I’m truly enjoying my new adventures in blogland. (oops, I think I’m supposed to say “blogosphere”, but that sounds sort of pretentious. Is it pretentious?) I have found unexpected support at times when it has been needed. I have found laughter when my spirits were low, allies when I have felt alone, great ideas when I have found myself in a rut. And let’s not forget the great recipes…..!
I love the feeling of belonging that I get when I refer to myself as a “blogger” or when I casually mention, in a conversation with friends or family, “a fellow blogger wrote….” It feels so good to belong to a group of people who you admire, doesn’t it? Hooray for me; I have cool friends!
But I find that I am worrying quite a bit about the etiquette of the whole thing. I want to get it right! I want to follow the rules and be a good girl. (Are they really rules? Should I say “expectations” instead, like I do in my classroom?) I am a woman; we generally aim to please. I am the oldest girl in a family of six children; we definitely aim to please. And I’m a teacher; I can’t help trying to do everything the right way. I can’t help hoping that everyone will like me and no one will ever be offended by anything I say, do or write. So I want to be a popular blogger. Not “popular” as in “my stats are going up”! I mean “popular” as in, “She seems nice.” (Um…am I allowed to refer to my “stats”, or is that vulgar?)
I don’t know how to behave out here. For example, after I had been writing for several months, I suddenly started to accumulate some “followers”. This was wildly exciting for me, of course, and I immediately clicked on everyone and “followed” them back. I also “followed” everyone who made a comment on any of my posts. So much fun!! But…..after a while I realized that my ‘in box’ was always full of enticing new posts and I wasn’t doing any of my slightly less pleasant chores (like correcting math papers or grocery shopping). What would a nice, well behaved blogger do about such a situation? I mean, do you ignore new posts, do you “unfollow” (will the blogger be told that I did that? Oh, man, that would be horrible!!!) How do you manage this?
And what do you do about commenting back to people? I am very chatty; I tend to comment constantly! Is that OK? I find myself wondering if other bloggers are happy to see my name out there, or if people think, “Oh, jeez. Here she goes again……” And how long are comments supposed to be? And are they always supposed to include a compliment, or will people realize that since I follow them and reply constantly to every single thing they post, it’s pretty obvious that I admire the way they write? Do I seem too eager, or too pushy?
There are millions of little etiquette issues like this! Am I expected to put in more photos? Am I allowed to mention personal information that would let people know where I live? Am I allowed to ask my new blogging friends where they live, or is that prying? Does it sound insincere when I reply to every comment on my posts with “Thanks for commenting!”, even though I really do mean it from the bottom of my heart? Gah!! I’m giving myself a migraine……
This whole situation is reminding me a lot of my students. (I know. Everything in my life makes me think about school. What can I say?)
It has reminded me of how hard it is for many kids to figure out the unwritten rules of classroom social life. Rules that some kids, like some bloggers, seem to infer and internalize without effort. Rules about when to make a joke and when to stay silent, where to sit at meeting without seeming either aggressive or pitiful, when to share and when to keep what is yours. There are a million invisible and unspoken requirements for “popularity”, and some children never fully grasp them, no matter how hard they try. There are facial expressions to master, shoe brands to memorize, games and jokes and songs and books. There are even trendy words that change from month to month. How often should you raise your hand in class without seeming too eager to be the teacher’s pet? What is the exactly perfect timing to make a funny comment during a lesson without making the teacher mad?
It’s all very confusing and potentially overwhelming. Fitting in, pleasing the crowd and learning how to be accepted. These are the skills and struggles that often define the lives of children and adolescents in school. These are the little things that are tripping me up as I venture into the world of internet writing.
I will try to follow the advice that I give to my students. I will try to be observant. I will try to always be kind. I’ll think before I speak (or post). And if I know I have done all that, I’ll try my hardest to stop worrying and just relax and enjoy the ride.
Happy blogging, everyone! I’d share my snack with you guys any time.