Meandering reflections about blogging and friendship


I’ve been dumping blogs from my reading list—blogs that no longer exist, blogs that have gone private, blogs owned by people who never visit my blog, and blogs that have been inactive for years. This is a sad task, but I hate clutter.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t have time for bloggers who don’t read my blog unless their blogs are devoted to some longterm or shorterm interest of mine, and the latter blogs I eventually drop. For instance, I just dropped a blog devoted to lynchings because I felt that I had learned enough about the subject, and because I’m depressed enough without continually exposing myself to long ago tragedies (I even wonder if it makes sense to learn as much as I do about current tragedies).

My goal in blogging is to, in the main, give my posts greater context than simply writing about my personal life. Even in my latest post about cats, I tried to communicate what I’ve learned about cats that might be both entertaining and instructive rather than simply entertaining. Even so, I’ve noticed that some of my most popular posts are entirely self-focused—posts about my health, for example, and I’m fine with that because such posts humanize a person. Even so, if personal news is all you write, I have to think of you as a very close friend indeed if I’m to regularly read your blog.

The day that a blogger stops posting is usually the day he ends his friendships with other bloggers. I regard this as a sad outcome because it implies that his blog friends were not so important as he gave them reason to think. I’ve had four blogger friends who I know to have died, but I suspect it is true of others who abruptly dropped out of sight.

Being able to verify that ex-bloggers are still alive is one reason I like to have their contact information. Another is that it means that we’re not just people who share an interest in blogging, but that our friendship transcends our blogs. Even if we never write or phone, it means a lot to me to know how to get in touch, especially if the contact information includes a home address and phone number. My heart will forever be warmed when I recollect that the very first blogger who gave me these things had been recently stalked by another blogger.

I used to wonder if it was even possible to be deeply devoted to someone whom I only know on the Internet, and the answer is yes. True, blogging is a limited kind of friendship, but then face-to-face friendships are also limited, especially if my face-to-face friend has no interest in my blog. The reason for this is that, compared to written communication, the quality of my spoken communication is lacking because I can’t take long pauses or edit myself. I have a friend who imagines that the purpose of such pausing and editing is to present myself in a favorable light at the expense of honesty, his belief being that the first thought that comes out of a person’s mouth is more likely to be the truth. I find his analysis appalling because formulating my thoughts is like digging with a shovel in that the more time I’m allowed, the deeper I can go. I simply need more time to think than conversation allows, so to overcome what is to me an unnatural restriction, I sometimes take such lengthy pauses that people try to hurry me along. It’s also the case in conversation that the listener has no time to reflect upon what was just said without missing that which follows.

I don’t mean to suggest that blogging necessarily leads to depth or honesty. In fact, one of my disappointments with blogging is that many blogs are consistently shallow. Many, if not most, bloggers don’t want to discuss either their posts or the posts of others, and I suspect that many blog visitors only visit other blogs so that those bloggers will visit their blogs. But without an exchange of thoughts, how does anyone even know that his posts are being read? “Interesting post” is what advertisers write, and many bloggers write little more than advertisers, only while advertisers are looking for money, it seems to me that many blog owners are willing to settle for the illusion of being read
.

Maybe I am being overly cynical based upon the fact that I have no way to know what’s going through a person’s mind unless they tell me, but my doubt comes from the fact that they don’t necessarily tell me. I can but say that I would greatly prefer to have 20 readers who truly care about what I write than my current list of 261, many of whom probably don’t even remember that they are on my “followers” list. A lengthy blogroll is as meaningless as a lengthy “friends” list on Facebook, but I didn’t realize this when I started blogging. At the time, I looked forward to feeling validated by having a lot of readers and to building an international community of blogging friends. While these things have occurred to some extent, they aren't represented by my relatively long list of supposed “followers.”

I’ve also noticed that the number of comments that accumulate following a given post isn’t a function of the quality of the post but the poster’s willingness to visit a lot of other people’s blogs. Another disappointment is that I’ve been naive enough to trust that fellow bloggers meant it when they said they would always be my friends. My early blogging years were marked by idealism in that many of us came to blogging back then in the belief that the blogging world was purer and deeper than the face-to-face world. We imagined that, through blogging, we could meet at a heart level, and that what we gave of ourselves and to one another would remain for the rest of our lives, but this didn’t usually happen.

Other than my sister, Anne, I don’t know a single person whom I first knew face-to-face who—to my knowledge—ever reads my blog, and this has led me to conclude that my face-to-face friends lack interest in knowing me on a deep level. I don’t mean to imply that the only friendships that matter are those that contain profound sharing because being there for one another in more prosaic ways is equally important. I also don’t mean to imply that blog friends are better people because bloggers are as prone to anger and pettiness as anyone else. I will say this: many of those who got mad and went away (from my blog) were liberals who touted a respect of diversity when the only diversity that they respected was diversity that mirrored their own thinking. You can’t show someone a better way by dumping him from your life, yet the self-proclaimed diversity lovers are as prone to this as are conservatives.

I have no friendships that aren’t seriously lacking. Peggy, Brewsky, Ollie, and Scully, are with me in an inner sphere with everyone else being in spheres at varying distances. This is not what I want in life, but it’s what I have, and my greatest problem is that I don’t how I would survive if I lost Peggy. The older we men become, the more the loss of our spouse presents a grave problem (ha). When we were kids and young adults, we had a great many friends, but we have since lost them at a higher rate than they’ve been replaced (Edwin A. Robinson wrote about this in “Mr. Flood’s Party”*). By contrast, when women get beyond early rivalries and the busyness of jobs and children, their friendship circles tend to increase. For this reason and others, women’s declining years are often happier than men’s. In fact, the older a man becomes, the greater his risk of suicide. I think it possible that this will be how I die, but I don’t plan to do it anytime soon.

I am sometimes complimented on my willingness to make myself vulnerable by sharing as deeply as I do on my blog, but if I felt that vulnerable, I would either close my blog to uninvited readers or I wouldn’t divulge as much as I do. I will say that in all the years I’ve been blogging, I haven’t been the recipient of any more abuse than what I’ve received in my face-to-face life. If you want to be abused, upload films onto Youtube because while any mean-spirited moron can watch a film, it takes at least a little intelligence to be interested in reading a multiple page post.


*https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44979

39 comments:

All Consuming said...

This post touched my heart for reasons obvious to both of us I'm sure; you were my first blogging friend and therefore shall remain my longest (rather an oldest, as that implies age methinks). The only people whose blogs I comment on are the half dozen or so listed at the side of my main page, (barring the odd time I've been sent links to other people's blogs and wishes to comment on a post there), and this has been a concious act as I do not have the capabilities health-wise to keep up with many more than that and also because I have many friends I see in 3D (I don't like to think of them as 'real', because my blogger friends are just as real, and indeed often know far more about what I'm thinking or going through than those I might talk to on the phone or visit). Even at that I don't have as much contact ad I'd like to because I'm just not capable, but I do what I can and I enjoy that small merry bunch of miscreants I have very much, even though their own lives are fraught with pain, exhaustion and mental stresses. They all have a great sense of humour, and kind hearts. That's the core for me, and no, we don't agree on some subjects that includ religion and politics, but they put up with me as much I do them on that score and we read and we respect the differences, such as they are, whilst enjoying the string links and bonds too. I have dipped the odd toe into other blogs and left after realising some folks thrive on drama and saying nasty things - whatever the reason behind their behaviour, it isn't for me. I think your friend who reckons that thinking about what you will write rather than blurting out that which comes into their mouth instantly is deeply misguided, because writing gives one the time and care to express how you truly feel in such a manner as to communicate it far more fully than any instant words can. Physically, one to one has the advantage of hugging and expressing love of course, but you can take your time and go into all the ins and outs of the cat's bum on the subject at hand given the time to think about it. I have no doubt that some of the deepest bonds of all time have been ones that existed purely through letter writing at first, and now, these days, digitally. Even if someone doesn't comment, they've read your words and feel closer to you that day and onwards for it and vice versa.

I think we've been at it for about eight years or so by now isn't it sweetie? And nothing would make me happier than to be able to come and visit you and Peggy and the mewers, and sit in the next room typing away to you as you made me a nice cup of tea. *laughs* True though, some connect deeper than others and that is always to be embraced. You are loved from this quarter Snow Xxx

Emma Springfield said...

You revealed a great deal of your "self" today. I have also severed connections with some blogs. Some were because of the content of the blog; I was just not interested enough to spend my time reading them. Most are excellent blogs but not for me. Some I read for a while and was just not in sync with their views. Some ceased posting or posted so seldom that it was not worth my time looking at them.
I have to admit that there are a couple of blogs I visit but seldom leave a comment. The content is often not anything that elicits a response. They may be nothing more than a quote from someone else or a listing of that day's activities. I enjoy them and try to comment if I can.
I have been guilty of leaving the occasional "interesting" comment when I wanted to acknowledge the author but had nothing to add to a conversation. However this happens only on blogs that I normally have a bit more to offer at other times.
I love receiving the nice comments that are left for me. People are so kind. I live well without them but they are welcome at the same time.
I began my blog to write a history of family stories for my children, grandchildren, etc. I made it public so they would have better access than if it was a private blog. It makes me happy that others find them amusing as well.
Is it a statistical fact about older men committing suicide? I am sad to learn that. I also hope you never feel the need to end your life. I understand some of the reasons people do decide to no longer live and hope I am never in that position either.
I think it is insightful of you to be so open about yourself here. I like coming to read your thoughts on the variety of subjects you write about.

kylie said...

None of my face-to-face friends have ever been interested in my blog which I find slightly strange because if it were my friend, i would want to know what they had to say.

The person who said you communicate in writing for the purposes of crafting an image just showed you what kind of a person they are. As my mother would say "he judges everyone by himself"

I have to say that in many ways I have found bloggers to be truer friends than people I know in my day to day life.

Hugs to you


Elephant's Child said...

When I discovered the blogosphere a part of me felt I had come home.
I have laughed with other bloggers, I have wept for and with other bloggers. And I often learn things. All very positive things.
I am frequently a shallow blogger, but not always.
And I am so grateful that a currently very intermittent blogger directed me here some years ago. In 'real' life my social world had diminished to the point it is virtually non-existent. To be invited into other people's homes, heads, hearts is a privilege. A huge privilege.

E. Rosewater said...

This is the age of google so i can tell you that the highest rate of suicides is 85 and above with the 45 to 64 age group being the second most likely candidates for self disposal. Of course this can be further refined almost ad infinitum by screening for different demographics.

I usually don't give you my honest opinion on your posts because you've got a little cranky at me for things I've said in the past. But I'm basking in the beauty of an indian summer this week and baseball playoffs are around the corner so life is good in my little world.

Stephen Hayes said...

Your post offers interesting insight into why people blog, and why readers leave comments. Most of my comments are for those who also leave comments on my blog. I just don't have time to read and leave comments with dozens of bloggers who never respond to my posts.

I never assume readers will be my friends for life; my goal has always been to entertain people with my writing. When I run out of ideas or people stop responding, I'll stop.

fiftyodd said...

Every word you write echoes my own feelings about blogging. I only have 53 followers and I only follow about 8 blogs myself (thinking of editing them down a bit). I follow yours as you are such a deep thinker and it is a challenge to my concentration to read your posts. I have been blogging for about ten years and today I am full of gloom because I can't think of anything meaningful to blog about any more. I used to write about my own eccentric parents - but now that they have passed away, I have to deal with becoming old and difficult myself. I am not quite there yet. I started my blog, meaning to entertain; these days I am feeling so morbid, I don't post very often, not wishing to depress people with the problems of my little life. However, I am very grateful for the kindness of those who occasionally comment - I have never had any abusive experience. I hope you won't delete me as a follower.

Snowbrush said...

“I think we've been at it for about eight years or so by now isn't it sweetie?”

I don’t know, but it has to be in the neighborhood of eight.

“And nothing would make me happier than to be able to come and visit you and Peggy and the mewers, and sit in the next room typing away to you as you made me a nice cup of tea.”

Let me get this straight. You’re from a place renowned for its love of tea, and I’m originally from Mississippi (where the tea is iced) any more recently from Oregon (where people are as likely to drink herbal tea as real tea, and that’s if they drink tea at all), yet you expect ME to make the tea! I was surprised last week to learn that most Brits now use tea bags and that there was a time when coffee reigned there and then tea took over. Personally, I can’t see going from coffee to tea, except when I’m sick and had as soon drink a cup of cat pee as a cup of coffee. As for the mewers, I do wish you could see Scully while she’s still little. She’s our first real jumper, and god can she jump. Even at six pounds, she can take down blind cords that Brewsky and Ollie never came close to reaching.

“You are loved from this quarter Snow Xxx”

Well good. I suppose that means it wasn’t you who just dropped from my “followers” list. Love you too, Sweetheart.

“I have been guilty of leaving the occasional "interesting" comment when I wanted to acknowledge the author but had nothing to add to a conversation.”

Oh, I do too, and most definitely left myself open to charges of hypocrisy on this post.

“Is it a statistical fact about older men committing suicide?”

The only group more like to commit suicide than white men over 65 is white men over 85. As for professions, doctors lead with women doctors being especially at risk. Whereas men are four time more likely to kill themselves than women, women doctors are four times more likely to kill themselves than men.

Snowbrush said...

“I understand some of the reasons people do decide to no longer live…”

Bad health and loss of a spouse rank high. For me, terrible and intractable pain or Alzheimers would probably do it.

“I like coming to read your thoughts on the variety of subjects you write about.”

Thank you. I certainly am all over the place.

“None of my face-to-face friends have ever been interested in my blog which I find slightly strange because if it were my friend, i would want to know what they had to say.”

I feel the same way. I suppose that non-writers simply don’t understand how important writing can be, so they think of it as something like a hobby that no one else need be interested in.

“The person who said you communicate in writing for the purposes of crafting an image just showed you what kind of a person they are. As my mother would say "he judges everyone by himself’”

Yes, this is true of us all, but it’s important to at least try to put oneself in anothers shoes. This same friend thinks I mistreat my cats by keeping them indoors, yet they’re obviously happy cats, so I can but conclude that his opinion is built around a fantasy of what cats are like.

Snowbrush said...

“I have found bloggers to be truer friends than people I know in my day to day life.”

It’s surely easier to avoid grating on people when we don’t see them in person. My goal in blogging is to share of myself and to learn of others, whereas my goal in face-to-face friendships is simply to get along, and this means keeping my mouth shut, not probing too deeply, trying to be pleasant no matter I feel, and so on. All that I really want from my face-to-face friendships is to enjoy pleasurable activities together and to have people who are there for me—and me for them—when some physical need arises (I’m really big on this because I don’t have family to turn to). Sharing depth is simply too much to expect because it’s beyond what most people want or are capable of. Of course, it could also be that I don’t do it well. I’m not an easy-going person, so the best that I can do is to stifle myself, but even that puts a strain on relationships.

“When I discovered the blogosphere a part of me felt I had come home.”

I did too, but we’ve both been at it long enough to discover its downsides. To begin with, it really is about reciprocity, which this means that my original belief that it would be a good way to share my writing with the masses was unrealistic. You receive more comments than anyone else I know, so if you really visit all of those people’s blogs, you have one hell of a lot of blogging friends, but you also spend one hell of a lot more time at the computer than I could survive. Like All Consuming, I only have so much to give, and in my case it means that I live in remorse that there are those who give more to me than I give to them, at least when it comes to visiting their blogs. When it comes to me commenting to them on my blog, I spent A LOT of time on that, and in many cases, don’t think that the people I’m writing to even read what I say to them. Certainly, the four of you who have commented on this post thus far (I’m surprised to see that three others commented while I was writing this, and they too are people with whom I can dialogue) come back and read my comments, but I wonder if it even makes sense to respond to the comments of a lot of people whom I really don’t think reads them. I think that it might be better if I just focused on those few of you whom I KNOW cares enough to come back, and whose blogs I visit without any feeling that I should MAKE myself visit them. This is already happening to some extent without me planning it, as can be seen by my ever dwindling number of commenters.

“In 'real' life my social world had diminished to the point it is virtually non-existent.”

I’m not quite there yet, but since I don’t make an effort to make new friends, I’m slowly getting there. It would be hard for me if I had NO ONE to share a walk or a dinner with. Although I’m an introvert, I regularly talk to neighbors and to strangers on the street or in stores, but I make no effort to make friends of them (and wouldn’t think that such an effort would be well-received anyway), although, in the case of neighbors, the older I get, the more determined I am to be on good terms with them because I’ve seen days when either I really needed their help or they really needed mine. Even if I had a million face-to-face friends, neighbors are physically closer.

Snowbrush said...

“I usually don't give you my honest opinion on your posts because you've got a little cranky at me for things I've said in the past.”

It’s easy to think I’m cranky when I don’t feel cranky, perhaps because I tend toward what might be taken for bluntness but is actually an enjoyment of the discussion. I can but say that I ALMOST never mean to attack anyone, and when I do mean to attack someone, it’s only after a long period of trying my best to get along. The last person I attacked was Joseph, the Christian from India who continued to tell me what horrible people atheists are even after I had spent hours and hours over at least a couple of months trying to tell him how I saw things. He never moved an inch in his certainty that atheists are by choice the worst people on earth, so when I finally gave up on him ever moving from his view that I should be imprisoned, if not tortured and killed, I held nothing back regarding how I saw him. Surely, it was an extraordinary situation because whereas I had previously been attacked by theists, he was the only such attacker who kept coming back, and it was this that made it so hard for me to lose hope in him. I thought that, surely, if I could humanize atheists in his mind, he would eventually see that there is no one kind of atheist anymore than there’s one kind of theist. He was, however, a very hard man whom, I fully believe, would have preferred me dead and would have done what he could legally to insure that I was dead. Furthermore, while I don’t KNOW that he would have killed me extralegally himself, I have no thought that he would have ever sat on a jury that would have condemned anyone who killed me extralegally. He came to personify to me the level of hatred that makes religious oppression—if not unrestrained violence—in his part of the world so commonplace, and I never trust but what it couldn’t happen here.

“I never assume readers will be my friends for life; my goal has always been to entertain people with my writing.“

I was aware of both. Your blog is a challenge to me because there is no link to your many commenters, and this makes it impossible for me to put a face on anyone or to experience the feeling of being a part of your blogging community. Also, I can’t comment directly on your blog because the page keeps reloading, yet when I paste a comment that I wrote in Word, it contains a lot of odd characters. I’ve always wondered if the first problem in particular is one that you prefer because you like the feeling of anonymity that it gives.

“today I am full of gloom because I can't think of anything meaningful to blog about any more…these days I am feeling so morbid, I don't post very often, not wishing to depress people with the problems of my little life.”

I don’t think you have the power to depress anyone, but you do have the power to strike a common chord with your readers by writing about your feelings of gloom—I would guess that a lot of aging people who kill themselves have similar feelings. I know I do, and they very much keep me awake at night. I fear that I won’t survive Peggy’s death; I fear that one of us will have a long and painful illness and demise; I fear that one of us will lose our memory; I can’t see the point in having lived; and I think it more likely that my life will get ever harder and more hopeless, yet I don’t seem able to get it together to make a determined effort to make things better for myself. I do write about such things as they occur to me, but I never labor over what to write, or consciously go looking for things to write about, or write so that people will give me sympathy (understanding, I want; sympathy, I do not). Sometimes, I too feel that I have run out of topics, but something always turns up.

“I hope you won't delete me as a follower.”

I like you too much to delete you, but I wouldn’t delete you even I didn’t like you because I want to keep you coming here. I value all of my regular commenters.

E. Rosewater said...

ok, here's what i really think.

it's time that you watched deadwood. i'm getting ready for my annual deadwood marathon and while joseph loves to spread the gospel of jesus christ, it's my life's mission to spread the gospel of al swearengen.

are you planning to see the new magnificent 7? maybe i'm old and set in my ways but i can't imagine any modern actors being as cool as james coburn, steve mcqueen, lee van cleef, charles bronson, yul brynner, robert vaughn etc.

G. B. Miller said...

Fascinating insight as to why someone would or would not binge/purge their reading list.

The last time I've purged my reading list was probably this past spring, when I finally gave up the ghost on about a dozen and a half blogs. Most of them were DOA, in that they either stopped being updated, or were abandoned, or were closed. I have purged a few who had torched my comments in the moderation queue (I would something from Blogger stating that my comments weren't being accepted by the blogger).

I enjoy all the people who comment/visit my blog, although in the past three years, the amount of people who had subscribed to my blog had dropped 99% (changed blogs in 2013 which directly affected the subscriber base). Normally I would say that blogging is cyclical, but in today's world, I believe its on a downhill run. Other types of social media have exploded in the past few years, so a lot of people find it easier to receive their slice of irrelevant on FB, Twitter or Instagram, than to read a blog.

Mim said...

I have made some lifelong friends on the blogs and keep in touch via Facebook or other social media but blogging was much more special in terms of telling truths. I knew more about people's thoughts, loves, issues - you don't get that on Facebook. Somehow - for me - times have changed and blogging got overwhelming in terms of time. I may not comment but usually read your posts - I'd be sad to lose you Snow. I'd think you died. Or that Peggy had and you were mourning. I'd worry and have no other way to get in touch with you. That's miserable.

Thanks for the interesting, thought provoking (as usual) post

hannah jane said...

At times it can be tough to continue blogging. I don't have a lot of traffic, a handful of blogs I love are unaware of my existence though I comment, and not many friends and family read my blog. However, my blog makes me happy. And when I feel discouraged I call my dad, who lives a few hours away, and he always knows exactly what’s going on in my life because he reads my blog. Occasionally I’ll get comments or emails that let me know that I’m not alone, that I’m a strand in this web of souls who continue to put themselves out there, and I know with certainty we should continue illuminating each other’s ponderings. I certainly can make more of an effort to reach out to others, to comment and offer a few words. Often I read or see something that I carry around with me for some time, not truly understanding how much it touched me until much later. I often don’t know how to put those feelings into words. I think we should continue to blog, to build this web, to read blogs that we like even if they never acknowledge our existence. I will never know the authors of the books I cherish most. And if I had a way to comment on how much their words mean to me, I would. Posts such as this one are the reason we continue to put ourselves out there. We are building a community with our stories and the faith that they matter.

Charles Gramlich said...

I know that my blog used to be quite a bit deeper than it is now. I've really gone through a downturn, mostly due to physical and mental exhaustion over a longgggg series of unfortunate events. Will the energy come back? I have no idea at present. But I don't want to quit blogging so I am "slogging" on, shallow as it may be.

Snowbrush said...

“it's time that you watched deadwood.”

I just put a library hold on the first season.

“are you planning to see the new magnificent 7?”

Probably not. The original is rated 8 on IMDB and the new one 7.2, and, lover of Westerns that I am, I don’t remember caring that much about the old one (it had too many lead actors for one thing). I’m still working my way through Gunsmoke, which is so heavily dramatic that I can’t believe it didn’t give me nightmares as a kid. I’m also watching The Fugitive series. I don’t know that a remake is EVER as good as the original—3:10 to Yuma being a good example of why they often fail. For one thing, I don’t want to see graphic violence because it distracts from the acting, as do special effects. If I never again saw anything with special effects (not counting cartoons), I would be just as happy. While it wasn’t a remake, another Western that failed for its graphic violence and its silly special effects was Deliverance. It contained a scene where a shotgun blew a man through the air and against a wall, the implication being that death by .12 gauge just isn’t that bad without being made into a fantasy.

“I have purged a few who had torched my comments in the moderation queue”

I don’t know if this has happened to me because I have never received such a statement. If it did happen, and it kept happening, I would respond as you did. I almost never disallow a comment, and when I do, it’s as likely to be because it’s irrelevant or meaningless as because it’s offensive, but again, I’m talking extreme cases because the last I want to do is to make anyone feel judged or unwanted.

“I'd be sad to lose you Snow. I'd think you died. Or that Peggy had and you were mourning. I'd worry and have no other way to get in touch with you. That's miserable.”

If you will put your contact information into a comment, I’ll save the information, send you my contact information, and delete the comment. If you don’t want to do this, Peggy and I are both friends with All Consuming, so she would be a good person for you to contact. Since she has her address on her profile page, I’m going to take the liberty of posting it here: thesmallgodsshallbemyjudge@gmail.com

More later…

Kranhu said...

I read your blog and the comments. The other blog I read is Sue'sEscape. I dont comment very often on either blog. I do not have a blog but I may have had to set one up to follow other bloggers.-Kris

rhymeswithplague said...

Deliverance was not a Western. Deliverance was written by a Georgian and set in the hills of North Georgia. I think it actually was filmed in North Carolina (but I'm not sure). But I understand what you mean.

As I slowly age I find that I am reading fewer blogs and responding to fewer blogs and writing fewer posts on my own blog. This in no way should imply that I am losing interest, only that I am losing energy. I have been blogging for nine years as of tomorrow; I don't remember how I discovered your blog or maybe it was you that discovered mine, but I sensed a kindred soul almost immediately even though I am one of those dreaded theists and you most certainly are not. Not a slam, just a statement of fact. The longer I read you the less kindred I think we are, but so far I have had no desire to stop reading. Please forgive me for not commenting more often. I can identify with your Mississippi years quite a lot since east Texas in those days was not that different. I've had a cat or two but I'm basically a dog person. I have even been a bird person. I would never be a snake person. I will stop now as I fear I am not making myself clear at all, not at all.

Snowbrush said...

“ I will never know the authors of the books I cherish most.”

I could respond to so much in your lovely, thoughtful, and beautifully written comment, but the above is what stood out most. Last October, I discovered a book by a writer whom I had not previously heard of and whose name was Margaret Deland (1857-1945) in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store. The book was “John Ward Preacher” and I saw so much of myself in it, and learned so much about the religious climate of the day (the 1880s) that I started seriously collecting her first-edition books and even her letters, photographs, postcards of her home, and so forth. I sought to draw near her through these things that she wrote and touched with her now dead hands, but she remains no less distant from me. But what if she were alive, would I try to meet her? Almost certainly not. Not knowing someone who means THAT much to me is painful, but I don’t imagine that I would be able to REALLY know even if she were alive, what with her living in Boston and Kennebunkport, Maine, and me in Oregon. Through her, I became acquainted with others, most notably her husband Lorin Deland and her Episcopal priest, Phillips Brooks. The integrity and compassion of these three people mean so much to me. For instance, I think of them against the backdrop of our current evil political climate, and I feel grounded and reminded that although evil often triumphs in this world, it’s not worth the price that people pay to achieve that triumph because, truly, it would be a better world had they never been born, and what greater failure could one know than to cause such misery that it makes of his or her life a tragic failure? I don’t mean to say that such people care about the price that others pay so that they might get what they want, but being devoid of ethics and compassion is failure enough no matter how one might feel about their lack thereof.

“I've really gone through a downturn, mostly due to physical and mental exhaustion over a longgggg series of unfortunate events.”

Charles, I am very sorry to hear this. Other than your wife’s still recent cancer, I had no idea that your life was so beset with problems, and I wish I could do something to encourage you. I’m ever aware that we both grew up in the Deep South, and that where you now live is only eighty miles from where I spent over half of my life. These things matter because I have so little of the South that is left to me. I truly hope you will soon see that light at the end of the tunnel. I think you are like I in that writing isn’t just something you do, but rather it’s a part of whom you are, so I never worry about you abandoning your blog.

“I do not have a blog but I may have had to set one up to follow other bloggers.-Kris”

Kris, I’m familiar with Sue’s Escape From Cancerland (http://suzannekesten2.blogspot.com/), and I’m always delighted when you comment on my blog. As for you setting up a blog, it’s quick and easy to do that on Blogspot without ever posting anything, although I wish you would.

Snowbrush said...

“Deliverance was not a Western.”

Thank you for the correction, and I mean this sincerely, profoundly, and with all other manner of redundant gratitude and unbridled gladness. I don’t know why so few people correct me when I’m utterly and obviously in the wrong, but I am so glad you do. I have NO idea why I wrote “Deliverance” because I meant “Unforgiven,” which was a much later Clint Eastwood movie in which Gene Hackman was a rogue lawman, and this reminds me of a far superior Western (One-Eyed Jacks) that had a rogue lawman, only in this case, the part was played by Karl Malden, and his co-star was Marlon Brando. Much of the movie was filmed on a California beach (in the area of Big Sur if I remember correctly). It is one of my favorites, and for anyone who likes Westerns, I would label it a must-see.

“I..don’t remember how I discovered your blog or maybe it was you that discovered mine, but I sensed a kindred soul almost immediately even though I am one of those dreaded theists and you most certainly are not… The longer I read you the less kindred I think we are…”

I feel lifted on high and then slammed to the ground. How can I think of you as a “dreaded theist” when I want so desperately to be a theist myself? Surely, you’re aware that I never lump all theists into one camp anymore than I lump all atheists into one camp. Some atheists are delightful people who live exemplary lives, and some theists are delightful people who live exemplary lives. As for the two of us, I have often been saddened that our friendship is not deeper, but I never imagine that you want it to be deeper, so all I can do is to accept your distance and appreciate you for what you do give, which is quite a lot. I am stumped by your use of the term “kindred souls” because I have no idea what it means. All I can imagine is that it refers to a state of spiritual twinship, but as to what that looks like, I have no idea. Right now, I’m plowing my way through a 1,500 page two-volume biography (circa 1900) of the Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks. Not many—if any—other atheists would read such a thing, but then not many theists would either. Would you, and does our abiding common interest in Christianity (an interest that has cost both of us, you because of your Judaism and me because of my wish to believe combined with my inability to believe), not of itself suggest a kinship despite our conclusions being so different? I remember you telling some Christian—I think it was Joseph—how close you felt to him because of your shared religion, the unintentional implication being that you could never feel equally close to me, but what is Joseph to you now? I am still here, and he is not, so could it not be that what you wanted of me was unrealistic, and that because of this, what you have of me is undervalued? As I understood you, you used to think that God was going to give me faith (you once said that you couldn’t understand why he had not already done so), and could it not be that the fact that it has yet to happen represent a challenge for you to reconcile with your vision of what God is like? You see him as the giver of faith to all of those whom sincerely ask for it, and you surely know that I have sincerely asked, yet it has not been given, so could it not be that my continuing existence as an atheist is threatening to your own faith, and it is for this reason that you have withdrawn much of your earlier regard?

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, I have not "withdrawn much of my earlier regard" -- not at all. If anything, I probably have greater regard for you now than I did way back when. You are not a "project" to me, you are a flesh-and-blood human being with all the idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies and contradictions that are part of the package called living, just as I am. You are spot on about a kinship despite our conclusions being so different. I do not think that I undervalue you, I certainly don't want to, and I apologize for leaving that implication; it was completely unintentional. I don't remember saying what you said I said but since you say I did I must have said it or something very similar, and I apologize for that as well. I do not feel that your being an atheist threatens my faith any more than my being a theist threatens you. I do not feel that we are adversaries and don't want our cyber friendship ever to become adversarial.

lotta joy said...

Blogging friends can be life savers: literally. As All Consuming said, I had the closest relationship of my life with Sandi (Quirkyloon) for over 8 years. I loved sending her things to help in her struggle with cancer. When I found out she was forcing herself to sit at an old desktop computer, I called her local Staples and they sent her a laptop to use in bed. Then a Kindle as her strength left.

On the day she died, she called ME instead of her husband or her local friends. Why? I assume she was half out of her mind, but she truly LOVED me. Her phone call was of her screaming in pain and I used another phone to contact the Mesa, Arizona ambulance. I don't know now how I managed since I'm not that smart or swift thinking.

When her husband called me later (she had ordered him to "call Dana") to tell me she had died, I did not react.

Joe cried. I said "Shit happens" and he looked at me oddly. I was stoic. I was a rock. MY HAIR FELL OUT AND I WAS BALD FOR A YEAR. I took the normal emotions and pushed them down, alive, and they ate themselves outward.

I still suffer over her and her face is on my desktop.

I don't comment here much. I don't comment anywhere unless it can be half a sentence because I am SO exhausted and nearly too tired to breathe. None of this is mentioned on my blog because if anyone cares, we email.

When I can no longer make a post out of "some" of my real life, I leave for a while til I feel better.

I have no idea how long I've been at your blog, but lately the exhaustion is at the helm.

Strayer said...

Your blog contains deep thought and vulnerability and honesty of what you really think and feel. I asked my nephew to read it, to gain some perspective on his radical beliefs, another view, but I've never seen any indication that he has done so. When I read some of your posts, I cheer out loud here, in my little "exclusion room", where my computer is, that someone has said the unspeakable out loud, in a public forum. Few have such courage. Although we in America are alleged to possess freedom of speech, not many of us feel that free, to do what you do, especially when it comes to religion. There can be retribution or shunning of those who do not believe. I do not have your courage. I admire you. I am afraid of you on one level, because you are so much smarter than I am and logical and think before you write. I love your posts and your courage and your intellect.

MFH said...

You say you want understanding, not sympathy, but how about both? My memory has never been good and I've never had many friends. I write letters to everyone (I can count 'em on one hand) now and then, but the blog is my only reliable source of my personal history.


I have zero followers and only noticed it a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad there aren't more comments as I am extremely busy living and have little time to respond. Sometimes I'd like to say more to folks, but my views are so eclectic (eccentric?) it's rarely productive. Hope springeth eternal that a female will read it (my blog) and, like Christine and Gunther Holtorf (see blogpost for 9/23) be interested enough to want to meet for coffee, tea, or, may the gods smile someday, me!


I'm a cat person and was, four weeks ago, adopted by a kitten who found me at the end of a 4WD road in the California Redwoods. I found your blog in the list on Squishy Tulips blog. I don't know why I clicked on it, but my next post will touch on some points you make in this one. As a fan of Carl Jung, I attribute the coincidence to "his" collective unconscious. I don't think we can know the effects our butterfly wings may have. I DO know when the time comes I'll check out swiftly, quietly and, hopefully, having had the chance to say I love you to everyone. But the time is not yet here. (I say it often anyway, just in case.)

I have no goals and no rhyme or reason to my travels but I see meaning everywhere. Smith and I finding each other definitely added a new dimension. The death of my "mother-in-law" last November, after 3 and a half years of Alzheimer's, was a major transition for us all. My two partners here in Albuq continue to grow closer and help each other which, as I've stayed away more and more, has been heartening. (There are two others, one in Berkeley and one in the Yukon.)

This comment is more about me than you. No one else cited their lousy memory or narcissism so this is (yet another) example of lack of self restraint and/or discipline. But I enjoyed this post and am eager to read the one about cats. But given my memory and the fact that I don't FOLLOW any blogs this may be the only communication you'll receive. And with all that: I hope your remaining years are as fulfilling as they can be and that --- are you ready for the joke? --- you won't suffer from E.D.

And now to The Cats!!

Wiedersehen!

Wahnfried der Nomad

LindaRe said...

If it was not for preserving my family's history, I would have stopped blogging or never started. I make few comments, too tired from taking care of husband on kidney dialysis and a daughter with schizophrenia. I read and comment when my mind and time allows.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I started blogging 8 years ago, though I had kept a short one when I lived in Italy for 2 months shortly before, because I got cancer. Many of the bloggers I kept up with were going through the same thing so it was a good source of support. Sadly many of them have since died; the others have recovered and moved on. I haven't weeded through them in case someone were to report that they are still alive instead of dead as I suspect.

So cancer is no longer my biggest worry (dealing with an adult child who may never grow up is by far my biggest worry but I can't speak much of that on my blog as I do agree it is an invasion of her privacy) I no longer post daily but do at least twice a week. I do it as some sort of diary. I do like to share pretty things I see and share photos of grandbabies as I have plenty of family that don't live near me and want to keep updated.

I do wish I was such an eloquent writer as you Snowbrush. I admire your ability to organize your thoughts and express them cogently. As a scientist, I did have to write articles but it demanded a completely different style. Do I agree with everything you say? Nope but I do try to see things from your point of view. I loved reading your struggles growing up in a racist environment and how you came to grips with that.

Snowbrush said...

“I probably have greater regard for you now than I did way back when.”

What changed—was it simply the passage of time and the continuation of our learning about one another? In my mind, the mere fact that a friendship has endured the years causes me to put more faith in it. Even if I’m only too aware of its limitations, I know that if it has lasted this long, then it’s likely to last until one of us dies.

“I do not feel that your being an atheist threatens my faith any more than my being a theist threatens you.”

I had thought that you regarded me—at times—not so much as representing a threat to your faith through what I had to say, but as someone who wanted to be a threat to your faith—a licensed salesman for hellfire as it were. I never so flattered myself because no one as old as you and I (you being a bit older, I know) is likely to change his beliefs unless that change comes from within. For instance, if God appeared to me personally, I would have to ask myself if it was real or an hallucination; and if you endured the kind of losses that Job did, you would have to ask yourself if you still believed in a good and just God. I do very much wonder if the faith of older people tends to looks different from within in compared to the faith of the young. For example, it must surely become harder to believe in a literal heaven after decades of seeing people die, often in such tragic, unexpected, and seemingly pointless ways.

“I don't comment here much.”

I’ve noticed, and I’ve also noticed that this relative absence goes both ways, but it would be wrong of you to think that you’re not in my thoughts because you’re in them everyday. I would like it if you, AllCon, and various others have an agreement to spread the word if something happened to any of us because we don’t stay in such frequent touch that a week couldn’t pass before we got the news of, for example, one of us having to be unexpectedly hospitalized.

“I have no idea how long I've been at your blog”

I’m satisfied just with knowing that it has been a long time. I do wonder how it was that we met, but you surely don’t remember either.

“Although we in America are alleged to possess freedom of speech, not many of us feel that free, to do what you do, especially when it comes to religion.”

I have never felt seriously threatened, and am always aware that many people are far, far braver than I, and that such people often speak out in the full knowledge that they’re are going to suffer socially and economically for doing so, including being cursed, ostracized, possibly spit upon, having their property vandalized, receiving harassing phone calls, being abandoned by people they thought they could trust, and so forth. And this is in America! In much of the world, they would face not only death but a brutal death by burning, hanging, or mutilation. I give myself no credit for the little bit of courage that it takes to write as I do on this blog, and I have no thought that I would risk my life to criticize religion. One subject I’ve stayed away from was directly criticizing Islamic terrorism. Once I even had a post written, but when Peggy read it—she often reads my posts for errors before I put them online—she asked me to not publish it because she was afraid of being physically harmed. That was the only time she asked me to avoid a subject. If she had simply disapproved of something I wrote, I would have probably put it online away if I thought it appropriate after she and I had talked the matter over thoroughly, but I’m not going to knowingly put her in physical danger (how could I when a major goal of my life is protecting her)… I so appreciate your kind comment. I am inspired by your goodness, and I think about you daily with gratitude for the sacrifices you make in order to help cats. Speaking of courage, of the two of us, you are the only one who knowingly puts herself at risk by regularly dealing with nutty people, some of them druggies.

More later...

Snowbrush said...

“You say you want understanding, not sympathy, but how about both?”

It comes down to how one defines sympathy. As I use the word, it means pity, and I think of pity as a condescending emotion that puts a wedge between people. It’s as if the pitier is saying, “I am so very glad that I am NOT you!” Like when we hear about someone having pancreatic cancer or Alzheimers, and we feel almost happy because it’s happening to that person over there when it could just as easily have happened to us over here. It’s as if we’re on a safe and pleasant island and looking across shark-infested waters at a non-swimmer who is on an island with no food or water but a lot of mosquitoes. By giving people love and empathy instead of pity, we’re able to draw closer because we don’t experience the self-congratulation that, as I see it, is an inseparable part of pity, and that makes true empathy impossible. I don’t mean to split hairs about this because I assume that pity CAN lead to loving kindness (as when we see children starving to death in Africa), but when it comes to a friendship in which loving kindness already exists, I see pity as undesirable. When we experience compassion, we feel good about whom we are and we start looking for ways to help the other person, but when we experience pity, we feel crummy, and when we feel crummy, we tend to withdraw, emotionally if not physically. When someone looks at me with pity, I just want to slap them.

“I DO know when the time comes I'll check out swiftly, quietly and, hopefully, having had the chance to say I love you to everyone. But the time is not yet here. (I say it often anyway, just in case.)”

I think it amounts to a rehearsal, the goal of which is to prepare us (for I do it too) to go through with an act by which every fiber of our being is normally repulsed. I don’t know that anyone ever wants to kill himself, rather that he so desperately wants to escape his suffering that he is willing to kill himself.

“My two partners here in Albuq continue to grow closer and help each other which, as I've stayed away more and more, has been heartening. (There are two others, one in Berkeley and one in the Yukon.)”

Are you, then, polyfidelitous? Peggy and I were in a group marriage for two years, but have no interest in that sort of thing now. It’s really a marvel that we’re still together. As for you, I wonder what needs your relationships are built upon because they sound as if they’re structurally limited as to deep commitment and deep intimacy… I just remember the old Ricky Nelson song “Traveling Man,” one that I loved when I was a kid. At the time, I thought that, yeah, that’s EXACTLY how I want to live when I grow-up.

“I enjoyed this post and am eager to read the one about cats.”

It was the post before this post, and I appear to have accidentally deleted it—either that or I accidentally saved it as a draft (I’ll have to look). However, I have another one in the works.

“This comment is more about me than you.”

I have no problem with that.

“And with all that: I hope your remaining years are as fulfilling as they can be and that --- are you ready for the joke? --- you won't suffer from E.D.”

I don’t, but neither would I care if I did. The obsession that controlled so much of my life and got me into so much trouble is happily gone, and I can but say good riddance.

More later.

Snowbrush said...

“If it was not for preserving my family's history, I would have stopped blogging or never started”

Obviously, I’m glad you did. I spent 37 years in Mississippi, but you’re the only person there who I’m a blogger friend with, and I have every hope that you and I will continue to be friends. If the only comments you ever left here read, “LindaRe was here,” I would still be thrilled because my motivation to stay in touch with you is considerable. Did you happen to get that book “Devil’s Sanctuary An Eyewitness History of Mississippi Hate Crimes”? By golly, but that was a good read, but when I finished it, I thought to myself that I really needed a break from such things. It’s hard for me to stay upbeat about life anyway, so to spend a few months absorbed by the injustice and barbarism that prevailed in the place I grew up got to be overwhelming.

Oops, I’ve got to go. More later…

Snowbrush said...

“dealing with an adult child who may never grow up is by far my biggest worry but I can't speak much of that on my blog as I do agree it is an invasion of her privacy”

That’s tough. Fortunately, I have rarely run into needing to hold back on what I write about, although I try to exercise what I would call reasonable respect and restraint. I’ve been amazed by how many people almost never write about their spouses and only then to make some brief and superficial reference. This has led me to wonder how many non-blogging spouses put themselves off limits versus how many blogging spouses just don’t want to write about their mates. Do the latter just not find their spouses that interesting; are they afraid they’ll get in trouble; are they secretive by nature? I obviously make reference Peggy all the time. She might even appear in more posts than not, and she has never—that I can recall—objected. This doesn’t mean that I feel free to put her whole life online because I most certainly do not, but then I don’t my whole life online either. But to not refer to her at all!? I can’t imagine not writing about my spouse.

“I loved reading your struggles growing up in a racist environment and how you came to grips with that.”

I find the frequent police shootings that we are hearing about to be a challenge to my desire to feel racial harmony because no matter what the national media says, I would just guess that whites and blacks are very polarized on how they view these shootings. Yet, in the minds of many, if a given person doesn’t automatically assume that any cop who shoots a black man was a racist murderer (even when that cop was himself black) that person is also a racist. It’s a PR sort of thing in which a person either goes along with the prevailing sentiment of those who regard themselves as the spokespeople of all that is good, or he becomes an object of scorn for his supposed bigotry. I view these demonstrations as having but little to do with justice for blacks but rather of hatred for those whose jobs it is to protect us from criminals. No matter how hard they try, the only way a cop can get it right when it comes to dealing with black miscreants is to put himself at risk of being shot. Cops are civilization’s first line of defense against criminality, so to consistently assume that, no matter the circumstances, they could have avoided violence is absurd. For instance, when stupid parents present their children with guns that look real, and their children then point these guns at cops, cops are supposed to somehow know that they’re not really in danger. Or, when a black man acts like he has a gun, assumes a shooter position, yanks something from his pocket and points it at a cop, the cop is supposed to know that the man is insane and that what he’s pointing isn’t really a gun. It’s all just too stupid for words.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I have very few real life friends who read my blog either. I have met a few readers - whose blogs I read - and adore them just as much as I did before I met them. It's been very rewarding in many ways. But I've had to let some of my blogs die for the sake of making a living. I never seem to find a job that doesn't take up 12 - 15 hours of my day and my new one is no exception! Who knew teachers worked such hours?

E. Rosewater said...

i started deadwood last night and the first episode definitely drags a bit. i find it essential to have good sound.

Snowbrush said...

“i started deadwood last night and the first episode definitely drags a bit.”

I’ve watched seven episodes thus far, but I’m sad to say that don’t enjoy it as much as you. The only true serial I ever got into was Northern Exposure. I find that I don't tend to care for shows about which I feel lost unless I saw the previous episodes.

billy pilgrim said...

well, 7 episodes is a pretty good sample. like i've said before, having good 5.1 sound is essential for me.

i have another recommendation for you, the detectorists.

Snowbrush said...

"I have another recommendation for you, the detectorists."

Is it a serial, and does it have a lot of profanity, sex, violence, and/or modern music? I rarely watch anything that's less than 40-years old, and most of what I watch is a good bit older than that; my reason being that the greater the effort to spice-up a plot, the more the plot is weakened. For instance, with Deadwood, I keep seeing females butts and chests, and would wonder why, if the purpose of this wasn’t adolescent titilliation, there were no male butts, at least, shown (not that I want to see male butts either). Then there was the unrealistic violence that started the series. A man can drop several feet without his neck being reliably broken, yet the first victim of the series had his neck broken by someone one-handedly pulling on it. Later in the series, someone used the word motel and, on another occasion Geek, words that I wouldn’t expect to hear from the 1880s. I’m very much of the Psycho school in which if you have to show everything, you’re weakening your movie. I also want realism as to set and costume, which is part of why I prefer the old stuff. Drama isn’t what it used to be, and my main interests are in drama and realism.

Vagabonde said...

I enjoyed your post on blogging. I have read your blog for several years and have not commented often. Actually I don’t comment that often anymore – the reason: my husband has Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosed in 2009) and I am his only caregiver 24/7 (with no outside help from anyone, friend or family) so it does not let me have much time on my own. I can’t leave him alone and he wakes me up often during the night, so it is exhausting, physically and mentally.

I still write posts, not as often as I used too, and it usually takes me a week to 10 days to write one, as I write it slowly at night. I started blogging at the urging of my daughter to talk about my growing up in Paris, and I have written on it, but now it takes too long to look for photographs so I have been blogging on recent events. I will go and read blogs because since we have no friends around and I have no one to talk to (can be weeks before I talk to a soul, who makes sense,) it is like going to visit friends. I’ll try to answer bloggers who come to my blogs and if I go to a new blog and comment at least 3 times and they never answer or come to mine I stop commenting. I may still go and read theirs if it is interesting but I feel that it they don’t come then they are not interested in a “blog” friendship and to extend their views to me and others. I enjoy reading your blog because I find it very sincere. I don’t think I could be like you but then again, I feel if I were, people would stop coming to my blog because they would feel that I should not say things like this since I was not born here (I was told that many times, even though I have lived in this country since the 1960s.) As long as a person has an accent in the US, they are not considered “real” Americans. Well, at least in Georgia. So, on my blog I don’t have an accent. You would be surprised how often I am asked where I come from [weekly] (grocery stores, at the doctors, etc.) and it reminds me that I am an “alien” even though I am a US citizen. So blogging contacts are better for me.
I enjoy reading about your cats. I am a cat person and always had cats. Right now we have two. I’ll continue reading your blog, but I may not be able to comment very often, unfortunately.

John said...

Read your post about blogging with great interest. I am fairly new to blogging and reading other blogs is definitely helping me to refine and define my own style, but this post of yours throws up a lot of questions about why anyone would blog in the first place. Regarding how much of the real you one should divulge, that is something I am currently wrestling with.

Snowbrush said...

"Regarding how much of the real you one should divulge, that is something I am currently wrestling with."

I'm careful what I write about others; I don't write anything that could ever cause me legal troubles; and my wife has asked me to tread carefully around Islam. I never assume that anything I write might not be read by someone whom I had rather not read it, and that this might remain true even if I delete it. If I feel passionate about what I am writing, I take it as a good sign, but if I question that I really want to write about something, then I don't write it.