Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blogging Amongst Real People

For the first time, I watched 84 Charing Cross Road. I loved it and learned from it and felt a little freer after seeing it--and isn't that how all good movies should affect you?

In case you haven't a clue about 84 Charing Cross Road, it was a true story, one which took place over 20 years (1949 - 1970) in which letters were exchanged between workers at a London book shop (the coziest, most perfect one ever) and the New York author, Helene Hanff. How they all became parts of each others' lives through the written word and through gifts air-mailed over the ocean. These people became close friends, not in-person, but through an exchange of words of compassion and gratitude, a love of books and humor and a need to connect with other living, like-minded souls.

It reminded me of this thing we do. This blogging thing.

It's funny the books, newspaper articles and tv reports about blogging which are blasting us bloggers. Downright smirking at us from smug smiles. They say that, in Real Life, we are lonely souls who have settled for a second-best way of communicating with others--others, by the way, who are not even Real People. That we're living in La La Land thinking our online friendships are--gasp!--real world friendships.

There's more, but I don't wish to type more of it into my blog.

All I know is this: If I am not communicating with Real People, then who am I communicating with? Unreal People? Half-way Real People? Outer Space People?

Since I was 13, I've been a letter-writer. My family moved from town to town in California, always leaving good friends behind. So--what? Because I chose to write letters to my friends after arriving in my new town, did these people suddenly become Unreal? Was I under a delusion that these folks had, when I left, suddenly entered a sort of misty Unreal World just because they no longer lived next door to me? (Rather like the thing of, is there sound if a trees falls in a forest with no human around? Well, kind-of like that.)

All human beings who sit at a computer keyboard are, well, Real People, be they tellers of tales or truth. Even if they are sitting three-thousand miles away from me, still they have hearts, souls, minds. Still they are Real. I am so not the center of the Universe whereas the closer you stand in proximity to me, the more real you are--stand farther away and you are but a hazy, filmy figure--poor you. Yet isn't that what these blog-spoilers are proclaiming? Aren't they saying that real, heart-felt communication happens only in-person, but never through the written word? (And of course, that conjurs up pictures of dusty love letters tied with ribbon up in attics and those which were gathered into books... Well, what about those?)

And do you know what I've found since I was that 13 year-old writing letters to people I'd left in other towns? I've discovered many people are more likely to share who they really are, what they really feel, when they write. When they're able to, alone in a room, send their feelings to someone far away who cannot stare at them and judge them by their appearance, many people (myself, yes, included) feel more free to share who they really are when there's no one staring back at them. When nobody is possibly concentrating more on that ten pounds they gained this winter or the way their eyes don't quite match in size or how they stutter when they're nervous.

I guess I believe that the people who are writing such ridiculous, one-sided, ill-informed things about us bloggers are--mainly--those who would be king. The controllers. Haters of change. Naysayers. They are like those teachers you had in high school who told you, while in THEIR class, things were one way (their narrow, I-don't-care-what-the-textbook-says way) and one way Only.

And I'll be brave and state they are those who just cannot simply be happy for us. Happy because, since our kindred-spirits never did move in next-door or appear where we worked, we, instead, went looking for them online. And found whole neighborhoods of them.

So to the clueless ones I say simply, I am sorry you don't get it. I'm sorry you don't understand. And I'm sorry you're missing-out on this whole new world, this in-between world, in which the rest of us are having a blast.

"What is Real?," asked the rabbit one day...

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
....From The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

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