The One my IRL friends totally won’t get. If you know the term “blogosphere” then join me, won’t you?

Are you disenchanted with the idea of the blogging community? No? Only me? Okfine. Then I’ll just write this to myself.

Disclaimer: This post has been brought to you by several weeks of sleep deprivation, clinical depression, and probably what is (if I’m being honest with myself) a little bit of sour grapes. I feel all dark and twisty; all ridiculously emo like someone half my age. All the angst plus fine lines and stretch marks! SCORE!

I’m taking a risk; this post could create some backlash against me. The blogosphere doesn’t take kindly to back talk against it. I hope it’s taken in the spirit it’s intended, which is not one of hostility but rather a yearning for discussion.

I’ve never been one who wants to stir up a shitstorm or create drama; that’s not the intention of this post. I’ve never been a boat rocker. I’ve never even had a troll. If I’ve ever been meant to have a troll jump out from under the bridge, this is the post that’ll do it. I don’t take critism well. I tend to find the nearest corner into which I can curl up into the fetal position and rock while sucking my thumb. I’m preparing myself to either get flamed or get ignored. I’m not sure which I fear worse– Dory, you’re kidding me, right?! You expected MORE you moron?! Do you live IRL or blog-world?! (A little of both actually) or ominous silence.

So what is my intention? Well, these words have been percolating for quite a while. I’ve NOT said this for months and I’m hoping that by doing so I may break some writer’s block. I’m also hoping that I’m going to discover that it’s not just me. Hopefully, I’m not alone. And maybe by thinking out loud here (which I do quite often) I can discover a solution to my discontent.

Here goes nothing. *jumps from the plane and pulls the rope*

My number one objective for blogging has always been this: a desire for connection. For finding people I get, and that get me. For stumbling across a kindred spirit.

My second objective for blogging has been this: to affect people with my writing. Whether I make you laugh or cry or think or snort with derision is not important; just as long as I affect you, I feel my mission has been accomplished.

I’ve been blogging since 2003. At first, it was just to friends and family on LiveJournal, but then I became aware of the blogosphere in 2007 and set up camp on Blogger. I loved the idea of connecting with other writers online and the whole concept of “blogging community.” I met a few really super cool people (I’m looking at YOU, Country Girl, City Girl, MelodyAnn, Abby, and Fabs) that really connected with and for that I am truly thankful.

Back then when I was all starry eyed with the blogosphere, I was completely enamored of the idea of the blogging community; the comments, the give and take, the camaraderie of this shared insanity that is blogging.

I mean, let’s face it; it takes a blogger to get a blogger. None of my IRL friends have any inclination to blog. I’ve never even met a blogger face to face.

And unlike In Real Life, my Deafness was not a factor whatsoever. (I’ll try to be concise on this idea, but I smell a whole ‘nother post coming from this one point.) You don’t have to have hearing to participate fully in the blogging community. I felt this was an area of my life where I could be on level ground with everyone else, instead of missing a great deal of what was going on around me. Plus, I was looking forward to the opportunity of meeting lots of other D/HoH bloggers; ideally, late deafened ones that share my experience. We aren’t equal participants in the hearing world, but oftentimes we’re not completely accepted by deaf world either. We’re a weird lot. We probably don’t have a deaf ‘accent’ because we were deafened post-lingually; our hearing aids are next to invisible; we’re less likely to demand our right for an interpreter and instead make do with residual hearing and speechreading; we offer no clue to you that we need acceptance and accommodation to be on equal ground with you. We experience the “real” world very differently and it can be quite isolating.

I saw the community that was going on around me, and I wanted to become a part of it. I started out with about 40 blogs that I felt I could really connect with the author, and set up my reader. I taught myself; RSS, Subscribe, Feedburner, search engine, keywords, memes, all of these were all completely unknown concepts to me in May 2007. But I researched and studied and learned stuff and set up my own little online living room in Blogger. Then I set about reading and commenting my little heart out all over the place. I wasn’t sure how to comment at first, but quickly came up with the strategy of picturing this author sitting across the table from me, sharing a coffee or a beer, and thinking, what would I actually say to this person. I really invested myself.

I knew it would take time to become accepted. But after a few months went by, I found the return on my investment unsatisfactory. I had erroneously hypothosized that if I invested in them, they would invest in me. But I wasn’t getting the connection, the interaction, I thought I would get. Surely, I thought, I am worth at least getting to know. I don’t think I’m coming on too strong and setting off people’s stalkeradar. Why aren’t people responding to me? I asked myself. What’s wrong with me?

Okfine, I thought, I need to show them I’m serious. I’m in this 110%. In August 2008, I put on my big-girl-blogger panties and bought my domain and hosting. I spent hours days setting up on WordPress, learning about widgets and CSS and fussing with the design. I saw my blog, and it was good. And I thought, now, now they will see I’m in it for the long haul. I got right back to reading and putting my heart and soul into the comments I left in my wake. I really put myself out there in my posts, offered myself up at my most vulnerable.

Now it’s February 2010 (can you believe it?!) and here I am, still dissatisfied with the blogging experience I’ve had. Years later.

I’m tired. I’m tired of taking five hours to craft one post and getting no comments on it. I’m tired of reading about the blogger meetups and the resulting lovefests and feeling left out. I’m tired of checking my stats and being disappointed that I haven’t broke 50 subscribers yet. I’m tired of reading about the awards and the different strategies for garnering votes, both the ones who take the high road and the ones who choose the low. I’m tired of reading about 100s, even 1000s of bloggers flocking to one blogger’s plight. Sour grapes? Probably. I’ll own that. But I wasn’t asking for donations or votes or 1000 subscribers or a trip to Disney. I was only asking for some connection; ok, I’ll admit it– I was asking to feel the looove. But all these years later, all I feel is that I’m pressing my nose up against the window, on the outside looking in.

I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I know that I’ll never receive an email from Dooce. I’ll never go stay a weekend at the Lodge with Ree. I know that an A-Lister will never actually strike up a friendship with me or find me interesting enough to talk to seriously.

But what about all those bloggers (probably 100s now that I’ve been at this a few years) that have maybe 50, 100, at most under 1000 readers, that I’ve laid myself vulnerable by sharing with them my personal experiences in their comment section? Some I sent encouraging emails with an “I’ve been there and I’m on the other side and you’ll get there too” or an “I’m really impressed with your writing, keep up the good work” or an “Your photos are striking and you have a great eye for composition.” And gotten nothing, zero, zilch in return. Not even, “Thanks for the encouragement” or “Your words came at just the right time.” I’ve even offered framed 5x7s in their choice of images for virtual housewarmings that they’ve thanked me for, but never actually collected on. Can you see my frustration in the fact that my photography sucks so effing much that I CAN’T EVEN GIVE IT AWAY?! That my words mean so little that they don’t even warrant a response?!

Something’s got to give.

I can’t any more.

Maybe I’ve had the wrong objectives all along. Maybe connection and affecting people was just too much to hope for. I’m just thisclose to unsubscribing everyone in my reader and closing comments on all my posts just so I can avoid the disappointment. Maybe even prove to myself that I can just write for the sheer joy of writing.

But in my heart, I crave that connection that the blogging community seemingly offers but that remains so elusive to me.

I’m tired of my blogging experiences being a trigger of so many depressive episodes.

I’m tired of feeling like the kid in Sp Ed who is trying to be friends with the captain of the varsity cheerleaders.

I’m tired of feeling so alone in the blogosphere. I get enough of that In Real Life.

Am I the only one?

18 thoughts on “The One my IRL friends totally won’t get. If you know the term “blogosphere” then join me, won’t you?

  1. Oh lady, I feel ya. Sometimes getting comments is like pulling teeth.

    I’m sorry you feel so left out. I definitely notice how much more cohesive East Coast bloggers are. Part of this, I think, is that they’re so much closer to one another. And many are centered in or around DC.

    And this is a total tangent, but I feel like this is the only place I can talk about it without overwhelming backlash: I’m sick of the boys club of blogging.

    Okay, in the PF blogosphere there are plenty of women bloggers. But there are maybe 2 or 3 really big female-written sites. The rest? Men. And in many cases, the writing isn’t that great. There are some popular blogs out there that I can see the draw. But, like you said, I’m sick unto death of toiling over a post and then seeing some popular blogger writing something that he then fails to back up whatsoever with concrete figures or facts. They talk about basic resources but, unlike lil ole me, don’t go online to find a couple of examples and link to ’em.

    Meanwhile, they get more traffic because a lot of readers assume that a woman’s PF blog is going to be all about groceries, coupons, kids and family life. Even though plenty of men blog about the last two.

    You know what REALLY burns me though??? You know why there are so many men blogging vs women (and being particularly successful in terms of readers/comments)? BECAUSE THEY HAVE WIVES. If I had a wife, I’d have plenty of time too. I’m not saying these guys sit on their ass when they’re home. But, no matter how many chores they do, I feel certain (to the point of putting money on the line) that the women do more. A woman going into the office and sitting down to blog, the kids are going to come in. And the dad may not even try to stop them. A man going and sitting in his office? “Not now, Daddy’s busy working.”

    Okay, that’s a huge leap. But seriously. You know it’s true. The men have time to devote to marketing their blogs and doing guest posts because they’re not the ones cooking dinner (except for the guys who stay home all day — some even still putting their kids in day care — while the wife works). They’re doing a share of the chores, but it’s rarely 50/50 even in the most modern households. And they’re more likely to be taken seriously with their blogging efforts — both in the house and on the web.

    I’m sick of it. I know I don’t always write Pulitzer prize winning stuff. But I’m a good blogger. Except that, because I have health issues and because I have to do a lot of work around the house (we’re working on compromises for chores, something Tim’s ADD won’t interfere with) and keep track of finances and cook and still do my work.

    I’m probably just grumbly and all. But this has been something I’ve noticed more and more. The men’s sites are no different from the women’s, but the men tend to post more often — even though they often have shorter posts — and they get more readers from it.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that Tim just woke up (AT FOUR PM, keeping late hours lately) and wanted me to call the doctor’s office to see if there’s a psychiatric nurse there. This is after I got up, worked on my blog, did my regular contract work (mostly) and unloaded the dishwasher that he swore up and down he would do (having forgotten about it the past two days) to do MORE dishes so that I can cook dinner in an hour or two. Oh and I called Social Security (spending 15 minutes on hold, which I used to do dishes and discovered that clanking serviceware and cutlery will really mess up an automated system asking you questions), which was a long-standing task I had never gotten done.

    But I called. Because I didn’t want to start a fight. And, no, no psychiatric nurse. And you know what he says? Well, could you make some more calls today?

    Uh, no. Because as I told you when you got in the shower, I am going to go work out given that I haven’t done it in months and I did it on Saturday and felt great and really hope to get back in the groove.

    So, oblivious to the peril his life was in, he actually asked me if I could put off my workout and do some calling sine it was 4:30 p.m. and medical offices would be closed soon.

    Did I mention that I do the dishes and clean the tub and cook despite the fact that he doesn’t work? Meanwhile he takes out the trash and refills the water jug. In theory, he’s also supposed to vacuum, do the bathroom sink (which, today, is officially 3 days overdue and he’s added more hair to it since then) and the floors. I think he’s vacuumed once in the four months we’ve been. To be fair, I’ve only vacuumed three times. And once was specifically to get rid of any potential fleas (but that meant vacuuming every square inch of the place). So I’m still doing the majority of the chores, I’m working 20 hours a week, and trying to build my blog — including getting a real site up and running. Oh, and I’ve been mystery shopping to make extra money/get entertainment that we’ll be reimbursed for. AND going online to CL to email him job openings. Because we only have one computer and I’m on it just about all the time, so he rarely remembers to look on his own.

    I know this completely turned into a feminist rant. Sorry about that. But I firmly believe it’s all tied together. Most of the bloggers that make us envious can do so because they have luxuries we don’t. Like a job that pays more than $20,000 a year. So they talk about how they really tightened their belts and got out of debt relatively quickly. Then there’s the rest of us who had our belts tight when the debt came around.

    And they talk to us about making money and serious blogging. While quitting their day jobs because they have savings to rely on and a spouse who can help out in a pinch. And they talk about all the fun guests posts they do — and meetups they attend. Which makes folks like you and me feel isolated and like losers.

    But we’re not. We’re just starting from a different place. I guess, even in blogging, we’re “differently abled.” Bah.

    At least I got some ranting out of my system. Though by now I should have almost finished my workout and be started on dinner. Point is, it’s pretty much out of my system…. Stupid blogging boys.

    Okay, NOW it’s mostly out of my system.
    .-= Abigail´s last blog ..Get Smallpox, get $525 =-.

    • @Abigail, It was so good to hear your point of view from another blogging niche, personal finance. I mostly am involved in *gags* mommybloggers part of the blogosphere. But there’s a boys club in this circle too with the daddybloggers. *gags again*

  2. 😳
    I read your blog all the time even if I don’t post replies and I should know better because I feel awful when I prepare my blog, especially my Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival, and get little or no response.

    I’ve decided that my blog is my online journal and I take it as that. I write for me and if someone else reads it and responds then that’s great. I know I have more than 23 followers yet that’s all that publicly follow me. It does bum me out but…hey, it has to be for me or else it’s not worth doing it.

    I hope you don’t quit writing your blog but if you do, I at least understand why.

    xoxo Andrea

    • @WonderWhyGal, I couldn’t quit writing, writing is like breathing for me; not optional. I know you read me and I read you too. I really appreciate your support, sister!

  3. Dory, I stop in and read your blog pretty regularly but don’t always post any kind of reply. Sorry about that. You have had a number of moving posts that pop into my head occasionally. That’s impact. Also, since I know we’re in the same city, I’ve started *looking* for you at the grocery store and various places, so even though you don’t have a lot of followers, you do have one stalker! I hope that makes you feel better (and not creeped out).


    • @MAM, Awwwww, Thanks, Mary! And? Not creeped out at all. BUT. I’m growing my hair out, and all the pictures here are from when my hair was short. Would you recognize me with longer hair? It’s almost past the awkward stage so I’m almost ready to put up a very current picture. 🙂

  4. Dory – I sometimes have similar thoughts, too. How dare people not queue up to comment whenever I put out some more freshly-thought-out genius for their education and amusement? Why do some bloggers get dozens, hundreds of comments, sometimes when they’re doing nothing more than rehashing the day’s news? Why should I bother?

    I’ve asked myself these questions again and again. But the following insights have given me a little peace of mind over the loast few months.

    1) When blogging was new, other bloggers read blogs and posted comments on them. Times have changed.
    When what we self-consciously call the ‘blogosphere’ emerged all those years ago, blinking and mewling in the early sunlight, it was very much a closed community. If you had a blog, you’d read other blogs. You would understand the importance of interactivity and happily comment away. A nice little community was born.

    But now we have ‘civilians’ tramping through the blogosphere, picking and choosing the articles that interest them. It’s like being in an infinite library. But they don’t know that scribbling notes in the margin is allowed and encouraged. Yes, there are still the boingboings of this world, who get comments a-plenty. But a lot of that is down to older, loyal readers who’ve been there from the get go.

    So I’m less worried than I used to be.

    2) Real life and blogging can mix
    I have far more IRL people reading my blog these days. Partly it’s down to using NetworkedBlogs on Facebook to syndicate my posts, partly it’s because I’m not ashamed to mention it to friends and family. My blog traffic has moved up a little since, but few of them are commenting on the blog (see (1) above). However, what they will do is come up to me in the corridor at work, in the pub or at parties and say things like: “I really loved that post you did about you as a seven-year-old.” They’ll tell me how they wait for my next post, and upbraid me if there’s been a gap in posting.

    Real people, real feedback. Beats comments any day of the week!

    3) You’re doing this for you, no-one else
    Think about what you wanted to achieve when you set out blogging, and consider if this has changed. In my case it was to to document a (failed) weightloss programme, but now Make Lard History is all about challenging myself and having fun as a writer. I like to look back on things I wrote in the past. If it makes anyone else happy, that’s a bonus. If they comment, even better. But because the blog is essentially a selfish thing, I’m no longer worried if it seems that I’m shouting into a vacuum.

    And if none of the above convinces you, remember that there is one corner of old England that will forever by Diddly!
    .-= fatboyfat´s last blog ..Letter to myself aged seven =-.

    • @fatboyfat, WOW. This is such an incredible, thoughtful comment! Seriously, I’m so touched. 🙂

      I feel like a geezer saying “WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE…” but a few years ago, hardly anyone had AdSense, and Pay Per Post was born and crashed and burned in a fiery, well-deserved death. Now it’s all about SEO optimization and improved click through rate. There’s hardly anyone out there with the soul of a blogger anymore.

      I don’t really like how my IRL and my blogging mix. I wish I had remained anonymous sometimes. Now that everyone knows where I work, I have to be very, very careful what I say. I’m all for accountability, but things could get really messy. But sometimes I drop the effbomb and find some NSFW stuff incredibly funny. I’m a Christian working in a ministry environment, most definitely not even close to perfect. It often makes me feel gagged. When someone IRL comments that they liked a particular post, I’m flattered, but my next thought is, oh, crap, what else did they read? Did they read another post that could get me in trouble at work? But that is all totally my bad; I didn’t think things all the way through when I announced where HunkyDory works.

      I think I’m still doing this for me. OK, maybe 75% for me. And I’m over my pity-party, for now anyway. One of the MANY triggers for this little tantrum was that I discovered Erin unfriended me on FB. It’s dumb, but it stung just as hard as it would if someone IRL did the same thing. She may well have a damn good reason for doing so. But I go straight to the worse case scenario, the one where she reads something I said on FB and thinks, damn, she’s stupid. CLICK -> DELETE.

      My biggest blogging sin these days is not commenting because I’m so behind in my reader, it’s really too late to pipe up. When you’re reading posts from *gasp* four days ago! (Comments must live in a different section of time and space than everything else does) it seems dumb to throw in your two cents that no one will know existed anyway.

      Except the author.

      Insert haunting, ironic melody HERE.

  5. Found you after you followed me on Twitter. Your name and header caught my eye, so I came back to read some. (Wait, doesn’t everyone check out who follows them on Twitter?)

    Anyhow, so this is the post that catches my eye. There are so many things that caught my attention here, I had to comment.

    I, too started blogging for the same reason: community. And you’re right, (and so is @fatboyfat,) that things are different now. I have made some great friends through blogging, but I soooo know where you’re coming from, and often feel the same way. Funny thing. One of my IRL friends started blogging recently and all of a sudden she gets 30-40 comments a day. Are you kidding me? I’ve been at it for over 3 years and it’s a good day if I get more than 3 or 4! I love her, but how on earth did she do that?

    I think that what we have to do is find the balance between blogging for ‘us’ and blogging for the community. Most of the time I can handle it, some days I want to write this post. It seems to me, from the comments here, that you have made the connection that you describe, and it has been unfortunately tainted by one hag. Hang in there, most of us members of the blogosphere are here for the same reasons you are and are pretty supportive of one another.

    I’ll be back!
    .-= Headless Mom´s last blog ..The Drop Off Line =-.

    • @Headless Mom, when someone follows me on Twitter, I always have to see if they blog! 🙂 I love your voice, I subscribed. 🙂 I found you by looking through Schmutzie’s followers. In case you were curious. 🙂

      WOW. If I had a friend that just started blogging and right away got 30-40 comments a post, I’d be all kinds of shades of green. Did she get a “break”? Did a big-girl-blogger mention her or something? Or is she just like us, wading through the deep water? I get so jealous when I see a big-girl-blogger link to someone brand new and I think, Good God, do you know how damn blessed you are?!

      I got it mostly out of my system, and it did free me up a little. I’m thankful for the support from you and everyone else here. *curtsies prettily*

  6. Dory…I’ve been a bad bad friend…until Oct/Nov I read every week without fail, but with life, the universe and everything i’ve had issues which has meant no time for ANYTHING. Your blog came up in my mind this morning….and felt the need to connect and catch up!!!!! I’m sorry I don’t comment…but you’re my hook to your family and it’s always fun to read! i promise to be a better subscriber.

    For my blog…it’s for my friends and family only – it’s me dumping my life and keeping everyone up to speed on what goes on in my life. Mind you…..I haven’t done that since November – so, I better get cracking:)

  7. Can’t say I can relate as such… from a fairly new blog (it’s nearing the month and a half point now) and I had the fortune of being adopted by a whole family of bloggers very early on… Doesn’t mean I can’t relate to not getting comments though.

    I ran a series not long ago that, after the first installment, got no comments at all. Took me a couple of weeks but I eventually figured out that it just wasn’t working for my readers! All was forgiven when I changed it, but it was a pretty scary thought all the same.

    All I can say is, sorry you feel alone! I do understand it, though the best bit of advice I can offer you is to stop by; James is a great guy and he’ll probably take you under his wing if you comment/email (worked wonders for my site and general inspiration/enjoyment levels).

    First time I’ve stopped by your blog, but you seem like a really interesting person. Looking forward to reading more from you!

  8. Nice article. I have been blogging for about 5 years and finally realized that chasing feed subscribers, social media and all the other blogging traps is a waste of time. Now my emphasis is on making money by having a bunch of blogs that act more like websites. Should have done this years ago and saved myself a lot of time and aggravation.

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