This is often a serious topic of conversation around the house. Whenever I click onto my Google homepage and see a new post by Jenna I hear Dave shouting from somewhere across the room, "What's Jenna doing today?" He is not entirely interested only in what Jenna is doing. I mean, the whole family enjoys hearing about the doings on her farm but this particular question has an underlying meaning: "Why are you reading about someone else's life whom you have never met?" "Why are you taking time from your life to read about someone across the country?" These are good questions.
For that matter, why am I blogging? I don't have anything interesting going on, like building a farm single-handedly, nor am I making intricate crafts, knitted gifts, spectacular meals, renovating a 200-year old home, or living in Paris. I don't expect an audience, except my mother (Hi Mom!) who lives far away and doesn't get nearly enough phone calls (sorry!) or photos of her grandkids.
First questions first: Why am I reading about someone's life whom I have never met? Why not? The blogs I read are thoughtful, informative, entertaining, or merely just about the life of someone I wish lived down the street from me. But that person doesn't. Rather, I can "participate" in someone's stories, learn things, feel inspired, or just laugh at a couple good jokes. I mean, I spend a lot of time in my house or traveling the same roads to the grocery store, school, or library. It's nice to go somewhere else sometimes. And sometimes it's a great thing to comment on something they have written, even if it's just a pat on the back for a well-written post, or words of encouragement, or to share similar experiences. Isn't it amazing to be having a "conversation" with people from all over the globe? Do I think that any of these people stand in for real friends or real physical contact with my real community? Of course not.
This is a crazy world we live in. All this technology, connectedness to the web, wherever we are (my son's favorite place to read The Onion or Stephen Colbert is in the bathroom), is really too much. We could all use a lot more time away from the constant stream of information, "news", advertisements, games, movies, whatever. Dave likes to only half-jokingly refer to me as a "Luddite." I like my cell phone, my computer, my blogs, the knitting help that is a click away on Google. But I also like silence, the outside, talking with friends face-to-face (as in physically, not Facebook), hanging out with my family just shooting the breeze. So I work at making time to read the blogs and time to stay away from all of it. It's not always easy to pull the plug on all the input.
Why all the questions? Or justifications? Dave just sent me a link to this article in the New York Times, "Mommy blogs". I don't read these kind of blogs. Well, maybe one, but it isn't mentioned in the article and sometimes I just have to take a break from it because her life sounds almost too perfect at times and I don't need to feel inadequate about my bread or my knitting or my child-rearing. I mean, I can make myself feel that way all by myself. There is a lot of stuff out there to read. The main people highlighted in this article have a business built around their blogging. They have literally thousands upon thousands of readers. They have book contracts and handlers for their blog, advertisements and product placement.
Naturally, reading the article made me question yet again why I bother to blog. This brings me to the other question: Why am I blogging? Um, I don't really know. I wonder about this a lot, actually. The first time I had a blog I had a good reason for it. My family lived in Inner Mongolia, China, for 7 months. The kids were 6 and 8. We needed a way to share our adventures and pictures and reassure our moms that we were surviving over there. I loved that blog. It kept me connected to home. Like as in, Home. Many times I really did feel like I was on another planet. Once we came back, there was no longer any reason to keep blogging. So I stopped. For a couple years.
The urge came back, though. I remember the moment clearly: we were coming home from a family camping trip and Dave and I were batting around the ideas in Bill McKibben's "Deep Economy". My life is completely centered on the domestic sphere but it's not what I ever thought I would be doing. I was trained to be a university French professor. But life happened and I wouldn't ever change a single step that has led to this moment. Deep domesticity means for me everything that goes on here, the food, the animals, the kids, homeschooling and then public school, knitting. This is my journal, I guess, although it's public. I need a place to write down my thoughts and the kind of journal that you write in with a pen gets lost or forgotten and they don't hold pictures well or get magically transmitted to my mom 3000 miles away.
Okay, I have exhausted all that was in my head, swirling around for the past day since reading the NY Times article. And somehow I have made the little blinking cursor thing disappear from my screen and I find this very unsettling, not being able to keep track of where I am. Not to mention the fact that it brings to the fore the other reason Dave calls me a "Luddite": I'm absolutely pathetic when it comes to technology. I don't know how to get the cursor back, in other words. Now I must go back to the "real" world for I am making a casserole and bringing lots of food to the wife of one of Dave's colleagues, who has managed to escape a very close brush with death but remains in ICU. The colleague, I mean, not the wife, is in the hospital. Anyway, that's real physical community for you.