Monday, September 01, 2008

I can't believe I've had this site for two years now! I started in September 2006.

Who would have thought I'd have that much to say? It's certainly surprising. The ebbs and flows of this place, some of which have driven me to distraction at times - the people who have come and gone, the topics that have been hashed and rehashed, conflicts and resolutions... an occasional troll in the comment section, the meta-discussions about how to tell when a site is useful or has met its expiration date.

We've seen each other naked - those of us who have stuck around for a long time, seeing and experiencing each other's fluctuations and changes. We've shared some incredible stuff - some of it good and some of it not so good. I remember the conflict on BlogRhet last summer. We've asked each other the hard questions.

I find value in that, even though it's challenging and sometimes gut-wrenching. I've grown a lot from the feedback I've received here. Some of it changed my thinking and some of it confirmed my thinking - sometimes by good example and sometimes by bad.

The thing is that I am very, very reluctant to give in to the illusion that blogging is a valid substitute for real flesh and blood relationships. It would be easy to do. The evolution of electronic relationships being viewed with the same validity as physical community is disturbing. Real community runs much deeper. Real community is an investment in the lives of others. It's casseroles when someone is sick. It's shared experiences. It's Real Life. It's messy and complex and fun and loving and touching ~ all those things that a computer screen simply can not offer.

This is a hologram.

That's not to say it has no value. It does. I have made legitimate friends through this site. They are people I've actually talked with in the flesh. I know them. For the most part though, this site is just an open forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. It's a way to get to know what others are thinking in a very safe setting. It's a way of sharing general wisdom. It's a way to get to know how other people live and how they process the world.

I'd like to see that come into perspective as so many people are falling into the trap of technology. Cell phones, Blackberries, blogs, email lists and chat rooms are not reality. They are a cheap facsimile. They're useful tools but they can never be the nuts and bolts of community. If anything, they're a distraction. Just because something is faster and easier doesn't mean it's better.

As much as I enjoy this site, I'm trying to keep these things in mind. It is not a substitute for real community. And I don't want to be just one more byte in the data stream. I want to speak here when it can improve the silence.

What do you think?



meno said...

Happy Anniversary!

I do not think of blogging as a sunstitute for real life community. I think of it as an expansion, an enhancement of real life community.

SUEB0B said...

I'm glad you started, and kept blogging.

Blogging is facile, easy. "Friends" on blogs or chat rooms require no real investment of time, and time is the currency of friendship. In the e-world, it is so easy to walk away the minute things get a little difficult.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Happy blogiversary, Chani!

I think blogging is all the things you've mentioned and can lead to real life friendships but doesn't have to. It provides a small window into others' lives without the responsibility that non-virtual community demands.

I sincerely care about many of my blogging friends and believe that if not for the constraints of geography, they would be real life friends, too. My days feel richer for these people and the ideas we share.

In real life our first impression of a person is based on appearance, so blogging in some respects is more honest. It's amazing that my blog friends are able to convey who they are in words without even a photograph in most cases.

These people are a lot more than the imaginary friends of my childhood. They are not next door or down the street, but they are quite real to me all the same.

hele said...

I agree with Meno. I believe blogging makes my life richer, the same way as art and reading and University and loving and having dogs and family and all the bits that make me me does.

I'm grateful to have met you. Following your journey makes mine more.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I guess in some respects, I think of blogging as reading an interactive book. Just as you're pulled in by certain characters in a novel so, too, do your relationships form in the blogging world.

I agree, however, that it's not the same as flesh and blood community.

Happy Blogiversary!

Rebecca said...

Happy blogging anniversary! I'm so glad I've found you. I think it's easy to fall into a trap of thinking that blogging friends are more real than other friends. It's easy to be intimate with people you won't ever see - it's harder to have intimacy with people you have to see every day; you're more vulnerable and exposed and have to live with that exposure. Easier to stay off the blogs for a while when we feel too exposed.

However, I do believe I have a real relationship with certain people - people I look for every day and treasure when we exchange personal comments.

Blessed be! Life is good!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thanks for this reminder to keep blogging in perspective. As many have said, it does add a lot to life, but you're right, real community is different . . . and in many ways, much harder.

FranIAm said...

Happy 2 years!

I have been blogging since May 2007. I find that this is an extension and enhancement of community and community of a different sort.

As for the not-real not-having-to-deal with the crap part, true for the most part, but not all in my case.

There are people I am now involved with in a very real way- some of them I have met, some of them I have not.

So my view is a bit different than yours.

Whatever it is that happens out here, it is different and it is something new.

Brian said...

I think technology imitates intimacy, but it's not the real thing. And the very technology that we tout as keeping us "in touch" actually keeps us out of touch with the people around us. Case in point: at this moment, I am staring at a screen when I could be talking to my husband. Or the way people talk on cell phones at the expense of having a conversation with those immediately around them.

What the internet has done very well for me, though, is give an opportunity for existing 'real life' friendships to grow deeper. I talk to people that I know in person much more frequently - and often more honestly - online than I do in person. I really appreciate that aspect.

And I, like you, enjoy the exchange of ideas and the support - however incomplete it may be - of blogs and online friendships. I have certainly been encouraged or challenged them, and I genuinely care about the people I have met through blogging. While they aren't the people I would call in the middle of the night, those relationships are valuable in their own right.

Olivia said...

Happy Blogging Anniversary, Chani! Your posts always improve the silence.

I don't think that blogging is a substitute for flesh and blood relationships, but an enhancement of them.

I am grateful for all my blog friends and would not be the same without them.

Love and peace tonight, O

flutter said...

flesh is behind every word on these screens. Hearts, minds, souls. So while blogging will never be a substitute for "real" relationships...there will never be a substitute for what is created by blogging.

Susanne said...

Happy blog anniversary. You're certainly right about blogging being different from real life friendships. It helps with the loneliness though.

I'm still amazed at how big a part of my life blogging has become.

womaninawindow said...

Blogging offers a lot more than I had anticipated. It's something to be moderated though, for me. It is also a choice. I can choose to turn it off. I suppose being an active member in my community is a choice too but not as much of one. I'm a little surprised but I think blogging might even help me to be a better person in the flesh. I consider other people's views more thoughtfully (I hope.) I moderate how I behave knowing that I need to be honest on my own page. It's a very ethereal thing but never a simple subsititute.

Happy anniversary.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a lot of time, so the worst part for me is that the time I spend blogging is time I could (should?) be doing something else.

But as WIAW says, I do think that over the past two years blogging has made me a better person in real life. I DO look more closely at the strangers around me because any one of them could be one of you.

Happy blogoversary. I think in two years you have said a lot.


Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I think there is real community in the blog world, and while it's not the same as a phyiscal community, it's not lessened by it. The blog community offers support, acceptance, and a safe place to work out creative and personal demons. And though some would argue differently, I do feel that the relationships formed in the electronic world have substance and value. There is room for both, and one cannot replace the other. Just my opinion.

Kathryn Knoll said...

I've come to realize that we humans really exist in many different dimensions, not just the physical one. In fact, we are really more often interacting in the mental plane than we realize! I don't mean that in a negative way either. Thoughts are really things as real as a chair or a person and have very powerful affects on our world. I have found that your blog is a window into the world of a real person who is thoughtful and profound in your musings and judging by the large numbers of people who visit here and leave equally deep and thoughtful responses, this is as real as any gathering of people in the flesh as some potluck, where because of the constraints of not being able to talk to more than one person face to face, at a time, conversations can stay rather on the surface unless you can get with one or two people and just really share. In the physical world, often there are so many distractions that communication like that which takes place here is not possible. I have a feeling that when you are with others physically, you are attentive and present as much as you are here in the blogging world. This seems like a really great way for you to be heard and appreciated. I love coming here! Thanks for your faithfulness.

Defiantmuse said...

this, as you know, has been on my mind a LOT recently. I find the the rawness that comes from online communication tends to be just that, more honest and open. But, on the other hand, the trick is to NOT just count on that. Words on a screen. To remember to connect with those in the flesh too, otherwise it gets a little scary and unhealthy. That said, there are some people that I feel closest to in real life, and our relationship began online before transcending that, and I'm glad the internet gave us that opportunity to "meet" at all.

we_be_toys said...

Happy 2 year Anniversary Chani!

I'm with you - as pleasant as it is to share ideas and opinions with others in the blogosphere, it doesn't come close to being the real thing. A virtual casserole tastes like nothing! That said, I'm looking forward to your next two years of thought provoking posts!

Anonymous said...

I think blogging cannot be a substitute for real life. A virtual reality is not quite reality, but that doesn't mean that blogging and other interactive forums don't serve a valuable purpose in helping us to see a broader perspective on the world than we could otherwise get. I have been enriched by people who are so very different than me, whose lives are so different, yet the beauty is also the common bonds we all share as human. This cannot be discounted. Personally, I think a healthy blending of both is exceedingly valuable. happy anniversary!

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the insights, Chani. I've been thinking a good deal about community--realizing, of course, that "virtual" community lacks the real life intimacy that we so much need as human beings. While not satisfying the bigger need, however, blogging does help me continually sharpen the edge of my awareness of what true community means, and I'm grateful to have met many like-minded seekers online.

Jon said...

My visit to your lovely blog was most enjoyable....your photos and text are beautifully paired. Good luck on your "quest" about Thailand. Back in the '60s I was a Peace Corps volunteer teacher for 2 years in Udorn, Thailand and then spent 5 and a half years with IVS as a teacher in Laos. Looking back I think of those years in Southeast Asia as among the best and most rewarding ones in my life. That is a magnificent part of the world where you can nourish your soul and flourish physically and mentally.

Thanks for dropping by my site and leaving your nice comment.

Jon at Mississippi Garden on 9-2-08

Anonymous said...

A very happy 2-year anniversary to you.

I see blogging as an addition to my life, but not a replacement to my felsh and blood relationships. I cherish the interactions here, but would never let it take the place of people I spend time with in person.

Janet said...

Two years! Congratulations.

I think that blogging can take over if you let it. It can cowd out real friends, replace your husband's hand in your lap with a keyboard and screen. I value the people I have met here, their opinions, their kindness, their sense of humour. But I agree with you: it's not a substitution for real relationships.

Staci said...

Happy Anniversary!

While you are a more "established" blog, you've been open and supportive to me as a someone new to the blogesphere. Your actions here have enhanced my world and grown community. And I thank you.

Anonymous said...

Happy blogiversary!

As a literature scholar, I firmly believe written texts can speak to one another. The blogsphere is a fascinating example of this.

cat said...

"It is not a substitute for real community."

Agreed. It's not a substitute.

For those of us who chose to live the life of an expat, blogging brings us closer to family and friends.

It also opens a window for making new friends. And if snarly, losing even more.

Blogging can also be an amazing tool - running a business, learning a new skill, communicating with the world - but mostly if used with an awareness.

Happy Anniversary :-)