Anyone who has blogged for any length of time will admit they enjoy the sense of community they find online.

In blogosphere we quickly find others with whom we identify.

People who think like us. People who listen. People who don’t judge. People who show praise.

In fact, blogosphere and most online social networking sites are becoming melting pots of like minded people congregating in their own circles to discuss topics of the heart, with each person having compassion for the other.

Today’s Lesson

Online “community” is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t blog or spend time on social networking sites. We may joke and say we need to connect with “our peeps”, but in our heart we take that communication pretty seriously.

After all, we have “relationships” with our online acquaintances and don’t want them to feel neglected.

It’s not that we’re giving up on real life.

We feel we can have both.

When Late Night Mum left a comment on the “Are Blogs Dying?”post, she said, in part,

I have been exploring how its easier to be honest online and think blogging offers that outlet, ….

I replied:

That’s true. Many bloggers are voicing opinions on topics they may not even discuss with their friends and family. Although that can make for good “therapy”, it makes me wonder if by doing so, we lose touch with the real world.

And she added:

I agree there is a very real risk we can lose touch with the real world. Equally the real world can be very judgmental and by blogging anonymously I get to explore my real feelings with people. I am getting fed up with my real life so called friends playing games.

Late Night Mum raises a good point. When we feel let down or judged in the real world. it’s easier to turn to the internet for communication, support and friendship.

And…with the internet, we can choose who we communicate with.

Then, if we don’t like what they’re saying, we can click off or just “unfriend” or “unfollow” them.

In real life, we may not have those options.

But on the flip side, in real life we can have so much more.

Today’s Assignment

Do you think people are using blogs or social networking sites as a way to communicate with others because real life is letting them down?

Have you ever encountered this?

Care to share?
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Look Who's Talking
  1. Lori HoeckNo Gravatar says:

    Relationships are messy, but online relationships seem to clean up the mess as we put on our best writing face. They can be powerful, though. Like family members in the pioneering days, who wrote letters that took months to be delivered to relatives that never may be seen again, a lot can be expressed and shared via words.

    Running to online relationships to replace face-to-face relationships, however, can’t help us mature past the messiness of human interactions. It’s in the raw, face-to-face, toe-to-toe nature of relationships that we truly grow.
    .-= Check out Lori Hoeck´s awesome post: Self defense and owning your survival =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Lori,

      That’s a good point. When we share online, we’re able to self monitor what we say. And as you have taught us, this also applies to those who are conning others into believing something is true, when in fact, it’s all a facade.

  2. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara.
    Great topic! I think making assumptions will destroy or build relationships, in person or online. Unless we clarify those assumptions we choose to believe what we want to believe. Unfortunately with online communication, there is more room for making assumptions with less visible information.

    It can be more difficult to be honest in person because there is no lag time, but I think we still have the same options to ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ either way. Whether it’s by ignoring and hoping they will go away (not returning calls/emails), or actually telling them… that is the difference. Having said that, getting past “stuff” in person… you see the rewards in a much larger way.

    I believe making online connections can get out of control (I’ve been there); it’s easy to log on and start typing as opposed to real life when you phone and no one is home or people are busy with other commitments. I’ve lost count of how many coffee dates or other plans my friends and I have had to reschedule.
    .-= Check out Davina´s awesome post: Guest Post: A Muse for My Dreams =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Davina,

      Very true. Online there’s a lag time between the time we put “it” out there, until it’s responded to. With us having access to another person’s site, be it a blog, Facebook or Twitter, 24/7, we don’t know if, when or how another person will react.

      As you mentioned, in real life we’re able to “see” the person we’re talking to as well as their physical reactions, and we can any issues we have with others private.

  3. Good one Barbara! Great one actually. Hit my thoughts right on the money.

    * Yes, bloggers are a great support community ~ unexpectedly so, I have to admit.

    * No, I don’t think bloggers are using social communities because real life has let them down. I think they are using them to add value to their lives by learning and sharing. As all habits, they should be moderate.

    Writing for me has always been a way of therapy. In a social network, our words are shared, reflected on and hopefully even commented on in a constructive manner.

    Take care, friend,
    Julie.
    .-= Check out Julie @ jbulie’s blog´s awesome post: Facebook ~ the good, the bad and the unexpected. =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Julie,

      Ideally that is what happens; we find balance between our online and offline lives. Blogging makes a great platform for sharing our knowledge, and via blogging we’re able to grow in ways which may not be available to us in real life.

  4. Sadly some people do retreat entirely into a life online. And this is detrimental. But it is understandable when people can’t relate in the real world. Social deficits are difficult to live with. And an online social life might be a safer haven, but it won’t help them get better or relate in the real world.

    Personally I enjoy both my online relationships and the ones I have in the real world. The real problem is with striking a balance between the two.
    .-= Check out Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella´s awesome post: Have You Ever Thought About Flipping Blogs or Websites For Profit? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Joella,

      Like you, I also find it sad when a person turns to living a life online instead in the real world. Although for some, that way of living may be difficult to understand, I feel if a person isn’t finding hope, support or encouragement off line, if they can find it online, maybe that way of living is not all bad.

  5. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara! Gosh I would hope that people aren’t using online communities as a refuge from dealing with their real world of people. How sad would THAT be? On the other hand, if you want to re-invent yourself, or bold face INvent yourself (lie) about who/what you are, I think there may be no better place to do it cuz who would know? Now I’m freaking out myself!

    As to your last post (getting caught up here again) I have written comments only to delete most of it because I felt it too personal.

    hugs,
    suZen
    .-= Check out suzen´s awesome post: Whole Living in 10 Easy Thoughts =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi SuZen,

      Truthfully, I think we can find people who do both; living their life online, as well as some who are reinventing themselves and using a false persona on the internet.

      And you’re right. Online is the perfect breeding ground for those who want to reinvent themselves. A scary thought, indeed.

  6. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I think one way to use the Web is to find your niche and fit, rather than your immediate physical location.

    I like to use the Web as a platform to expand my reach and impact beyond my Microsoft tribe to whoever might benefit.
    .-= Check out J.D. Meier´s awesome post: 10 Ways to Hold People Accountable =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi J.D.,

      What a healthy way of looking at your online presence. Not only do you get to meet others, but we all get to benefit from your knowledge.

  7. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,
    I am having very interesting feelings about my life right now, as I work on healing.

    I am a person who absorbs other people’s feelings and emotions, it makes me a good counselor and by working on giving them back to the person, as in clarifying and visioning with them, it makes me a great counselor.

    But as I heal, I am finding on line I do not do that – I am guessing about responses and ideas….but there is a freedom, because letting go is so very difficult for me at this time….especially my own feelings and wants…and I am getting very clear about what is my own feeling and not someone elses….It is even more helpful to talk to my kiddos on line/phone or text so I can let them own their own feelings and not take them on….this has been one of the positives of this dis-ease.
    Another angle?
    .-= Check out Patricia´s awesome post: 35 Million =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Patricia,

      That’s a good point. The messages we receive from others, whether in a comment or subliminal (between the lines), can affect our healing process since we never know EXACTLY what another person is implying.

      I like how you’re teaching your children to own their feelings. Smart move.

  8. “Do you think people are using blogs or social networking sites as a way to communicate with others because real life is letting them down?” I would hope most don’t do this. As much as I like my online community, it can’t replace real-life, in person friendships and interactions.
    .-= Check out vered | professional blogger´s awesome post: Sex And The City: I Hate It Too =-.

  9. Chania GirlNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t know that I think that blogs and social networking sites are the way some people cope with life letting them down as much as I think that the people who are overly dependent on them are just fearful: scared of not being liked in person, scared of being rejected, scared of engaging in a way that may make them commit (i.e. in person).

    I enjoy the blogging community and the interactions I have online, but I am also aware that it is much easier to be my “best self” through a computer screen and well-chosen words than it often is in real life and face-to-face communication. It is also easy to mistake social interaction online for REAL interaction, and this is why there are time limits on my Twittering, Facebooking, and blogging. There is LIFE to live!!!

    If you can twitter every five minutes or so for HOURS on end every day, you are TOO MUCH online and not really living.
    .-= Check out Chania Girl´s awesome post: Which Wealth Do We Choose? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Chania Girl,

      Thank you for pointing out other possibilities of why some may be turning to online relationships rather than those they have offline. What you wrote is very thought provoking.

      Yes. It is easy to mistake social interactions with REAL interactions. I like your idea of limiting your time on social networks as it becomes a reminder we do have a life to live.

  10. May be but this is not an issue for me. I blog because I love to share and good thing is I’m earning good money by sharing my opinion. However, as blog is a medium to express your thought, so, it quite possible that many people going to use it to uncover their voice which they can’t in real life.
    .-= Check out Arafat Hossain Piyada´s awesome post: PenyuLocker – A free folder locking software =-.

  11. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Arafat,

    I’m happy your brought that up. Blogs are VERY good for uncovering our voice in a way that may not me heard in the real world. Plus, what we share has the possibility of reaching a much wider audience. And, if we can find a balance, it can become a win-win for everyone. 🙂

  12. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    Personally, I think it’s a cop-out.

    It’s too damned easy hide behind a computer screen, and tap out a few words to people you can’t see. Where everything’s agreed with. And every poem, every opinion and photo that’s posted is absolutely “breathtaking”.

    As compared to the Real World. Where you have to go outside and present your entire person, warts and all. Where you actually have to make a considerable effort to cultivate face-to-face friendships, and deal with face-to-face conflicts.

    Not that I think blogs and FB and Twitter aren’t a great way of expressing yourself.

    But they should be used in ADDITION to your real-life world, not as a replacement for it.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Friar,

      Yes. Our online activities should be used in ADDITION to our real life. However, for some, finding that balance may be more difficult than for others.

  13. ColleenNo Gravatar says:

    As a business blogger, I have to be all things to all people. For instance, if I connect to conservatives, then I risk disconnecting to liberals, and perhaps losing business. Not good, but it’s our online world. I enjoy reading blogs however and voicing personal opinions on other platforms. 🙂
    .-= Check out Colleen´s awesome post: Homes for Sale in Cottonwood Springs Kennewick Washington =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Colleen,

      That’s a good point. When we blog for business, it helps to expand our knowledge base when we visit sites which offer articles on topics not similar to ours. Plus, we also get to meet new people, as well. 🙂

  14. George AngusNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    To answer the question, yes. I do believe that there are folks who use blogging as an outlet because they feel that life has given them few alternatives. Of course I can’t generalize and put all bloggers in that tidy little box, but I do believe it rings true for some.

    True Confession: I am one of those folks. In my “real” life I don’t really have any buddies that I hang out with, I generally participate in work sponsored social gatherings out of a sense of obligation and by and large I keep to myself. I’m not in a relationship and the only other person I spend any real time with is my daughter. I’m pretty happy with this arrangement actually. I do my socializing on the internet through my blog and Twitter (and to some extent unfortunately, FaceBook)

    George
    .-= Check out George Angus´s awesome post: Random House, You’ve Crossed The Line =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi George,

      Knowing where you live (no, I’m not stalking you, 8) but am familiar with your neck of the woods in Alaska), I’m not surprised you’ve found the internet to be a good place to connect with others. I’m guessing for you, blogging and social networking has not only broaden your reach but also increased the number of people with whom you associate.

      If you’re happy with the arrangement, I say keep on, keeping on.

  15. Mandy AllenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara, I think it’s both. I believe that some people really do hide from the real world in this virtual world, and others use it to enhance what they already have. I have found a much broader spectrum of people, knowledge and opinions than in my ‘real’ world as I am now communicating with people from all over the world where as before the people in my life were those I grew up with or met in my day to day activities, but rarely people with such cultural diversity.

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy
    .-= Check out Mandy Allen´s awesome post: If you don’t have a go you’ll never know… =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Mandy,

      That’s true, isn’t it? Online we can meet people from all over the world, and that’s something we couldn’t necessarily do in the real world, or with such ease.

      And I don’t know about you, but if we don’t know others who blog, it’s hard to explain why we get so much joy from it. With other bloggers, they just KNOW.

  16. Keith DavisNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara
    Have to agree with Mandy Allen – a bit of both.
    I think it would be sad if people turned to blogging because they didn’t have real friend and family. It has to be an “add on” to real life, not a substitute for.
    I appreciate that I am never likely to meet any of the people that I chat with on the blogosphere but I still enjoy talking to them and do feel that I know them a little.

    Good question you’ve given us this time Barbara.
    .-= Check out Keith Davis´s awesome post: Laugh and the world… =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Keith,

      I hear you. Not many of us bloggers are likely to meet in the the real world, but it sure is fun making cyber friendships and catching up with each other of the blogs.

      And….we always understand when bloggers feel they need to take a break from the blog, as well.

  17. So I saw this title populated in my “reader” I use for my Blog Subscriptions to those I LUV and I stopped at this and stared at it… I read it and it was like a light-bulb went off in my head. Late Night Mum is on it! That is exactly what us “bloggers” do. We pour our heart and soul (most of the time) into our writing, our posts, even the comments because we know that we are not going to be ridiculed for doing it. While there is always an exception to the rule, the majority of the time we do find like minded people that do not play gossip games. Fantastic idea for your blog!
    .-= Check out Heather Villa´s awesome post: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you Heather,

      Yes. We bloggers do feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and feelings, and most times feel safe when we express our opinions. Although we may run into a troll or two that might disagree with our message, all in all, in blogosphere, our opinions are welcomed and respected.

  18. KateNo Gravatar says:

    A few years ago I was living on web, I was dating online, I couldn’t survive a minute without facebook, but finally when I got married my addiction disappeared.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kate,

      Thank you for sharing your story. It goes to show how when our priorities change, so does our online activity.

  19. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    This is a very interesting topic. I can see where those without fulfilling lives to start with may turn to on-line relationships. While it’s good to broaden our horizons with new and interesting people from all corners of the world, it’s important to strike a balance between on-line activities and real life because there is no substitute for face-to-face friends, family and relationships.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Linda,

      That’s true. Those face-to-face relationships are really what it’s all about. Although we can learn a lot from those we meet online, at days end, it’s the real people in our lives that should matter the most.

  20. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara (in the box this one!) – I believe I communicate with real people on the blogosphere & wouldn’t be drawn in to something I don’t consider of value.

    The value of certain blogs and their knowledge is truly exceptional and pertinent to where I am .. so I really am learning and gaining a knowledge that wouldn’t be possible in my daily life. Here I can read and absorb, ask questions, learn about relationships etc at times of day most of us find convenient.

    I get references to books, blog sites, etc .. and I can chose if I have time to do now .. or leave for the moment.

    It’s giving me a university degree about life (I don’t have kids or a husband, or partner) and therefore I am accessing information I wouldn’t have been able to in the past.

    We need to be out and about too – but though I’m not doing that a lot – I am probably a better person in my relationships with people than I was before &

    I’ve found out what I want to do in my future .. it’s given me a purpose, goal … a future – and I’ve a lot more knowledge to go with it & resources I can access, ask questions of, friends I can visit in due course .. once I’m free from this period.

    It’s not necessarily better – because we need people .. humans are humans & community .. we’re not singles & able to live on our own it’s unhealthy .. but boy can we learn some & meet some wonderful people ..

    Now I must copy, post and read everyone else’s comments .. have a good weekend .. Hilary
    .-= Check out Hilary´s awesome post: Stirling Castle Skeletons – who are they? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Hilary,

      You said it so well. If we can maintain a healthy balance in our real life, the time we spend online can end up being, as you said, a “university degree about life”. Where else can we meet others from all over the globe, learn anything we have an interest in, and also share our thoughts with anyone who’s willing to listen. And….on top of that, have them respond. I find it pretty awesome, and like you, am happy I found the world of blogging. 🙂

  21. Tony SingleNo Gravatar says:

    But none of you folks are real, right? You’re all just constructs in a cyber world that flickers into life whenever I turn the computer on. Right? Right?! 😛

    In all seriousness though, I must say that everyone here has made some salient points. A life onine is only ever a healthy one if it’s in addition to our everyday lives… unless you live in a remote Arctic outpost. I think then it’d be okay to live your entire life online because who else would there be to talk to? Just penguins and seals, that’s what!

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    You’re funny Tony,

    Yes. The combination of both a real life and an online one can enhance our lives. It’s like we can have the best of both worlds.

    A remote Arctic outpost? Hmmmm. I wonder if they have WiFi. 🙂

  23. JeanneNo Gravatar says:

    Nail on the head, Barbara! When I first started blogging I was like a bat out of hell, blazing away daily. Met some wonderful bloggers, developed some friendships, and burned out. And quit. And now, months later, realize that my blogging buddies really do enhance my life, so I’m compelled to return. Like everyone else says, it’s a matter of balance. Thank goodness I’m not too old to learn 🙂
    .-= Check out Jeanne´s awesome post: Hello, Anybody There? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jeanne,

      Yes. I saw you came back. WooHoo! But as you know, that’s one good thing about blogs, we can leave them dormant, and pick them back up on a moments notice. All we have to do is make the rounds and let our blogging buddies know; like you just did.

      Welcome back, Jeanne. 🙂

  24. davidNo Gravatar says:

    Maintaining online relationships is vital for business development. Blogging forums provide a platform of expanding links and contacts. They should be used effectively and correctly. For an online addict, it becomes relatively easier to build social networks and increase knowledge that is beneficial in daily life too.
    Check out david’s awesome post.Keep your heart health in mindMy Profile

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi David,

      That’s a good point, the knowledge we gain from socializing online can help us in the real world too. It’s like we get practice in our online activities, which makes it easier to carry the same behavior offline.

  25. This hold true for me. I prefer my life online than my present one offline. Being kind of 90% introverted, online I’m free to express myself both anonymously or not unlike in real life where most of the folks I know are plain whack jobs and buggaboos thus I have to watch what leaves my mouth.
    Check out Udegbunam Chukwudi | Make Money Online’s awesome post.Top 16 Essential Plug-ins For Every WordPress BlogMy Profile

  26. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Udegbunam,

    That’s a good point. If those we know in our real life are negative or “buggaboos”, as you put it, spending more time online may become our preferred way of interacting.