Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's actually a good thing...

I wanted to reach out--to try to tell someone. Surely this was something no one had ever felt before. It was like everything that came before, but different; rebellious; outlandish, even. The touching seemed almost silly at first. I know that doesn't make any sense, but it actually felt silly, if you thought about it a certain way. But you can get past that. I know I did. It set fire to my blood. My other girlfriends, my normal girlfriends, wouldn't understand. No, they would look at me all funny and get disgusted when I tried to explain how amazingly good it was to be with someone who knew what I felt; who understood how I felt; who felt everything I felt--

Use pictures. Think professionally, people! Graphics increase traffic. A simple piece of clip-art or even a photograph you take yourself can drive up hits by almost 70%! Don't be afraid to use pictures. Going that extra mile adds some color and dazzle to your page. Always keep in mind who your audience is. The whole reason you have one is because you're offering them something; something that they can't get anywhere else, or that they can't get as conveniently anywhere else. A common beginner mistake is to only think about this in terms of direct reader feedback, such as comments, right? But you're actually getting a lot more feedback than comments. Page clicks, people. I cannot emphasize this enough--page clicks. Chart your progress every day. In fact, you don't have to chart it yourself. Most providers now chart it for you. There's simply no excuse for not looking at that data, and making use of it. Look at the tags attached to each post, and ask yourself, "What kinds of topics tend to draw new readers in, and to increase re-clicks?* And what kinds of topics tend to turn my readers off, making it difficult to get my message out there?" It may be your favorite thing in the world to write about your struggles to get GE to replace the washing machine, but it's not going to make most of your readership happy. Put a frisbee in the tree, and take a video of the cats trying to get it down!
* Second visits to the page by the same reader, but from a different IP--re-reading your article at home after glimpsing it at work, for example. They count--use them!

It's not, really, that we're smarter than everyone else. It's not that we have all the answers. When we put on these coats, people look to us. They trust us. You'll walk into that room with them, and all of a sudden, they're spilling details: old lovers; the fight they had with their son that morning; the hemorrhoid they got back in military service and how it just won't go away; how they're not attracted to their partner anymore. Drinking problems, drug problems, etcet-ruh. Stuff they'd never tell anyone else. And that trust is sacred. They look to you to provide them hope. It means something to them, that white coat. It's a bond between you, so don't forget that. They need to believe that you have all the answers. And you don't. Everyone in this room here today knows, probably, by now, that you don't. But you know where to get them. You know how to connect people to the resources that can help them, how to make them feel good about the solution you pick, and how to manage their case plan, guide them, guide them into making the best decision, empower them into making the best decision.

--so busy these days, and who has the time? I'm asking you people, who has the time to read everything? You don't, right? Your friend sends you a link, so you click on it, get the jist, the jist of it, right? How fast does it take you to get the jist of it? Anyone? That's all right, that's all right, I'll tell you--about 3.7 seconds. That's what science tells us: in 3.7 seconds, even a slow reader has, from a confluence of, the whole, you know, spread of things before them, any reader has gotten an impression of the link, the movie, the book, whatever it is. And that's where you have to grab them. The old term we'd use, you'll still see it a lot, is called a "hook," a "hook," like fishing, to bring people in. To introduce yourselves. Sort of say what you're about. Get across what you'll be talking about, and make them want to spend more of their--

Dammit, Phil, it's not that I like this shit, all right? I understand where you're coming from, okay? I'm completely there with you. But, but dammit, if we don't do it, there's no way we can survive. When you really think about it, it's not that much of a big deal. We make a little change, and it actually helps us. It helps what we're trying to do here. Do you want to get completely passed over? Uh-huh. I thought so. So it's actually a good thing, to do it.


When you die, you'll discover another of the great indignities of modernity. You will realize that you want to be alone. Chances are, you will be pursued toward your moment by a horde of professionals, well-wishers, family and friends, who will try to capture your moment for their own.

You will want to have a bit of privacy, like slipping off to the bathroom to do something that does not need a witness. When you try to leave, so many helpful caregivers will be there, adjusting tubes and wires and making sure you have everything to make you "comfortable." Your attempts to get the hell away from them will be met with great resistance, because they are totally confident that you are not in your right mind.

When you try to get that time alone, loved ones will cluster around you. Long-faced and crying, they will want to hold your hand, stroke your forehead, and pat your shoulder. They want to "help" you.

Envision yourself onstage, taking down your pants to have a bowel movement in front of an audience of hundreds. Webcams underneath the glass toilet, and mounted cameras on both sides of the stage, zoom in on you to capture your expressions. Johnny Carson, in a doctor's outfit (attended by Britney Spears and Hannah Montana, each in white scrubs), screams to the audience that he's doing the best he can to stop this all from happening! You shuffle toward the toilet, but Johnny fastens a cinch around your waist. "I'm not gonna lose this one!" he shouts, and the audience cheers. "It's not time yet!"

Your best friends cluster around the stretcher, begging you to not do it; begging you not to leave them. They assure you that they love you and will not forget you.

If you have the strength left, you will probably not have the heart to tell them to get lost. No matter how excruciating it is, you will realize that they do not understand.

They do not understand, and they will not understand until their own time comes. So, with dignity, you grant them a gift--you let them think they are reassuring you. You let all the people pretend they are helping you on your way.

Maybe it'll be the right choice; maybe not. Maybe you should try to tell them. Others have--it hasn't changed anything. And when it's your special people, and you see that look in their eyes, you might think it's too harsh a lesson, however true.

File this little story away until then. You might think, "But what if I'm sleeping or it happens suddenly?" And that's fine; hang onto that as a reservation if you like. But file away this little story, and when it happens, think of me, and we'll have quite a laugh together. They actually think they're helping you! It's rude, ignorant, wishful, and detached from the flow of existence, but in a very real way, they actually do think they're helping you, clustering around like that. And that's pretty fucking hilarious.

You'll understand, then. This one gets it. So, we can share that one, you and I, that and this, when it comes. Are you ready to laugh with me?

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