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Thursday, August 21, 2008

From 'riting to reality, part two

When I first started blogging, I really didn't have much of a grasp of its social aspects, but as I started to make my way around to other blogs - and to be found by them as well - I discovered how much I liked that part of it. People whose blogs I commented on regularly, and those who often left comments for me, started to feel like friends - and if I happened to learn that they lived in my vicinity, I might start thinking it would be nice to meet and talk with them in person one day. I had thought that (another) Wendy, Literary Feline, might be the first blog-friend I'd meet off-line, but an e-mail snafu prevented our arranging to find each other at last spring's Festival of Books - I'm hoping for better luck with that next year! But by then,the line between online and off-line friends may have become pretty blurred already, thanks to my becoming part of the Los Angeles Moms Blog.

Janssen, who blogs at Everyday Reading, recently reflected on that blurring:
Some people are, I think, very similar online and in person, while others are very different. I think I'm pretty different. I'm definitely quieter in real life, since it can often take me a while to warm up to strangers enough to feel comfortable telling stories and making jokes, and I certainly am too reserved to tell you how deeply I hate your partial feed or that your private blog makes me crazy because it cannot go into Google Reader.My voice is probably lower than you expect. My "at ease" face makes me look confused (I know this because one of my professors my first semester at (college) asked me daily if I was getting everything because I looked so perplexed throughout the lecture)...It's just such a weird thing,putting yourself out there online, because people can know a lot about you, enough to draw major conclusions about what you are really like.
SoCal Mom Donna, the first member of the LA Moms Blog, enjoys having the opportunity to blur those lines:
I have mentioned in the past how envious I am of the mom bloggers who live up in Northern California, because they seem to have turned their online community into real world friendships. That's why I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to the brand-new Los Angeles Moms Blog.And (last weekend) we took a major step in creating our OWN real world community...And I remembered why I keep on doing this: I love hanging out with smart, funny, articulate women. And when they are all women who blog,there's never a lull in the conversation.
The LA Moms Blog is still in soft-launch, growth mode, but those of us who have joined in early really wanted to get acquainted as soon as possible.Some of the women had the chance to meet during BlogHerCon, and a few others did know each other before through one thing or another, but most of us were in-person strangers - although not literally virtual ones. We were eagerly seeking out one another's posts on the Moms Blog and finding each other's personal blogs, leaving comments, e-mailing each other, and following each other on Twitter. Through a Yahoo Groups message board, we planned an informal Sunday-afternoon potluck, and while not all of the current roster was able to make it, we had a great turnout. Because I'd had the chance to read up on almost everyone beforehand, and the group wasn't going to be intimidatingly large, I felt pretty well-prepared for the face-to-face, which is the way I like it.

Aside from the preparation angle, it's also a little easier if I don't have to walk into these things alone.The get-together was held at the home of Jessica Gottlieb, which is in a nicely central location for a group whose members are geographically dispersed throughout Greater Los Angeles, but seem to be concentrated in West L.A. and the San Fernando Valley. On my way there, I'd be passing Donna's freeway exit, so SoCal Mom and I carpooled. That means Donna is officially the very first blog-friend I've met in person, and since we've known each other online for nearly a year now, I'm really glad it worked out that way. Two of the Moms Bloggers, Karen of Nouvelle Blogger and Anna from Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder (she does standup comedy - she ought to know), contributed terrific posts for the Bookworms Carnival, and I was looking forward to thanking them in person. I'm in a mutual-Twitter-following relationship with Mar Vista Mom Sarah and Kim from House of Prince, and was glad to know I'd be seeing them too. I've created a special sub-blogroll through Google Reader for my co-contributors' personal blogs, and have recently added Nina (Charlie and Nina), Marsha (Sweatpantsmom), Liz (Los Angelista), Elizabeth (Traded My BMW for a Minivan), and Jennifer (SmugDadCrankyMom) there. Amy doesn't have her own blog (yet), but she does have a website.

It was an amazing experience to walk into a house full of strangers where no one truly wasa stranger. We're hoping to have these gatherings as often as crazy schedules and spread-out geography will allow, and I look forward to that. I'm interested to see how these relationships develop from their online beginnings, and how an offline community grows from its virtual roots. Have you had that experience yourself? Tell about it in the comments!

15 comments:

  1. So far, I've not met any of my bloggy friends, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. So far, I haven't found many bloggers from Kentucky, but I keep searching!

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  2. Bobbi - As far as I can tell, your chances of meeting other bloggers in person seem to be best if you live somewhere near Boston :-). But I suspect if you keep blogging long enough, it can happen anywhere, although it may involve a little travel.

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  3. You're the best, Florinda! I can't wait to see how this all pans out, either. A nicer, more interesting and diverse group of women I've never come across (in one place!).

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  4. I comment and plurk with two others in my area, but my area is more semi-rural, so it's the distance is a bit larger.

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  5. That sounds like it was fun. It seems there are a bazillion bloggers in the LA area, not so much by me. :) Sounds like you have a nice group to hang out with.

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  6. Karen - I know! I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing there ;-). I suspect that as the group grows there will be sub-groups, since odds are we won't all have the same things in common, but I do hope that this really does work both on- and off-line.

    Daisy - The LA area is pretty spread out, but having lived in more rural areas too, I know the distances can seem further. Great that you've connected with some locals online!

    Mike - I know a few bloggers in your area, but they're all women, mostly moms (go figure). The thing is, I don't think you'd want to meet up with a blogger just because they're a local; you'd want to meet up with a local because you've gotten to know and like them via blogging. Or I would, anyway.

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  7. Oh yeah, I agree. It's just easier. :)

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  8. Florinda, you're awesome. I'm new to blogging, but I'm quite sure that you and your blog and your vibe are what blogging is supposed to be all about. You are the ideal! As for our LA Moms Blog posse...it rocks. An impressive group, and a pleasure to get to know! Looking forward to much more fun as the LA outpost flourishes... Thanks, Florinda!

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  9. I'm so jealous of bloggers that have met IRL. I have to meet some!

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  10. Anna - Aw shucks, I'm speechless and totally not worthy (in the Wayne's World sense). Being a role model scares me :-D! But in all seriousness, I try to get it right, and I hope I do at least some of them time. Thanks so much for your kind words!

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  11. April - So far so good, in my experience :-). I'm sure you'll get your chance - and you know, some of us aren't very far away!

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  12. Like you, Florinda, I didn't realize just how much of a community feel there was in blogging. It's an aspect that I have come to really appreciate and value.

    I love the idea of the Los Angeles Moms Blog. It sounds like a great opportunity to offer and receive support from others with similar interests, experiences and concerns in an increasingly isolationist society. Okay, so many "isolationist society" is too strong--but you know what I mean. :-)

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  13. Literary Feline - As someone living in the LA area, I think I do know what you mean about an "isolationist society." This can be a difficult place to find and create community for many reasons, but geography's a significant one - we spend so much time in cars, often alone (although some of us prefer it that way :-)), and at home we cocoon.

    I think the Moms Blog will be a success in itself - its founders have a lot of experience, and its contributors are dedicated - and I'm really hopeful it will be base for a strong interpersonal community as well.

    I know what we need next - a group book blog for greater Southern California! What do you think ;-)?

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  14. Oh, it's interesting that we do seem to be building a community. It's quite remarkable how different we all are and how there was just no tension.

    None.

    We really are wonderful.

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  15. Jessica - I think we got off to a good start, at least. Hopefully it will keep going. So, when were you planning to have us all over again :-)?

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