We all have our favorite blogs to read. The same way a parent fumbles with the words when asked which of her children she loves the best, the same is true with blogs. They are all special in their own way. I can think of some common reasons why people would support, encourage and stand beside the bloggers they devote their time to:
- Our blogs were launched about the same time and I feel a certain kinship with this blogger.
- I read this blog and feel as though he/she knows exactly how I am feeling. I read because I know I’m not alone and can garner some strength in that knowing.
- I strive to be more like this blogger. He/she gives me inspiration and I need that positive reinforcement in my life right now.
We all have our own reasons as to why we’re especially loyal to certain blogs. But, what if you were asked, ‘Why do you blog?’ Well, until earlier this week, I’d never considered that to be a loaded question. Now, I begin to wonder.
Yet another one of my favorite bloggers officially signed off on Sunday, hitting the publish button on what was to be her last post. I was deeply saddened to see her go, and quite surprised by the events that led to her decision. Here, in part, was what she had to say in her last post:
The idea that blogging may no longer be the best way to meet my needs came from a German university.
A few months ago, I was asked to participate in a research study of bloggers. Of course, I was skeptical, but this one checked out as being legitimate. As I was filling out the questionnaire, I became upset, as I felt the researchers had been less than forthright about what they set out to prove in their research. At some point I stopped answering the questions, as I was highly offended by the nature of the questions. To paraphrase, they were asking leading questions to gather a psychological profile of bloggers as people with few friends, socially awkward (my paraphrase) who used the internet rather than have actual human interactions….
But it did get me to thinking. Did I fit that category? How well rounded an individual am/was I? Did I fit that blogger profile? What was driving my need to blog? What need was I meeting by blogging? For me, it was a combination of things – external affirmation and a need for intimacy, to find and connect with like-minded people – something I seemed to think impossible for me in my real life.
….The time has come for me to leave this behind. To concentrate on my 3D life – cultivating friendships and creating real intimacy. I’ve substituted the keyboard for skin far too long. In my year of living authentically, it’s time to move completely into the real world.
When I finished reading, I sent a comment to let her know how much her blog as well as her online friendship had meant to me, wished her all the best, and started my day. It wasn’t until later, when I was walking my dogs with my husband that I noticed an unsettled feeling regarding her post. Much of it had to do with the researchers and their questions (opinions) about bloggers. First of all, I had no idea that someone like me, a blogger – was worth researching; especially a project whose team hopes to portray an idea of who they perceive us to be: lonely, isolated, anti-social people who reach out to others like us so that we don’t have to fully participate in life like the rest of the world.
I personally know a few people right now who would wholeheartedly agree that I should apply as the poster child for that study. Since losing my job last September I have certainly had to adjust to feeling more isolated, even though I have another part-time job; I do find myself lonely at times (but who doesn’t?) and as far as being anti-social? Well, if that means that I’d rather spend my evenings with an intimate group of people as opposed to being at an entire house party then yes, I’m anti-social. But, choosing to blog because I’d rather reach out than go out is inaccurate.
Still, the seed had been planted and I found myself wondering: How many 3-D friends do I have? How much of my life is spent blogging as opposed to living among the…living? What DO I get from blogging? Is the term ‘blog friend’ nothing more than that being compared to a high school pen pal exchange program? We write a few letters back and forth, develop as meaningful a friendship as one can over the hundreds or thousands of miles that separates us; then it’s time for graduation; we say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. (Truthfully speaking, how many real-life friendships are immune to similar endings?)
What does the word ‘friendship’ mean to you? Must we meet a person in real life and get to know them to accept these bonds as real? Does it diminish the bond if you never have the opportunity to meet face to face?
I can tell you one thing: it’s difficult for a blogger to explain to a non-blogger about the whys of it all. They simply do not understand something they’ve never done. They may grasp the idea of it, but it’s still not the same. Want my take on the whole thing? I’m always commenting on here about how much of a rule-follower I am – which, by and large, is part of my nature (it’s a control thing, but I’m working on it). But, I’m not a true conformist. I never took my husband’s last name, I don’t have a traditional family, I try to challenge my comfort zone on a regular basis, I seek out vacations to see the things that other people don’t particularly take the time to go see; and I happen to run a blog. I am learning to embrace my differences. I truly am. Different is grouped together with the same words as unique, special, and diverse. I’ll take any one of those words and wear it proudly. And those researchers? Maybe they should start a blog and meet the kind of wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last year with. Then we’ll talk.