Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dwindling...

Just my luck that when I come up for air, there’s nobody around.

Either everyone has found something more interesting to do with their summer days than sit in front of the computer….

Or no one is the slightest bit interested in my political opinions.

::Sigh!::

That’s the drawback of this hit and miss ethereal “community.”  People appear and disappear…fade in and out of the woodwork.  And I just let them go.  I’ve never been an “in your face” kind of friend.  Never been one to pursue people if I feel they’re headed away from me.  It’s a combination of my natural reserve and the lessons my birth order taught me.  I’m the youngest…the “baby.”  From the time I was little, I knew that if my presence was desired, my sisters would come get me.  Conversely, if I was not invited to be part of an activity, it was because I was aggressively  not welcome.  Like as in, “Beat it, you little brat!”  So I learned to just…wait for other people to come to me.  Always assuming that if they didn’t make the first move, they didn’t want me.  No amount of telling myself that I’m a big girl now and “you have to be a friend to get one” can undo that early imprinting and give me the courage to barge into people’s lives.  Because that’s what it feels like to me.  Poking my nose somewhere where it’s really not wanted.  Yes, I know that’s utter bullshit, but it is what it is.

So I’ve sucked at “community” all my life.  I’m not interesting or charismatic enough for people to come flocking to me,  and I’m just not going to walk up to people and say, “Hi! My name is Lisa.  You want to be my friend?”   The sidelines have always been my neighborhood.  I’m the quintessential wallflower.

Then you have to ask yourself, what’s the point of a wallflower having a blog?  Having a blog is all about cultivating a readership, right?  And if you’re not going to go out there and promote yourself, how are you going to get any readers?  And if you don’t have any readers, who the hell are you writing to?

Good questions, all.  I can only say that, in the early days of AOL journal land, the pool was small enough that you picked up readers more or less by accident.  We were all out there, searching through the relatively tiny community, looking for people who shared our interests or had something engaging to say.  Some of us picked up a couple dozen regular readers…  Some of us connected with hundreds.  Those with the hundreds of readers probably aren’t around anymore…they either burned out or went on to greater things, perhaps aided by the ad-inspired AOL exodus of a couple years ago.

I was one of those with the couple dozen faithful readers.  We were “friends.”  We read each other’s journals, cheered each other’s successes, gave out virtual hugs by the hundreds, gave counsel when needed.  And I suppose it’s pretty amazing that I still have contact with two or three of that original group.  But we’ve all gone through changes in the last five years, changes that have reshaped the role of the blog community in our lives.  Children, grandchildren, career swaps, bereavements, accidents and relocations…  The virtual community does not adequately roll with all those changes, at least for most people.  They turn to the flesh and blood connections in their lives when things get tough.  For those of us (those of me?) for whom blogland has been the ONLY community in the past five years…well, it’s gettin’ kind of empty out here.

At least once a year, when I sit down at the computer to write and I understand that my words will touch fewer and fewer eyes or hearts, I do this little reassessment.  I think hard about whether it really is worth it anymore.  Because, to be honest, though I don’t live or die by the comments or the hit counter anymore, it’s still a bummer when you write something you’re particularly proud of, and no one reads.  Especially now, when I have so little time or energy to direct toward this thing I love most in the world.  It’s that much more special (to me) when I manage to string two coherent sentences together.  And that much more of a disappointment when no one responds.

It boils down to two questions:  Why do I still do this?  Should I still do this? 

And every time, the answer is pretty much the same.  I write because it’s what I do.  And I write here because, well, why not?  I just can’t go back to writing stuff that I KNOW no one else is going to read.   Here in my little public space, I can continue to entertain the fantasy that some other person in the world will read what I write, even if it’s by accident.  Though that won’t ease my nostalgia for the community that has come and gone, it’s enough to keep me here. 

And, come to think of it, it’s what brought me here in the first place.        

16 comments:

  1. It's hard t believe that it is going on five years!! There are so many people that I miss really and truly miss here, but that is life. I can go to Blogger and find a lot of them, but it is just not the same. There is not a feeling of community here any longer. I think the guy at Magic Smoke is trying, but I do not think AOL gives him much support. It was so much fun at one time!

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  2. Apologies to you- I read but haven't been able to comment for a time. Your blog and Jackies where my first real "contact" with j-landers. I really am like you- an observer, a social wallflower, waiting yet not really sure if I should intrude on another space. Well, we are here. I like your opinions if I don't agree that's my problem not yours because we are here to write what we feel and respond accordingly. I know you have been very busy because it is summer and that'ds the way it is- Don't stress, I may be the newest kid on the block but again I'm one of the oldest who been around the block! I am still amazed when I get a comment at my jurnal that anyone really has read it! I started because I was trying to lose weight (accomplished) and writing was a tool. Physically using a pen and paper was hard on the hands, hence journaling became a outlet. Now it is a part of my "secret life"- That's what my family calls it although it isn't a secret at all. Blessings to you and lots of thanks for allowing this old lady to be a part of "the community" I love you and my selected few a lot. I include you all in my thoughts and prayers. Dannelle

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  3. I've been a part (a very small part thank you) of the AOL journaling community for about 3 1/2 years now. I'm not sure when or exactly how I happened upon your journal. I look forward to seeing entries although I VERY seldom comment.

    It fascinates me how much I relate to your entries when you're talking about friendship, the AOL communities and so on and yet how totally polar opposites we are politically.

    I'd blame the opposite politics for the lack of comments but I know it's realy just that I'm lazy. I love to write and I like to read what others write but I, for whatever reason, seldom feel I have anything to add to a discussion so I just lurk in the shadows. I've come to know that I'm not alone in that regard.

    I write my journal largely for me. At times I've let my ego start to expand and have written for a perceived "audience". Really I think that the few people that read my journal like it best when they are reading what I'm writing to my future self.

    You've written many a good thought provoking entry. You might even be surprised which ones different people found thought provoking. I think it's natural for all of us to ask "why bother" due to the transitory nature of "friends" here. I'm not sure what the answer is but speaking selfishly I hope you continue writing for a good long time to come.

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  4. I am still here and still reading. I rarely comment because I hardly ever have anything witty to say. I do read every entry though and I love what you have to say!!


    Michelle

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  5. Maybe you're not as alone as it looks like. I think we write because we can't not write (is this a double negative?) There are times when my brain is just to muddled/numb to make a decent comment. But, I'll make sure to say Hi even when I don't have more than a dozen brain cells to rub together.

    Or, hey it's Jackie what's shakin'?

    I WILL talk to you later.

    Jackie

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  6. Hi Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm here.  Just wiped out.

    Don't give up!

    Robin
    http://searchthesea.blogspot.com/

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  7. LOL at myself because although I DID read your political post, I just did not have anything intelligent to say about it.  I am torn as to how to even vote this year...a real first.

    But, I do read your thoughts and even if my life changes, I do think about yours when I can not write.


    I blog even when the entries do not make it to the computer.

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  8. Yours is one of the blogs I check every day for a new post, but that said, there are times I don't comment.  Not because what you've written isn't worth commenting on...I find you are always articulate and thought provoking, and more often than not, a complete kindred spirit...but even so, there are times I feel unable to comment in any sort of meaningful way...for whatever reasons...and when that happens I simply read and process.

    Judi

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  9. Consider me one of your faithful readers.  Don't comment often (especially lately since I broke my left arm 3 weeks ago) but I always enjoy your posts, Lisa.

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  10. i have also enjoyed your journal as i have come across it during 'random blog reads'.

    i used to write in sprial notebooks.  i consider this the upgrade, and then any feedback i get is just an added bonus.

    visit the rant anytime --disclaimer-- i have been extremely snarky lately, also it's rated r for swears.

    http://journals.aol.com/abaleman666/boysaremean

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  11. Well, darn.  Am I the only one who didn't let you know that I am still here?  You will 'poo poo' us a bit I'm sure ... but I'm with the girls and boys who sometimes feel you articulate so well and cover the subject so well that, well, I don't have anything inteligent to add.  

    So, please .. don't give up.  Not just yet.  Or ... worse case scenario ... go to another provider (no, don't!)  I do try to comment to most journals and blogs I read ... each time, but sometimes I am at a loss for meaningful or witty and I just don't.

    I'd be sad, very sad if you joined the ranks of the 'gones'.  

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  12. Being the youngest is both a blessing and a curse. Being ignored, you can get away with anything, being the baby, you are babied. I didn't know that being the youngest is what caused me to be the loner that I am, content with being with me.

    I loved your wallflower and non community references, that is so me.

    I also questioned my reasoning for my journal. At first I thought the words were only mine, who would be interested in reading about my crap. I still question why I want others to read my thoughts, selfish is some respects. I want validation, others to tell me I'm ok and yeah, life sucks sometimes. Luckily it has little glimpses of shininess so I keep trudging on.

    I think that using my fingertips rather than my lips to communicate is so safe. I can edit, change my mind, yell, scream, say whatever the hell I want.

    Ok, I am rambling... My point is, I have yet to find something better to do than read others words, so keep typing.

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  13. ally123130585918July 27, 2008 at 6:58 AM

    I still enjoy reading your Journal ~ real Life gets in the way sometimes and I don't always have time for the computer ~ but I always read even if I don't always comment ~ would be sad to see you go ~ Ally x

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  14. I know what you mean.  I've been very disheartened by the absence of apparent readers (aka "friends") recently.  It's led me write less, post photos less, and read less in general.  I apologize the I sometimes don't get a comment posted here Lisa....but I always read you when I sit down to do a sweep through jland.  I should know better as my journal is suffering from the same reader apathy.

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  15. I always read your journal, just not until a few days or weeks after you write it.  Since I "discovered" Daily Kos my whole viewing routine has changed.  I have even written a few diarys over there, and lots of comments.  I am not blessed/cursed by the writing bug. On Dkos I am Amber6541, in case you have any interest in checking.

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  16. I still read your journal.   I just have been on vacation - away from a computer for 3 weeks, then had to go visit my father who recently was in the hospital.  So, today I am back and have so much catching up to do  - - feels like I put a book down for a month and forgot the story line.  So, please keep writing when you feel like it.  I still enjoy reading it. msb

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