Thursday, March 16, 2006



aving watched Densha Otoko (Train Man), I've begun to wonder what I'm doing in this virtual world. For those who are relatively young--say 22 and younger--the Internet is probably something that is taken for granted. I don't mean that you can access it anytime, but that it's been a part of our society for at least half of your lives. For me, however, it is still brand spanking new, and many of my peers look at it with suspicious eyes.

As you might know--spoiler warning!--Train Man is about an Otaku, the Japanese version of a nerd, who tries to protect a beautiful woman from being harassed by a drunk on the way home. She appreciates his acts and he is flattered by the attention she gives him. He immediately logs in on his computer and describes his encounter on a keijiban (bulletin board). Since the incident happens on a train, he becomes known as the Train Man. The story develops as the lovely woman sends him a gift of thanks (a set of cups by Hermes), he calls her, they meet for dinner, he fusses over what to wear and how to act, all the while discussing his situation and getting advice on how to proceed from others posting on the bulletin board. The story can be ludicrous at times, but it is touching and certainly funny as the Nerd finally has his day.

Now as I was watching this with M, she provided a running commentary on the embarrassment and betrayal of the hero who is exposing not only his life, but Hermes life as well, without her knowledge. And of course, she expresses doubt as to what I write here on Xanga. M is old school, older than me. She knows a lot of different things, but she doesn't know the difference between an e-mail and an instant message and a weblog. As you might imagine, she takes a narrow view of things she does not understand--as most of us do--and so worries about the things I post here on my blog. I assure her that I never write anything untoward about her--well, maybe I am now--and I would not write anything embarrassing about her. The blog is about me, and if I'm gonna make fun of anyone, it would be me--and maybe a couple of my students, and an occasional political figure or two.

Any amount of explaining I offer usually sounds like excuses to her, so there is little I can do. I am loathe to do anything that might upset M....

Still, I find blogs much more easier to deal with than bulleting boards and chat rooms. Those places can be totally anonymous. But on Xanga, where only fellow Xangans can comment, I feel more at ease. I may not know your real name, but I get a concrete picture of who you are from your sites. I know that Sammy loves the Cubs. Pajun plays the piano and entered a competition in Rome. I know that No1Watching gives massages and Jerjonji is a great writer who moved halfway across the country. I have gotten to know fellw Bruins such as Marie and others, while I have decided to turn down the rhetoric concerning that other school because of zhuzhu, dan, momo and others. I know that Booyaman hates cats and that Daddylike and enygma go to grad school, and Bareric is studying abroad this year. Hanzo hates the current administration while mmh is learning to deal with her sister. I even saw Jason on the West Wing when he played a Chinese soldier. And I'd like to go have a drink with Paiky--and maybe his cousin kken--in a place I've never been to called Orange. There are many more but too long of a list to mention here. The point is that we all tell each other about ourselves and in that way we get to know each other as blogging colleagues and--dare I say--friends. So it bothers me that I can't convey this fully to M, but I will continue to try to convince her that you guys are not total strangers.

A key way of getting to know you even better, of course, is though commenting. I have been remiss of late--I just don't have the time I once had. but I have done so enough to have developed a kind of rapport with some of you. I am sometimes saddened that I have subscribers who apparently read but rarely, if ever, comment at all. Through comments, a dialogue can develop, although I may not always keep up my side of the bargain. But at least I can visit your sites and know that you are real people with real lives. But there are a few who have me a little scared...

Stalkers... There is a program that allows Xangans to track other Xangans which are referred to as "Xanga stalkers". But this is a misnomer because you know who is stalking you. It's the anonymous visitors that I wonder about. But then the worst are the subscribers who don't even post, let alone not comment. What's that all about?!? I have four subscribers who do not post--they only have an account--and they subscribe to only one person... me. Now THIS is stalking.... Is one my ex-wife? Are they my former students? Are they my colleagues at work? This is probably the worst case scenario. Can you imagine a professor stalking another professor? For what? To gather dirt? To see if I'm talking shit about anyone at school? Ha! I would never do that here. I have another super secret site for that. JUST KIDDING!

Anyway, these are the people who don't post but only read. On there site, they display only one subscription, me. They also receive a digest through e-mail... I wonder who these people are? It kinda makes me nervous...

Still, these are the exceptions, not the rule, here on Xanga. And I've got to figure a way to convince M that this is a good place...

Do any of you have subscribers like this?

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