Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging Hindering Friendships?: When Friends Read Your Blog

Since starting my blog over two years ago I have had certain policies for my blog., for what I will blog and what I will not, what type of links I put up and which I do not, how much personal information I reveal and what I do not and so on.

One is that I don’t share all the stories which I have something to say about. I don’t blog those which I think my readers would enjoy for entertainment or that they’d learn something from. I keep some stories private as I don’t feel comfortable sharing so much about my family members, friends or children that I know (such as my friend’s friends, or the Scouts in my Cub Scout Den). I also feel that to blog about children I come in contact with through my volunteer work is an invasion of privacy.

Believe me I have some things I’d like to say but I bite my tongue. Sometimes a ‘real life example’ of something would really make my readers understand why I am so passionate about an issue or why I am so angered by something. But I try instead to make my points and hope you can appreciate what I have to say even though real-life examples are not always provided.

I think I am very careful about this, about not telling too much about specific people that I know. I have an image in my mind of a friend reading something on my blog about her kid and becoming irate with me. I don’t want this to happen.

Months ago, I was with a friend one day and she asked me what is new. When I started to tell a story she said, “Oh I read that on your blog.” Conversation shut down. Over. Change of topic. Could she not have just listened and let me talk to her as a friend rather than hearing the version of it which was cleaned up for public viewing? Could we not have had a two way discussion about that thing that happened? I guess not. She didn’t want to discuss it as she felt she had heard the news already. What was missing was my experience of me communicating directly to HER. Do you know what I mean by that?

Then that friend stopped calling me, nearly entirely. And we saw less of each other. We did an occasional email. It was at a point where I was leaving her phone messages which were not being returned. And then I began emailing her asking, “Did I do something wrong because if I did I have no clue of it and I’d like to talk about it and apologize in advance for whatever it was!” (You should know that is very much not like something I’d usually do, apologize for something I may not even have done!) There was no reply. This I took for a bad sign. However, she fessed up a couple of weeks later that she felt no need to talk to me or to email me as she feels all informed and close to me as she reads my blog regularly.

Could blogging in general actually be bad for my friendships even if the actual content of my blog was not the source of the problem?

Then it happened with yet another friend just a few days ago! She called me in the evening and said she realized we’d not spoken for a while as she felt so up to date with me due to my blogging. That was a shocker. I was leaving her alone because she is recovering from surgery and I assumed she was resting or unwell feeling or something.

(Both of these friends are very likely reading this right now. Hello!)

I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. The type of blogging I do is not intended for communication between family and friends or else it would be more of a very personal diary of sorts and then I would be define the blog as a private blog with a password for my friends and family to use to access the private information. My blogging is intended more for strangers or for those seeing the type of information or encouragement or seeking to hear my opinions regarding parenting and homeschooling (my main topics). If my friends do read my blog what I’d really love is if something here was interesting or moved them that they’d email me or call me to discuss THEIR opinions. Now that would be great.

In no way did I ever intend for my blog to be a substitute for real live communication between friends.

I never intended for my blog to isolate me or disconnect me from my friends.

(These friends don’t blog, by the way, so I feel like the communication is a one-way street.)

Are any other bloggers dealing with this?

I also don't know how applicable this is to children versus teens versus adults, if this affects all generations or not.

This could be a good discussion in a college class on communications, or about how technology and the Internet are affecting our culture and sociology.

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6 comments:

Barbara Frank said...

Yes, yes, yes! I too have found that relatives/friends who have found my blog (I did not share the address with them because, like you, I intended it for strangers looking for homeschooling info) figure it's a substitute for talking with me. So far, I haven't addressed it with them because I'm not sure what I want to say to them about it.

To make matters worse, my mother-in-law recently responded to something I said with "Oh, yes, I saw that on your blog." Gulp! Now I find myself holding back for fear of offending her.

I can't give you any advice, only commiseration :0

But you've brought up an important topic.

Petunia said...

What an interesting thought! It seems to me odd that a friend would stop talking with you because they read your blog and feel up on your life. I have a few friends and family who know about my blogs but none of them discuss them with me. I'm not sure any of them actually read it with any regularity. And none of them have much in common with the subjects I blog about so it doesn't surprise me that we don't talk about them. But to not return phone calls because you read someone's blog, how rude.

Jess said...

Definitely.

I've felt the same thing with my friends. Now, I must admit that I have two blogs... one for public consumption and one for friends & family to keep up with us, since we live overseas.

But I have definitely felt that conversation shut-down thing. MANY times.

The frustrating thing to me is that it seems like the LEAST they could do, if they're a close friend reading my blog, is to simply leave a comment so that I know they know about this particular thing.

The other thing I've come up against is that I've had personal friends reveal things online that I didn't intend to be revealed (personal details of life, etc.). It's a hard thing to figure out-- when online and real lives collide and there aren't any hard and fast "rules" or "norms".

Wanna write about some you'd suggest? ;)
~Jess @ Making Home

Harvest Mom said...

Actually, the fact that friends and family can keep up with us via the blog is one of the reasons I keep one. Mostly I do it for my own personal journaling -- and becuase of that, I DO share the sorts of things that you personally don't share. But of course a lot of more intimate details are left out. So a lot of times with friends, I'll start a conversation with "did you see my blog entry on Monday?" and then fill in the more perosnal details that didn't make it up onto the blog.

So I've found it to be just the opposite -- I love knowing that others I care about are out there reading and keeping up with us, and I also love keeping up with those that blog (although the majority of them do not). I don't think it's affected any personal relationships of mine (at least, none that I'm aware of!). I'm sorry to hear that it may work in that way for others, and agree that it's sad if that's the case.

Anna S said...

I'm here over from Jess's blog, and I must tell you I have encountered the same problem! I start telling something and get "oh, I've read all about this on your blog". My fiance normally doesn't read my blog for this same reason. He says he wants to *talk* to me and hear me, not read a few paragraphs on my blog which are usually much less personal than what I might tell him.

Diane said...

I jumped over here from Jess's blog. I agree with you completely and have experienced the same thing. You inspired me to write a post on the same topic ~ http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Victorious/416116/

Blessings ~ Diane