Sunday, August 06, 2006

Who Are You People?

The title of this post is 'borrowed' from a new book by Sheri Caudron. She examines the passion of people who have developed 'special' communities from Barbie collecting to storm-chasing. Her premise is to try and understand, "What drives these kooks". The Author ends up being tranformed herself by the stories she encounters in her three year exploration of these groups of people. What touched off her change was the personal story of a Barbie collector who after several years of collecting had her son viciously murdered. The people who stepped up and supported her and cared for her through this trying time were her Barbie friends. Her 'real' friends began to drop away after only a few months.

I was touched by this story because it mirrored the new shift in my life and some of what has come before. In 1998 I had a terrible year. I had so many traumas happen almost simultaneously that to recount them all here, you would think I was lying. Although Hurricane Katrina sure opened some eyes as to the on-going devastation a person can go through. Suffice to say, my spirit was in shambles and I nearly crumbled under the burden. After a few months my good friends started to drift away. Supports I had depended on turned out to rather shaky. I stumbled through the next few years barely keeping it together. What ultimately got me re-engaged with the world turned out to be the Internet.

In the last three months the Internet has percolated another epiphany for me, The Blogosphere. I addressed this a bit several posts back (June Archives) but it has taken a turn since then. I've mentioned here that I comment regularly over at firedoglake, an excellent site devoted to politics mostly, but with the most human of interactions anywhere. This group of people are passionate about politics yes, but they care about eachothers well-being and the well-being of the world. FDler's come from all walks of life and are drawn together at FDL by their interest in Progressive Politics. Since my husband has been away, I have had more support and caring from the people at fdl and other bloggers whom I've gotten to know a bit, than all the people I know here in San Antonio.

I guess the common denominator is interests. But more than that, the thing we explore in blogs besides interests is passion. Passion for something that on a personal level enriches your life. If you go to a cocktail party, presumably you will meet new people who share your interests, because you have things in common; your host, a job, something. But how many times have you been to a party and come away with the feeling that you met a room full of people you agree with and would want to be friends with? Not often, at least in my experience, and I have been to alot of cocktail parties.

FireDogLake has been a revolutionary kind of experience for me. I have 'met' people who are kind, supportive, smart, caring, funny, politically savvy, charming, engaged, angry at what's happening to Our Country and many more qualities that I demand in my friendships and more importantly my life partner.

I cannot compare this Blogosphere experience to any other in my life, except possibly taking ecstasy in my early twenties. The bonding and 'huggy feelings' you get from that drug are incredible, but of course, drug-induced and short-lived, not to mention illegal. Though I will point out that when I took that particular drug it had not yet been classified as a 'Class One" substance. Anyway. FDL "does it for me".

I suppose the Blogosphere is a giant cocktail party, something like the Mall of America . So many stores, so little time. The difference with the Blogosphere of course, is it's people we find, not material objects, but flesh and well, silicon I guess, people. People who are passionate about whatever it is you're passionate about. People that share their ideas and listen to yours. All the while backing up not only their opinions but supporting yours not in the way some friends would, but the way real friends do--they tell you the truth. The truth from their perspective and experience. Dialog is open and real work for change happens. Change from within as well as from without. It is a community I want very much to be part of, and for this I am grateful.


Eli said...

The "virtual" community really is a different animal in so many ways. Generally speaking, your "real world" friends are selected by shared circumstance; i.e., neighbors, coworkers, fellow churchgoers, anyone you share a physical milieu with.

Online friends, such as at FDL, are more likely to be selected by common interests and passions, and the array of people to interact with is much, much larger, so it's almost impossible not to find a whole bunch of people you're sympatico with.

The other interesting thing about the virtual community is its omnipresence: Wherever you are, it's *always* there. Maybe not any one individual person, but the community itself is always there. Real-world friends are basically only there when you both have free time and are in roughly the same location. But I can connect with people at FDL or Eschaton just as easily whether I'm in Pittsburgh or California, 8AM or 3AM, and I never feel like I'm imposing, or worry that I'm rousting someone out of bed.

Swim said...

Ain't it the truth Eli? I love that you pop-in. Unlike Jerry S. I love the vitual pop-in. Everything you comment about here are things I thought of but didn't post for the sake of brevity. I'm so glad you did the in-depth analysis. Thanks for being there.

Eli said...

Brevity is the soul of, um... people other than me.

Plus I'm a huge pop-in guy.

Swim said...

Did someone say lingerie?

Andrew said...

I have received tremendous support since I started my blog, and at least one person claims I have facilitated a life-altering decision for her. So I agree, the blogging world is a powerful way to connect with others.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

Swim said...

Thank you for stopping by Andrew. The Blogosphere is a good thing.

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^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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