It started with Lisa posting my blog link as part of Blog Amnesty Day (when you are supposed to highlight smaller blogs as a way of keeping this self surviving cycle of blog-i-ness a’turning. I had read about the idea over at Blue Girl and had even thought about doing it myself but let’s face it… all those marvelous blogs over on the right side of the screen are bigger than little’ol me. At least I think they are. Anyway, it was nice to be pointed out.
Then Sweet Relish (as I call her in my head), gave me my very first blog award.
I was blown away. I have been writing this blog since last March (yikes!) and even though I am not a big follower of the memes or the awards, it was super special to be given one especially one that is for blogs that the giver feels are:
invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes for self-aggrandizement!
This got me thinking about a few things. First off, about the line between strangers and friends. In this day and age it is common to “meet” people online. Whether by blogs, by MMOs, by communities or Meet Up Groups, or by dating/friendship/social networking sites… the way in which we create (and maintain) relationships has changed dramatically in the past five to ten years. I know that some people still resist that… “They aren’t your real friends unless you know them in real life” sort of thing. And on some level that is true. You don’t really KNOW someone until you have spent oodles of time with them and seen how they react to bad restaurant service, lost luggage, traffic, the loss of a phone charger cord…. But I think there can be friendships that start online, grow online, and maybe even stay online. I know I have had the emotional response of “friend” when I have read about So-and-So’s issues with her children, or So-and-So’s issues with her husband. I know that I worried about Del and the fires in Australia. I know that I could relate when Raven was having computer issues or when Robert took the plunge and opened a photo studio. So, yes, I might not KNOW you all on a deep intimate level, but I feel like I can call you my friends even if I only “know’ you the blog sense of the word.
Because for some of us, there is no really huge disparity between who you are online versus who you are in real life. Yes I might censor certain aspects and I might not tell my readers everything… in the same way though sometimes I feel I can be more honest about myself in the blog. And maybe I am idealistic and simple minded, but I have a feeling the same goes for a lot of you out there.
But that leads me to the next thing. I recently saw an anti “online bullying” ad that made the point “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online.”
This works on a very specific group of people, those who bully out of a place of “getting away with it” online. Those people who take over forums or message boards simply because they can and they get a rush out of being secretly mean. I don’t understand these people.
But there is another group, a group for whom that ad will have no meaning. Because, for some people there is no line… for some people, being a bully or a mean spirited ignoramus online is only natural because they are a bully in real life. Bullies didn’t all stay in the play yard of elementary school. Many of them grew up to be jackasses in real life. I have had the displeasure of working for a few, of dating a few, and of being run over by a few.*
Recently one such degenerate decided to comment on my post Loss; a post that was difficult enough to write and share.
The thing is… that not only did my new and old net buddies rally against the hate speak but several of those who took the time to call Anonymous out as a malicious misguided turd didn’t even know me.
That’s right… Lisa (who deserves her own award for sure) linked about the comment on her blog and strangers, people I have never met, people who don’t normally read my blog, people who have different backgrounds, political views, religious views, … showed up and then said wonderfully supporting things.
Overwhelmingly the responses to Loss have been wonderful. I have received emails, comments, and even a few phone calls that have reaffirmed my faith in this thing we call human decency.
The inter-web-world is a marvelous place and I feel lucky to be a part of it… and blessed to have made so many wonderful Online Friends.
So, thank you all.
*(I will write that blog post, I promise.)