I Wish There Wasn’t A Blogging Community

When I began blogging, I read one blog, Dooce, and I had only found her two months prior. I had no idea there was a community and a ranking system and support and cliques and friends and frenemies and conferences.

Blogging is found at the intersection of personal and business, ideas and reality, fans and friends. The lines are blurry and for most people, the ease of friend to business partner and tweet to cocktail party is simple and fun.

For me, I wish that there wasn’t a blogging community. I wish we were islands reading islands.

By nature, I’m a one-on-one person. I’m not comfortable in groups and sometimes our sense of community feels like standing by a big group of people wondering if or when I should jump in and how to control how I come off in 140 characters or a brief comment or a few paragraphs when there is so much more to me.

Even when I’m standing inside the group spitting out one-liners or getting into a heated debates or silly lovefests, I can feel alone and unknown. And the shock of finding all these bloggers and groups and rules has not worn off over the years because I was so sure that blogging would be me sitting in an empty room with my laptop.

I didn’t create my blog to find friends or community although I have found people I consider friends. I’ve also lost people who I thought were friends. But I don’t blog to be intimately known. I blog because I like to write and tell stories. Because I want people to read them. Because I was tired of dreaming about becoming a writer. So I did want to known but not in the blogging community. I wanted to be known by the elusive reader. To make people laugh. To encourage people to think. To use my words.

And I have been read, gotten jobs, made friends, chosen business partners and even found writers who don’t blog much. I have learned that these writers also have a community of sorts. It’s smaller and less aggressively touted than ours, but they have people who help them write and edit and makes contacts and secure jobs and throw one-liners around. And I find myself disappointed again that I cannot do this on my own.

So I participate in small ways and shoulder shrug and wait to see how long I can get away with growing my blog without fully embracing the blogging community.  And I worry, if community is my only choice, one day I’ll have to change. Or stop blogging.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

44 thoughts to “I Wish There Wasn’t A Blogging Community”

  1. I still don’t get the rules or the ins and outs of this whole strange world. But, I always enjoy reading what you write. And I hope that blogging is like the real world – some of us are better at one on one friendships, some of us thrive in a large group, but not one of us has to be who we aren’t.

  2. I despise your last sentence. You accomplish what you set out to do – because I read you, enjoy you, laugh with you. So no matter what, always keep blogging because of your original reasons. There are lots of us who read it because of that!

    I have nothing to say about the blogging community because to me it feels like that giant spaceship looming over a city in alien movies. I don’t understand it, don’t really know how big it is or all it entails, but I know it is there.

  3. You blog b/c you love to write. I blog b/c I’m a happier person with this in my life.

    And we find who fills us up with their words in a way that makes us think,smile, weep, and feel.

    We find each other…that’s the miracle of the blogosphere.


  4. You won’t have to quit even if you don’t fully participate in the high school-esque cliques. Why? Because you’ll always want to write and there are always people out there that want to read.

    In the exact same breath that I feel annoyed with that group of twitter friends because I just want to write, alone, I’m also jealous that I’m not smack in the throughs of their chats. Rather annoying, isn’t it?

  5. I am unsure of my place in the “blogging community” to the same degree that I’m still sometimes unsure of my role at work or in the city where I live or even in my smaller group of friends.

    I can only try to be true to who I am and be kind to others.

  6. I think of you as part of my global community. I think it is the equivalent for young mothers at home of what all of us oldies did 40 years ago, which was to go around with our phones between our shoulders and our ears. One friend’s phone cord could reach all the way to the backyard or the basement. Another friend totally wore out her phone. We’re all in this together. Love, Marge

  7. OMG, I could have written this. I feel ya. I spend so much of my time working on my books that I am not a good member of any community, and really, I am happiest alone with my laptop or with my family. Yet, I love the occasional interaction in a community. Rock/hard place. I know I don’t play by the rules. I know I’m not on the inside. It’s pretty all-consuming.

  8. I’ve been dumped so many times, it’s not even funny. For reasons I will probably never know. I’m not the same age, don’t have the same problems, don’t live in the same time zone, can’t be on the computer when they all are, can’t keep up with memes and writing communities and so on because I have an outside job….the list goes on.

    I stopped trying.

    And my numbers have gone down.

    And I don’t care.

    I started blogging to talk through my fingers. And that is what I am going to do. Whether people read or not…at least my mom is reading.

  9. I think that for not fully embracing the whole blogging community thing you’ve done really well!

    I like the community of bloggers that I’ve met and am happy to say that many are now friends, but you’re right about the cliques, frenemies, and so on.

  10. I think there is a difference between cliques and community, but either way, I think you need to choose the level at which you want to participate. I read some blogs because I consider the writers friends, others because the writing speaks to me. But I decided I would only speak when I had something to say, and not expect anything in return, and that has made me happier.

  11. Love great posts like this that make me think. Personally, I want to write for the sake of writing and grow my blog by people who happen on to it via search engines, etc. However, I would like a bigger audience than that so I went to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I want to be Stumbled, retweeted, etc. so I feel it is my duty to do the same for others. At the end of the day though, I wonder how much the community affects my writing. What I say or don’t say because of them, etc.

  12. Can I let you in on a little secret?

    There is no such thing as A Blogging Community.

    There are groups – people who go to blogher, travel bloggers, personal development bloggers, writer bloggers, people who used to read this blog review site bloggers – just like there are groups in real life.

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when people inside those groups talk as if THEY ARE THE COMMUNITY, as if there IS a single community to belong to.

    It’s all made up. Like the idea of beauty.

    And so, we get to make up our own rules if we want, or make up our own groups, and decide who is in or out or on top or on bottom.

    It’s just a matter of choosing which myth you’ll believe in.

  13. As a non-blogger, I find the blogging community a little strange, and sometimes off-putting. Like you, I like the one-to-one relationship. When I started reading blogs, it was like I was given a little peak into someone’s thoughts and writing, and while I knew it wasn’t written specifically for me, it seemed somehow like when I read it, it was a one-to-one relationship.

    But now when I read blogs, I often sense that they are being written for a particular group of people, or a particular group of friends (be they IRL friends, or internet friends). And more often than not, as of late, I feel like they were written for other bloggers — and that as a non-blogging reader, I’m now more of a voyeur than an invitee. I’m now the person looking at the inner circle from the outside. And it reminds me of high school, and feeling the pressure to “fit in.”

    1. Wow. This is such an interesting comment. You know…the way that I read changed after I started blogging. I definitely started expecting more. I’ve never stopped to think about how the way that I write may make non-bloggers feel. You’ve really made me think with this! Thank you!

    2. This IS an interesting comment, and I can totally remember feeling that connection to a blogger before I started blogging publicly. Now I feel like I read too many blogs because I “should,” because they’re a part of a group of people I associate with. But I rarely feel that connection anymore to a lot of their posts. I love your insight as a non blogger.

  14. I run hot and cold with the whole community aspect of blogging. Some days I embrace it. Other days, the whole high school-ish clique-y feel of it all damn near drives me crazy. Right now, I’m leaning toward the latter. I think it has something to do with Babble releasing their list of the Top 100 Mom Blogs. Because even as I watch bloggers that I read and like virtually high-fiving each other on Twitter, I can’t help but think of so many more who are wonderful, articulate, hilariously funny writers who pour their heart and soul into their blogs who didn’t make the list and probably never will because they lack the personality, time, and/or resources to promote themselves and embrace a community.

    And then I wonder why there even has to be a list at all if all. Blogging should be about personal fulfillment, not a popularity contest.

    1. I felt the opposite about the top 100 list. Not like I fawned over any of them, but I really did find a lot of inspiration, and it made me realize that I had stopped the blogging that I wanted to do and was putting up a lot of filler crap. Which is partly because I just don’t have a lot of time to write anymore. I also realized that I was reading some blogs because I thought I should, and I really wasn’t getting anything out of them. The list led me to some bloggers that have enhanced my reading experience a lot and helped me enjoy my blog reading again because I feel like I’m getting something out of the posts, not just reading them to read them and “put in my time” in the blogosphere. I’m NOT saying that I’m abandoning some of the smaller blogs I have in my reader, as many of them are truly fantastic, but I had to do something to rekindle my love for blog reading and reclaim some inspiration to keep going.

    2. I never put much weight into any list – whether they are “voted” upon or supposedly a fair critique. I have never been one to read “big” blogs, but someone recently mentioned to me that several on that Babble list were the blogs of Babble writers.

      These lists are so much more about the site that runs the contest/hosts the list than the people who make it on the list. It gives the site a rush of pageviews, link love, tweet and facebook mentions, etc. Believe me, Babble is “winning” with all its “Top ____” lists.

      1. I saw that too, Liz, and I did give a little eye roll. I don’t mean that in these blogs being in the “top 100” that I think they are gold. I guess that the list just opened me up to some blogs that I think are really good reads, a good expansion of my reading. One of the reasons my reader is so backed up is because I’ve gotten so bored with what I’m reading. I love finding new blogs the inspire me to be a better writer, whether they’re on a list or not. 🙂

  15. I get it. I love the community, knowing that there are others out there, reading the perspectives of people that are like minded and different, and the sense of camaraderie. But it can be a lot sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I am only skimming the surface and I am not sure how much more I can give.

  16. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve always had bad experiences with women therefore I shy away from them & don’t have a lot of close IRL friends. But the problem with that is everything that you read about building your blog is all about community & networking & for me its hard because I just don’t know how to do it. BlogHer11 freaked me out & as excited as I was to go & as much as I felt I learned, I also hated it because there were so many mini-communities & I didn’t know how to jump in, if I could jump in, would I be understood, misread? So I didn’t do anything I left parties early, didn’t go, & just stayed a wallflower.

    Maybe someone should come up with a blogging community for socially awkward recluses where we just stand & nod at each other or write “LOL” often.

  17. Such an interesting post from you. I wish everything did not somehow turn into cliques but it always does. It is hard to feel the pressure to engage all the time, especially when, as writers, our work used to be in somewhat of a bubble. For what it’s worth, I truly appreciate that you are always you and stay true to yourself in the social media world.

  18. I am relatively new to the blogging world though I remember stumbling upon dooce and others eons ago. I was an occasional reader at best. I read this and thought “yeah, what she said.”

    I am sure there are blogging/twitter faux pas I am making but wth? I write because I love it, it gives me an outlet and it is something that is my own. There will always be ppl who think they are all that and they will have their devotees regardless of how good they actually are. Then the whole crowd mentality comes into play.

    I hope you keep writing b/c I want to keep reading you.

  19. The community thing scares me.

    So I write – and I read – and there are a lot of times when I feel left out, or like there is some joke I’m not in on…but I just keep moving. It is too hard to do anything else at this point.

  20. Do not stop blogging!

    The community scares me as well– but if it weren’t for the community there would be so many things (and people) that I would have missed– you included.

    I’m glad that you took the leap and are still in the waters. I’m glad that I did too.

  21. Funny you should say how you wished there wasn’t a blogging community, yet – you’ve kind of created one of your own little blogville!

    But, I agree with you. I think. I would never go to a Blogher even if this last one was pretty much right in my back yard! Meet all these people face to face? Ick! Anyhow, blogging community or not, I’ll keep stalking you only because I do find your quirkiness so fascinating!

  22. I was very paranoid about the whole community thing at first. I wondered why people didn’t respond to my comments…was it because they didn’t like me? Was it because I wasn’t popular enough? Was it because I said stupid things that I should just have kept to myself?

    I realized that blogging was changing me as a reader. Gradually, I stopped being satisfied with just reading and showing my appreciation with a quick comment. I felt almost ENTITLED to acknowledgement. I’ve been a reader my entire life, and have never expected anything from writers but their words. I felt uncomfortable with the way that my own expectations were changing and becoming more demanding.

    Since then I’ve redefined my expectations from blog-reading. Now I read and enjoy and sometimes comment or tweet, but don’t expect anything in return. And it’s become so much more enjoyable and less worrisome to read blogs!

    That said, I do feel that I’ve made some really good friends through blogging. I love the small community that I do feel very much a part of.

    But conferences? Scary. And Twitter? Pretty much hates me.

  23. The “community” used to matter more to me at the beginning. Now it’s more the individual friendships I’ve made that matter to me, especially now when I can’t be as active. I still like to be supportive but I don’t care as much whether I get recognized in return. I am still blogging for me. 🙂

  24. It’s the conundrum, isn’t it? You want to be heard, standing alone in your forest, but you’d rather not have to fall down. So rustle on, my dear, and define your own success.

    After three years, I’m starting to enjoy being in the community, but I do not play by the rules. No awards in my sidebar, no memes, and definitely no “three or more posts a week.” And yet…there are ears out there.

  25. I admit – even as long as I’ve been blogging, I still feel relatively ignorant of the whole “community.”

    Which might say something about me being ignorant or unobservant. Or mean it’s not important.

    I’m all about blogging being just people at individual computers. ‘Cause, you know, that’s what it actually is.

  26. This is so relevant to me right now. I went through a phase of trying to be part of the crowd, but I think it’s hard to be in the blogging in-crowd and maintain your personal integrity. I compromised a few times and then I just felt disappointed in myself. I’ve started pulling back. I’ve seen my blog stats drop, but they were inflated anyway. The people that were reading my blog are still there. I just lost the people who felt obligated to make an appearance due to some blogging-group link-sharing scheme. After reading the comments here I feel more confident in my pulling back.

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