Connection and Blogging

I’m not a particularly social animal. By nature not by circumstance. As such, the social component of blogging, although very important to me, has never been the *most* important or only aspect. But as time goes by and hopefully I mature a little as a blogger, I’ve come to appreciate it in different ways. Ways I would not have predicted when I started on this journey.

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I am a bit of a strange duck as far as they go. My tastes are all over the place which means that my influences and references are as well. My brain constantly works to create patterns using those disparate references and goes off in some rather dubious directions. I’ve always been like that, so it took me a long time to realize that not everyone is. Some people construct neat linear thought patterns using only relevant information. Bonkers, I know!!!

But because I’ve always been a bit unusual in the way I see things and assimilate information, I’ve always found connecting with others to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve never really met anyone I could just talk to without regularly stopping to explain what I mean or going back to walk them through my thought process. Everyone I know has called me weird at some point.

I’m not complaining about this mind you. Heck, maybe it really is the same for everyone. All I know is that I have some friends that can just talk to anyone. They start of a conversation and it just flows freely and easily without anyone getting terribly confused half way through.

When I was younger this was a source of mild concern. I made a conscious effort o try to “fix” my issue. I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not like it bothered me to be called weird or to have to explain myself. But I figured it was important to at least try to be a little more conventional. I have some deep conformist streak in me. No clue where it comes from, certainly wasn’t raised that way…

frankenstein family

me, reading a book…

So I tried for a while. I *studied* popular media so I would have something in common with most people. I tried to stop my thoughts from going on by themselves or at least tried to learn which are the ones I say out loud and which are likely to get me strange looks.

I quickly found out two things. My odder thoughts are probably my more interesting ones and if I filter them out all I’m left with is shallow small talk that is going to bore everyone in the room, first and foremost myself. I’m deeply sorry to anyone that had to put up with it for the sake of my little experiment. At least it wasn’t a complete loss, as inane small talk is a skill I still regularly use at work and has doubtlessly helped my career trajectory at some point.

I also learned that my actual friends, that had stuck with me and enjoyed my company, did not seem to have any interest in the “most popular media”. So that one was a fail on all counts. I just ended up with a lot of information on shows and music I didn’t actually like…great!

So what does any of this have to do with blogging? Hang on just a bit longer, we’re almost there. Through the years, I’ve made peace with my limitations in connecting with others. Something of that sore spot remains, that’s why I always advocate for more communication but as a general concept, not necessarily for me personally. And when I started my blog, I really didn’t expect anyone to read it… possibly ever. But I was also discovering a new world so I was still a little cautious. Point is, I hadn’t really considered “how” I would communicate on this blog since I didn’t know if communication was something I even had to consider.

toradora

that changed quickly

But amazingly, little by little, people did start to read my posts. It was surprising and thrilling and brought the communication issue right back up to the front of my mind. Should I edit my posts and make sure they are at least somewhat accessible to readers or should I let my weirdo side go wild?

For the record, I don’t think editing myself is in any way a bad thing. It isn’t censorship, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It’s not the post equivalent of stripping all the substance out of my ideas and leaving only the formless small talk (small post?) behind. It’s simply reordering and clarifying my thoughts so people not in my head can understand them as well. Deleting all those obscure references and weird jokes only I find funny to declutter and cut down on the post noise. I think proper communication occasionally takes genuine effort and that’s worth it.

And although that all sounds great in theory, it’s not very easy to do. That’s why great editors are priceless. I had never really done any large scale editing of non technical writing. And I found that I often had a tendency of neutralizing or taking myself completely out of my own writing when I did. And although the posts were decent and some of them had great response, they weren’t really “me”. And I thought absolutely nothing if it. This was in line with all my experiences up until then.

But then something unexpected happened. I started watching shows I had strong feelings for but that had no really apparent fandoms. Those posts were largely ignored so I slowly started going free in them. They went off in crazy directions. I started talking to myself through those posts, interrupting myself mid sentence. I would pull out some really odd references. And I had a blast.

k on party

K-On is a treasure trove of promotional art

And slowly, very slowly some people started reading those posts as well. Even left some feedback. Once in a blue moon someone would catch what I thought was an inside joke with myself. People I had never met just sort of got it.

I started to let more of the messier side of me seep into my regular posts. Before I knew it, there was little distinction between the two. And yet readers stuck around. Started conversation.

Once in a very long while I get an email through my contact page from someone who just wants to tell me they like my blog or they resonated with a particular post. And these are treasures to me. Often they read like a note from an old friend. There’s something almost unnervingly familiar in the choice of words. They really sound as if they know me. For a person like myself, that’s magic.

I would never have dreamed that a blog would allow me to be *more* sociable. There’s this whole thing about how the internet has brought us further from one another but it has had the opposite effect on my end. That’s pretty amazing, I would say.

Love Rini

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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38 Responses

  1. cheriewhite says:

    Great post! When I first began blogging three years ago, the thought of socializing with other bloggers scared me to death as I was the shy type. But since then, I’ve grown to enjoy meeting others I have something in common with and have made many friends through networking with them.
    Thank you for this post.

  2. ManInBlack says:

    I was always considered weird and felt that way too – turns out I am autistic instead…

  3. savageddt says:

    If you ever read one of my posts you will also see i tend to be all over the place. I never plan ahead and what you see is what i have at that moment. Be who you are and never try change to please others, people are strange… even though i am a bit akward at most times i tend to try be open to whatever conversation or interaction i get from any one. Be it strangers or people i know. Great post

  4. Dez Polycarpe says:

    It is kinda crazy when you think about it. The technology and the way that we blog today allow people that are not really social like yourself and I to talk about the things that we love.

  5. Dawnstorm says:

    Everyone I know told me I’m weird at some point, too. Well, almost everyone. When I studied sociology at university, people didn’t tend to say that. Sociology attracts weird people, so you don’t state the obvious. (There’s been a joke making the rounds: “Two sociologists, five opinions.” It’s pretty accurate: one’s a bonehead convinced he’s right, and the other can’t decide between four.) Best time of my life.

    In the early 2000s I was hanging around on writing boards a lot. New writers often accumulate faux rules of good writing, when what they really should be learning is the lessons you outline: Odd is interesting, and those that stick around do so because they connect. The great tragedy of rule-based editing is a metaphorical paradox: the more you polish a text, the duller it gets. And it makes sense: if a lot of new writers try to adhere to the same set of supersticions they’re going to converge on a cluster of similar styles. Those who don’t follow suit are memorable – not necessarily for being good, but at least there’s something worth developing.

    If you want to connect through a word medium you have to make sure you’re actually there in the words. It should be obvious, but it’s been my experience that a lot of new writers work dilligently at getting rid of themselves. (Maybe rejection hurts less when it’s just about your “abilities”?)

    As for the cumminity building aspect: you make it look so easy. I sometimes to wonder to what extent it is. The prospect frightens me, to be honest.

    • Irina says:

      It only looks easy because I have no actual merit in it. The community was already there.

      I actually know exactly what you mean about stripping individuality away in an effort to make something sound more professional or just “correct”.

  6. My wife is forever on me about my lack of conversational skills. She thinks I’m being deliberately closed off but I really have nothing to say. Then I can launch into a lecture about a topic nobody in the world but me thinks is interesting. Blank stares and people wandering off all around. It is a curse.

    Being able to blog about those things is a blessing. But I really do think I am a stranger duck than you.

  7. LitaKino says:

    What did lita learn from this post? Irina mind is more busier than I thought *gasp*

  8. Mari says:

    Irina I love your blog and I don’t think you should ever stop being yourself. I can definitely relate to the struggle to conform because I’m so outside the norm of “mainstream” society. Not just for being introverted and having nerdy interests but being genderqueer, an atheist, on the autism spectrum… there’s just a lot about me that people don’t always understand, and that makes it hard for me. But at the end of the day, if they don’t like me or what I have to say, they can just deal with it. I’ve never been all that interested in people who just want to do what everyone else is doing. But the freaks, the weirdos, the artists and writers and musicians and otaku nerdy folks, those are my kind of people!

  9. foovay says:

    Please don’t EVER edit the YOU out of your posts. I’d die of heartbreak. And probably eventually give up and stop reading. Your personality, your “messy” mind and wonderful associations and thoughtfulness is exactly what I am here for – what appeals to me and makes me love you. The world has plenty of people who can do small talk, or small blogs that are all commercial and politically correct and just what the “establishment” wants to hear (that’s not a good word but nothing better comes to mind right now). I don’t read those. I read YOU. The wonder of the Internet is that there is plenty of room for everyone and everything and all the interesting and different viewpoints of all the world. It makes it possible, also, for us “oddballs” (I prefer “unique” myself) to find each other and to bond and be supportive in a way we actually would never do in real, daily life. I rarely even open up much at all in real life because people grab their assumptions, their little box to tuck me into, or dismiss me. I’m a little old lady now and who listens to them? (Societal thing here in the U.S.A. Not saying I subscribe – I have always loved listening to the stories and opinions of older people). I’m so antisocial I only learned to talk to people when I had to do it to get paid. Now that I’m not getting paid for it – I basically only talk to my husband, doctors and nurses “in real life”. LOL. But here on the Internet… I’ve found people I can talk to, who I love to listen to, people like you. Blessedbe.

    • Irina says:

      I’ve said it before but if the only thing I ever got out of spilling a bit of myself all over the internet is to meet you, I would consider it an immesurable success. And I do!
      Also, i feel bad for all those peoplr that don’t get to talk to you. It’s crazy how much they are missing out

      • foovay says:

        Wow. I don’t even know what to say. Except I think I am the one who is blessed to know you. Us old folk called this a “mutual admiration society” (and didn’t necessarily mean anything nice by it LOL) but nowadays what is it? Sister-romance? WAIT – drinking buddies. Of course. Used to be all booze and blues for me (the music, not the mood) guess now it’s booze and anime. Doesn’t quite sound the same…I’ll have to work on that.

        Silliness aside, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  10. raistlin0903 says:

    As a socially awkward person myself (yes, me…I know what you are going to say: not Raist, there is no way…trust me, there is…and I am:)) I can only say that I know what you mean. I have said it often on my own blog, and in comments: the best thing about blogging for me, is the interacting aspect of it all. If I had not taken the step to finally place my first comment so many years ago on Karandi’s post, I would never have met so many wonderful people. And I know it’s not like meeting people in real life. I have often heard it say…it’s not the same. But you know something…I think it is. Because honestly for me, it’s easier to talk on a blog, or through email than it is in real life. For one thing I can take the time to collect my thoughts and write things that maybe would be more difficult for me to say when I would have to face to face. But the thing is: all things you say here, or other people say: that’s often what’s inside that person. And if it’s inside them, it’s a part of them, and often it’s also the real person. Not the person that in real life might be afraid to say things.
    As for you: I don’t think you are weird at all. In any way. Nor are you bad in the social aspects either. What you are is a genuinely real, and amazing person: and if anyone thinks you are weird in any way, they simply don’t know what they are even talking about.
    All I know is that your blog is and always shall be an inspiration for many people out here on WordPress (myself included), and that means so are you: Because this blog is YOU. The real, genuine article: and you are great😊

    • Irina says:

      Damn…nothing likeva Raistlin comment to just make my whole day better. I miss you but you take care of yourself.

      Also..No way! Raist is the most sociable guy out there! Nothing’s gonna change my mind.

      • raistlin0903 says:

        Thanks Irina, I miss you too😊 But no worries, I will try my best to check in every once in a while this month😊😊
        Lol…thanks…but trust me, in real life I can certainly be very socially awkward too…even though I manage to hide it well at times😅😅😊

  11. Pinkie says:

    This was a really got post to read on the day I return to blogging at least to some extent. Having had some very dark feelings and a form of identity crisis of sorts this post gave me a bit of hope. I always tried to do me, but I felt it was not good enough and went unheard. Mostly when my father was very negative about my hobbies and that no one would care about them.

    I guess from you post it shows that either way works. Safe blogs get views but only when you write as yourself it can truly resonate with someone. I lost my way, demotivated by the words that 30 readers don’t matter, even my top 150 didn’t matter he said..it all is nothing because it achieves nothing. It made everything seem futile. Yet I guess that is only true for those “safe” blogs. Likes on a blog you wrote to just get a highscore but say nothing about you do not matter that much. It’s empty clicks, but when you are truly yourself and people like that..it says something even more f they would send you such kind mails. People understanding you does mean something. So I am happy to read it’s possible and achievable through here at least. It inspires me to continue and just develop my voice, my way. So thank you for writing this article, it really was what I needed at this time.

    As far as your specific voice goes, oftenly I find myself just casually scrolling the reader, reading the top 20 posts or something like that but in your case specifically I oftenly question “I wonder if Irina wrote something and actively search it out. I like your humor and wit even if it doesn’t always connect, because you can see you like what you wrote. You like you joke and that always makes it a very charming read. As far as bloggers go you are my main aspiration whenever I read posts like these. There are plenty great bloggers out there whose content I love but the way you take us in your thought process is just something very special to me and that never fails to make me smile.

    • Irina says:

      First you warm my heart. Second I know your words matter to people (myself included). Beleive me when I say, it gets lonely when you’re not around. And exchanging ideas is never futile, it’s one of the most noble things we can do as creatures who think.

  12. jernahblunt says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever related so much to… just about anything, really! It’s incredibly comforting to know that other people have struggled with these same issues and come out happier! Thank you for this!

  13. AK says:

    I can really relate. Ever since around middle school I was one of the weird kids, made all the worse by the fact that I usually attended small schools so there was no escsping or blending in. It used to be that I hated myself, and I’m sure some of that feeling is still there. But when I got older I realized that almost all people aside from your family and friends care about is the skills you have and what you can do for them, so they won’t care if you’re a bit strange. There’s still a range you have to at least pretend to fall into, but that’s not too hard. That still doesn’t mean society isn’t full of stupid hypocrisy, but what can you do?

    I like your posts because they always seem to be coming from a real person, which is much more than I can say for most professional game/media writers out there. This is one place where we can and should get to be ourselves.

  14. kimchisama says:

    Weirdos unite! After awhile I started to say thank you when someone called me weird. It is funny I almost felt like I was reading about myself in your post. The great thing is the more we talk about our “weird topics” the more likely we are to find our people. It is pretty neat and I’m glad that you and myself have branched out from that strange small talk. Man, it was a rough few years of that…

  15. Pete Davison says:

    I’ve experienced a lot of what you describe here… apart from the mastering “small talk” bit. I just can’t do it. It makes me cringe. I can’t bring myself to do it. I would literally rather stay completely silent than say something inane. Out loud, anyway; online is another matter altogether!

    I’ve always approached non-fiction writing the same way since I was a kid. Despite teachers at both school and university drumming the importance of planning into us — along with Ms Derbyshire’s favourite expression, PEEing all over your work (make a Point, provide an Example, then Explain how it’s relevant) — I’ve never really done that. I just start writing and see where the muse takes me. I often find that the very act of writing helps me figure things out and process things, and I frequently don’t determine the “angle” I’m going to take on an article until I’ve actually started writing it and had a lightbulb moment midway through a sentence.

    The result, I’ve always been told, is an accessible, conversational style that nonetheless speaks with confidence, authority and knowledge. I know my stuff about a fair few things, but I have no real interest in taking a dry, academic approach to things; I want to share my enjoyment with people! With that in mind, I tend to approach my writing as if I was talking to someone… if I was actually able to talk to someone in real life without becoming an anxious mess and melting into the floor.

    I think the nice thing about blogging is you’re not constrained by anyone’s rules except your own, and that encourages everyone involved to find their own voice and way of doing things. It’s why I’d much rather read thoughts on things from people I follow here on WordPress than those who are paid to drone on in a “house style” for a large-scale, commercial publication.

    • Irina says:

      Accessible, conversational, confident, authoritative and knowlegeable? Doesn’t sound like you have any issues communicating at all. Not that I’m surprised

      • Pete Davison says:

        Text? All of the above apply. In person? Errr, no. Although I’m quite good at public speaking. It’s the interpersonal, one-on-one (or one-to-small-group) stuff I struggle with.

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