My Two Cents in a Three Dollar Thread

I read a lot of blogs, and I read a lot of blogs about blogging (or having an ‘online presence’).  The blogs about blogging talk about how it is important to be part of the online community, joining in on the discussion people are having.  But then I go to the other blogs I read, see a post that has a lot of resonance for me  (mostly the ones about weddings, graphic design, and…child-rearing) and there’s already over 150 comments! Who is going to read mine?  NO ONE.  And it doesn’t really matter, because most of what people are saying in their comment is their own two cents on the matter, not any kind of actual dialogue (me included). I don’t read more than a few comments down, and doubt anyone else would read comment #163.  So is this really a community?

The only blogs on which I feel like I would actually be part of a conversation is the snarky blogs, but then I am too intimidated- and feel too guilty about talking major trash on someone I don’t know- to comment.

I’ve never really been good at forming superficial relationships, like friendships made at camp or conferences, and I feel like most online relationships are pretty superficial.  I think the dynamic between blog author and blog reader is just a bit odd.  As the reader, I feel like I know the author so well.  I read about her life every day, maybe see pictures of her kids, know how she feels on a range of issues.  But she doesn’t know a thing about me, so the relationship is lopsided.  Kind of like celebrities, only even more intimate. But I have also read posts by authors talking about their great online friendships they have made, so apparently it happens. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.


11 thoughts on “My Two Cents in a Three Dollar Thread

  1. I used to not understand the sense of community, but I had a blog where I gained some great “online” friends. In fact, I met a couple off-line, and they were just as great in person as they were on the computer. But I can understand what you mean when you see one-hundred-and-something comments on someone’s site. It’s hard to feel like a “community” then.

    • I do actually have a lot of friends I technically met online, but it was in a private discussion group, and everyone in it was invited, so there was a ‘real world’ relationship link between everyone.

      Did you ever meet someone in person that you had been following their blog for a long time and felt weird that you knew more about them than they did of you? That’s something I worry about.

  2. It’s a hard thing to do. I’m not as good at it as I wish I were, but I think you’re thinking about this slightly wrong.

    The point of online presence is not a couple fly-by comments on random (and very popular) blogs, and it’s not about one-to-one communication between reader and writer; it’s about community. Find a blog, or a handful of blogs about something you’re passionate about, read every post, read the comments, get to know the community that forms around that blog, and then start posting. The goal is not to be recognized by the blog author, but to be a part of the community, and part of the discussion.

    Like I said, I don’t really do this, but I wish I did, so take it all with a grain of salt, I guess.

    • For the 3 blogs I am most involved in, I DO do all that. On each of these blogs I have made several comments, just never got into any real discussion. It takes a LOT of devotion I guess to keep in the discussion.

      The weird thing is, the most intense online discussions I’ve had with people I don’t know have been on mutual friends’ facebook pages.

      For the most part, I usually just feel like I’m that dorky kid in high school who tried to make friends with the popular crowd, and they just ignore her.

  3. Ta-Nehisi Coates has been able to do this at his blog at The Atlantic and his posts often get over 200 comments. Having a threaded comments section is a huge help to facilitate conversation. The other thing is that he participates in the comment section and is an active moderator (he writes about culture and politics and race, which tend to attract a lot of trolls – without active moderation the thread would be useless)

  4. i’ve felt this way a long time about blogs.

    in fact, before i actually started my own, i hated them. then unemployment necessitated me talking about my problems to someone, and the lack of cashflow necessitated the person listening needing to be the “internet” rather than an actual therapist.

    now it’s strange. i blog, i don’t, it doesn’t matter. there are a few friends that comment on what i write, but those are the folks who i would talk to in the non-blog world anyway.

    long story short i don’t hate blogs anymore, and i’m a big hypocrite, but i still don’t really feel that i’ve found a community. keep pluggin’ away i suppose. if you make a discovery i’m all ears.

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