Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Real Life

The other day I had my first IRL blogger meet up with Lilian. She and her boys met me and my two little guys at the park and we had a great time. It was like I already knew her, from reading her blog and all her comments here, but it was also like making a new friend. This is the first time I have met another blogger in person and I was a little nervous. I didn’t know if she would like me or if I would be able to talk coherently at all. I am a little shy and not at all good with small talk. I do much better with a keyboard and editing time.

I have been thinking over the last few days how different it feels to make these deep, amazing connections with women online without ever seeing their faces or sometimes even knowing their real names. I am also thinking about how this kind of communication seems completely separate from the connections we make with those close to us in real life. Those whose faces and body language we know, and whose footsteps, laughter, cries and voices are as familiar as breathing.

It strikes me now that I am unused to putting the thoughts and reactions and feelings I have from blogging into sound. It is all inside my head. Putting it into actual spoken words with Lilian was new territory. I felt a little clumsy and stupid and slow. There was so much more I wanted to say to her, and I found myself thinking I wanted to read her post about our day and respond to it with my keyboard. We laughed about how when we are out at a playground or somewhere we often look at other women and wonder if they are bloggers. I think that all the time now, wondering if anyone I am with is thinking of a post inside their heads, like I am.

What I read and write here blogging goes directly to a part of my brain that is in language but not verbal or aural. I never heard Kateri’s name pronounced and didn’t know how to say it. When Lilian started talking about Jo(e)’s blog I was lost for a few seconds because when she said “Jo” I immediately thought of my next door neighbor, not the blogger. It’s just not a context I am used to connecting in conversation. I think in text and links and images and emoticons when I am thinking about online people and relationships. It has grown a new set of synapses connections in my brain that has nothing to do with physically present people and verbal/aural language. Does that make sense to anyone? Does anyone else do that?

Another thing: I told Buster that we were going to meet a friend of mine from Brazil, but I didn’t tell him that I met her online and she was a blogger I had never before seen in person. I was thinking of a post Jo(e) wrote once about how when she was on vacation and thinking about meeting other bloggers her kids called her on it. “"You’re going to take a trip by yourself and stay with strangers you’ve met on the internet? Aren't you supposed to warn your kids about that kind of a thing?" LOL that is so funny because Buster has said the same exact thing to me. Back when he was 12 I wouldn’t let him go into chat rooms. One day I was chatting with a friend from college. He asked me who I was chatting with and when I told him we were talking about getting together he was horrified. “Mom you told me never to do that! Meet someone you chatted with? Isn’t that dangerous?” I wanted to tell him it’s a woman and we are friends, and that’s completely different from anyone he would meet online. Even though he is almost nineteen and going off to college in a week I didn’t think that would fly with him, so I didn’t tell him she’s a blogging friend, just a friend. Is that sneaking out of the house?

4 comments:

Inkling said...

It is an odd culture in that way, being so internal. But I like to think of it as the resurgence of the art of letter writing. Because we write carefully and coherently, not just blurbing things out as we do in e-mail, and then we respond in kind--I think of the Brownings and other famous letter writers, and I am very grateful for blogging, although it still is kind of strange to post inner thoughts for all to read. But, that is what writers do.

Overwhelmed! said...

I met a Blogger friend IRL as well. I met Michelle from Big Blueberry eyes, when I was in Alamogordo, NM on business. We were cautious at first, I met her and Kayla with her husband at one of their favorite restaurants. Then, later in the week, Michelle, Kayla and I went on a tour of a pistacio farm & then out to lunch. It was wonderful!

Glad you took the opportunity to meet Lilian. :)

Lilian said...

Oh, I love this post, thank you for writing about our meeting. I felt exactly the same, there was so much I wanted to talk about, but I think the "problem" with us was not the transition between the virtual communication and the real world because for me I really do know you and these other women (and a few men) whose blogs I read, and I have no difficulty transitioning - anyway, to get to the point, we didn't get to talk more because we had to chase four little boys around!!

Anyway, I want to write a post about this too, but it'll probably have to wait until I'm home from Florida. I'll try to jot down some thoughts soon, though so I don't loose my first "reaction" to the things you wrote.

cloudscome said...

because we had to chase four little boys around!! Exactly right Lilian!

Inkling, I like what you said about letter writing. I think that is another reason I love blogging.