Political figures, Wikipedia and YOU!
For years I have been intrigued by the sheer number of random connections between people on this planet. Call it “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” or whatever, it can still be creepy when you least expect it.
Take for example all the recent happenings in the Attorney General’s office, with the firings of US Attorneys, the departure of many officials working directly for the AG himself and all the happenings around one previously inconsequential seeming staffer, Monica Goodling. When I first heard that some staffer had taken the Fifth, I just went on about my business, figuring it to be just another Washing infight that really wasn’t worth paying attention to; something that would be off the airwaves by this afternoon.
Well, I was wrong for at least two reasons: first, it is still with us nearly two months later and second, an off-hand comment from my best friend would bring the whole situation into a completely different perspective.
See, my best friend introduced me to Monica about 5 years ago. He knew her quite well, as they had dated for a few years. I only got to know her for about a week as my best friend, Monica, two other couples and myself traveled to the Bahamas for a week of sun and fun. I’ll just save any media type who happens across this from bothering to contact me as I do not have an opinion on her, much less one I might be willing to share. The only real thing I did learn about her during the week was that the woman could pack a suitcase like no one I’ve ever known. She had more luggage than any other two people combined, giving her about 3 outfits for every day of the week.
So I spent a few weeks, slightly in awe, that I knew someone who was getting a lot of air time all across the country. But yet again, my best friend passed along a piece of information that just tickled my mind a little bit more… Monica’s Wikipedia page.
It used to be that when someone arrived on the public scene in a big way, Weird Al made a song about them. Now, its a wiki page. Monica’s page was informative, but not much there that I didn’t already know. It was written fairly, seemingly unbiased, but not all that in depth.
My next thought was, has she seen this? If so, does she want to edit it? We’ve heard of celebrities and other people editing their own wiki pages, removing items they thought false or derogatory, but what if Monica decided to tell the world that isn’t all there is to her? It isn’t just an issue of potentially incorrect information, but of completeness.
Her life, as seen on that page, just seemed so flat compared to the vibrant woman in my memory. I remember her big laugh and her falsely shy grin. Even that nymph-like, mischievous glitter her eyes would take on when she was trying to pretend innocent of double intent in some comment she had just made.
Or do I? Would Monica describe herself in that manner? Would she talk about the sunburn she received by not applying her sunscreen correctly? Would she talk about how my best friend and I smoked cigars that week, despite she not wanting her boyfriend to do so?
But enough about Monica. She’s obviously wanting out of the spotlight, so lets move this conversation to the rest of us… what about our Wikipedia pages? What would your page say, if you happened to find yourself in the midst of some national scandal?
I really wouldn’t want someone, even someone who was as kind and fair as the person who wrote Monica’s page, to write my page for me. Monica’s page currently has over 500 edits to it, people writing the history of her life in as much detail as they can get.
Some people have gotten to write the history of their own life while others had someone else do it for them, whether the individual in question wished it or not. Bill Clinton’s autobiography went on for hundreds of pages, many of them feeling like he was lecturing to the reader from his day planner. The history of other people’s lives sounds like something straight out of an action novel.
Part of me wishes to put out the call for everyone to create their own wikipedia page, to chronicle their life as it happens, so for all time there is a record for the future to know of our existence. Think of all the people that have come before us, the ones we seen in pictures or paintings that clutter our collective attics, who left behind nothing but a decaying image on canvas. We don’t know much of their lives, loves or joys, only an image of someone solemnly waiting for their moment of silence before camera or painter to be complete.
Some people would argue that blogging, what I’m doing right now, is exactly what I mean, but really it is not. Most people blog about the inconsequential things of their life, of the minutia that just gets them one step further through their day. What I’m talking about is leaving a legacy to our heirs, not some piece of fluff or some deep, mystical revelation, but an intimate portrait of who we are and the depths of our lives. Its not that the future of humanity would learn something great through these writings, but they would know that at least we cared enough to leave something of ourselves. Something that meant something to us. Something more than a peeling hunk of paper.
My one fear is that most of us just don’t have anything worth saying to the future. We wake, go through our day, fall asleep at night and then wake to do it all again the next. Many of us, maybe me included, might write much but say little to nothing that matters.