Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Robert Fulghum - The Original Master Blogger

Recently it seemed depressing to read the newspaper, so I checked my favorite blogs for something more cheerful. Along the way I came across this:

How about some good news for a change? Something to consider when you are in a people-are-no-damn-good mood?

Here's a phrase we hear a lot: "You can't trust anybody anymore." Doctors and politicians and merchants and salesmen. They're all out to rip you off, right?

It ain't necessarily so.

Man named Steven Brill tested the theory. In New York City, with taxicab drivers. Brill posed as a well-to-do foreigner with little knowledge of English. He got into several dozen taxis around New York City to see how many drivers would cheat him. His friends predicted in advance that most would take advantage of him in some way.

One driver out of thirty cheated him. The rest took him directly to his destination and charged him correctly. Several refused to take him when his destination was only a block or two away, even getting out of their cabs to show him how close he already was. The greatest irony of all was that several drivers warned him that New York City was full of crooks and to be careful.

You will continue to read stories of crookedness and corruption - of policemen who lie and steal, doctors who reap where they do not sew, politicians on the take. Don't be misled. They are news because they are the exceptions. The evidence suggests that you can trust a lot more people than you think. The evidence suggests that a lot of people believe that. A recent survey by Gallup indicates that 70 percent ;of the people believe that most people can be trusted most of the time.

Who says people are no damn good? What kind of talk is that?

Wow. Some post, huh?

Personally, I loved it. And New York City is a kinder, gentler version of what it used to be nearly 25 years ago when this piece was written. The last time Kathleen and I were in the city, our experience exactly coincided with the report. The drivers were helpful, fair and efficient.

The author of this piece is Robert Fulghum, and technically, it's not a blog post at all. It's one of his signature ultra-brief, ultra-meaningful chapters in his classic bestseller, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Ballantine, 1986). In its day, this book was a number one bestseller for about a year.

No, I'm not trying to trick you. I've been rereading Fulghum lately, and I've noticed that he writes his chapters in a style and form (innovative in his time) that are typical of today's blog posts. His pieces are brief, grounded in personal experience, honest and heartfelt, culminating in his take on things. This is exactly what the best bloggers try to do. And Fulghum perfected the blog post fifteen years before blogs were invented! In fact, nowhere on the blogosphere have I encountered his equal.

Hey, if you take blog writing seriously, if you want to study at the feet of a Zen Grand Master of Blogging, if you've never read Fulghum before, get thee to Amazon! And enjoy.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

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