Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Will I ever get used to the anonymity of Blogging?

A funny thing happened this morning.  It's not the first time but it just hit home for me today.  I became Facebook friends with a fellow APG member. She sent me an email and let me know that she had read posts from my New England House Historian blog. Until she said that I had no idea she even knew I had a blog.


There's something so strangely anonymous about writing a blog. I'm sure that people who write books must feel the same way.  The thought that you can write something, put thoughts out there in the world, and have no idea who is reading is just so vague!

It's true that we do get feedback when people leave us comments.  That's wonderful!  And it's also true that it's not important who is reading your blog.  I guess it's just a little funny that people can get to know you but you're not getting to know them at the same time.

I'm not complaining or wanting to change anything. I'm reflecting on the reality of it.  I guess there is a certain role or responsibility that goes along with being a writer who publicly shares their writing.

Keep Reading

I would love to encourage everyone to keep reading even if they never leave me a blog comment. If I can encourage people to become interested in researching the history of houses or in learning more about genealogy then that is enough for me.

I'm simply writing to share my passions about what I love and I hope that it becomes infectious for a few other folks.

Though I would love to hear from other bloggers about how they feel or cope with the anonymity of writing.  And even from readers about their take on it.

Photo Credit: photo by Artotem and used under the Creative Commons License


  1. Marian,

    I would like to add to what you have posted. It's when I do make a comment on a Blog, when there isn't a response to the comment.

    By the way, that is not my experience with you. But I have left a couple of comments, that I had hoped would lead to a conversation, either on the blog, or a direct email.

    But like you, I do try to reply to comments left on my blog. A quick Thank you, or a follow up is what I try to do.

    Thank you for ALL that you do.


  2. I used to think only my Mom read my blog. Then I began to get email and comments from other genealogists, which made sense. And it also made sense to get a few messages from New Hampshire residents, or history buffs. But sometimes I get random comments from folks who are just googling strange search terms, which how I got a follower from Hawaii, and a frequent guest from Australia, and a folk music performer who saw my posts on the Hutchinson Family Singers. I never would have made a connection with folks like that any other way other than blogging! Sometimes it blows my mind!

  3. Russ - actually I could be a lot better about replying to comments. I'm working on that :)

    Heather - yes, that is the bizarre and yet really cool part of blogging. The connecting of otherwise unconnected people. The internet is magical that way.

  4. As a frequent reader of blogs on many topics, I rarely make any comments. To me, bloggers are no different than any other columnists I read in newspapers and magazines. Geneabloggers may see themselves as a small cozy group of friends, but once you write in public it makes no difference to the rest of the world whether you write from the kitchen table or from a desk at the NY Times. I don't write back to David Brooks, for example, and say, "Nice job!" just because I might agree with something he writes. And with a few exceptions that's generally the kind of comments you see on a geneablog. Interestingly, if I read a blogger's words in a traditional journal and I don't write a letter to the editor I'm considered just another "reader" but if I read the same blogger's words on a blog and don't send comments I'm considered a "lurker!"

  5. Susan - Interesting points! I would have to agree with you on everything. I have written for print publications as well. I suppose that because bloggers have the comment field there is more of an expectation that somebody might talk back. Funny about the semantics of "reader" and "lurker". The "medium" ([print vs. internet) seems to have a great deal of influence in expectations and perceptions.

    I wonder how people would respond if a survey were done? How many people would suggest that the expectation with social media is interaction and with print publications is one-sided non-interaction. And how many would find no difference between the two.

    If we forget about blogs/publications and look at Facebook which is a tool for interaction we find the same dynamic. Some people interact and some watch from the sidelines. Is Facebook perhaps evolving from simply social interaction to a source of information, with some people exclusively choosing the latter?

  6. Ok, you've hooked me. My second comment in one day! Your facebook remarks seem right on target to me. At the personal level I can still see pictures of friends and relatives but there are so many corporate pages dispensing their latest news that it sometimes seems like commercials interrupting my program.

    Anyway, here's one more visual to consider: All the geneabloggers who'll be gathering in the geneablogger lounge at Jamboree sound like they'll be having great fun. But, in the "everything old is new again" department, they also sound like nothing more than an updated version of those romantic, sterotypical newspapermen and foreign correspondents of the 1930-1950 era. All the old movies show them hanging out at the local bar, swapping war stories about how they covered the BIG story--murder, war, intrigue--and it all looked like great fun too. So which geneablogger will be Clark Gable? Rosalind Russell? Spencer Tracy?

    Now you can see why I don't comment. Too wordy. I retreat, now, back to my regular lurking status.

  7. I love Susan's idea. I don't think of myself as anything close to a reporter of any sort, but I'll take it.

    Because I switched from a different topic to genealogy, I already had an established non-genealogical audience when I started talking about family history research. It's made for an eclectic group of readers, which is one of the things I love most about my blog.

  8. Nothing insightful. Just you are always on track. Love following your blog. :)

  9. I love when people leave comments. I get self-conscious when they don't. Like, how boring am I being today?

    Eventually I started to look at it the way performers, singers for instance, are advised to pick one face out of the audience and sing to that person. I write as if I'm writing to one person, or two at the most. I pretend an audience, otherwise I don't think I could do it at all. I couldn't write to no-one and I certainly couldn't write to an audience of thousands.

    As far as 'what other people think' (the millions who don't comment) - when my stat counter hits zero it's over.

  10. ... unless I get tired of hearing myself think out loud before then.

  11. Great post, Marian, and an intriguing topic. For better or worse, I find myself looking at comments to validate the things I write about on my blog. If I get comments, I think good, they liked that. If not, I think well, I should have done something differently. But that's probably just my insecurity showing through! I often wonder if other bloggers look at comments the same way.

    At any rate, I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate the insights you bring to us. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  12. Marian, I sometimes feel like that commercial "Marcel, are you listening to me?" LOL Blogging can be a lonely enterprise. When I look at my stats I can see that people are reading my blog. But, the lack of comments sometimes makes you feel as if you are talking to yourself.

    I do think that sometimes people outside the genealogy blogging community aren't comfortable commenting. They might feel intimidated by it. So they are reading, and learning, but they aren't giving feedback.

  13. Great post and it certainly made me think about my blogging and reading habits in a new way! I blog for myself but a part of me would like to know what others think or have a comment of some sort (the "am I interesting" or "was the topic helpful" kind of feeling).

    On the other hand, I read a number of blogs and don't comment, so I am guilty of the same behaviour. I also need to be better about responding to comments to my blog. Thanks for the food for thought!