Last weekend, Claudette at Writer of Words posed some questions to do with blogging and relationships. I don’t normally do q&a posts, but I haven’t really written about this topic before, so I decided to do a post answering her questions.
1) Does belonging to a blogging community imply a responsibility toward the bloggers?
I think there’s a responsibility to not be an asshole. Beyond that, everyone’s in a different position in terms of what they’re able to take on. Trying to take on too much can so easily burn a blogger out, and that’s not good for anyone.
2) Does it become a want or a need to read, like and/or comment regularly?
This was more of an issue for me in the past. I would sometimes feel like I wasn’t being a loyal follower if I didn’t read people’s posts regularly. Eventually I realized that just wasn’t doable anymore, so now I read (at least mostly) because I want to rather than feeling like I somehow need to.
3) If you read, like and especially comment at least semi-regularly on a select few blogs and thereby get to *know* that blogger a little, does this relationship qualify as friendship?
Absolutely. For me at least, it does feel like a different kind of friendship than in-person friendships, but that doesn’t make it less real or less meaningful. In general I tend to think of online friendships as more impermanent, simply because I’ve seen a lot of coming and going in the online world, but again, I don’t feel like it makes online friendships less real or meaningful.
4) Is a virtual relationship through a blog real?
Yes. It’s humans connecting, and that’s real. Whatever the nature of the relationship, it’s still real. The connection itself matters more than the medium in which the connection occurs.
5) Do you feel reading there every time they post is the responsible thing to do or do you drop off on occasion?
I tend to be a regular reader, because that’s something I like to do. Sometimes I’ll stop reading blogs that I’m not that engaged with, usually because I’m following too many blogs or just don’t have the time. When my head isn’t in a good place, I’ll skip over posts by bloggers I’m normally quite engaged with, and while I might feel a twinge of guilt, it is what it is. I think the idea of certain blogging-related acts being the responsible thing to do can start to get into should monster territory, and that can end up detracting from the blogging community experience.
6) If you drop off, what are the reasons you are taking a break?
This was mostly covered in my last answer. Beyond that, every so often I’ll pare down the number of blogs I’m following because it’s just too many to come up with. Unfollowing keeps my WP Reader feed cleaner, which makes for a cleaner mind. More recently, there have been a few factors to do with what my own head is doing that have translated into a lot less blog reading. It’s less of an intentional break and more just variability in what I’m able to do.
7) What if you extend the relationship with a blogger beyond the blog and start emailing with them? Does this make the relationship more intimate, more real?
I’m not a big initiator of communication, mostly because it just doesn’t pop into my head unless I have something specific to say. However, I do think adding in email communication adds an extra layer to the relationship, as it shifts from one that happens in public on the blog to one that also happens in private. I don’t know that it makes it any more real, because both are real, but it can make it closer. I’ve had some very positive interactions with friends from the blogging world that have extended into the email world.
8) With those more intimately connected bloggers whom you have an exterior relationship with (say through email) do you take the opportunity to check in with them when you read between the lines something they posted in their blog?
Sometimes. I think my natural inclination would be to say something in the comments, simply because I tend to compartmentalize that way. I read something through one channel, I respond through that same channel.
9) When you formulate an opinion on a blogger based solely on what you read on their blog, do you make assumptions about them and/or their personality, character, lifestyle?
I think this is inevitable. No matter how authentic someone is being, blogging doesn’t give a complete picture. It’s only human for our minds to try to fill in some of those gaps. The problem comes if we either a) think we know everything about someone based on what we do know, or believing that those filled in gaps are reliably true about a person. Everyone is selective, at least to some extent, around what they disclose here, and there could be all kinds of stuff going on that readers have no clue about.
I’m sure I’ve made all kinds of assumptions about people, but. try to keep in mind that I only know what they’ve told me, and anything beyond that is just guesswork.
Feel free to answer some or all of Claudette’s questions in the comments, or if you do your own post, link back to her at Writer of Words.
And on an unrelated, ranty note, has anyone noticed that the WP block editor is slower than. molasses the last few days? It’s always slow to load, but now, it often takes a few seconds before the things I type to actually show up. WordPress, you’ve really been pissing me off lately…