Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blog Freak

Okay, enough about me and weather and daily trivial stuff and the state of my glands. I'm boring myself.

Today let's talk about blogging, and the myth of social connection it gives. (Okay, there is a real social connection too, I acknowledge (hi friends!), but let's talk about the myth.)

My husband was watching a special about Star Trek fans, and how deeply involved many become in the show. You know you've seen them: the ones who wear Spock ears and uniforms to conventions, who go to baseball games dressed as Klingons (yes, I've seen THEM in person), the ones who learn the specs of a fictional starship and technology and rattle off episode numbers. A psychologist on the show said that many people become so deeply involved in a fictional world because it is an opportunity to learn about people in-depth without needing social skills.

You know, the ability to interact with others easily, to converse and share yourself, to listen and empathize--these things do not come naturally to everyone. Some people, perhaps a great many people, find them very difficult, even stressful. So in a fictional show--or a reality show!--they can feel like they're getting to know these people without the stress, the worry of putting themselves out and possibly getting rejected.

And you know what I realized? Blogging is the same. Here is a ready-made, easy opportunity to see into the lives and minds of other people, without having any connection whatsoever.

True, many of the blogs I read are those of my friends. Real-live friends, people I've met and shared drinks with and hugged in actual space. But the rest of the ones on my list? Not so much.

Let's take "DaMomma" for an example, over at Motherhood Is Not for Wimps. I LOVE her posts. I've read her blog for at least a year, and every once in a while I go and dip into the archives, even, when I need a good pick-me-up or a laugh. (Yes, she is THAT good.) I've talked to other friends too who do the same, even non-Moms. I've followed the ups and downs of her pregnancy, her illnesses, her life with her child, her inner thoughts, her relationships with her friends--and she is so open and funny that I feel like I know her. All her readers probably feel like they know her.

But we DON'T. I've never even posted on her blog! Yet I feel that false sense of connection, that fulfillment when I "follow along" on her adventures. From the comments, other people do that on blogs too: Miss Snark in particular is funny, since no one even knows who she IS, yet people still think they "know" her.

So in conclusion, perhaps blogging is a psychological kick, a sense of connection in a splintered world.

Or maybe it's just fun. Stop me if I start wearing Snark stilettos.

Medieval Word of the Day: misbethink: to be mistaken or misguided.

5 comments:

Julie said...

Susan:

I can't stop any girl from wearing a good pair of stilettos (g).

Seriously now, I don't have a blog, and I'm not all that familiar with the idea. Most of the blogs on my list are of people I know or have chatted with over time. (The others are local political gossip blogs, and I blame my job for reading those (g).)


I think blogs are great for connecting family and friends, daily letters, as it were. And if they strike a chord with others, that's great too. I think you make a great point that it's easier to connect in to someone's life, even if you've never met them. I think this is simply because you can sit there in your pj's drinking your coffee and enter in to their life for a few minutes, and not have to worry about any of those pesky social skills. Heck, you don't even have to respond if you don't want to!

Like I said, I don't have a blog, and I don't plan to get one anytime soon. But I think that in an age where people are so scattered, it helps to have something like blogs to bring us closer together, even for a moment, and even if we've never met.

OK, now I'm rambling and I'm not even sure I'm making sense. Time to return you to your regularly scheduled blogging (g)...

J

Susan Adrian said...

Julie:

You make perfect sense. And it does help to connect to people we already know, in a very positive way. It's the stranger connection I find so fascinating. It's voyeur-like, in a positive way. Viewing only what the person chooses to share.

Suze

JK said...

S:

But isn't that the way connections are forged - only viewing what the other person is willing to share? Of course, blogs are impersonal, simply because of the online format...and the fact I'm in my pj's, reading along, rather than sitting down face-to-face in the local Starbucks with my triple latte (g).

I agree, though, that the stranger connection is a little voyeuristic (g)...but I'm not saying that's a bad thing, either. I like to think that any time my eyes are opened to a different set of circumstances, or a different way of thinking, that I manage to grow a little myself (s).

OK, now I'm rambling (g)!
J

Susan Adrian said...

Julie:

Oh, I NEVER thought it was a bad thing. I think it's marvelous. I'm just fascinated by the underlying psychology, I guess.

Um, I was a psych major before I went to English...

Suze

JK said...

Susan:

Ah, psych. I had a bad prof - he didn't really engage me in the intro class, so I went on for archaeology - which, really, is trying to figure out what people did and why they did them, just thousands of years later [g].

J