Thursday, February 16, 2006

"The Land of Bloggerie"

With thanks to Madcap Mum for the title.

A couple of things have got me thinking about the nature of blogging communities. One was the surprising experience of being put on the spot as a sort of "blogging expert" (which I certainly am not, but everything is relative) at the conference I attended last weekend. I found myself describing blogging, not so much from a mechanical how-to angle, but in the sense of the circles of people that develop, and how these circles grow and ebb, intersect and aggregate.

Then there was Madcap Mum's recent post of her fantasies about blog authors being totally different from the personas we see on their blogs.

Finally there was Mary Ann's post, saying she was honoured to see her blog remaining in my sidebar under "Folks with something in common." I was a bit startled, and honoured myself, just to think that having "something in common" with me would be considered an honour! Part of my surprise, though, was due to the fact that Mary Ann and I have not commented back and forth much, so I didn't have any sense that my blog was important to her. How many others read and appreciate it, and never comment? It is a strange feeling. It reminds me of a song I wrote a couple of years ago, when I was asked to sing at the funeral of a woman I scarcely knew.

We gather here:
your family;
neighbours and friends;
Some knew you well;
some said "Hello."
What you meant to them,
you may not know.

For here am I,
a girl from town.
I did not know
you loved my song.

We gather here:
your family;
neighbours and friends;
In thanks and praise,
some heads held high;
some eyes cast down;
we say goodbye.

The life you sang:
the love goes on.
We come to say
we loved your song.


As a side note: the song was warmly received at the funeral - people asked for the music - but the day took a turn to the surreal when I overheard a conversation at the luncheon about how "she loved Laurie's singing." My immediate suspicion was confirmed as the conversation continued: I had been invited to sing by mistake. The beloved singer was Laurie Schmidt, not me. And I love Laurie's singing, too. And I loved my song, but I felt like a fake exposed. Except that I wasn't faking, just misled, and I was only partly exposed, naked to some, and still draped in false honour by others. I couldn't set things straight without spreading embarrassment around. I wanted to sink through the floor. Now in hindsight, I still love the song. It brings to mind that phrase, "God moves in mysterious ways." But it rings a little hollow for me, because I suspect that Laurie really did know that her singing was loved.

I've been writing and writing, and still haven't gotten near the point. I think I want to say something uncomfortable. I want to say that I fear making too many friends out there in the "land of Bloggerie." I fear making new friendships, because, well, how will I let some of the old ones go? In real life there are always excuses to explain the thinning phone calls, the lack of a visit. People move and make new friends closer to home. People take on new activities and don't have time for the old ones, so they don't see the same people anymore. In blogging, the constraints of location and schedule are mostly eliminated. If I stop reading a blog, but I'm still actively posting and commenting elsewhere, my absence might be noticed, and felt.

This probably sounds bizarre to some. I know that many blogs have a rough-and-tumble atmosphere where the message is basically, if you want to keep your feelings safe from hurt, don't comment, or better yet, don't read. I do read and comment on some of those blogs, and I have learned to get along fine, remembering that most of the blows are not aimed personally, or if they are, I can let them go by, knowing that "personally" is a rather distorted construct in a comment thread anyway.

In that rough-and-tumble context, it sounds very odd to be rationing my reading of new blogs for fear of neglecting old friends. Probably I am worrying too much (as usual). I've seen my own blog disappear off a sidebar, and if there was any feeling there at all, it just felt appropriate. I tried imagining how it would feel if a favourite commenter drifted away, and I had the sudden realization that I could probably quit blogging altogether, today, and not be devastated. (Good news, that.) But there are certainly some bloggers I would dearly miss, if they no longer had time for me. There is one right now who has been quiet for a few days, and I don't feel left out, I just quietly wonder if everything is okay.

Ah, community. I think it's time to go and pay some attention to my kids.


Madcap said...

The strangest things happen, eh? What an odd experience that funeral must have been.

I find it hard to accept the organic nature of relationships, but it's getting easier as I get older. Some are annuals, some are perennials. Of course, even the perennials have seasons of dormancy. And occasionally you realize that you've been cultivating a weed! (And of course you know I'm not talking about you!)

arcolaura said...

And sometimes you find out that the weed is edible - well, maybe I'm taking the analogy too far!

Paul said...

I suspiscion that the thoughts you've experienced are the same thoughts that many of us have experienced. I feel slightly guilty because I haven't been commenting on a few blogs that I thoroughly enjoy but, I don't have the time for everything. Still, I'm concerned they may misunderstand.

CG said...

I'm doing so well! I don't feel guilty about any stuff like this!

Now, I've long contemplated things like, who I choose to link to and who I don't. I link to all my real friends. But I read (and comment) on some blogs that I don't link to, like this one. And I don't feel anything at all about it, or about who links to me and who doesn't. I do think there are real relationships here, but it isn't life and death.

It isn't even the wrong funeral. (which, if you haven't seen it, visit PureFlorida -- link on Deb's blog) for two more *funny* wrong funeral stories!)

Granny said...

I don't spend a lot of time at the rough and tumble blogs. Some of them are funny but I usually lurk and go quietly away.

I'm fond of almost all of the people I've met. I can't get around to all the time (like here) but I see your name somewhere else or you leave a comment on mine and I come right back.