Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

A blogging friend (as well as real life friend, if somewhat far away), Julie over at High Fiber Content was nice enough to tag me for a Thinking Blogger Award last weekend. How lovely is that! Thank you m'dear.

I was pleased about the award. I think all of us bloggers wonder some days if we're all wandering around the internet, like harmless but slightly crazy bag ladies, talking to ourselves. It's nice to know that we're making real connections on occasion.

Of course most of the time I'm very aware of how much I'm connected to other bloggers, how much I appreciate them putting a little bit of themselves out there on a regular basis, how much I appreciate the work and time that goes into making a blog worth visiting again and again.

The Thinking Blogger Award starts here. The originator was pondering things like "why do we blog", "why do we read other people's blogs", and "why do we meme." She (he? I couldn't tell) considered this Blogger Award a meme. I don't think I'd categorize it as a meme myself. But I don't know what I would call it, so I'll just leave that one alone. I will, however, take a moment to ponder those other points before moving on.

Why do I blog?

Easy. I am one of those odd people who has been writing and/or standing up in front of audiences on purpose since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Most folks would dread things like essay tests or speech class. Instead of dreading them, I'd clap my hands in glee and think "Ooooh, sounds like fun!" So, blogging is a good platform for someone like me. Although, to be honest, I'd probably still be blogging even if there was no audience at all. I might be sad and pathetic with no one to talk to, but I'd still blog. Writing my blog helps me sort out my thoughts.

Another reason I like blogging is that on the continuum of such activites as In person -> Telephone -> Letter Writing -> IM'ing -> Online Group -> Blogging -> Article or Essay Writing ..... It has the best combination of connection, anonymity, and convenience for me. Hmmmm, do I have to explain that more? Nah. I'll just leave it at that.

Last but not least, I blog because, and this may seem odd but, it makes my mother happy. I'm not much of a phone person and although I consider my relationship with my mom a good one, we don't talk on the phone much now that she lives far away. In many ways she gets to hear more of my original voice when she reads my blog than she does when we speak in person anyway, where we usually limit our conversations to things like weather, kids, and travel plans. So. Reading my blog seems to make my mom happy. And that makes me happy.

Why do I read other people's blogs?

Another easy question. Bottom line, I live in a small town isolated by weather, distance, mountains and the insular effect of local conservative thinking. If it wasn't for the like minded people that I have "met" online, I would battle feelings of isolation and frustration in this community. So, I read blogs for community and friendship.

I also read blogs to get a broader view of how people think. Having a "writer's" mind, I'm always fascinated with the rainbow of viewpoints that people have on the world.

Last but not least, I read blogs for information and ideas and creative inspiration, both visual and written.

Why do we meme?

I used to do more meme's then I do now. Honestly, I'm sort of bored with most of them. Every once in a while there's a new creative twist on one and I'm interested in reading how people answer them and I participate or, more often, tweak it to suit my own needs. Meme's are a form of networking, true. But I find I'm just as likely to find new and interesting blogs (or have people find me) by making the effort to introduce myself and comment and to follow the comments of other people back to their blogs in turn. There are just too many fascinating people out there and NOT ENOUGH TIME to enjoy them all.

That last sentence is an ironic comment when the next thing I say is that "I'm finding it hard to select blogs to pass the Thinking Bloggers Award on to next. In receiving the tag, I'm supposed to turn around and tag five other bloggers. I'm running into a number of problems.

Problem number one - a number of blogs that come to mind first have already been tagged. It's probably not in the spirit of the game to tag them and have the meme go around in circles. In fact, quite a few that I would have selected have been tagged over the last few days as I've procrastinated and considered my options. The ones I ultimately do tag, some of those will probably be tagged by the time I send this off.

Problem number two - a few of the blogs that I'd like to award are well known or are the blogs of people who I know are VERY BUSY or are blogs of people who don't know me at all. I feel intimidated or uncomfortable approaching them with an obligation. Sure, they can always choose not to participate, but I don't want an award to be met with an "Oh no, not another meme!" or a "Who IS this person!?"

And while we are on the subject, am I the only one who has a hard time trying to come up with the right terms for my relationships with other online people? Some I think of as acquaintances, others as social friends, still others, even if we've never met, as old and dear real friends. (My family is always interupting my stories to ask "Wait, is this a real friend or just someone you know online?" Which annoys me because sometimes they are one and the same.) But it's not always easy to figure out where to place everyone I "know" online. What about someone you think you know well because you read their blog but who might not have the same degree of connection to you in return? How long do you have to know the person before you can say you "know" them? At what point do you have the right to call someone a friend and say "I was talking to my friend Penelope...." I often find myself saying something like "My friend Emily... well, this woman I know online... well, I don't "know" her but I read her blog ..... but she did write me back that one time when I left a comment.... but it's not like I'm her best friend or anything ... but I think she knows my name but....." and that's usually when the person who I am talking to starts to tap their foot or I notice their eyes have glazed over.

But it's hard, isn't it? Or at least not as easy as in real life when you can say "Pam at the bank" or "Which Kathy? Kathy from Sonoma" or "The Richardsons that we sat by at football games last year". Those real life connections give a more visible picture of your relationship with someone. It's hard for some people to understand that although "Pam at the bank" has met me in person dozens of time, and we might even chat on occasion and she even remembers the names of my children, I don't feel I know her as well as someone online who has read some of my more intimate blog posts and who has also shared more of herself. It's hard for my family to grok that and I don't blame them. It's hard for me to figure out where to place people in my life sometimes too.

Problem number three - I read blogs for lots of reasons and not always because they make me think, in the sense that I assume the Thinking Blogger Award is suggesting. Sometimes I like someone's blog because it makes me laugh, or has beautiful art, or keeps me in touch with a certain interest or part of myself. I might not think of the blog as being particularly deep or philosophical or reflective - at least not on a regular basis, and not like some blogs tend to be. Of course, look at my blog. I've filled it up with rants and family photos lately - not a whole lot of deep thinking going on there. Maybe I'm just OVER thinking this whole idea, hmmm? That's a real possibility.

Problem number four - despite my comment about so many blogs, so little time, I actually read very few blogs regularly. In part because there are only so many hours in the day. And in part because, although my blog has been around for awhile, and I've known and read friend's blogs for years, I've only recently realized that there is a huge blogging community to connect to and mine for treasures. (Yeah, I'm a bit slow on the uptake. But hey, I have a non-cyberlife too!) Last fall I had quite a list of blog URL's to share and visit but somehow I lost them in a computer change and I can't seem to find my way back through numerous links to many of them. So except for those closest to me, in a lot of ways I'm starting over. I've been doing quite a bit of blog surfing lately in search of of regular blogging buddies, but it takes time to search and a degree of returns to turn a random hit into a new favorite place to visit.

And now that I've stretched this out and analyzed it and beat it with a stick far more than I should have (hey, Julie did say I made her think!), I'll tell you what I finally decided to do about passing this on.

1) I'm going to pass on any bloggers who have already been tagged.

2) I'm going to tag blogs that make me think even if the reasons they enrich me are personal and not necessarily transferable to someone else. I'm not even going to explain them because...well, honestly, because this post is already long enough. Hehe. With no further fuss and muss -

My nominees for the Thinking Blogger Award

Laura Florand's blog - Blame it On Paris
Kipling West's blog - four eyed bat
Madness Rivera's blog - Madorganica
Joshilyn Jackson's blog - Faster than Kudzu
Liz B's blog - A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

There. I did it. THAT WAS HARD!!!

Here are the rules that I'm to pass on to those I've tagged:

1. When you are tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).


Blogger Tanya Brown said...

Re: one's relationship with other bloggers - my description of this is "blog friend". I know what you mean about others asking "is this a real friend", etc., as though it's impossible to be friends with someone you haven't met in the flesh.

There's a good historic precedent in the form of pen pals (pen friends, for you U.K. folks), though, so it isn't as like this sort of thing is a new and bizarre development.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Susie Monday said...

Quite a nice analysis of the whole world of blogging and why we do so, and what it is about the people we "meet" this way. I just got tagged with the meme and found your blog by backtracking, so it's interesting to see where the branches lead (or is it more accurately termed a root structure). But goodness, I could take all day doing this!

7:06 AM  
Blogger JulieZS said...

Hooray, you made me think again! My real/internet friend!

4:15 PM  
Blogger catsmum said...

As so frequently seems to happen Laume, you've articulated my own thoughts so much better than I possibly could.
One of the things that I'm really enjoying about this whole Thinking Blogger thing is that it's leading me to Blogs that I normally wouldn't visit. You are one of the few non-knitting/quilting Bloggers that I consider one of "my" people and I can't even remember now how I found you in the first place but you were one of the very first Blogs that I put a link to in my sidebar. Okay off to check out the Blogs that you've nominated!!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Blame It on Paris said...

Thank you! I'm very flattered.

Online friends? Blog friend works, too. Hmm. I bet if we coined the perfect word it would be the next Word of the Year. Everybody needs a word for this anymore!

Laura Florand

6:02 PM  

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