Bloggers are Real People

It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! March’s theme is blogging. Last week I talked about blogging your dreams. This week, I’m talking about the literal community of bloggers.

I like to wax poetic about online community and how supportive it can be, and it is. But as much as we talk about the virtual support, it can sometimes be hard to remember that there are real, live people on the other side of the screen. Or, I suppose, somewhere in front of another computer that is connected to yours through a series of tubes.

The people reading your words and maybe (or maybe not) sharing their own have their own lives going on. They bring their own experiences and biases and current moods with them when they read your blog. I re-learn that regularly, as commenters interpret my words much differently than the way I meant them to be understood. This is fine, really. I receive some of my best insights when the conversation veers in a direction I never would have expected. I have learned not to take my posts too personally, and I’m giving up the need to be clearly understood at all times. Blogging is a fluid thing, and while this virtual space is primarily mine I do not need to control every word that appears here.

You learn lessons like that through blogging, many lessons. I have learned that the best way to get better at writing is to just do it, and do it a lot. I have learned that I don’t really enjoy personal conflict, and I prefer to address people’s questions or comments one-on-one through email. Long debate threads are fun to read, but hosting them makes me sort of nervous. I suppose I have learned that I get far more of a thrill from positive feedback than is maybe strictly healthy. Through these lessons you can figure out what works best for you, and tailor your online experience accordingly.

Blogs are still a relatively new platform, and they are fundamentally individual. What I do, and the way I blog, works for me. It might not work for you. I post photos of my kids and use their real names. My last name is embedded in my blog title. I post 6 days a week, even on days when I have other posts appearing elsewhere. I use Twitter prolifically, and comment on other blogs a lot. I try to keep my posts under the 700 word mark, and rarely or never go about 1000 words. But I admire other bloggers who do none of those things. This is about finding your own way, there’s no single right way to blog.

Bloggers are real people, just as our readers are real people. We have strengths and weaknesses and weird idiosyncrasies. The best way to learn that is to get together with a bunch of them, like I did last weekend. Vancouver-area Twitter mamas (and papas) met up for brunch. There were babies, toddlers and awkward greetings when you feel you know someone you’ve never actually met. There were comfortable conversations and jokes and note sharing from people who understood what it’s like to be a blogger. But mostly, it was just a bunch of women getting together for a social outing. The little ones who came along were remarkably well-behaved, and 4 of us who came without kids hung out for over an hour after everyone else left reveling in our freedom.

Nicole and the Poptart

Tsunami Mommy / Stephanie

Michelle

Harriet enjoying some kid-free time

Marilyn and Scattered Mom

I have to thank the amazingly real Nicole for organizing the meet-up, and my also real friend and fellow suburbanite Carrie for sharing the car ride and helping me get back in one piece. I was delighted to see Michelle, Crunchy Carpets and Left Coast Mama again. I was thrilled to meet, in person, Alexis, Janet, Stephanie, Marilyn and Harriet, who gave me a hug right away. Harriet is very real. And I was perhaps most thrilled to meet Scattered Mom, who baked us all cookies and packaged them in lovely little bags.

The people who attended that brunch all have their own approaches online. Our sites have different content and platforms and audiences. But I’m willing to bet you that none of us enjoys receiving negative comments, or maybe even worse, no comments. None of us likes feeling like the odd one out or the low man on the blogging totem pole. We all value the community we’ve found through blogging, and through befriending other bloggers in real life. There are commonalities, even in the middle of the differences, just like anywhere else in life. We are all people underneath it all.

So tell me, have you learned things about yourself through blogging, and cultivated your own blogging style? And have you met other bloggers or Twitter users in real life? How does getting together with other bloggers change your perspective on blogging? I’d love to hear!

March’s Crafting my Life series is about the whys and hows of blogging, and what blogging means to pursuing your dreams. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 25th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in March, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January and February to get a feel for how it works.

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    Comments

    1. It was so nice to meet some of the people I chatted with and read regularly. I just wish a)I’d talked with more of them and b) dug out my own camera!

      Next time, next time!
      .-= Carrie´s last post ..Choo choo! =-.

    2. Hey, look, it’s me, the poptart and my chins! 😉

      I love this community, I really do. Although we may never connect in real life, a lot of the people I “meet” are much more real and down to earth than a lot of people I know. Also, I figure that the totally intertube-linked world the Poptart will grow up in is one that I should understand too.
      .-= Nicole´s last post ..Hey, Canadians – wanna go to the loonie store? =-.

    3. I have been thinking about this and have too much to say for just a comment. My one year blog anniversary is coming up so I plan to write my thoughts then, and hopefully add to your link up.

      Great post.
      .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Mud =-.

    4. I absolutely feel like I ‘know’ the people whose blogs I read and comment on, and who read and comment on mine regularly, even if I’ve never met them. I was ready to drive downtown and play world trivia with Lynn on a moment’s notice — and that is NOT the kind of thing I do lightly. Even though blogging isn’t the kind of writing I thought I’d be doing at this point, it is writing — it’s a way of forcing yourself to frame your thoughts coherently (on a good day), explore your opinions about things and establish a dialogue (multilogue?). It’s added much more to my life than I expected.
      .-= allison´s last post ..*****************Knowing Me Knowing You #1 =-.

    5. I have really enjoyed finding my own style through my blog. It’s definitely… different. And it’s totally changed over time as I was able to more authentically use my “real” voice. Looking back at those first posts and comparing them to what I write now is a very stark contrast.

      Ironically, I have developed a lot of relationships with Canadian/NW US bloggers. So the chance to meet up in real life is slim to none. I’m definitely sad about this.
      .-= the Grumbles´s last post ..greener pastures =-.

    6. Yes meeting in person is surreal – that’s for sure! I’ve had to psyche myself up several times to take my online relationships offline. In fact, I generally cancel at the last minute so I’m really glad I came! Loved hanging out babyless for a few precious hours.

      Vis-a-vis blogging, I’m impressed with your prolificness. I’m now going for twice a week but my posts really do seem to come out of the ether. The whole exercise is taking me and my writing in unexpected directions. Who knows what I’ll be blogging about in a year? …. unknown future ahead… choo choo!
      .-= harriet Fancott´s last post ..10 ways to succeed in business by acting like a baby =-.

    7. It is fun to blog! And thanks for the comments you leave for me on my blog; I appreciate them.

      Recently I had an experience which went the other way to what you describe… In other words, I met someone and THEN read her blog. I was at a support group for parents of kids with disabilities, and I met a woman who is the mother of 2 small boys, one of whom has autism. I liked her at the meeting, and then found out she blogs. I read her blog after the meeting, and discovered that she is a terrific and engaging writer. I plan to keep reading her posts. Neat!
      .-= Karen Munro´s last post ..FOP grandparents =-.

    8. It’s so neat that you met! Very Brave in fact!

      I enjoy blogging and reading certain blogs. I am not ever comfortable when the comment thread goes bad (or off topic). Also, judging my comments compared to others, I sometimes wonder if we read the same post! The inflections really can get lost in the typed words.

      I’m glad I found strocel (dot) com, I can’t even remember how now, but it’s been very good for my life to have a cyber connection for parenting and life.
      .-= *pol´s last post ..My Dad =-.

    9. Amber,

      I loved what you wrote. I really appreciated that you were so non-judgmental about what others do. Often I simply read blogs but don’t leave comments because I am just too darn tired and I don’t feel like it. I started blogging as an expression of my own passion for green, and I’ve never viewed it as an obligation or a job. I think most of us have ENOUGH to do in our busy lives without viewing blogging as yet another obligation. When I feel stress because I haven’t commented enough or left enough RTs or @s or whatever, …well, then I know I need to take a break from social media!

    10. This was a wonderful post. I have been feeling really emotionally connected to my blog lately and loving connecting to other people through their blogs. I do, however, feel sad when I don’t receive positive feedback on my writing. I want to feel like what I’m saying is reaching people.

      I always love your posts, Amber!

    11. I wrote about my journey on blogging earlier this week, I talked about it has been an evolution from day 1. I started out with no expectations, but now I have lots of expectations because of what blogging has done for me. I learn something of myself every time I write. It’s an opportunity to reflect and share and find common ground with others. But just as much as I get something out of my own blogging, so am I surprised by how much I get out of reading other blogs (like yours). I’ve found comfort in blogging and the blogging world and I love what everyone shares.

    12. cypress sun says:

      I take my blog very lightly. It’s like my personal room in the house. It’s wonderful, and full of energy when people visit, but hey…I would fix it up just for myself also.

      On the other hand, I really love getting to know others through words. I’ve only met up with a couple of bloggers, and it was like finally seeing long lost friends.

    13. I haven’t fully found my blogging voice even yet, although the last few months I feel closer to what I want to be. I love connecting with other women who are in similar places in life to me and that has been the most amazing revelation to me. I have often felt alone in my views or choices, but between blogs and twitter I get to connect with these fabulous people who have the same worries and concerns and who open my eyes to even more viewpoints!

    14. Great post…I have not really had the energy to focus on my blogs..not the way I would like..but I always feel I must to keep up the friendships I have made through the medium.

      I really would NOT have any mom friends if it wasn’t for blogging.

      Does this make me sad..probably..but it has been the common ground for me and I love the community building.
      .-= Crunchy´s last post ..Spring Break at the House of Crunch =-.

    15. That must have been fun. I wonder what it’d be like to actually meet one of the bloggers I’m in contact with. Still, I don’t really know that I see a need for it, and I do like to keep some parts of my privacy. I haven’t given it much thought, as the chances of me ever meeting a blogger are very slim. I think I’m still trying to find my voice. When I started a blog, I thought I’d blog more about pregnancy loss and my experience with having a child go through IC and hospitalization several times. I thought I’d give a voice to issues that are either taboos or not fully recognized. So, I guess, my voice and my blog are very much a project in progress.
      .-= Francesca´s last post ..Flowers under the snow =-.

    16. Meeting people in real life has been so good, even as I’ve been scared to death of it.

      I agree with you about hosting comment debates. It makes my stomach clench. I feel like maybe I’m a wuss for wanting only positive feedback, but…well, I do. So there. I think each blog has its own atmosphere; some are contentious, and some are friendly. I like that this is one of the friendly ones, because I don’t have to be afraid I’ll be attacked and every phrase of my comment picked apart. Hooray for you for hosting such a lovely blog space!
      .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday: Little sprouts =-.

    17. I feel like I’m still learning. Always learning – about blogging, about me, about how to meet new people. It’s all good stuff.

      As for blogging in particular I still feel like I haven’t fully found my voice. My niche or style. It’s there but it’s fluid and I often feel so overcome by my daily life that I just kind of toss something off. Sometimes it works and other times not.
      .-= Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves´s last post ..Argue, Rinse, Repeat. =-.

    18. This was such a fun post to read, Amber. I have never met other bloggers in real life, but I’ll bet it would be a kick. And maybe a little scary, because what if y’all didn’t like each other? The other day a couple women in my exercise class were wondering aloud just why people blog anyway, and what they write about. It made me laugh and I had to tell them that I am a blogger and I write about recipes. It’s like you have a new community of pen pals who are interested in the same things you are 😉

    19. Stephanie says:

      You remind me of a friend whom I just adore. There is such a gentleness and care behind your words. I’m so glad we had the chance to meet at the tweetup at Timbre, truly. And I’ve never seen a picture of myself with hair straightened, so that was, uh, interesting…. 😉 I’m in love with the community of mom-bloggers I find myself in the midst of. Online or off, I think we’re a damn good bunch.

    20. I love the in-person get-togethers. The first time I went to BlogHer (when it was a much smaller event) was amazing. We were all going around reading each other’s nametags and exclaiming in surprise. Oh, it’s you!
      .-= Lady M´s last post ..If You Give a Baby a Cookie =-.

    21. I haven’t had any real-life get-togethers, yet, but I’m looking forward to them. It may be that BlogHer is my first experience, but I’m going to try to organize one sooner.

      It’s critical to reach out to others who do what you do. I hate feeling like I’m in a vacuum and unique. I definitely want to feel like I belong to something real.

      RE: positive comments, I think the majority of us want them. It’s the rare few that have the gumption to host those heated debates and I’m really in awe of them.
      .-= Jessica – This is Worthwhile´s last post ..Deliberately vague =-.

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    1. […] theme is blogging. In previous weeks I talked about blogging your dreams and about how bloggers are real people. This week I’m talking about the ins and outs of building community through […]

    2. […] March’s theme is blogging. In previous weeks I talked about blogging your dreams, about how bloggers are real people, and about the ins and outs of building community through blogging. This week I am talking about […]

    3. […] 2. I learned that Scattered Mom makes the best cookies when she handed some out at our Vancouver-area mom bloggers meet-up. […]

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