When the real world merges with the blogging world

Stick drawing of two friends

A funny thing happened last weekend. I had a part in a short film, and we did some filming on Saturday. The next day, one of the film crew wrote a comment on the ‘About’ page of my blog to say that he knew there was something familiar about me when I arrived at the film shoot, and then later he realised it was because heย is a follower of my blog! I’ve often wondered if I would recognise somebody from the blog world if I bumped into them in the real world, I figured it would be just like last weekend’s incident, where I would know they were familiar but wouldn’t be quite sure why, like he did.

I’ve also recently been thinking a lot about blog friends and whether they are in fact real friends. Because of social networking, the word ‘friend’ has come to mean different things in different contexts, but if I take a random dictionary definition of the word friend – ‘A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard’, from www.dictionary.com, then yes, there are many people I know in the blogging world who I would apply that to. People I have never met, but I still care about. I feel for them if they are going through a bad time, and I’m happy for them when things are going well. I’m interested in their day to day lives, and I like hanging out with them on their blog or mine. I would feel a sense of loss if theyย suddenly stopped reading and writing blogs and disappeared.ย But how much do I really know them, and how much do they really know me? Some photos. Some words that we choose to write. Is that a person that we can really say we know?

There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers on WordPress alone, and yet as I commented in my post ‘The mind-blowing world of informal blogging networks‘ we tend to form little network groups and keep bumping into the same people, and there are quite a few of those people who I would love to have the opportunity to meet in real life. I’ve often thought to myself that if I happened to be traveling through their town, I might contact them and say “Hey, wanna meet for a coffee?”. There are a few who I would do that confidently with, in the pretty safe knowledge that they would be up for it, yes, I’m thinking of you Robin Coyle. Others I may hesitate, unsure whether they may prefer to keep their blogging world and their real world separate.

On the other hand, I have the concern that we could end up not liking each other in real (not specifically you Robin, but anyone!). I think we’ve all had the experience of hitting it off really well with someone electronically, perhaps through work with email exchanges, or through a social forum, and ended up being slightly disappointed when finally meeting them and discovering that it all seems to fall flat. I would hate anything to negatively affect how highly I regard all my lovely blogging pals!

I don’t have a conclusion as such here, I was just airing my various thoughts and, as always, would love to hear yours… Have you met anyone in real that you first met through blogging? If not, would you want to, or do you prefer to keep your interactions strictly within the blogging arena? (Just so that I know who I can invite for coffee!).

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49 responses to “When the real world merges with the blogging world

  1. This is amazing!!!

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  2. Er, Robin Coyle?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re far more likely to be passing through my way, Chapman and you better bloody look me up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think that is so, so cool about meeting someone from the blogsphere in real life and having them realise it’s you – wow! ๐Ÿ™‚ Very cool! I wish we could arrange a cool get together! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Maybe it’s just wishful thinking that I might be passing through California sometime soon!

      Of course I would look you up, and with you it would be a tea invitation rather than coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I gladly accept your coffee invitation, Vanessa! I’ll tell you a few more thoughts I have about seagulls!

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  4. If I ever found myself in your neck of the woods I’d definitely enjoy that cup of coffee ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve never met anyone through blogging, or anyone that I’ve known online. Well, I guess I should take that back…. I work from home in an online setting and the people I work with are all over the country. Once I TRIED to meet a co-worker in Oklahoma as I was passing through, but she didn’t get my messages in time. But then a few months ago one asked me where I lived because he realized that we had the same area code to our phone numbers. I told him what town and turns out….we live in the same town!!! Not only that but maybe 5 minutes from each other. So we’ve met up a bunch and have become friends – small world!

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    • It’s funny when you discover you’re just down the road from someone you’ve been communicating with! A couple of times I’ve met up with people with people from forums, it’s always strange – even if you’re not disappointed, people aren’t ever quite how you imagine!

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      • I can imagine it to be strange. I’m pretty shy, socially quiet, I’m not very outgoing so I may be able to blab blab blab to you online all day long but in person, eeeep I get real shy. Although, when I met my co-worker friend it wasn’t really a big deal for me… so maybe I’d be alright!

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  5. Funny thing that you you should be involved in a short film as I know the team from Orpington film club, I am a member and played a part in their latest epic “Blitz and Bananas”, it wasn’t a leading roll, in fact I was only doing sound. Vanessa I had heard thorough our grapevine that you were moving into film, good for you.
    You may remember commenting on my new website Reillys Equine, its going really well thanks for your input. Regarding does blogging make real friends why not, I am not a blogger but I can see the benefits of sharing our views.

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    • I don’t want to keep saying cliches like ‘small world!’, but…small world!

      Yes, I do remember, it was on LinkedIn, you were asking people for comments about your new website and I commented!

      I have been dabbling in films on and off for several years, but this is my first involvement in a local project like this one.

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  6. Vanessa,
    Having coffee with Robin would be a blast! I have never been recognized – physically that is, and live in person – but I have been told by a few bloggers that Le Clown has been brought on in conversations at different events… My favourite (ego-flattering) story is one of a blogger who went to a party, and a friend was talking about a blog she thought was a blast, about a “Le Clown” character… And that was somewhere in Missouri, miles away from my native Montreal. It’s not a face to face encounter, but it does feel good to be recognised.
    Le Clown

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  7. I haven’t yet met any of my fellow bloggers in the physical world, but like you, I wonder if we’d “click” like we do on-line or if our real-world personalities might not mesh. It’s much easier for me, for example, to talk more confidently on line than in person, where I tend to be both shy and an introvert. Interesting question!

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    • Me too, I’m much more shy in real – I commented about this on someone else’s blog fairly recently, can’t remember whose, but I was saying that perhaps it’s a common writers’ trait to be a bit introverted.

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  8. That’s pretty neat. It would be fun to meet people, but then it could be frightening if we discovered we didn’t really get along!

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  9. Who wouldn’t want to have a coffee with Robin? I know what you mean though. I haven’t met anyone that I first met through blogging. I did meet a number of people on-line from my OU course and we set up a writing group and meet regularly for that *coffee*. We have a great time and it has strengthened our online discussions. So it can work.

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    • Yes, it definitely can work, but I guess it’s the unknown isn’t it, and the worry that you might not be who they think you are, and they might not who you think they are. It’s great about your Steel City Writers though.

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      • The Steel City Writers have given me great confidence and we have a book out, I would never have done that on my own.

        It is a leap of faith to meet someone and you’re right. I bet we are all completely different in real life. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. I’d love to have coffee with you! I’d love to have coffee with any of my fellow bloggers that I bump into around blogosphere.

    As you may know, Beth did something similar to this with her limebirds either via Skype if we lived too far away or if not, she arranged an outing at a pub. (I can’t remember if you were a limebird during that time or not.) Anyway, because I live across the pond, I had to settle for meeting her on Skype. We chatted for 3 hours!! My kids had to pop in on the conversation because they never–never–not see me for a straight 3 hours when we’re all home at the same time, lol.

    I used to worry about whether or not I’d enjoy an outing with someone from blogosphere, but then I realized that in most of my conversations with people, we talk about more than writing. We also know each other as more than just ‘writers’. I have something in common with everyone I know through blogging, and it isn’t just writing.

    I wish I could take Robin up on her invitation to the WD conference in LA, but it’s too far away for me. Now if I had a chance to meet someone closer to my turf, say Boston or even NYC, I would seriously do my best to take advantage of that opportunity.

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    • What?! Beth arranged a get-together and didn’t invite me! No, seriously, that was before I joined, I have heard mention of it subsequently.

      I think we definitely have things in common with the other bloggers we converse with, and click with them, but in person you need that kind of undefinable chemistry that you never really know exists or not until you meet them. I don’t like to think though that I would never get to meet any of you lovely people – I’ll definitely give you a call should I be passing your way sometime…

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  11. You’ve taken a subject which has likely crossed a lot of our minds but hasn’t been spoken of yet. For me, the idea of meeting someone from the blogosphere started with Robin asking if anyone was going tot the WD conference. Lots of bloggers I cross paths with would make great coffee companions, you included, Vanessa. I enjoy meeting people especially those I have something in common with as I do here. Great idea for a post.

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    • Yes, Robin’s mentioned a few times about getting together, but more in a casual jokey type of way, the WD conference was the first real suggestion as it were. We definitely feel like we all know each other fairly well don’t we!

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  12. Interesting topic, and you’re quite right that ‘friend’ has come to mean something rather different in the social media world.
    I’m sure there are some people I’d love to meet in the flesh, but so far it hasn’t happened. What I do find quite odd is when my blog posts are forwarded to people I only just know, who then are aware of all my personal stuff, while I am unaware of theirs! It can be a bit of a one way street, this blogging gig. So it might be nice for the conversation to become a real face-to-face one, although there are things on my blog (like poetry) which I would never dare share with someone I knew. The wonderful empowering nature of being incognito!

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    • Yes, it’s interesting isn’t it, there are some things we reveal on our blogs but might not in real, and other things we reveal in real but wouldn’t on our blogs. Generally we seem to instinctively know what feels comfortable where. And yes, the one-way personal stuff is interesting isn’t it. Even within the blogging arena, some people’s blogs are themed towards one subject, so maybe we find out less about the rest of their lives, but some of us (like you and me!), can be a bit random in our blogging talk and reveal a wide range of things that we’ve been up to!

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  13. I know that a couple of people who follow my blog also live in my city, but I haven’t and don’t plan to make an effort to meet them. Like you said, what works over wires may not work over a cup of coffee. But I’m not completely against, I would just think carefully about it.

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    • Ok, well I won’t look you up then if I’m passing your way ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think partly it depends how much you click with the person online doesn’t it as to whether you really want to take it further or not, if they are just blog acquaintances rather than blog friends then there may not be any point anyway.

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  14. Haha! This is super awesome, I can’t say I’ve ever had anyone coming up to me and saying they recognised me from here, but that would be pretty cool!

    Anytime you’re round the North London/Hertfordshire way, hit me up! All Limebirds are welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I’m from North London origininally, I grew up in North Finchley/Friern Barnet area, and I had a couple of friends in Herts. but I don’t have much call to go to that area any more these days. Maybe you should just invite us all to your wedding! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  15. This is amazing. What a small world it really is!
    Can’t say it’s happened to me yet but I’m up for meeting anyone who happens to be on a visit to Melbourne, Australia, as most of the people I meet in Blogland are from the northern hemisphere and I’m unlikely to get off this Island of Oz any time soon.
    It’s a long way from anywhere so as much as you might be tempted to, don’t come down especially! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  16. Wow Vanessa! Thank you for the shout out. I loved seeing my name in “bright lights” on your blog. AND, I love how many of your commenters I “know.” How cool is that!

    It is fun to see familiar faces in the comments on others’ blogs. I will often follow a blog if I see familiar faces. If you guys like the blogger, I bet I will too. I describe the gigantic world of blogging as tight-knit communities. I am confident that if we met, we would hit it off.

    I haven’t met a virtual friend through blogging, but I did make a friend through email. She works for the sheriff’s department. When we had a rash of break-ins in our neighborhood, one night I spotted a suspicious car. I phoned the information in to the sheriff’s department. She followed up on my call with an email. It turned into an email exchange, and she is a “real” buddy now.

    Thank you again, Vanessa! Great post and an interesting idea to think about.

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    • Thanks Robin, I got a bit excited waiting for you to see the mention on my post!

      I’m the same, I’ll be more inclined to follow blogs if I see familiar faces there. I keep wondering how many more blogs I can fit into my life though!

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      • If you were exciting in the waiting, think of how excited I was in the seeing!

        The number of blogs I follow is killing me. They are all so good. However, something must change.

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  17. Bloggy friends are real friends. I’ve never had so many friends and I love it.

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  18. There are definitely several people I interact with regularly in the blogging world who I would gladly meet up with. Indeed it is purely through my blogging activity that I set up and run another blog focussing on cycling. Three of us are scattered around the UK, one in the south of France and one east coast US – ranging in age from A-level student to enjoying retirement. Two of us in the UK and our French member have met in person, but I would not hesitate to say that all five of us have become good friends, interacting with each other regularly via the blog, email and Twitter.

    I used to keep my blogosphere activities separate from the real world, but over the past couple of years the two have increasingly started to merge. This happened in part because I started linking to blog posts from Twitter and Facebook, at which point some of my circles of friends wre drawn into my online world, My main blog, Slouching towards Thatcham, pulled in fellow parents and work colleagues in particular, while others have been drawn in through my sporting blogs. I get as much out of interacting with them (and complete ‘strangers’) online as I do face-to-face. But them I am an introvert!

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    • There’s a pattern developing here, with several of us bloggers claiming to be introverts in real!

      I don’t know about you, but when I first started blogging I didn’t realise that the vast majority of the readership would be other bloggers. Unlike you, my first few followers were people I knew and then gradually as I started following and commenting on other blogs, and they reciprocated, I discovered that it was much more about bloggers interacting with each other than anything else!

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  19. Pingback: Virtually friends | Slouching towards Thatcham

  20. Very interesting perspective Vanessa.

    ” Birds of the same feather flock together”. And this holds true whether in the real or the blogging world. Similar thoughts, similar perspectives, similar yearnings attract. So just as in the real world, we would need to maintain certain stances during interactions. My guess is that we would try to keep these worlds separate if we have been maintaining different stances in them….

    I for one would not be concerned about allowing these two worlds to merge.

    Shakti

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    • Thank you, yes. If people have been putting on a certain persona on their blog that isn’t really them, then of course they may not wish to merge them, but I think it’s probably hard to keep your real personality out of it if that’s what you were trying to do (I don’t mean ‘you’, I mean anyone!). I think mine is pretty much me, so on that basis, I’d be happy for the words to merge!

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