Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Blogging

Three Years Ago Today

“This is Jack Benny talking. There will now be a slight pause while everyone says, ‘Who cares?’”
—Jack Benny
In his radio debut, March 23, 1932

Today is the third anniversary of Patrick’s Place. There will be a slight pause….

This blog, for those who haven’t been reading for all that long, originally began rather quietly on AOL. They call their blogs “Journals” and it was in “J-land” where I first started finding other people who were giving this blogging thing a try. The red, “neon”-looking logo was the original logo for that version of the blog.

Over two years and some change, as J-land grew into a quite a community, I was made to feel a welcome part of it. There were controversies over that time. There was one particularly nasty instance in which someone pretended to be someone they weren’t, claiming that they were fighting a deadly illness and asking for emotional support, only to be found out at the last minute. The revelation that a lot of lies had occurred threatened lots of friendships. We journal writers celebrated weddings and births, and mourned divorces and deaths. We shared a lot with each other.

There were battles over AOL’s Journal awards, which eventually became known as the Vivi Awards. Critics called them little more than a popularity contest — as if there was some genuine surprise at the notion that more popular blogs would naturally have more name recognition when it came time to nominate potential winners. People got quite bent out of shape over them, which I never understood, since participation was never mandatory.

Then came the banner ads controversy, in which AOL decided to start placing banner ads at the top of member journals without any warning. For some, that alone was enough to make them cancel their membership in protest. For people like me, that was one of the final straws — in a long line of them — and despite the efforts of those who wanted everyone to stay put, it just became clear that it was time for a change. Some of us who did relocate found out that some of those friendships weren’t really friendships at all; you can’t call someone a friend based solely on their blogging platform.

Before the ad controversy happened, but shortly after another writer’s entire blog was mistakenly deleted by AOL’s Terms of Service team, I started a mirror version of Patrick’s Place here at Blogger. Originally, I used one of my favorite paintings, from Van Gogh, as a title image. Over time, the design changed, and by the time I made the decision to scrap the AOL version and move things here, the motif was more television-related.

Just more than two months after I made my very first post, I decided to start a weekly meme called the Saturday Six. That very first edition, posted on April 17, 2004, wasn’t anything elaborate: there were just six random questions posted every Saturday with no deadline for participants who wanted to join in. Originally, I was hoping that it might accomplish two things at once: first, that it would attract readers to my blog at least once per week, and second, if it actually succeeded, it would help me find more blogs to read by encouraging viewers to leave links to their blogs in the comments as they answered the questions. The Saturday Six definitely lived up to those expectations, to my surprise. Today, after almost 150 editions, it still has a regular following, although after moving to Blogger, I started a separate blog called Patrick’s Weekender that is now the home of both the Saturday Six and its companion meme, the Sunday Seven.

On August 22, 2004, I wrote the first post of a blog dedicated solely to my efforts to produce a salable novel. The blog would eventually become A Stop At Willoughby, named after my favorite episode of the television series The Twilight Zone. The Victorian mansion pictured on the header of that blog is Maymont, one of my favorite places is Richmond, Virginia, and one of the locations that served as inspiration for a portion of my novel.

So that’s how all of this began. Did I think that three years later I would still be writing this thing? No. I also never imagined that after three years, the counter here would have registered more than 78,000 page views.

So what, exactly, did I expect? I’m not all that sure, actually. I started the blog as a place to rant about things that were on my mind. Think Andy Rooney, fifty years younger. I expected to write a few pieces that I found to be funny, realize that no one else thought they were even remotely amusing, then scrap the thing and move on to some other hobby.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the delete button: people started commenting. There’s something interesting about receiving comments, particularly if they’re not spam and actually relate to what you’ve written about. It almost makes it feel as if you’ve somehow served a purpose by having taken the time to write. Even if someone disagrees with you — and plenty have — there’s suddenly the feeling that you’re actually communicating with people.

It’s not about changing their mind. Or preaching to the choir. (At least, not for me.) I don’t mind disagreement, because I’ve learned more hearing opposing views than I have from surrounding myself with people who think exactly the way I do. That’s not to say that my mind is always changed, but that it does challenge me to look at things from a different perspective.

Politics have been a favorite topic here, though not as much since the election. I’m a middle-of-the-road voter. Some people refuse to accept this, convinced that because I’m a white Southerner, I must be a “conservative nutjob.” Most of the people who feel this way, it seems, are, by comparison to what they seem to think I am, “liberal nutjobs.” There are room for nutjobs of all types in this world, in my opinion. There are things I’m conservative about, and there are things I’m quite liberal about. But we have this unwritten need to label everyone, so a “middle” label isn’t as appealing to some as the “either” or the “or.” I’ve been called many things, and I’ll be called many more before I’m through. There comes a point at which fighting such trivial matters becomes pointless.

Television and the media in general is also a popular topic, which shouldn’t be a surprise since I work in that industry. Within those topics, I’m also likely to discuss game shows, including my particular favorite, The Price is Right.

But I suppose my most common topic here, either directly or indirectly, is double standards. There are lots of them in the world, and some are so commonly held that no one even stops to realize how blatantly illogical they happen to be. Double standards don’t make a lot of sense to me, particularly when those who hold them are so adamant about their beliefs.

I’ve had a couple of readers say over the years that a post they have read has made them think about something differently. Sometimes an alternative point of view can help you explore your own beliefs in a way you’ve never explored before. It doesn’t mean that your view will change; it’s just as likely that your long-held opinion will end up being that much more stronger. But I can think of no nicer complement, other than a reader’s continuing presence, for a blogger to receive.

So whether you’ve been a regular visitor since the AOL days or whether you just found this little blog this week, thanks for joining me somewhere along the way. I hope you’ll stay a while.

7 Comments

  1. You made me think of how long I’ve been blogging so I checked and see that I wrote my first one on November 24, 2000. That’s kind of an anniversary to remember; thanks for bringing the subject up. Best wishes.

  2. wow… you’ve become an old hand at this Patrick! Congrats on the longevity of your blog/journal!!

    Each day that passes I’m surprised that I still write in mine. I don’t cover many topics like you, but just the fact that I have anything to write surprises me lol.

    I found you fairly early when I too began at aol journals and have read your blog ever since.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.