Voice of the people

When I was maybe 9 or 10 (in the mid-90s) I discovered Let It Out, which at the time was buried in the Sunday Lifestyle section of the Indianapolis Star. I thought I’d stumbled across something revolutionary. “I get to read what REAL LOCAL PEOPLE think? About whatever’s on their minds?!”

The city’s voices, lifted up for all to hear! And in the newsprint-smudged pages of a serious newspaper, no less.

Letters to the Editor were serious. Let It Out was voyeuristic. I grabbed the newspaper from the mailbox every Saturday night to see what the talk of the town was. A mysterious local billboard campaign? Reggie Miller? President Clinton? Strange personal confessions? Each comment could be from ANYBODY. Well, anybody who, like me, had found this secret everyman’s platform.

Eager to be part of the conversation, I submitted my own thoughts from time to time. I’d call into the newspaper’s phone tree, where typing in a code meant listening to a movie review or clip of an album reviewed in the paper, or checking the weather, or browsing personal ads, or – if you were me – connecting to the most important answering machine in Indianapolis.

My heart always pounded when I left a message. I was free to say absolutely anything. Parents or teachers or classmates might see my submission, but they’d never know it came from me. Maybe I’d even get a reply to my comment! Even if someone disagreed with my thoughts, I wouldn’t get in trouble or disappoint someone. Anonymous candor had always appealed to me. I grew up United Methodist but, thanks to authors like Judy Blume, I was dying to go to Catholic confession.

And yes, several of my remarks were printed over the years, and I did get a few replies.

Within a few years, Let It Out was expanded to several times a week. What a coup! I was delighted that its popularity was growing. It wasn’t long before it became a daily feature, the one I checked first every morning. Even as I got older and everyday life exposed me to more and more new perspectives, I still found Let It Out a fascinating peek into others’ minds.

And now it’s 2018. Since the turn of the millennium I’ve been active on AIM, LiveJournal, Xanga, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Blogspot, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Yelp, WordPress (hi!), Nextdoor, Instagram, and Snapchat.

…I can’t believe I ever wanted to know what the average person was thinking.

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