Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Other Half

Apparently we're celebrating our birthday a day early. Though after all that's happened, it certainly feels like it's been longer than one measly year.

Right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who's been reading, either since the beginning or since the whole Gawker thing or even just because we asked you to. Your readership is what keeps us blogging, and whether or not you leave a comment, know that you, right now, reading these words, and providing more motivation for me to write than even the most prestigious trackback ever could.

Jess wrote an eloquent, reflective piece that, to some extent, sums up our attitude towards this blog. That said, I'd like to add a few things, because I think J&J has been something different for the two of us.

I was never profiled on Gawker. I was never asked to write for the Huffington Post, or for magazines that have since folded, or even for a panel discussion on Bleecker Street. I haven't been to Media Meshing, and the blogosphere largely considers me, if at all, to be That Guy Jess Writes With. But I don't mind. In fact, I really enjoy it. Selfishly, I get to reap the benefits of such attention--garnering write-ups in Boston newspapers and getting linked to by more popular Web sites--without being a whipping post. I'm here to support Jess, and she's here to support me, but to say we've weathered the same storm is both naive and wrong. Nobody's said they'd like to leave me trapped inside a burning car, anyway. I am so proud of her, not only for her new-found opportunities to share her immense skill with a broader audience, but also for the ultimate maturity and dignified stoicism with which she has received her detractors; it is a testament to her passion for writing that she has not let some less enlightened naysayers keep her down.

To all those who claim that we are primarily concerned with attracting media attention, I say: read our posts. Not just the silly ones about blankets with sleeves or erotic jewelry, but the longer ones, the rambling ones, the TMI-tagged posts where we reveal things that should probably have stayed private. Read them and you will know where our hearts reside; you will understand why we do this and why we keep going; believe it or not, pissing off Jezebel writers was never our goal.

Jess mentioned that we "blew up" on the Internet. That's not true. She blew up. That's not to say I haven't found any other writing opportunities--starting in 2009, I'm actually going to be a part of something really awesome, and when I'm allowed to talk about it publicly, you'll be the first to know--but for me, Jess and Josh was never anything more than a place where I could talk about anything I wanted, at any length and with whatever amount of sarcasm or, yes, pretentiousness I desired. For me, this was never a launching pad for bigger, better things; it was never an unlocked door to the New York media world; it was never a chance to converse with my idols, because none of my idols are bloggers and if they were, I'd be too scared to confront them anyway. (I am not implying that this was this a launching pad for Jess, either, at least at the start, but, you know, HuffPo versus Blogger. It just worked out that way for her.) What this was, and continues to be, is an outlet through which I share my thoughts with my friends, both the ones I know in real life and the new friends I've made through blogs like this one.

What this has allowed me to do is not censor myself, ever. I've never felt the glaring eyes of a dozen Twitterers waiting to mock my next post, nor have I ever feared for any real-world repercussions of things I write here. Keith Gessen has never sent me an angry email, and frankly, I don't want one. All I want is to keep contributing to the global discussion born from the rise of the blog as a viable media format; my end goal is to make just one other person laugh, or think, or change, or just pass a fun few minutes of their time. Everything else is extraneous--flattering, sure, but not what I came here to do. Jess has her own tightrope to walk; she can't go uncensored anymore, and as close as we are, I'll never fully understand that.

During the whole Gawker thing, I had an insider-looking-in perspective. I remember that night, because I think it was the moment we lost our blogging innocence, so to speak. A few of us were going to get drinks at Asian Pub, NYU's favorite four-dollar-vodka-tonics bar and restaurant. I waited for ten minutes outside the front door before calling Jess. She picked up the phone crying. She was sorry for making me wait. I was sorry because I already knew what had happened. So I went over to her room and together we read that first comment thread, skipping over the mean posts and making fun of the utterly stupid ones. We didn't know how to react on the blog; do we acknowledge what happened and stand up to it, or do we just ignore it and keep on chuggin'? In the end we kind of chose both, which is probably another reason we didn't stay huge. (I think we have a decent readership today, but our fameball certainly landed.)

Anyway, insider-looking-in. I didn't know how to react for another reason as well; how much was I implicated in this? Jess was the one whom Sheila chose to single out, Jess was the one who went to that party and became so disillusioned in the first place, and Jess was the one who had to stand behind her words. But what was I to do? I mean, it wasn't my disillusionment that was at stake, but our blog was receiving attention. Was any of it mine? I've never really answered that question. I've just chosen to keep on writing and hope that I receive a simpler kind of scrutiny--the curious eyes of a reader.

Since that night, things have quieted down, and with Jess an ocean away from Manhattan, it was up to me to maintain the blog. And I have. I'm not one to talk about feminism or media personalities or anything, really, other than whatever inanities pop into my mind, but I'd like to think I've done a good job holding down the fort, as it were.

On to the point: I love this little blog of ours. In a way, I'm glad we never bought that domain name on WordPress, because our current URL reflects the way I feel about J&J: it's a place for us to talk about stuff, another bit of reaching out in a sea of Blogspots, the one place I can turn to when I just need a blank space and a blinking cursor. Along with your interest, that is all I will ever need. Thank you, thank you, thank you readers, for making all this deliriously real.



Melissa said...

While I am certainly not one of your favorite people. I still love the blog and read it religiously via google reader. I hope you continue to blog, random and thought provoking, whether you take chances or not, it's always enjoyable. I kind of miss the gossip girl feedback and am willing to pay for Jess to download it to her ipod, just for the commentary.

Jess and Josh said...

i love you josh you shouldn't have written all of this

Jess and Josh said...

also: you've done an INCREDIBLE job holding down the fort and i never even have to IM you begging you to post ;)

Linds said...

for what it's worth, and I don't know Jess personally, I found your blog via all your trials and tribulations with the NYC blog culture (i.e. Daily Intel and Gawker) and I've kept on reading whether that drama continued or not. Now about five people read my shit so I really can't speak to what you've both had to go through and I have always been self-censoring to a fault on my blog, but I think the both of you are great and brave and sometimes being brave means you get absolutely slammed. Courage doesn't really mean we do things when they're easy. The fact that you kept it up speaks volumes. It's much harder to continue than just delete what you have written. WHICH YOU CAN DO. Okay, mush fest over.

Ali said...

hi jess and josh,
i've been an avid reader since a friend of mine pointed me to the post jess wrote about j-sex, which happened to be during a time that i was bedridden for a week. i ended up reading EVERY post from the very beginning, and loving every minute of it. i don't even know you guys, but i feel like i do, and that's what makes good blogging. that stuff you wrote in the beginning was the truly captivating stuff, and i'm glad that even though your blog has evolved, that like josh said it's evident your hearts are in the same place. keep chuggin, and i'm looking forward to the day i bump into one of you on broadway or something and it makes my day. apologies ahead of time for the potential creepiness of that interaction.

Anonymous said...

love that last bit about the url. i always thought about that but forgot to tell you guys, but you couldn't have said it better.

Dene said...

hi Josh (and Jess) I started reading because I was curious about all the writers who write at NYU Local. But yea, I love your stuff, even the silly stuff (maybe especially the silly stuff) Keep up the great work, and happy birthday blog!