October 17, 2009

The Difference Between Blog Friends and Real Life Friends

Sometimes friends of mine who are unfamiliar with blogging ask me questions about who reads my blog and why. They want to know what I write about, how I come up with ideas and if I get nervous about getting into trouble somehow.

The story never changes. I tell them about how I started this blog on a whim, just an impulse and how it changed my life. That last bit sometimes brings about an eye roll or two, but that's ok with me. If I wasn't intimately familiar with it all I would probably do the same.

I explain to them that blogging provides one of the best outlets I have ever found for expressing myself. I talk about how it allows me to learn more about myself and about others. I talk about how it is has helped me through some dark times and very tough moments. It has been a great tool for chronicling my life and the family. The place where I rediscovered my love for writing/

And of course it is a place where I have made some good friends. It is an interesting thing, the friendships developed through blogging. Somewhere in the archives Psychotoddler referred to it as targeted socializing and it is true. Reach out and click someone and you can learn a million things about who they are in a much faster way than you might in person.

The readers here have learned things about me that I never share in person. There have been some exceptionally raw and intimate moments that they have been exposed to that most of my "real life" friends don't know about.

It is not that I can't tell them these things either, because I can. I have some exceptional friends, people who mean the world to me. Friends who make a difference, people who I would take the bullet for.

Some of them have been through some experiences that are beyond description. Together we really have laughed and cried. We have been through the entire life cycle together. We have witnessed weddings, births and divorce. You guys don't need me to tell you how horrific it was to lose 'D,' how incomprehensible it was for him to die at such a young age. You knew him, you loved him and together we all miss him.

But in the real world we don't always delve into the weighty topics that come up here. Like I said, it is not that we couldn't and sometimes we do. But here in cyberspace it lends itself well to the deeper discussion. In the silence of the night there is a certain safety in speaking.

Not to mention that anonymity lends a certain security as well. Harry Potter's Invisibility cloak could do no better.

It is funny to think of the times that I have met other bloggers. I really have met very few, but thanks to our time reading each other's blogs we have felt a bit closer. At least that is how it seemed to me. There were discussions about topics that you wouldn't normally broach with someone you had just me. But we hadn't really just met each other.

All that time spent reading had prepared us for something more than just superficial talk. That is not to say that every blogger/reader will be a close and personal friend. That certainly wouldn't happen any more than it would in real life.

But blogging has given me a lot. The exposure and introduction to people and places has been exceptional and for that I am very grateful.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I often talk to people about the power of the blogosphere and why it matters. Some of you have tried to tease me about sounding too 'Star Warsish" but the reality is that blogging offers access to millions of people. Bloggers are influential. If we were not, the FTC wouldn't bother with us.

In the end I will always be drawn to blogging because of the writing and the outlet, but it would be wrong not to say that you don't play a role here as well, because you do.

6 comments:

RJW said...

Jack, I think it's more than just targeted socializing. I think it's writing period. People frequently forget the power of writing whether it's blogs or letters because writing has an incredible power. A relationship developed from sending missives back and forth grows much faster and deeper than seeing someone once a week or sending tweets or notes on Facebook. There is an exposure and vulnerability that comes through writing that takes much longer to see if ever. Just my two cents.

feefifoto said...

I think you're absolutely right, but there's one thing you forgot to mention. If a blogger ticks you off you can just stop reading and stop responding and, unless one of you takes blogging as seriously as stalking, there will be no significant harm. I appreciate the relationships I've developed through blogging, but the ability to walk away is one of the things that allows me to share intimacies that I would find awkward in real life.

Jack said...

RJW,

I agree. The writing can really impact things.Powerful writing when read daily has a real impact.

Fee,

I hadn't thought about that, but it makes sense. The ability to walk away is important. It is far easier than when you have to see someone every day. You are absolutely correct.

bernthis said...

blogging is one of the greatest things that have happened to me. I have met and gotten to know people that in a million years I never would have been able to get to know. The love and support I receive on a daily basis from these folks is truly a gift

rutimizrachi said...

The blogosphere gives me the opportunity to truly listen to people whom I would gravitate away from at a social gathering. In life, we exchange a few probe sentences to see if we are on comfortable ground or an area of mutual interest. If we don't find that connection, we walk away, to find someone we can "relate to." In this forum, I can safely read the deep thoughts of "the other," getting to know her, allowing myself to see things from her point of view. I have learned a great deal through this medium, and also have shared ideas with people who otherwise would not be attracted to my way of thinking.

Jack said...

Bernthis,

Love and support is a great description. I am always impressed by how many people gladly offer their help to other bloggers.

Ruti,

The exposure to so many different kinds of people and thoughts has been a blessing.I have learned a lot from my blogging experience.