Saturday, May 03, 2008

Blogging: It's Where We Get Community

In my diatribe the other day against those who get off on the Dump on Dooce bandwagon, I did not link to her site. Normally, you reference a blogger, you link to their blog--that is, I believe, the etiquette. But I didn't after thinking about it for a while for this reason: I have heard that some bloggers try to up their ante by linking to A list bloggers. It gets their stats going, I guess, not to mention their hearts. I didn't want anyone to think I was writing that WTF post defending Heather Armstrong for any collateral reason (I'm not sure that even makes sense, but I trust you will know what I mean). Thus, I left off the links. However, this post I am linking to her site, to the monthly letter she has written to her daughter. It's here; go read it. In it, Heather is answering those who criticize her and other bloggers for writing about their lives. This is the bit that I want you to get, to think about, to really know:
"I know I am not alone when I say that when I sit down to update my website I do it to connect with other people, I do it to reflect on the absurdity of everyday life with the hope that the people who read it will find similarities in their own routine. I did not know that wanting to be a part of a community qualified as egotism."

For much of the time that I've had a stat counter on ByJane, it registered an average of about thirtyfive readers a day. In the time that I've had Google and BlogHer ads on my site, I haven't seen a penny. So why do I spend so much time at my blog? Why is it the one thing I do without fail every day (okay, I brush my teeth as well)? I do it because that I have a community of readers, however few or many, means I am not hollering into the wilderness.

Life is pretty lonely these days, for all of us. If you've taken a psych or soc or polysci course, you've heard the term anomie. Our society has fragmented and our connections have frayed over the past century or so, and we are each of us left along with a very personal drive for meaning, for community. It's a human urge to search out others of the same ilk, to be not-alone. Some wrap themselves in the vestments of their work or hobby. Others find it in their church or athletics or political causes. Bloggers, particularly those of us who write about our day-to-day lives, find it on-line.

Recently I moved beyond the confines of ByJane and started a whole new community: The site is barely operational now, but ultimately it will be a gathering place for all of us who consider ourselves to be in the middle of our lives. It is growing out of the same need that motivated the Mommybloggers to band together: the urge for a community that speaks to our particular interests and gives us a voice. That's what blogging is about. It's not an ego trip; it's a conversation.

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