Monday, 25 June 2012

A Luddite Conversion

I began my blog last October because someone told me that Luddism and journalism were incompatible. I signed up to Twitter in December because someone told me that blogging without tweeting was a voice in the wilderness. I was a cyber-virgin and swiftly I became addicted.

I loved gleaning fragments from domestic tedium to craft into a story. I felt frantic affection for anyone who troubled to comment. Twitter interactions from strangers were more of a thrill than a phone call from an old friend - and an irresistible distraction from dusting and deadlines.

Most of all I was struck by the generous spirit in the Blogosphere. Veteran bloggers were tireless with tips and promotion; comments, unlike online reactions to newspaper articles, were always kindly. If people disliked a post they would pass on in discreet silence.

I was wary, however, of cyber friendships. Virtual hugs tweeted at a stranger's affliction, intimate comments between folk who had never met unnerved me.  I was conscious that we can hone and airbrush and reinvent ourselves in cyberspace to impress those who would never see the reality and that  affection, rapped out on a keypad, was facile.  Twitter relationships were, I thought, a chimera - engaging and enjoyable, but worlds away from real friendship.

Then I went to the Britmums party. I met the flesh and blood behind the avatars. I was as thrilled as a film fan meeting my on-screen heroes, although if I'd predicted this I would have thought more carefully about my cyber identity. 'Ageing  Matron!', shrieked across the party floor, unsettled my attempts to appear a rock-chick Girl-About-Town.

The revelation that astonished me was that these bloggers and tweeters, whom I have tailed for six months, seemed like old friends. That the reason I had followed so faithfully strangers' updates about hangovers, supper plans and their local weather conditions was that their characters and kindredness had seeped through my screen without my fully realising.

All of them were were as delightful as the blogs and tweets that had beguiled me. I returned home euphoric and chastened. Cyber-socialising is a new revolution and, I've discovered, it doesn't replace old-fashioned friendships, it multiplies them.

39 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. What struck me most was the 'revelation' that people don't hide behind online personas - those personas are a true reflection of the real person made flesh. It was a genuine pleasure to steal food from your plate :)

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  2. Gutted I didn't see you there. Damn it Janet!

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    1. I was peering frantically at cleavages but didn't spot your tag.

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  3. Humph. No fair. I didn't go.
    But for your information I'm not at all like my online persona, I'm a real bad-ass, swilling gin and punching old ladies left right and centre.

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    1. I know. It shows through. That's why I can't wait to meet you!

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  4. What a wonderful way to put things Anna. It was an honour to meet you in the flesh and am glad you didn't find it too much of an ordeal!

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    1. Ditto.It's given me an inconvenient taste for night life!

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  5. Hurray- glad it was good, I spent the weekend jealous and decided next year I must go! X

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  6. The completely unexpected bonus of blogging has been the inspiring bloggers I've met in the real world. I never imagined I'd make actual friends. I am really proud to be part of an online community which translates so easily into the real world. This post captures that. I'm so glad we tracked you down. Friday night was fun. Thank you.

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    1. All thanks to you for shepherding me about so glamorously.

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  7. Could not have put that better myself so I'll leave you to do it then ... :o). It was a pleasure to meet you on Friday night, although I did feel nervous in doing so, I'm quite a shy a person. And I so agree with you .... there was a real congruence between the people I met and words expressed on their blogs.

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    1. Believe me, I was terrified. Nearly scarpered when I saw the crowd, especially when it was half full of naked men!

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    2. Half full of naked men? Really? I should have made more effort to get to BritMums, clearly.

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  8. Sorry I missed you Anna!! I would have loved to have met you. I am pleased to read the experience was better than you expected! x x

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    1. It was frustrating to be in such a big crowd with such little time. Come again next year and I'll ferret you out...

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  9. Couldn't agree more. It was lovely to meet you, by the way. x

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    1. Same. Was so pleased to recognise someone by their face rather than the tag on their cleavage!

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  10. what a lovely post - I saw it retweeted by Helloitsgemma and I'm so glad I follwed the link!

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    1. Thank you very much. I'm so glad you did too. Your pic adds a bit of glamour to my matronly site!

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  11. Lovely positive post *sighs* there are so many people that I would like to meet. You are one of them. Maybe next year... Southern Spain. Too. Bloody. Far. Away.

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    1. My heart bleeds for you in your warm, sunny isolation. I'll buy you a lager if you come next year.

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  12. What a really lovely post and heart warming that the virtual people that come through my screen are like that in the flesh too. I kind of thought they would be :-) Can't wait to meet some of the lovely people I chat to online, one day soon hopefully!!! x because that is the sort of person I am ;-)

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    1. You must come net year. I've read some less positive accounts of the event and the people but I guess I was lucky- I only met the lovely ones!

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  13. You've hit the nail on the head. By the way, was the one who screeched "Ageing Matron!" our very own Jane (of Northern Mum fame)? Knew it...

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    1. No, I seem to recall she contained her excitement with great dignity and gravitas!

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  14. when gemma says tracked you down she means stalked......

    But you are lovely and yes blogging bring unexpected surprises in the form of very close friends!

    fab to meet you xxx

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    1. You, Gemma and Kate made my evening. Am thinking of becoming a socialite now, if socialites can legitimately be in bed by 10.30pm.

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  15. Great post as always. During the Awards Ceremony, as soon as Ben (Mutterings of a Fool) told me you were there and pointed you out I couldn't wait to pop over and say "hello". Was lovely to meet you even if it was brief.

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    1. So glad you did. Didn't know you were going to be there. If I had, you'd definitely have been high on my list of must-sees.

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  16. Oh Anna. You are great. I went a bit googly when we met. That is all.

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    1. I don't know what that means, but I was very struck by you. You weren't nearly as scary as I'd feared!

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  17. Really lovely post - perhaps as you say not as funny as some. So where's the one about the knitted breasts - after all you told me about it at the BIBS party so there is a link- I think it wold be fun to include in the Britmums orientated roundup this month ... if you don't mind
    Can you put link on my blog page...
    http://www.notanottinghillmum.co.uk/laugh-out-loud/ x

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  18. I was so sorry to miss BritMums, but I had exactly the same feelings as you when I went to CyberMummy 2010 (two years ago - an eon in cyber time). I think the blogosphere gives people the opportunity to try lowering barriers earlier on in friendships than they would do in real life, and mostly, lowering those barriers is very rewarding. We're just not brave enough to do so face to face.

    I hope you still feel frantic affection when I comment...

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    1. I do. I feel absurdly fond of anyone who comments and you are a much cherished trusty faithful, always perceptive and wise.

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