Thursday, April 05, 2007

Blogland Versus The Real World

Recently someone asked me whether blogging is a poor substitute for making "real" friends. Of course not. It's actually a very good substitute. I'm kidding, of course, but it's difficult to explain the appeal of blogging to a non-blogger. Here's what I came up with.

Blogs are not like internet chat rooms - thank goodness!
Chat rooms - when done correctly - can have their value, too. But in a chat room you often run into three (maybe more) types of people: First, there are those who are who they are. They say online what they'd say in person. They're the "to thine own self be true" folks. Sure, some of them can be obnoxious at times, but hey...

Next, there are the "pretenders." These are the ones who are practicing their fictional writing skills online. They will invent a completely different persona, make up life experiences, etc. Why? Maybe to get people to like or respect them, maybe to escape their regular life, maybe for more sinister reasons...we've all heard the horror stories. One thing's for certain, it's takes a lot of energy and an excellent memory to be a Pretender (I have neither, thank you).

Finally, there are the "trolls." These are the folks who like to pick an argument just for argument's sake, who like to stir up controversy, and in general are plain rude. There's a big difference between presenting different sides of a controversial issue, and spouting off just to start trouble. Trolls are icky people.

Certainly, these three types can exist in blogland, but in my opinion, the longer-term, more established blogs are indeed real. And, yes, there are 'fictional' blogs - created by real people who assume a persona and post as that persona - but they're usually straightforward about it and do it to be entertaining - not to deceive.

Blog buddies aren't like real friends. Or are they?
It's hard for me to make and sustain new friendships. Life is pretty busy. Oh, I make all sorts of acquaintances - especially the "oh, we'll have to get together for lunch" type (however, we never do). I have my 5 year old 'shadow' (Son #3) with me almost all the time. Perhaps not many people have the patience for this package deal. More than likely, though, they're just as busy as I am.

The beauty of blog buddies is that they don't call me just as I'm getting ready to step into the shower for my only 10 minutes of "me" time. They never notice when I'm having a bad hair day (thank you, photo-from-2005). They don't send me chain emails telling me that something bad will happen if I don't forward it to 12 people (hellooooo? Re-read the first sentence of the paragraph above this one: I probably don't know 12 people!)

They do, however, encourage me when I need it. They let me vent (after all what good is having a blog if you can't occasionally whine?) - and if they don't like it, they can just click to another blog without my ever knowing. And I know some of them pray for me when different things are going on in my life. I've actually met one of my blog buddies in person - she wasn't at all a psychopath (waving to Jules!).

They also share - via their own blogs - what's going on in their lives. I know one blogger whose husband was let go of his job so they had to move to a new town so he could work again. She's expecting a baby now. Yay! Then there's the blogger who moved across the country, and who is know returning to workforce because her husband became ill and cannot work. There's another blogger who is a 'real' writer. As bloggers, we're all writers, but this one wrote an actual book! I hope someone publishes it soon. I know she and her husband have struggled with his cancer.
There's the other blogger, herself a cancer survivor. There's also the working mom who's daughter is just a tad older than my youngest son - gender aside, there are parallels in the things they come up with. Oy vey!

So I say to the non-blogger, Silly Rabbit, of course these people are real. I know more about them than I know about my in-laws and I've been married 17 years.

Don't blogs waste a lot of time? They could, if you get carried away. Then again, so can "Girls' Night Out." (And I'm less likely to get arrested with my blog buddies - hee hee!).

So to my non-blogging friend, I conclude with the following:
  1. Don't knock it until you try it.
  2. The "real world," in my opinion, is highly overrated.

So bloggers, do you have anything to add?


Pirate said...

I concur. I have made many good blog friends. The ones I have met tend to be more intelligent and better read then those friends you make in the flesh.

~d said...

I believe my blog friends are friends! I know abt them, I know personal stuff. I see things that makes me think of them. I tell stories and refer to them by their blog names. 9 times out of 10 I dont even KNOW their real name.
I love it!
(did I over look the blurkers?)

tara said...

ok - so i have been reading your blog for about a month (i love it!) and i had to comment. i blog, as well as most of my friends - it is such a great way to keep up with friends who don't live near by and a way to share pictures of our babies. so blog on!

Elle*Bee said...

Welcome, pirate, and thanks for chiming in. I learn a lot from my blogging friends, and while I may not always agree with them, they don't drive me nuts the way those that I see more frequently might.

~d, you're a 'friend-friend' and a 'blog-friend'. Aren't you lucky? ;-) [To those of you who don't know, ~d is the one who introduced me to blogging.]

tara, thanks for commenting and welcome! I blog for much of the same reason. I have a couple of friends who moved away and blogging is a way for them to keep up with me and my family at their own pace. Ditto my mother and sister. None of them blog, though. (They're not the non-blogger to which I was referring in my post.)

Sue said...

Of course friends in the computer are real friends! While we may not be geographically close, I think we tend to read the blogs of people who share similar outlooks, etc. and that's how friendships get started...

I wonder if anyone's ever done a study to see if the number of computer friends is somehow related to the number of friends outside the computer. Someone write a grant application!

Elle*Bee said...

Great idea, sue! The results would make a fascinating book (I always wanted to be writer...) Perhaps we could co-collaborate.

Nadine said...

I started blogging to improve my writing skills. I've found it a blessing to "met" so many people around the world through sharing my life. I love reading the blogs that are real and share from the yours. So thank you for your honesty and always for your kinds words. You don't realize how you have encouraged me today.

Pirate said...

waiting for another post.

Nise' said...

Excellent post. Nadine pointed me towards it. I hope you don't mind if I link it on my blog. I have made some great blog friends and often tell them I have been praying for a friend(s) for awhile and little did I know that God would provide that in blogdom!
I am chuckling over your statment "you still don't know what you want to be when you grow up", I say that all the time at 46!!

Deena said...

Blogging has not only helped me make some new friends, but it has encouraged me to be more open and honest in my regular, everyday, blogging is ministry for me. To be able to pray for and discuss things with those I most likely won't see until eternity...well, that's just a HUGE gift from God.
And I feel close to my bloggy friends...they ROCK!!

Well said...I'm bookmarking you!!

Pirate said...

Happy Easter.

A Woman Who is: said...

Nadine has introduced me to blogging, and tonight to your blog. I am blessed by your encouragement to my friend. I have been only blogging for a month and a half. My family thinks I am funny. There's mom blogging again. I am amazed at the quality and diversity of people I have been getting to know by blogging. I am hooked. I am sure I will be checking back in here elle*bee.

Jules said...

As the one who has met you ( and you are not a psychopath either!) in person via ~d in blogland I can say that people are real. Now funny as it may seem I think that we reveal MORE of ourselves on our blogs. I didn't start it for people to read. I needed a release and writing takes too much time as opposed to typing. It's out there for the public if they choose to see me or not but I do it for me and I am a real person.
I am also hooked on online gaming and I have talked with a group of friends since I started playing and I DO consider them friends too! We even have cameras and can see each other while we play.
I have rambled on again and lost my point.. but you get the jist!


Jenmomof4 said...

Happy Easter!

Shionge said...

Greetings from Singapore Elle :D

Through blogging, I have made alot of new friends and as real as can be really and through blogging, we shared each other's ups & downs.

Honestly I can't wait to meet up with some blog buddies :D

Elle*Bee said...

Hi nadine, I enjoy your blog very much (and thanks for pointing a few of your blog friends my way)!

Thank you, pirate and jen, for the Easter wishes. I hope you both had a wonderful Easter, too. (And pirate, I hope to get a new post up soon, but it's spring break for my kids this week, so I've been busy cleaning up, refereeing (?), patching boo get the idea. Keep checking back, though!)

Welcome, nise', please do feel welcome to link to my post. Also welcome, deena, a woman..., and shionge! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and hope you'll stop back by here again. I'll be sure to visit each of your blogs as well.

Finally, jules, I know what you mean. My blog started mainly as a way to process some of the events in my life, or as a way to try to morph the scattered thoughts whirling in my brain into something a little more coherent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.... :-)

Shionge said...

Hiya Elle, thank you for your kind words at my blog...I've linked you :)

Lala's world said...

that was so well said! here here!
I for one am so grateful that I found you and we are bloggin buddies!

Elle*Bee said...

Thanks, shionge!

And ditto to you, lala. I'm enjoying your dad's blog too. It's something that I think my Son #1 will really enjoy.