Monday, August 10, 2009

reflections on the blogosphere and real life

it's back to school time. back to work (tho' technically i was working in singapore last week). back to daily routines. and back to the airport - tho' today it's husband who is going (to north carolina, via chicago, oddly enough). me, i don't fly 'til friday, when i head for blog camp 1.5 in london.

looking back on the past month, i realize how busy it's been. i didn't really have time off, since i haven't officially earned any yet, so our small holidays were sneaked in here and there along with work. but we did manage to add three new starbucks mugs to our collection, so three new places were visited - KL, amsterdam and dublin. i didn't get a new singapore mug, tho' they had some that match this new series, because i already got singapore years ago. it's rather fun to have the style of the mug reflect the period in which you first visited the place. and i won't at all devote any reflection to the implications of the cultural imperialism of starbucks in places as different from one another as KL and dublin. me, i'm just grateful for a grande latte, loungey, comfortable seating below the herstal lamps and free wifi, wherever it's found.

* * *

over the past couple of weeks, where i have been largely away from the blogosphere (at least from the reading blogs side of it), i realized a few things. the blogosphere isn't as different from real life as i thought it was. there is lots of drama, catfighting, petty annoyances, pettier obsessions and women being hard on women (why do we do that to ourselves?). happily, that negativity is easier to avoid than in real life, since you can just stay away from the places where it's going on and there's no danger of actually running into someone you'd rather not run into. and there's so much goodness going on in the blogosphere--things to inspire, make you laugh, things to learn, things that make you think there is hope for the world--that it more than makes up for the negatives. maybe it's just normal that in cyberspace, as in real life, we make friends, keep some of them, grow apart from others, move on and make new friends. i'm not sure why i thought it was any different online than offline, but somehow i did.

* * *

and speaking of new friends, in singapore, i got together rather spontaneously for a quick drink with a blogger who i haven't known for that of measure of all things. kim is a south african who lives and works in singapore. she very good-naturedly allowed herself to be subjected to our questions about how on earth she can take living in the plastic world that is singapore. and she did confirm my suspicions that singapore is a great place to be an ex-pat. it's safe, clean, it functions very well and there are cheap flights to more exotic, real destinations in the region. i still have half a mind to spend some time there working at some point. it is difficult for me to imagine being from cape town tho' and wanting to be anywhere but there, but on the other hand, i do love a good adventure, so it was great fun to meet kim. and for that opportunity, i am very grateful to the blogosphere. and if you really want to both crochet and be really inspired in a really brainy, deep way, you must read kim's latest blog post. and take the time to watch the video. it's blow-you-away amazing.

* * *

this time of year, as summer transitions to fall, i always feel reflective. and i think that transition is an apt word. also here in the blogosphere. when i look back a year, things have changed a great deal. that's partially due to BoN, but i think it's more natural and organic than that. i think that here in cyberspace as in life, we make transitions. new interests that we write about bring new readers and we make new friends. some of the old friends drift away because at the same time, they have moved to different interests and have new readers and new friends on their own blogs. some blog friends endure and sadly, some do not. some go to a place that you simply can't follow. but the beauty and wonder of it to me is that there are always new blogs to discover, new connections to make. and i've noticed that i have a lot of new people leaving comments and i'm really happy for the discoveries of new blogs and new perspectives that gives me. this is not to say that i don't love comments from the old crowd too--i'm just trying to say that i love the expanding sense of community. so thank you ALL for your comments, they're wonderful.

i have found some really good friends here in this bloggy world. and i've drifted away from others. but there are a few, that although we've drifted apart, i know our relationship would prove to be cat love and at some point, something will again strike a chord and we'll be back to our wonderful, deep level of friendship that we had developed. because in some sense we do get to know one another quite well here, don't we? the medium of the blog is very personal and diaristic at times (sometimes nauseatingly so, admittedly). we simply reveal so much of ourselves through our words and pictures, even if those pictures don't necessarily show us. the things we choose to share (or not share) speak volumes and in many ways, we are laid bare for all to see.

maybe that's why failed friendships in the blogosphere hurt as much as they do. we've revealed ourselves, left ourselves vulnerable and open. and when we're rejected or worse, ignored, it hurts that much more. or maybe i'm being too deep and philosophical - forgive me, it's a rainy monday - maybe real life simply intervenes and it's so much more compelling than online life that people just drift away. or maybe it's just that sometimes you feel all vibrant and sometimes you feel like earth tones, so as i said, more natural and organic than anything else.

* * *
at the end of the week, i'll go to blog camp 1.5 at Bee's house in england. Bee is one of several soul sisters i've found in this bloggy world. she and i are the same age, we both married a european man and uprooted ourselves from the land of our birth. we both abandoned Ph.D. studies before the dissertation stage. she has daughters and so do i. strangely enough, we even have an LNG thing in common. i feel i already know her so well and i know that from the minute i see her this weekend, we'll be completely at ease together and we won't even come close to running out of things to talk about. i have that wonderful feeling of anticipation of meeting her. the one where you want to capture that first time moment because you only have a first time once and you want to treasure it so you can mull it over later.

so i'm really looking forward to the bloggy world and the real world converging once again this coming weekend when B, polly, seaside girl, kristina, spudballoo and me get together at bee's house. and i'm certain that i will not be disappointed.


Extranjera said...

Are you calling my major annoyances petty?
How dare you.

paris parfait said...

Lucky you to meet Kim (great photo) and soon off to London to meet more kindred spirits! And now I feel I was just being petty when I wrote on Twitter about the blogger I met last year who spent 20 min. telling me how much she hated Paris and found the French incredibly rude - but now plans to lead tours here. Yes, that was petty. I'm hanging my head in shame. :) xo

Margie Oomen said...

Very well said julie. I really enjoyed reading your reflections today and sad to say the natural world here in Canada is telling me autumn is just around the corner.
Enjoy your blog camp in London and perhaps one day we can plan one in Canada.
When you used the word nauseatingly it reminded me immediately of my recent "too cute" post.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Oh, so eloquently put... I have learned a lot about myself and the world through blogging and am grateful for it all!
I soooo envy blog camp and hope that one of these days I will get to join you guys!

Just Jules said...

I think too, like in life, as we blog we grow. As we grow we change. As we change our needs change, there for the friends we need change. People are in our lives for the time that we need them to be.

Well said. So true. (hopefully I am not one who you have grown bored with ;) Sorry, had to be Minnesotan for a moment.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for reading my mind.

Fidgeting Gidget said...

I love your collection of mugs! And once again, I'm looking forward to stories from Blog Camp and wishing I could be there.

I'd never thought about the fact that negativity in blogland can be shut off so easily...that DOES make it so much better than some real-life situations! And bloggy friends do come and go, I've noticed, but there are always the constants that are fun to come back to. Your blog is definitely one of my constants--thanks!

Meri said...

So much color in the photos -- thanks for that. And isn't it just amazing to make friends before you ever meet them? There's magic in that.

rxBambi said...

You always have such an elegant way of putting thoughts and reflections into words, it's one of the reasons why I love your blog. I can completely identify with what you're writing, but don't realize it until I read what you have to say.
On another note, had a dream about you, ext, and a high school friend last night. I don't remember all of it, but we were in a plane crash (yikes) and survived of course, but the 4 of us had to work as a team, and in the end it was all good. Interesting, huh?

McVal said...

Very cool mug collection!
I know how you feel about bloggy friends. When one of them drops you as a follower, I feel kind of let down and paranoid... What did I say? Did I offend them somehow? weird. I've never met them, but it's still sad.
But then, I've never met anyone I work with either. Life is strange.
I'm glad I have my family to keep me grounded.

Kim: said...

I really prefer to remain in denial about the end of summer until September. Of course, I live in the desert, so it's easier to do that.

Have a great time at Blog Camp! I'll be following along, of course.

An Open Heart said...

Arriving back in your usual poetic form. What a great post. Like any subculture, the blogoshpere has it's like minded people who gravitate towards each other as a way to connect. Because, really as humans we all want to connect and be known.

Can't wait for the adventures of BlogCamp 1.5!

Sarah said...

Beautiful post, Julie. And I love your mugs. Glad to have you back, missed your musings. They are the perfect anitdote to life's annoyances.

Laura Doyle said...'re thoughts on the matter are quite timely and apt.

It seems to me that everyone else is so quick to categorize or label themselves as being either this or that. Me, I'm afraid to commit to that because I know I'll change my mind or drift away. But you're seems everyone else really does morph and evolve regardless.

I know this is actually very loosely connected to your original's just that you always spark so many other thoughts for me. : )

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

How well you say what so many of us think.

Blog camp 1.5 will be amazing and I'll be waiting for funny stories and tons of photos.

Miss you!

MissBuckle said...

Your post has been mulling and ripening in my head the last hour. And even though I'm new in the blogosphere, I totally get it. Especially the aspect of cat love. I have quite a few of those (beautiful) relationships.

Char said...

I've definitely seen this, but it seems my old friends are the ones that I return too over and over. I read for me...I read people that interest for the spats, I stay out of those completely. Whether cyber or not.

Cyndy said...

Welcome home, Julie! Indeed, a little time away offers much perspective, and as always, I enjoyed your take on this part of our lives. Blog friends are like real friends. Some are there for a reason, others for a season, others for life. Only time will tell what kind of friendship it is. As much as my world has changed in just 4 short months with the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people in the blogosphere, I am not sure that a blogging friendship is any different (certainly not less valued) than real world relationships. They both take time and effort, but the reward is amazing.

Your initiation of blog camps has added a twist by reminding us that bloggers are actually real people. Real people with jobs, family and homes. Perhaps some people just become overwhelmed.

At my first twinge of feeling guilty because I had to step away from the blogosphere for my family and work, I quickly evaluated my priorities. I am still going to post stories, but maybe not as often (geez, Thomas Friedman only posts twice a week, why not me?). I am still going to read all the wonderful posts, but perhaps not comment as often (the comment boxes are already cheering!). But most of all, I think I am gong to focus on the quality of relationships and not the quantity.

Well, here I am mini-blogging ~ again. You always get me thinking (and writing). I am very grateful that we have met in the the blogging world and look forward to the day that it becomes "real." Until then, thank you for your wonderful words and pictures and for bring so much of us together.

Looking forward to reading about Blog Camp 1.5. Another assortment of amazing women who will surely give the rest of us stories to enjoy and envy! Best wishes for making wonderful memories to you all!

Mari Mansourian said...

well... I have yet to run into any drama or catfights here... but I will say one thing about the blogosphere... it has helped me through possibly the worst time in my life... and the people behind the words that have kept me going the past few months seem like the angels I needed...I'm thankful for that...

Sound like a great group at blog camp this time too... I'm sure you guys are going to have a blast... and I'm green with envy ;0

Sammi said...

No, you're right, I get upset when relationships fail online be it on blogger or other websites.

I am looking forward to fall, as late summer is settling in. Time for winter jumpers

spudballoo said...

Ah yes...hear hear on all counts. I used to differentiate between my 'internet friends' and my 'real life friends'...not in my head, but when I talked about them to other people. I stopped doing it when I realised how disparaging it was to the people that meant every bit as much to me as those I know 'in person'. My 'internet' and my 'real' lives merge seemlessly, so why I felt the need to differentiate is a puzzle.

I hate the cat fighting, the bitching, the sniding (it's word!), the exclusion, the derision and cliqueyness women are capable of. We all know how to feels to be on the outside, every one of us why do we do it to others? Believe me I'm not perfect but I try very hard not to be part of such stuff, having been on the end of some serious female bullying at school as a teen. No matter how grown up, how assured I get - I keep the memory of that sickening feeling of exclusion and feeling belittled with me. It's good to keep yourself in check sometimes.

Fabulous post, beautifully written as ever. Welcome back! x

kristina - no penny for them said...

maybe it is the rain? don't let it get you down! i'm always inspired by your photos, your writing, your musings even though i don't always comment. maybe i'm just a bit shy sometimes and feel that what i have to say is not that witty. but i read and enjoy.

and i'm looking forward to seeing what you're going to do with your lovely new fabric swatches!

Anonymous said...

Interesting ideas. I don't know how many I agree with, though. :)

While real-life friendships dissolve, too, it always seems messier than online ones (unless you are involved with real drama queens on-line, and I'm just not). I have found that some on-line relationships end up working out great in real life, and others are awkward or weird. Because on-line, you can't really tell if the way someone is always blinking their eyes or any other collection of annoying human habits will ultimately be a deal killer, you know? It's easier, I guess, to be friends with people on-line, because it's simpler to disconnect during those annoying moments.

Or maybe I'm shallow.

I've also learned, after attending several bloghers and other on-line to IRL meet-ups that anyone can write anything about themselves. But that doesn't make it true.

I'm in the middle of trying to decide if I should break up with a blog to life friend, for a variety of reasons. I think the easiest solution will just be to move to another country. :)

Have fun in London!!!

Unknown said...

In lots of ways, I've started thinking of blogging as part of real life {grasp}, and that has a lot to do with blog camp. The good and the bad things are not so different to real life. We make friends, we get to know each other, we grow apart from some, grow closer to others. Some come and go, others are always there.
Some you come to for fun, others for when you are feeling blue, others to exchange ideas...
But we get together for what we are, and not where we are. We're lucky to be able to be part of the international community... and I love it!

kristina said...

I'm going to bed, just had to comment on your post: as you said and many of the commenters did also, I don't think it's possible to draw a line between "real life" and "blog life". it's all feelings, right? and sometimes even more so online, because you put so much of yourself out there for people to read and look at.
anyway, I'm so glad the blogosphere connected us! :-)

Optimistic Pessimist said...

what a really great and reflective post! being in the blogosphere for only about 5 months now I am just starting to see these things you've mentioned. There are several friendships I've formed that I hope never drift away.

christina said...

There is so much truth to this. I have seen the claws come out in this game and I want no part of it. I was never part of the clique in high school and want no part of it now. Besides, I'm too damn old to play reindeer games. lol

I love you and am so glad to be a part of your blog/real life. : )

Janet said...

very well said indeed.

will be with you all at blog camp in spirit. again! :)

Ravi Warrier said...

Hey, it is really interesting to read your blog! It's simple and it's relate-able.

I wanted to ask you a question while I was here: The images on your posts, are they clicked by you or a friend/family?

I think those images are really great and bring a lot of vibrancy (is that a word?) to your posts!

Good to finally read something nice.

Ravi Warrier

Kim said...

Hey, Thanks for the mention. Sorry it is so late, but I've been "behind the great cyberwall of china".