Welcome Strangers

A few weeks ago, Bart and I were at school, chatting with some friends of his from the business school. One of them had just started a blog, and we got talking about blogging in general. The topic of private blogs came up, to which Bart and I immediately expressed our vehement disinterest in having private blogs (although, of course, I see the appeal if you’re going to post pictures of your children).

They asked why I wouldn’t want my blog private, because, after all, you can invite all your friends to read, and when I said I liked having random people stumble across my blog, they both stared at me blankly.

“Why would you want people you don’t know to read your blog?” they asked. “Why would you read blogs of people you don’t know?!”

It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t assimilated into the world of blogging why I would care about Britt’s favorite TV shows or Isabel‘s parents vacation or RA’s new kitchen.

It’s even harder to make someone understand why you would go out of your way to meet people you don’t know in real life. Why in the world would Kayla fly out to Vegas to meet me or why would I make plans to join Heidikins at the Salt Lake public library?

How DO you help someone who has no blogging experience understand that it’s not some weird or creepy thing to make friends with people you don’t know? I clearly failed miserably at it, since these two people obviously think I’m insane and probably going to be murdered in my bed when I go to visit Kayla, my creepy Internet friend.

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  1. I agree with you on just about every point.

    Except the one about Kayla. If you go visit her, you will be murdered. She IS a creepy internet friend.

    Nay, she is a creepy internet fiend.

  2. Psssh…people who meet people online are creepy. Right.

    I’m ok with private blogs for your family/friends when pictures of your children are involved. But I will always want a blog for me. For my thoughts, and my ideas and my writing. And that will never be private. 🙂

    Great post, my creepy internet friend.


  3. Though I’ve never met any of my internet friends, I’m totally with you. I think I feel the opposite of most people. I figure friends I know in real life can hear my stories when I talk their ear off in real life. I think I blog MORE for people I don’t know very well, or even, GASP, random strangers. I enjoy the idea of “speaking to the world at large.” And sometimes I think I enjoy reading about people I don’t already know because I can connect with them in a different way. Even if I eventually do meet them IRL, the foundation is different. Sometimes I think it’s MORE real that way. That’s probably why I don’t enjoy blogs very much that seem like the content is overly edited and candy coated to me…

    I think I would explain it to people that it’s a bit like reading a good novel to me, except the characters are real. Like a non-voyeuristic (because they get to choose what to show you) and non-combative version of reality television. Just think how cool it would be if you could meet characters from some of your favorite books in real life!

  4. If only they could read Kaylas blog and see how funny she is.

    She is too funny to be a murderess.

    I hope.

  5. I love when random people read my blog. If I want something to be private, I just don’t share. Duh!:)


  6. I’m OK with people having private blogs, if they’re not interested in “meeting” anyone new. I think some people just don’t get it and never will, others thing it’s totally natural to want to “meet” new people on the scary interweb. I’ve been amazed at how many awesome people I’ve “met” (and met, in real life!) through this blogging thing. If I hadn’t “met” you, I would never have read Graceling. If I hadn’t “met” Isabel and Sarah, I would know nothing of a book called Twilight. Now THAT is a scary thought!

  7. Using the same logic you could ask, “why would you talk to someone YOU DON’T KNOW!?” It is how you meet friends. At least online, you can sort of lay low, reading their blogs somewhat anonymously too see if you have similar interests before you make the overture of a comment or some other contact.

    And I am, by the way, not creepy.

  8. Janssen, just remind people that even friends were once strangers. 🙂 (I think that is a famous quote? Mark Twain maybe???)

    Internet/email/blog friends are really not that much different than people we meet face to face. Both can be exactly what they seem or both can be lying about who or what they are (or a little of both). If we see someone face to face, we might have a little help from facial expressions or body language. But, believe me, there are some really good actors out there. Think how many people you have met that you started out liking, but then decided that maybe really did’t quite trust them. Or, maybe they began to grate on your nerves. Or, maybe it was the opposite. Someone that you thought was really stuck up or cold was actually just shy and turned out to be someone really nice.

    Bloggers can be “friends” on different subjects and ignore the things they don’t like.

    As to private blogs – they do have their place. A family site where one can share things that only family needs to know is a good example.

    So here’s to you, Janssen – maybe not a blogging “friend” but at least an acquaintance. I probably won’t ever get to meet you, but it would be nice to. Thank you for having an open blog and letting us share a little of your life. Sue

  9. It’s all about being connected and it’s not even strange that most people have never even met each other.

    I think of it as free therapy. We can vent, we can be enriched, we can get a great book recommendation, cleaning idea, recipe, etc. all from the blogs of people we don’t even know.

    Ahhhhh…what’s not to love about that?

  10. I believe this is the equivalent of asking any person who has EVER penned an autobiography, or had a biography written about them with their consent, “Why would you want to be publishing that for all the world to see?” Blogging is simply a chance for the greater population to publish their own autobiography. For free.

  11. Private blogs are the bane of my existance! How can I properly stalk people if they’re always wanting to know who I am? Pshaw.

  12. I had a private blog for a while when I made fun of people at work (not wanting my boss to find it and fire me). Once I realized no one was going to find it and took out all the first names, public all the way! And I have a few “friends” that don’t know I read their blogs that live in this area. Someday I hope to see one in the store. Mwahaha. Oh no, I’m that creepy stranger!

  13. My reason for going private was due to unforseen circumstances in my family…and I currently don’t want certain people to have unlimited access to my life. I think that’s a pretty good reason to have a private blog..But if you like meeting new people this way…go for it! It’s all a personal preference!

  14. You should have heard my mother-in-law’s voice when I told her that not only was I flying out to LA for the Festival of Books but that a blogger was going to pick me up a the airport and let me spend the night. She was truly appalled. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain it.

    About private blogs, if I were to set up a family blog, I would set it to private. My book blog is to open of a place. I’ve chosen to never divulge my kids names.

  15. i totally agree!! if someone wants to see pictures of someone they don’t know…sobeit. i love blog hopping. so much fun to see what other people do!

  16. I have a few friends who post pictures of the children or post about more personal stuff who go private. I do understand, but I can’t add them to my google reader. If you’re not in my google reader, I’m not going to visit you very often. It’s all about quick and easy for me.

  17. I have a friend that I like to travel with, but whenever we talk about foreign countries she speaks about the people as if they’re all out to mug and kidnap her.

    I think it’s kind of the same with blogging. Yes, there are weirdos out there, but most people are just good people trying to do the best they can.

    I love the opportunity that blogging gives to “meet” new people and make new friends. My favorite blogs tend to be those of people I know, but not well – it’s fun to get more of a glimpse into their lives.

  18. I can understand the need for private blogs for some people, but I love meeting new people through my blog. It’s nice to “meet” other people with whom I share the same interests. I’m a social person in real life and get to be social online as well. It’s a win-win.

  19. I too am annoyed with the private blogs. What’s the point? I am careful about internet friends. But I can get a good read on who is creepy or not. (I haven’t been killed in my bed yet!)

  20. Yeah, I totally thought you and Kayla knew each other. You have a surprisingly large amount of mutual friends to have not met in 4 years.

  21. I never have this conversation because hardly anyone in my real life knows about my blog, which is how it is going to stay, if I have anything to do about it. That said, if my parents got wind of it, they would be in fits about how I am putting myself at risk at the hands of evil web prowlers.

    I got a little thrill to see that shout-out to our new (almost) kitchen! We finished the first part of it today, and I’m working on posting the pictures now!

  22. You know, it really is a difficult question, because I just so totally grok blogging. How could you *not* find people’s blogs interesting??? 🙂

  23. I have tons of real-life friends that I met online. We regularly go out to dinner to meet internet friends when they are in town. I think it’s perfectly normal!

  24. A lot of my “real life” friends have started blogs over the past year, you know, now that it’s the cool thing. When I started mine four years ago, my friends and family thought it was the dumbest thing they’d ever heard. None of them would read it because they didn’t “get it.” I HAD to rely on random strangers as readers, and I’ve made a lot of great friends that way. Of course there are creeps out there who google “teenage boys in underwear” and find MY blog, but I’m assuming that when they don’t find what they want, they move on. We just have to be careful, obviously.

  25. Wait….you’d actually meet someone from the internet IN REAL LIFE? You are brave. I stay away from creepy interweb stalkers.

    Whatever. I LOVE THE INTERWEB.

    Great post.

  26. some of the funniest writing in the world is out in blog-land, and i’m all about laughing hysterically when i’m all alone, so as to make the neighbors wonder what’s going on in my apartment 🙂

  27. Well, you didn’t get murdered in your bed when you went to visit that creepy Kayla person. Shows them.

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