Another Goodbye

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.   

31 thoughts on “Another Goodbye

  1. MT

    Listen, I think that study has its results in mind before it completes the research. That is bad research… first of all.

    Second, I think people blog and people get different things out of their blogs. I can elaborate more in an e-mail, but the bottom line is that I think we do ourselves a disservice and speak in a demeaning way when we call all of these connections developed online “online friends” and “online acquaintances” as opposed to “people we know in real life.” This is real life, and there are real people behind these blogs… some we develop deep friendships with… some remain mere acquaintances or people we simply know (or read) in passing. They are no less “real.” They may not have as much “real-time,” though sometimes that occurs too. As you know, blogging friendships can develop into telephone friendships and in-person friendships. I think it’s time we stop saying “online friends” and simply start calling them “friends from the blogs” or “acquaintances met from the blogs.” Do people who meet their spouses online always demean that initial connection? I think not.

    Reply
  2. Karen Ogle

    I’m concerned for your friend who left. It sounds as if she was made to feel lacking in something because she blogs. Blogging is just a way of sharing our personal journey with others and making friends across all boundaries. Here, in our own lives, we are limited to people who are very similar in nature and beliefs. Geographical areas seem to be riddled with SAMENESS. Meeting people from other countries and other cultures online expands our horizons. Not all of us can afford to travel to diverse places and the internet is an option that almost anyone can utilize. I think the study was done by narrow minded people who made some erroneous assumptions about blogging and internet relationships. I wish your friend the best but I feel like those people have taken something valuable from her.

    Reply
  3. Karen@WaistingTime

    For a long time I’ve intended to write about internet friends. Not just the ones from blogging, but also forums and facebook, etc. I am indeed a homebody. BUT, if I was not on here right now, I would not be out socializing instead. I get something from blogging. That’s why I do it. And a big part of what I get is a feeling of community and connection. I can tell you that I had no doubt I would get along with Sharon in person before I met her. Yes, I was nervous, but I felt I knew her so well already. And, ironically, some of my blog friends and readers know way more about me than my “real” friends.” I am more open and honest on here than IRL. Funny, isn’t it. I think there are all sorts of definitions of friendship, just as there are for “family.”

    Reply
  4. Girly Girl:Losing the Gut

    Very insightful post Ellen. Blogging is so personal to each of us and the relationships, connections and friends that we make on here are as real as anything in my opinion. I think about you and some of the other bloggers that I have grown close with over the past year when I am not blogging just the same as I think of a friend who I didn’t meet in the blog world. The connections that we make in life can all look very differntly, yet still be profoundly important and influential to our lives. It is always sad to see someone leave blogging, but as someone who almost did I can understand it some days. For me it was all about reaffirming that this is my blog and I can say or not say what I like (within reason of course). This was the most important thing for me to learn, because I was feeling like a failure because I didn’t blog every day or in the same way that other people did. At the end of the day I like blogging, I like to support others and get the support of others, so I decided to stick it out. I agree with what you said about the research and I think it does imply that none of us have lives, jobs, social skills outside of “sitting behind our computer monitors”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Kudos to you for saying how you felt on this matter and yet again saying it in a way that is thought provoking and fosters a discussion about what it means to be a blogger :)

    Reply
  5. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    As someone who has been meeting and making internet friends for well over 10 years I can say this: they are just as much friends as my 3D friends. Friendship is friendship…in some ways internet friendships are different and in some ways they are the same. I also love the fact that I’ve been able to connect with people that I never would have if it weren’t for the internet.

    I have plenty of 3D friends and I spend plenty of quality time with them…it’s a nice balance.

    As for blogging, I am relatively new to it (2009) but it has been one of the most powerful healing tools I’ve ever used (I had no idea how powerful).

    Reply
    1. Paula

      I could not have said this any better so just stick my name on the end of Karen’s reply :)
      But I do think it’s kind of sad that the notion was put into her head that blogging is for sad, lonely people and now she seems to feel that way. I obviously don’t know the whole story but it seems a little brainwashy to me that their line of questioning would cause her to feel that she needs to stop.

      Reply
  6. Tim

    Great post and I am sitting here nodding my head with pretty much what everyone else is saying.

    It’s funny because before I joined blogger last year, I wouldn’t have associated myself with blogging, let alone posting topless pics to strangers on my blog! LOL

    With anything, if you enjoy doing it, you become passionate about it and you want to keep doing it. If it wasn’t for blogger, I wouldn’t be talking to people from around the world, learning about different cultures and also making wonderful friendships which will last for the rest of my life.

    Reply
  7. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    Several years ago I joined an online writing community in which most of us used “screen names” as opposed to real names. I remember thinking that might not be such a bad thing, that it kept things anonymous and a figurative arms length away. Years passed, wonderful time spent sharing stories and ideas and events in our group and in private emails, over time feeling it becoming less anonymous but not fully comprehending it until one of my closest “online friends” died of breast cancer. In a heartbeat, I understood that it wasn’t really anonymous at all and the arms length distance I once appreciated now meant there was no one to hug. Never meeting her in person didn’t lessen the impact of her passing one bit. In fact, it amplified the pain, I think, because I never got to hug her and thank her in person for her support of my newbie writing efforts.

    People who’ve never experienced friendship begun in an online forum really have no business trying to explain it. IMO. :)

    Btw, I’ll miss Roxie, too!

    Reply
  8. Greg (Transformed and Scaled)

    Ugh, gotta love “research” where they’ve come to their conclusion before they’ve even run their survey, and are just looking for results to back it up.
    I think that the blogging community is strong, and that every blogger out there does it for different reasons.
    And I love this notion of bloggers as introverted social misanthropes. Does anyone really think Heather Armstrong of is an awkward introvert?
    Sorry that your friend felt compelled to give up what she loved doing because of a few asshat “researchers”. That’s a shame.

    Reply
  9. teresa

    The idea that I might not have met you, Ellen, is enough reason for me to completely appreciate blogging. And you’re not the only person I’ve met who has enhanced my life and given me support that I needed and very much appreciate.
    Instead of thinking of it as a way to isolate…. I think of it as a way to draw from a much larger pool of my fellow humans. How could I have gotten to know wonderful people from all over the country and sometimes all over the world. And these connections are amazing. Some true meetings of the heart and mind. Brilliant.
    I guess I needed a bigger audience than I get in my own world.
    I have plenty of human interaction if I want it. I, like you, am pushing past my comfort zone as much as I can and that will still never include huge crowds or a “nightlife.”
    And… I simply love to write. Let’s not forget about that part of it. Lots of us write our thoughts and feelings well and it is therapeutic or just creatively fun.
    Designing blogs is fun!
    Geesh. Fun!

    Reply
  10. LauraJayne

    This is an interesting post – in large part because in the last couple of months, I’ve realized that I’m not cut out to be a socialite. Yes, I can be outgoing, but I prefer a “3D” social life with a few close friends, work, school, and my family. I believe that our blogging community plays an important role in my life because I can make the social connections and bonds that I need in a more realistic time frame. I feel like I know just as much about you (albeit in a very specific area) as I would about a close friend, and I value you just as much – the stigma of internet relationships as being superficial is over. There was a study conducted about Facebook use that actually attributes use to an increased engagement in other “life” activities – I think that blogging enhances and even increases what we are already doing in our lives by widening our social “realm” and diversifying the perspectives we have on life.
    But heck, if it turns out that I’m really anti-social and whatever else someone thinks I might be, at least I’m happy – and honestly, happy is WAY more important than whatsoever someone else thinks about me.

    Reply
  11. Jan

    How sad for your friend to just end blogging. I hate that the study she did led her to that. I have gained SO MUCH from the blogging world. Sure I have several 3-D friends (especially with having a kid…you have no choice if you want to stay sane). But those I’ve met online have been invaluable! It’s hard to find someone who’s on a similar journey in real life, yet in the blog world, that person finds you, you strike up a friendship and amazing things happen. Even if someone was “socially challenged”, if it gives them a chance to step outside of their comfort zone and meet people, to feel part of a group, etc…, what’s the harm in that? I’m proud to be a blogger and to know other bloggers. Some of my greatest friends were met through the blog world and I know we’ll be friends for a lifetime.

    Reply
  12. munchberry

    Well – I have a somewhat different perspective on those researchers. It sounds to me that they have their preconceived notions and are looking to justify them. And let me tell you, if there is the will to do so, they will create a way to fulfill. So, I encourage you and anyone else in eyeshot of this to pay them no never mind, take them for what they are and count yourself lucky that you are not a member of their groupthink experiment.

    Bloggers are like the rest of society. Varied. But maybe a little more interesting and more literate. You are what you are – and writing with interest is one of your strengths. WHY should you NOT do it?

    Justify yourself to no one. If they require it, there is probably something wrong with the relationship. Unless you are being jerky. But then there is no justification… only apology.

    Bottom line: who gives a shit what they think? Bullshit inartists.

    Reply
  13. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds

    Boy, talk about a biased study. Sure, there are people out there who fit the researcher’s profile, but that is not the majority of the bloggers out there. At least not with my experience. If anything, I read plenty of sorry-I’m-not-blogging-life-got-in-the-way type posts. Not exactly a message an internet addicted anti-social recluse would leave. I love this community! I love connecting with people who understand my weight loss woes, my daily battles with food and enjoy working out. I don’t know a whole lot of people who are like that in real life so I’m thankful that I can connect to other like-minded individuals here. I consider it an enhancement to my life.

    I do hope that your friend checks in every once in a while. It would be a shame to leave all her internet friends behind because a study made them less in some way.

    Reply
  14. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    Sounds like those researchers already had their hypothesis before they started collecting data, eh? That’s not true research although unfortunately it passes for it frequently.

    You know…I have been isolated for the past several years. Being a military wife (even though Max is out of the military now) kind of does that to you: you put down roots, you pull them up. Repeat. And I’ve always been shy.

    But I think blogging is more about writing and sharing and reaching out than anything else for me. I love the connections: I truly, truly do with all my heart. But I also feel I owe it to society and to women and to other people like me to share myself and my honesty and my experience. It’s always been helpful for me to read what other people go through: their challenges and thoughts and revelations. So I want to share mine. Maybe that’s a little…self-absorbed….of me, but oh well!

    Reply
  15. Mary

    I saw this person’s goodbye post, too, and was a little bothered by the research. Even within the blogging community, there are different blogs – are they talking about folks on Blogger and WordPress, or Tumblr and Livejournal, which have a very different format? Are they talking about weight loss blogs in particular, or political blogs, or sports blogs, or personal diaries, or all of them in general?

    With so many people in the world who have internet access, and so many of them who choose to reach out to an audience via blogging, it seems like a sweeping generalization to call them socially awkward and isolated. I agree with what pretty much everyone else has said – I have created a fantastic support system via writing my blog and reading the blogs of others, but at the same time, I also have a very rich offline life.

    Reply
  16. Vickie

    When blogging on a specific subject (weight loss/maintenance) it is a different story (in my opinion).

    I don’t think there is a way to find those contacts (especially the maintenance part) in real life.

    I also think having the weight loss/maintenance part/friendships ‘covered’ in blog land means it is easier to have ‘in person’ relationships.

    In other words, since we have people who understand the weight loss/maintenance part, so we have that topic covered by people who understand and can sort of keep in there. I think it is helpful to keep weight loss/maintenance topic out of our ‘in person’ relationships.

    I also think that blog land can be very good practice for ‘in person’.

    Reply
  17. Hanlie

    I’ve been asked whether my blogging is not just another way for me to avoid “real life”. I was most offended!

    The people I’ve met online are very dear to me. They are phenomenal women and they have a lot to do with my own growth and increasing awareness. I would not be the person I am today – someone who I like very much, thank you – without the deep bonds I’ve formed with like-minded, yet very diverse, online friends. And yes, I call them friends.

    Furthermore, it’s through blogging that I finally found my voice and managed to unearth and speak my own truth.

    I blog 2-3 times per week and if I want to take a little break, I do just that. I’m not in bondage to my blog. And my blog is not an alternative to life.

    At least your friend said goodbye. So many don’t and that is always upsetting.

    Reply
  18. Roz

    Wonderful post Ellen. I’m sad for your friend, because the blogging community are amazing and supportive, but truly hope she finds what she’s looking for through other means. Personally, I started my blog in order to keep myself accountable on a weight loss journey. I had NO idea the friends I’d make. And I truly do consider many friends! I likely won’t meet many of them face to face, because I live in a different country, but I now share notes, comments, emails with people who I know I would be friends with if we were together in “real life”. We have established electronic friendships and shared things as “face to face” friends do. And as for blogging replacing that real life, I can only speak for myself but I have a very robust and full social circle, and there is NEVER an instance where I didn’t attend and event or see a friend because I had to blog instead. Blogging is just a part of what I hope is balanced life, not my whole life. It has become important to me, but is only a small part of “who I am”.

    Reply
  19. Grace

    I know I was heartbroken when this blogger said goodbye. Not only was she one of my inspirations, we actually met in person and she is a wonderful person. I will miss her.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Maybe she will, Grace. Never say never, right? She’s either done it so long that she’s ready to close this chapter of her life, or she just needs the freedom from feeling like she has to do it, and maybe she’ll miss it eventually. Either way, I just want her to be happy. How wonderful that you got to meet her in person!

      Reply
  20. Lynn~The Learning Curves Blogger

    I know every one has their own path to follow so if your friends needs a break or to stop blogging completely to rediscover other aspects of his/her life then that is commendable. For me, although I am definitely not an extrovert, blogging has actually helped me DO more and BE more in the so-called ‘real world’. By opening up to the blogging community, exposing my dreams, goals and failures, I have found myself wanting to do more, strengthen ALL of my relationships, and challenge myself thanks to the accountability found here. Truth be told, the ‘real’ 3-D friends I DO have are often too busy or too tired to really work on our friendship. Not only do I struggle with them finding the time to hang out, but I can barely get them to text me back. =/

    Reply
  21. Paula

    I spend quite a bit of time following blogs and writing many emails. As someone who has lived in 3 different states over the last 15 years, my friends who were once 3-D are now virtual. I know that there is little chance of me ever being able to see them in person, but does that mean I should forget them? Not a chance as some of these people mean too much to me even though I don’t see them in “real life” So I am not buying into the theory those professors are claiming.

    Reply
  22. auntiekim

    Wow this post was pretty powerful and really made me stop and think. I hope your blog friend finds whatever she’s looking for and, if not, has no shame in returning to her blog family. I sat here for a good long while thinking about what those researchers would say about me. IRL I’m definitely not at all socially awkward, though sometimes I feel a bit awkward online. Oh well. I wouldn’t trade my bloggy friends for anything. My real life friends do not have the same weight loss and fitness focus, for the most part, that has become a huge part of my life. It’s nice to be able to share that with someone.

    Reply
  23. Jill

    To me a friend is someone who is there for you. To listen, to laugh, to support, to understand and to share. I have friends that are 3-D, BUT the friends that I have made from the blogging community fit my definition of what a friend is just as much as an “in person” friend. Ellen- you are my friend!!! xoxox

    Reply
  24. Marion

    Hi Ellen! Well, I have *lots* of friends in the outside world!! I often discuss what my gym buddies say in my exercise posts! I certainly didn’t start my blog because I was lonely. I started it because I think I have a unique perspective that others might be inspired by. And I find that same reasoning for most bloggers. We are just interesting people with lots of things to say.

    We are much more honest than a magazine article. You can barely find a yoga article explaining all of the 50 or so ker-splats I made while learning how to do headstands, the jackass weightlifter who was thrilled when I fell over, and the tiny form changes that really ended up making the difference. That real experience that would never be allowed in a magazine is why people like reading and writing blogs.

    :-) Marion

    Reply

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