October 18, 2006

Blogging Can Help You Make/Lose Friends

I am not real sure that I like the title of this post, but I couldn't quite find the words to describe this in an appropriate fashion. So I'll work extra hard on the post itself.

One of the reasons that I blog is that I enjoy the interaction with others. Without this medium I assuredly would never come into contact with so many interesting people that I feel privileged to have met, albeit in the virtual world.

In a post here or on his own blog Psychotoddler referred to blogging as targeted socializing. The concept is simple enough to understand. Blogging is another medium that makes it easy to determine who we would like to get to know better. In theory it makes it relatively easy to form relationships, friendships even.

And that is where things can get interesting.

Think about how friendships develop. To be more specific, consider how adult friendships develop. It could be someone that you meet at the office, the gym, synagogue or perhaps through a book club or other group you participate in. In general over time you begin to develop a friendship with them, but typically there are some significant distinctions in how you do that compared to what happens in the blogosphere.

In the blogosphere our personal boundaries are a little bit more relaxed. Often blogs contain personal stories or thoughts on politics and religion. Perhaps these are things that you would share with a friend, but in general you would probably be slower to release some of this information. It is natural to be a bit more guarded in person than here in the virtual world.

So what happens is that the so called natural rhythm and pace of information exchange between people is accelerated. Not only is it accelerated but it is provided in a format that makes it more difficult to understand. Sarcasm doesn't always translate well. Attempts at humor may fail. There are no verbal clues to help provide an explanation of the true meaning of your words.

Example: You discover a new blog and become a regular visitor. For the sake of the example let's say that you consider this blogger to be witty, erudite and a very fine writer. It quickly becomes one of your favorite stops on your blogroll, until one fateful day when they offend you.

It is the day that they write a post that completely denigrates you as a person. It is a day in which they espouse a political point of view that you find so heinous you cannot begin to explain how ugly they have now become.

I suspect that it happens to all of us. I am sure that there are former readers of the Shack around the blogosphere, not because the blog jumped the shark but because they were upset by something that I wrote.

It is kind of interesting to me. In theory they could be offended by something that they never would have heard me say. It might be my real opinion or it might be a complete misunderstanding.

It is interesting to me because while my blog contains some insights into who I am, what I like, what I believe, what scares me etc, it still is not me.

It is interesting because as real as the virtual world can be it is still not reality. It is interesting to me because I have met some bloggers and I have made some good friends. They have transitioned from cyberspace friends in-person personal friends.

What do you think?

18 comments:

Robbie said...

There are some I've abandoned, but more often than not I stick around to see what they're going to say next, and just how offensive they can get.

Another interesting thing to me is that I know I have readers who won't blogroll me because of my content (they'd rather not be associated with my type of humor, I suppose) but they're loyal readers - at least they tell me so through email.

Head over heel said...

Blogging is a typ of freedom for me - but only to the point when you get to know a blogfriend in-person.

By then you share new things outside of your blogworld. The person knows you and (at least for me) you immediatly do not want to display certain points of your life in your blog again. All of a sudden you feel like you put yourself a muzzle on. But that's not the meaning of a blog!!!

Sorry english is not my mother-tongue, hope this makes sense.

Freedom TelAviv said...

You are right that we make new connections with people we would otherwise nort meet principally because of geographical constraints. I wouldn't go so far as to call the relationship "friends".
ps I reopened my blog because I enjoy the quality feedback from people like you.

Z said...

I try to blogroll my daily reads if only to remember to go there daily (getting old is a bitch for real!) I wouldn't say that any of my blog friends and I would get along in person but I sure would miss them if they went away.

Anonymous said...

I've had mostly positive experiences with the blog as social discourse, and even with transitioning from blog-connection to real-life: Meeting David Bogner (Treppenwitz) in Jerusalem, for instance. There is a short list of bloggers I would like to get to know for real... watch out, Jack, you're on the list.

To me, the main problem with blogging is not the regular readers, but the blog-hopping trolls that seem to randomly pick some blog to screw up. Hope its not mine next. (Do I have to make an offering to the blog gods?)

Ezzie said...

Definitely. I still keep tabs on such blogs, to see what they say - especially in regards to me, when I've seen people write things that were completely false or misconstrued.

In general, I think you can get an idea of what a person's like rather quickly based on what they write, partially because of that 'accelerated' exchange. To date, every blogger I've met (and there have been *many*) has been pretty much what I 'expected'. Heck, some of them even look exactly as I expected.

But I have seen a number of blogs - especially a couple of specific ones - that have been extremely nasty and disgusting, espousing sick points of view. The sick POV don't bother me as much as the way they make their points, completely denigrating others and (on occasion) twisting their opinions or making up outright falsehoods. It's really sad.

Michael said...

I like the statement "natural rhythm and pace of information exchange between people is accelerated".

Very true.

In a way it is like going all the way with a girl before you date. You get real close real fast but some of the normal social rules get forgotten or simply made up in our imagination.

Nice post.

Take Care
Michael

Elie said...

I definitely find that I can share faster and more in the blog than I can in "real-life", even though my blog is 100% non-anonymous. I'm much more reserved in person than in writing.

cruisin-mom said...

I'm not a good one to ask...heck, I blog about colonoscopies and hot flashes...now that's a great way to make fast friends, don't cha think?

marallyn said...

i like smart and i like funny...don't always like a wiseass...oops can i say that here? shabbat shalom...whatever they say about you jack you are not boring...stay safe

marallyn said...

cruisin you got guts...you go girl...

PsychoToddler said...

Here's where I think the blogosphere can be a force for world peace. If you frequent a blog, comment on it, enjoy it, let the author know that you enjoy it, participate in the general activites there, and then they suddenly write something that completely offends you...you could I guess just stop reading.

Or you could call them on it, write a respectful but firm comment about why what they wrote offends you, and how it's not just an empty rant into the ether of the internet, but something which hurt you, a real live human being that the blog readers have come to know, if not in the flesh, then in spirit at least.

And they will either stop, think, maybe factor you into their opinion, maybe change.

Or just flame you. Either way, what have you got to lose? Get out and represent!

PsychoToddler said...

Re: Targeted Socializing (TM)

I had a discussion with someone recently about this. I am not a good friend in general. I don't keep in touch with people. I was inseparable from my College roommate, and yet I've spoken to him only a handful of times in the past 15 years.

I just don't like small talk. I can't pick up a phone and jabber on about nothing (I can, actually, if pressed, but I would never do it voluntarily).

But blogging gives us a common frame of reference. Things both participants in the conversation are interested in. So there's what to discuss.

If, lets say, my roommate made a blog in which he wrote about nothing but Karate, I still wouldn't read it, though. It's not just the commonality of blogging that brings us together. We share common interests that blogging helps us focus on.

Jack's Shack said...

Robbie,

There are some blogs that I frequent because I am curious to see just how outrageous they get.

HOH,

I understand. It is hard when the outlet becomes restrictive.

MNJ/Datingmaster,

:)

Z,

It is one of those things that you never really know without testing.

Miriam,

It is a good thing that you are in Texas and I am here. ;)

I'd like to say that I ignore the trolls, but I don't. I spend too much time arguing with them.

Ezzie,

What bothers me about some blogs is knowing that they truly believe some of the crap that they are espousing.

In a way it is like going all the way with a girl before you date. You get real close real fast but some of the normal social rules get forgotten or simply made up in our imagination.

Very true.

Elie,

I can be fairly reserved in person too.

CM,

Let it all hang out. Ooops, you do, don't you. ;)

M,

I try.

Get out and represent!

Harrumph.

I am not a good friend in general. I
I just don't like small talk.

Your bedside manner must be great. ;)

Chana said...

I don't post enough, or have enough of a readership, for my blog to have jumped the shark. (I don't think, LOL)

Plus I have been AWOL from J-blogland lately because of personal stuff... nothing horrible... just stuff distracting me IRL. But yes, over the last ~6 months I've been blogging there have been blogs I've stopped reading because I lost interest in them.

PsychoToddler said...

Harrumph

What is this Harrumph that you speak of?

Sweettooth120 said...

I once wrote a post about what are the etiequette rules of blogging - specifically, when you feel like you have develop a rapport with a blogger, based mostly on the fact that you are a frequent visitor to their blog and/or comment to them through other people's blogs.

It's a comfort thing but when is it ok to go beyond that such as emailing or imming them? Is it appropriate?

Jack's Shack said...

Chana,

I had noticed that you suddenly disappeared. Welcome back.

What is this Harrumph that you speak of?

A very large mammal.

It's a comfort thing but when is it ok to go beyond that such as emailing or imming them? Is it appropriate?

That is pretty subjective. Really a question that can only be answered on a case by case basis. If both parties are comfortable, what is the harm.