"What happened to the blog?" I'll tell you: I was overcome by my inner geek.
The stereotype is that geeks are social outcasts -- awkward, repulsive people who cultivate relationships with machines because they can't relate to other people. And yet, as technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of the popular culture and everyday life, people with technological skill are generally well-loved and respected. I have no lack of fans, at least among those who need my help.
And . . . There is always a need for technological help. Confessing to be a techno-geek at a party is almost as bad as being a doctor; people immediately start telling you about their computer problems and asking you to help them.
And the geeks do help. I've rarely found a geek who wasn't willing, nay, dying to share his expertise with others. That is, after all, how they constitute their self image. In our own minds, we are super-heroes. I am not exaggerating; we really do see ourselves as the specially-endowed saviors of humanity.
Consider the following scene:
Someone cries for help. Something awful has happened. Their world has turned upside down. Something very dear to them is terribly imperiled by a threat they do not understand, some kind of monster, and nobody around them can help. Others have been powerless to help. The victim is on the verge of despair. Suddenly, someone new arrives . . . Someone who is not afraid. "I've seen this sort of thing before, ma'am." Using powers that seem mystical and strange, the stranger banishes the evil, restores balance and peace to the world. The rescued victims are so thankful. "However can I repay you . . . ?"
This is a stock scene from Superman, yes? It is also what happens when you recover someone's email files from a corrupted hard disk. The thrill of power and purpose is probably about the same.
I used to think that the pull of being a superhero was only a small part of my motivation. Surely I have other motives -- personal profit, intellectual interest. But the drive to be the super-hero consistently trumps all other desires. I will give up billable hours, even my own free time, even food and sleep, all for the sake of hearing someone say, "You saved me. You're awesome."
No doubt lots of good comes from it. And yet, it is an unmanageable addiction, one that leads to over-commitment, poorly planned projects, and misplaced priorities. My boss once told a customer: "Don't ask Georg to do anything that's not on this list . . . Because saying 'please' to him is, like, kryptonite. He loses all willpower, he does whatever anyone says."
So . . . As I started making free time to pursue my writing, I was filling it instead with more technical heroics . . . This time unpaid technical heroics for my kids school. It all needed doing, and I'm glad I did it, but it's not what I set out to do. It's time to change that.
My thanks, as always, to the friends and colleagues who kept asking me, "Where's the blog?" Sadly, I need that. I need that a lot.