grim huh? That's me, mister positivity! All sweetness and light.'

Ezzie said...

Man, I should post some of my convos with G. That would make some interesting reading.

(Funny word verif: seeyooah)

ProfK said...

Just the fact that like-minded people can talk with and at each other is already evidence of a change that reading blogs has wrought. Before blogs there were lots of "closet skeptics" who had no one to talk to and who thought they were very much "yotzai min ha'klal."

Re the "nothing ever changes." I awoke this morning to a comment on the drinking for Purim posting by someone who has decided to make a change in her seudah this year. If she is the only one who does so was it a waste of time for me to post? I don't think so. One in the plus column is still better than one in the minus column.

And then honesty compels me to add that you are also right. There is a lot of talk and not a lot of action. A whole lot of that, imho, is generational. Too many younger people who are waiting for someone else to take the first step, for someone else to solve the problem.

ProfK said...

Re your link, I have on occasion posted the light-hearted and for-no-other-reason-then-it-tickled-my-sense-of-the-absurd piece. I distinctly remember a posting full of knock-knock jokes, among others.

G said...

Like I said, 80/20 or minimal to no impact.

Like minded people finding each other is nice, granted, but does cause any difference? I would think that those people would have done what they felt was right anyway, now they just know that there are others like them. Again, that's nice but there is no net difference.

As far as the generational divide...yes and no. True my generation tends to wait until things are at the point of no return before doing things for ourselves but lets not forget which generation fostered that ability and now wont challenge it.

ProfK said...

Ever find yourself fishing in your pockets for a penny or two because what you are purchasing is $1.00 and you only have 99 cents? We don't think of pennies as particular important or worth anything--until one of them goes missing. Sometimes it's the same way with activism. You slog your way through changing "one penny" at a time. Individually it may not seem like a lot, but added together those pennies are a lot more powerful. But first you have to have the penny.

Bas~Melech said...

Well done, ProfK!

G said...

In theory, yet that may depend on how long it takes you to collect those pennies.
After a while either you decide to live w/o the item in questin, the cashier kicks you out of line or he/she just lets you have it for the .99.

Regardless, I do not believe that all that much "changing" in going on. Reinforcing and self justification to be sure but changing...just don't know (I hope I'm wrong).

ProfK said...

I spy where we may be differing. Define for me "change." You say "I do not believe that all that much "changing" in going on." Yet "all that much" signifies that some change is going on.

What level of change do you require? If your level is high then no small changes are going to be satisfying to you until they equal a substantial amount.

I believe that any change, no matter how small statistically, qualifies as change and is a positive thing.

G said...

I believe that any change, no matter how small statistically, qualifies as change and is a positive thing. = teaspoons out of the ocean.

Yes, technically it qualifies as change and is just won't matter in the grand shceme of things.
People will do what they think is right, end of story.

Scraps said...

I like your poem.

ProfK said...

Thanks Scraps :)

It is axiomatic among professional fund raisers that if a mail campaign gets a 5% response from all the letters sent then it is considered a successful campaign. More is unlikely. Some campaigns get a lesser percentage. So should the organization forego the campaign because it is only going to get a maximum of 5% of those reading the letters actually responding with a donation? How many donations would they get if they didn't send out the letters? Sometimes 5% or 3% is all you are going to get and you take it because it is better then getting nothing. Not to hammer the point, but every penny counts.

G said...

Again I will use my teaspoons from the ocean example.

It comes down to your point of view: the slow accumulation of those teaspoons in, say, a cup or the impact of that cup having been removed from the ocean at large.

Is it possible that on a micro level individuals will be moved to change due to a blog? Yes, it is possible (though I would not bet my 401k on it).
Is it likely that it will ever lead to any type of macro level impact? Not unless you are lucky enough to impact an individual who wields tremendous influence over people in the real other words, not bloody likely.

Then again nothing is impossible and there have been ocassions in the past (though few and far between they may have been) where I was wrong...hopefully this will be one of those times.

G said...

As far as the fundraising depends what you are collecting money to accomplish.