I've made that a bad habit of mine - slipping out the back door - pretty much all my life. When I was in high school, I bribed the yearbook editor to remove my photographs and listings. Why? Simply because I didn't want lie moldering on someone's shelf, a someone with whom I had nothing more in common with than we lived in the same neighborhood and therefore went to the same school.
It's been a great ride, an incredibly great ride. I guess you could say I got in close to the ground floor of the "blogging phenonemon", whatever that is. That was roughly three years ago, which is nothing in "real" time but an eternity on the internet.
Seven or eight years ago I used to read a free newspaper in a midwestern city, which had what I thought was a local comic strip of biting political satire. It turns out that comic was This Modern World, distributed nationally, written by a genius who calls himself Tom Tomorrow.
Approximately three years ago, in a late-night web surfing session, I re-discovered that comic strip online and there on his site was a "blog". One thing led to another and I was soon visiting others, including DailyKos, and joined up. Somewhere around October or November 2003, Kos implemented the Scoop software, which included the paradigm-shifting feature known there (and here) as "Diaries".
I actually hated and feared Diaries when they first emerged. I remember many a long conversation with my compadre Paper Tigress about them, because I had the feeling they were supposed to be like... I don't know, a paper diary. Write about my day? Tell you what kind of sandwich I ate for lunch? Nah... my private life is enough for just me, it doesn't need to be shared with the rest of the literate universe.
But those Diaries are just misnomers - they are in fact akin to handing over a fully-functional printing press to an adolescent, complete with a modern and advanced distribution system. A lot of writers, from Benjamin Franklin to Stephen King, got inspired by running their own print presses and I must say Kos's Diaries had the same effect on me. It was a license to write!
Those of you who were around remember the rest - there was a revolution ongoing in a faraway country called the Republic of Georgia and nobody in the English language seemed to be covering it. Well at least not to the extent I felt it deserved. And that multi-part series, lost in the sands of history, inspired me to write ever more. And it wasn't long after that when I knew I needed my own place to write on the subjects I cared about and that became Flogging the Simian.
My gosh! What a ride it was too... covering everything from the mysterious death of Nicholas Berg to plumbing the depths of the mercenary/self-publicist insane hero Jack Idema. And a handful of coups, wars and geopolitical chess moves along the way.
Writing on the subjects close to my heart was something I've wanted to do my entire life. It's something I will do the rest of my life so long as I have the fingers to type. I love it so much that I made the life-changing decision to move to Romania so I could do it full-time, depending on the generosity of readers to live. And it worked, far beyond my wildest dreams.
Anyone with a microphone or a platform to speak from will eventually gain critics and perhaps even enemies. I did my best to shield my personal life from my online writing life and for the most part succeeded. Unfortunately, one person from my offline past decided it would be some kind of childish fun to hunt me down online and threaten to expose me before everyone else. It's all rather pitiful actually, if you only knew the details, because it's a pathetic kind of puerile revenge for something I allegedly did more than 14 years ago.
I do however wish to clarify a few things in the name of general well-being and peace.
First, I am in no physical danger. I already had a plan to move apartments, unrelated to this incident, and that will soon take place. The people in Romania who know nothing of my online existence will know where I am of course, but they are completed isolated from the people I know in the United States. My cell phone contract conveniently also expires in a week or two and I will be getting a new one, with a new company, with a new number, under a different name shortly as well. So for all intents and purposes, I'm disappeared.
I will remain in Romania, that's all I can tell you for certain. And even if the person who prompted my early retirement makes good on their asinine threats, I will be fine. So for all of you who are kind and good-hearted people and worried about such things, please put your hearts and minds at rest. Romania is a wonderful country to get lost in, especially once you know the language and have come to love these beautiful people.
Secondly, in no way was this prompted by any of you. I've made my fair share of critics in the blogging world but that's the nature of the beast and none of you have crossed over any line with me. I'm a stout defender of free speech and the entitlement of one to one's opinions, and if all of you agreed with everything I ever wrote why then you'd be nothing more than a bunch of sycophants ;)
And last, although I'm not a real big rap music fan, a comment by Kidspeak struck a deep resonance with me. The truth is I've played my part but it's a part that was and shall always remain absolutely useless without everyone playing their parts too. The blogosphere gives everyone the right to publish, and be read, by 5 or 5 million. Yet it cannot serve its vital function unless people write.
That almost sounds too simplistic I know, but sometimes the most powerful things are the most simple. Do you think you're "not as good" as I am? Do you think you can't write as well as I do? Are you in awe of what I do? Well guess what? I used to be in awe of other heavyweights, including MeteorBlades, but it never stopped me from picking up the keyboard. So what if he's a better writer than me? We're all in this together folks and we've all got to do our part. We've all got to write. We've all got stories only we can write, whether its tales of growing up by Boo or Kid O or M Tracy's historic visit to the August heat outside in Crawford. Every voice counts here, every last one, and if you're capable of reading this, you're capable of writing!
We've all got to write for those who can't - for those who have not yet heard of the internet, for those with no access, for those fighting for survival. We've got to write for the voiceless, the dispossessed and the teeming masses of the world. The critics say every voice added contributes to a kind of chaotic noise but to me it sounds more like the birth cries of an empowered populace - one that is not only better informed than any people in history but one which is also self-informed. That's so fundamentally revolutionary I don't think any of us can appreciate the power of it. And it isn't restricted to the borders of any country either, but spreading out like a virus in every language across every ocean.
I've got to disappear for a while but I'll never be completely gone. They won't get rid of me that easily ;) But don't mourn my "passing" or celebrate it too heavily, because in the final analysis, this hasn't really got anything to do with me. I was a tiny cog in a gigantic gearshift that's changing the very fabric of reality. And it's up to all of us to help turn the wheel of change until every person on earth has free and random access to all the information of humankind - from "objective" news reports to lunatic babble. Humanity is coming into its own in a way not seen since the days when a village was a major population center.
Ok folks.. time to fade to black here (for a while). So long and thanks for all the fish!