Isabel Swift asked Are you my friend? Like much writing, sometimes a blog post takes your mind far away from where the post meant you to go.
She was talking about how she's not using social networking for business, but to stay in contact with friends. She was complaining about strangers--going for quantity in friend numbers--asking for her to friend them without so much as a how do you do?
It got me to thinking about the lopsided nature of relationships online and of relationships between readers and authors.
I remember when I was in my twenties, I was sick for a long time, and most of my social time was spent in bed, or at least in front of the computer in my jammies. I lurked on two discussion groups, never commenting because I hadn't reached that stage of my online comfort level yet.
However, watching these people day in and day out, reading their hopes and dreams, their ups and downs, I grew to care about these people, these strangers. I'd even go so far as to say they were my "friends," even though they didn't even know I existed.
Year later, I did actually run into them again and was my more prolific commenting self. That group even had a big party offline a couple times!
But still, in the beginning, they were my friends even though I was a complete stranger to them.
This is like the relationship between readers and authors, between bloggers and those people who read your blog every day but never comment. They know you. They come back and read your stuff.
You might not know they exist, but you are part of their daily life! They know every last intimate detail you share, while you know nothing about them.
Same with readers. When you write, even fiction, you share some essence of yourself quite intimately. They go on an emotional journey with you. They know some part of you that you might not even recognize.
So when they write you, if they write you, it always feels like I don't know them well enough. I love it when readers write and share bits about themselves and their lives, or how my story spoke to their life. Because sometimes, when they just write thank you! or Love this guy, I want him! or something like that not, I'm still in the dark; the relationship is still lopsided.
There are many blogs I read that I don't comment on. Sometimes because I just haven't been invited (isn't that silly?), sometimes because they write things that just make me nod my head, and there's not really room for me to add any thoughts. Sometimes for no explicable reason at all.
But I care about those bloggers. I care about many of the authors I've read that I've never written.
It's all very strange, the internet and writing. It does create lopsided relationships, where you can be someone's dear friend even though they're a stranger to you.
I think that's really cool. What about you?