I'm fascinated this morning by the technology of blogging and the peculiar interpersonal relationships it fosters.
First I read Jo(e)'s poignant post about her brother cutting off all contact from her for more than a decade. Then, somehow I wandered over to A Delicate Boy's blog for the first time and read his interesting summary and response to a book written by an MIT grad student who chose to live "without technology" for 18 months. This made me think of recent discussions on a number of sites about power point and email.
I've only been a blogger for a few weeks and yet I feel like I've entered a world where I have the opportunity to get to know people in a very intimate, yet usually annonymous, enter-my-thoughts-and-feel-oddly-connected kind of way.
Such as when I read Jo(e)s post this morning and ached for her brother to open his heart to re-connection. To share that painful, vividly expressed experience -- feeling way teary as I sit here, an unknown, lurking voyeur. Feeling moved by Scrivener's descriptions of the life events that have left him an ABD and now, his "best worst thing" (OMG, what a courageous survivor). Celebrating, in silence, Profgrrrrls ability to fit into skinny pants and giggling with head-nods about the generic letter of reference she'll write for an obnoxious student. Curious about Bitch's open marriage and son in her bedroom and impressed that she has her own office in a 2 bedroom house (go girl!). I could go on and on because I've been on-line a lot lately (neglecting many other duties and relationships in the process.)
What does this blogging technology mean? It gives us a new and unique method for relating that I don't quite know how to sort out. I'm sure that there are thousands of posts out there on this issue, I know that some academic bloggers I've read even specialize in the study of this technology, yet I haven't read people's thoughts about the medium itself. And, as a beginner, I don't know how to seek out these posts. I do feel confident however, that I'll wander across them at some point and be pleased to see others who share my curiosity, describe it more precisely than I can, and extend my ideas in delightfully smart and insightful ways. So often I find myself saying "Yes! Well put" in response to people's posts and comments.
When I spend a while reading several entries of the annonymous academics I'm linking to, I start to feel as though I know them better -- in certain ways, the whats-on-your-mind and what-are-your-moods kind of ways -- than many people I've known and interacted with IRL for years.
I'm a shrink, and the way blogs permit 'knowing' reminds me very much of ways that I know people from psychotherapy or coaching. It's an assymetrical, voyeuristically-tinged relationship that is intensely intimate, wonderfully connected on essential levels, and yet based on a structure that strictly limits the range of intimacies. In therapy, the boundaries make the self-revelations safer. This seems to be true of the annonymous blogs as well.
I feel similar gratifications -- surges of connectedness and well-wishing and compassion and curiosity and intellectual stimulation and empathy -- that I feel as a therapist or coach. This is why I love my work. This is why I really love my work.
And these relational gratifications are why I have spent hours and hours and hours at the computer enjoying a new pleasure. The danger, for me (and I assume for many bloggers who need to log off and get their work done) is the danger of addiction.