On:Off Relationships

November 30, 2012

Through this awesome blog world I’ve made some great friendships. Thankfully, many of them have turned into “real life” friendships.  I would probably be lost in Houston if it weren’t for the small group of women that I’ve come to know and love through blogging.

However, we all have those times when the lines start to blur in a negative way. My good friend (and blogger) Betsy and I were discussing this issue a few days ago and I asked her if she would be willing write a guest post on the topic, since she is significantly more eloquent than I am. Thankfully, she obliged. I can’t wait for you to read her thoughts.

Enjoy!

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Over
the months that we’ve known each other, my relationship with Whitney has
evolved from blog comments to Twitter shout-outs to email chains and, finally,
to regular gchat conversations.  So, even
though we’ve never met in real life, I count her as a dear friend with whom I
can share not just the pretty details (that often appear on my blog) but also
the daily messinesses of life (that sometimes get filtered out).  One of the topics we’ve spent a lot of time
discussing is the difference between our online lives and our real lives.
The
thing is, we agree, often the line between the two blurs when we share
ourselves so publicly on our blogs.  We lifestyle
bloggers especially (though not exclusively) often wrestle with the intersections
of our social media personas and our realities away from the computer.  And when we devote significant amounts of
time and energy to our online presence and, by extension, our online
relationships, things can get very tangled.
I
treasure the friendships that I have developed through our amazing blogging
community; we all do.  But there’s
another side to getting so personal with bloggers we don’t know in any other
context: we open ourselves to meeting people who can be dismissive, hurtful, or
even malicious online.  Because most of
us don’t create internet personas with the intention of becoming Mean Girls, it
can be shocking when we cross paths with bloggers who don’t think that the
normal social courtesies exist when you’re interacting through a computer.  And often, because of how blurred the lines
can get, it can be hard to know how to react or respond in these
situations.  If you ran into one of these
women girls on the playground at school, your mom would probably just tell you
not to play with her.
But
that’s easier said than done online because our community is relatively small
and it can be hard to cut ties – everything and everyone seems connected,
right?  Just like it takes enormous
strength not to pander to the popular girls in high school, it takes great
force of will to walk away from the bloggers and/or tweeters that you don’t
like or agree with.  But the thing that
makes our online relationships different from our adult real life relationships
is that we choose to spend our time on them.
Unlike
our interactions with our neighbors or our colleagues* or our family, we are
making an active choice to engage every time we communicate online with someone
who we don’t know in real life.  If we
don’t like a blog, we can choose to not engage with it.  Don’t shake your head – we can.
We’re
spoiled for options when it comes to online relationships.  This is a crude way of looking at things,
especially because we all do put so much of ourselves into our online personas,
but, at the end of the day, we’re consumers on the internet.  You don’t like a magazine’s voice?  Stop buying it.  You don’t like a blog’s message?  Stop reading it.  It really can be that simple. Those bloggers
have every right to write what they want, just like we have every right to not
read their posts.  It’s up to us. 
I’m
totally guilty of checking out blogs that I know will bother me and then flying
off the handle about what they say – who isn’t? 
But, at the end of the day, I have to recognize that I chose to click
through.  Next time you’re tempted to
send an obnoxious tweet calling out someone’s Instagram feed or to leave an
anonymous comment criticizing someone’s post, don’t.  You know what’s more effective?  Not following them.
Try
it – it’s liberating!
*Obviously,
my advice doesn’t quite apply in the same way for those of you whose blogs are
your businesses! That brings its own complications that I don’t feel at all
qualified to speak to – sorry!
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We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below!
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