Jan 232008

I don’t know if it can be done but I may have to try. Of course I’m reading too many blogs. In fact I have subscribed to that many that there are a lot of posts on these blogs that I’m not reading at all. Sometimes I just look at them in my feed reader, think, “Oh good, nothing interesting!” and click off to the next one.

I started subscribing to more and more craft blogs, nice pictures and not much text. Beautiful pictures to look at. In an attempt to cope with the sheer quantity of new blog posts every day I have sorted them into folders (you can see that on my blogroll). The distinction between “most favorite” and “very favorite” actually should read “blogs by people whom I really like and regularly comment on” versus “blogs I really like but usually don’t comment on any more because I don’t want to spend the better part of my day tending to my feed reader”.

Since I’m so overwhelmed the mere number of posts per week can be enough to move your blog from “to comment on”- to “not commenting on”-status. There are blogs that I love, bloggers whose comments on other people’s blogs (and mine) I love but I just can’t keep up with them. And so I scan most of their posts, read some, others more deeply, and rarely let them know how I think about any of them.

Of course I have become quite hesitant in adding new blogs to my list, and quite ruthless in throwing blogs out.

I remember when Mad stopped posting in August I felt sad but also relieved a bit. Her posts are so thoughtful and interesting that I felt I wanted to do each of them justice but I couldn’t do that every day. And when she came back I was happy, and even happier when she only posted two or three times a week. Of course, part of the problem is that I tend to like blogs with longer, more thoughtful posts.

Another part of the problem is that almost all of my social life happens through the computer. I have very few real-life friends, most of them live quite a distance away, and over the years with not much contact (because we all live very busy lives) I have the feeling that we have been drifting apart. Having been friends since university is not enough for that friendship to last for decades. Maybe we will get closer again, I don’t know, but for now the people I feel close to – apart from my husband and son – are people that I have never seen in real life. I’m only reading their words.

And while I love to get to know people mainly through their thoughts, something that is very unusual in real life, this kind of friendship does have severe limitations. Writing “((HUGS!!))” is not the same as a real hug. Though right now I’d rather have a virtual hug than none. On the other hand I’m living my life bound to my computer by invisible strands. I think it was Bubandpie who wrote that we maybe are drawn towards these “virtual” friendships because we are on some level not willing to commit to the real thing. On the other hand the feelings of friendship are real, and so is the friendship. It’s only very vulnerable.

As for me, I have the feeling that I really tried to find new friends around me, where I live, and still do try but I didn’t find any. (As for statistics, there were five women I tried to get to know better over the past five years. I suggested going out for coffee to all of them, one of them came to my house once, and that was it.) In this mommyblogger scene, on the other hand, there are so many interesting people writing interesting blogs that I don’t know where to start reading.

I was very relieved when Julie wrote that she is reading here often but never comments because that told me I’m not the only one. And I guess that she’s reading a lot of blogs since I see her comments everywhere and I liked them so much that I go over to her blog on a regular basis, contemplate subscribing, and then shy off. Because how could I read that without wanting to add to the discussion? And how could I add one more “blog to comment on” to my blogroll without feeling drowned in obligations?

So, it is time for the regular weeding of the blogroll. And it’s weird because every time I throw a blog out I’m sad and mostly, a few weeks later, I don’t think about it again. If I do though I will add it back.

So, I’m trying to read blogs mindfully. I won’t be commenting much. In fact, I haven’t commented much these past weeks. I even didn’t comment on De‘s last post which is unheard of. And I didn’t do it because the post wasn’t comment-worthy, I didn’t because I don’t feel like writing much these days. Also I was late as usual. It’s harder to find something to say when there have been a dozen people before you saying something.

Mad recently asked if we had any blogging rules. I seem to be in about the same spot as she (as her? sometimes English grammar eludes me). Here are mine:

  • The computer gets turned off in the evenings at about seven o’clock. It can only be turned on again in case of dire emergencies such as “but I haven’t posted in a week and a half!”
  • I won’t open a blog post unless I am in a situation where I can read it.
  • When I want to comment on a blog post I have to do it right away. When this isn’t possible I can mark it as unread only twice. After that it is done.
  • No blog reading before breakfast. (That’s the one I’m breaking very often.)
  • On weekends I get to read blogs and write posts on one day only. On the other day time has to be spent with my real-life family. Even if this means sitting next to them knitting while they watch soccer.
  • I am under no obligation to read everything.
  • When I’m away, I’m away. I don’t have to catch up on my blog reading afterwards.
  • The world won’t end when I haven’t posted in a while.
  • When I’m sitting in front of my computer and a real person enters the room I will either say, “Not now, I will be getting to you when this is finished.” and then get up from the computer to talk to that person within the next twenty minutes. Or I will turn around and focus my attention on said person.
  • When I spend an afternoon in front of the computer on weekends and such I will get up and look what the other family members are doing on a regular basis. Like every thirty minutes or so. For this I will set a timer. After it rings I won’t continue to sit in front of the computer for more than five minutes.

These are mostly blog reading rules. I also have a set of rules for blogging. Such as not showing pictures of my son, keeping him anonymous, only writing things about people that I wouldn’t mind them reading. Well, not much, anyway, I still haven’t told my parents about this and I didn’t give any student the url. And I have a mission statement! See.

Do you think there is such a thing as mindful blog-reading? My husband says that he couldn’t even keep up with all of the four blogs he was reading. He certainly is a mindful blog reader because I think he never forgets anything anybody ever wrote. While I, insatiable as ever, attempt mindfulness with about a hundred blogs. I’m really thankful that not everybody is posting every day, though.

  14 Responses to “mindful blog-reading”

  1. There are SO many blogs and so much great stuff that it’s hard to keep up with it all. I understand. Plus i don’t work and have lots of time for it too. I can’t imagine how working people and parents do it.

    I am thankful when people don’t post every day. I guess i try to do more mindful blog posting than mindful blog reading.

    Also, i am much less likely to comment on a blog if it has word verification.

  2. It is soooo hard to do mindful blog reading, not to mention mindful blog posting. So very hard, because, like you say, there are so many great blogs that I subscribe to, not to mention all the great blogs that I don’t subscribe to but pop into once in a while. So I completely understand your rules.

    Mine are kind of the opposite: my boys play together nicely when we first get up, so I log on for a bit to check emails, news, comments, etc. And nap time can be computer time for a bit… and I like to surf in the evenings, my primary reading time. ButI just do what I can… I don’t always comment, but I do try to check in to see how everyone I really like is doing. But I don’t feel bad if I just have to clear out the reader and start over… life happens, and I don’t want to miss that either.

    And one of these days, I am going to make it to Munich and we are going to have tea/coffee. Maybe even twice! We just have to sort out the job/money/what to do with the wee ones thing…



    I sit here, sleeping toddler on my lap. I have run school runs (or biked, rather), done two loads of laundry, some work, emergency babysat a friend’s child in a, well, emergency, tried to resolve two false charges on my credit card and you know that’s two hours right there, gone through homework with elder, entertained younger, read books with kids, supervised snack and now am preparing to meet friends to go see 27 Dresses. Oh yeah unpacked CSA delivery and did dishes. Changed out sheets on bed. Dusted living room. Did exercises.

    Is that a lot?

    Oh yeah.

    And wrote a Hump Day Hmm, read and commented to all contributors, and visited the blogs of each kind person (70 something) who gave me well wishes about my dog.

    Mindful blogging?

    Beyond necessary.

    I do not know how this compares. I keep my reader at ~ 100 blogs. I dedicate 10-20% of those to professional blogs in my career. That means publishing and writing and editing tidbits. These are read and note take blogs more than comment. The rest are blog buddies. I can maybe comment to half of them?

    So that’s a lot. To me. But a mere fraction.

    Some days I skip the reader and just do read and comment from last blog post commenters, such as today. I generally comment when very compelled or to people I have a “buddy” thing with.

    I hope this doesn’t sound mean.

    I just have to keep it manageable. I see wonderful bloggers, see them commenting, see us crossing paths in the same places, making interesting comments. But my life? Time is tight.

    I do subscribe to your blog and read in reader. I’m sorry I don’t comment much.

    Then there are other factors too.

    I am also conscious of worry of “reciprocal obligation.” KWIM?

    I realize I am long and thinky (source cite: this comment and my own blog) and will ramble on and on at a good post. That’s time for all.

    So I assign ridiculous and arbitrary rules to suit what I need, such as “no commenting past 20 unless Very Good Reason to Do So. never past 50, preferably Top 10.”

    See? Silly. But it is a parameter.

    I adore comments. I am wowed when I get 20, more is…wowwowow. I love being fed in comments.

    But I also appreciate chances just to read.

    So I’m glad I relieved you and I think your approach is wise. But I also like to let people know their words go somewhere and are valuable.

    So consider yourself told. 🙂

    (P.S. It is “she.” Imagine verb after: “her is” sounds awkward and wrong. “She is” sounds proper.)

  4. oh, amen. i have been feeling entirely overwhelmed lately. i have been reading way more than commenting, trying to find some balance. i like your rules.

  5. My only rule is to try not freak out too frequently about blogging. I don’t follow it well.

  6. “She” is correct, but “her” is more colloquial (in conversation very few people would use the correct “she” in that sentence).

  7. This is a great topic! I feel very erratic with my reading. And I almost feel an obligation to comment after I read a post, because I know how much thought and time goes into each blog post. It is a dilemma. But, BOY can it be an addiction…

  8. by freak out, I mean worry about what people thing of “me” based on what they read on my blog, which is certainly not the best it could be, but I can’t do more with it without sacrificing other areas. Worry why I cannot compete with others and come out better. Worry if it’s worth spending more time. Worry that I’m reading the “right” blogs. Worry if I’ve offended someone. Worry if there is a reason someone is no longer commenting.

  9. and the friendship topic:

    I vacillate whether it’s true that an unwillingness to commit to “real” relationships is what makes online friends appealing. It’s much more layered and complex than that, as I’m sure B&P’s post was (I read it, but it was quite a while ago, and I’m not that mindful).

    It’s certainly real enough that it’s part of the stress of blogging for me. This sense of “where do I fit in this person’s world,” if at all? How important is this person to me and how do I measure up? Are we anywhere near equal? Does it hurt or bother me when someone else doesn’t return an interest at all (never reciprocates), or stops commenting after having been a commenter, or reads so many blogs that their comments feel at once too weighty yet transitory.

    And obviously I’m not the only one who feels something like this, so I have to worry then about my own commenting patterns.

    Oh, but this is supposed to be fun.

  10. ># I am under no obligation to read everything.
    # When I’m away, I’m away. I don’t have to catch up on my blog reading afterwards.
    # The world won’t end when I haven’t posted in a while.<

    Don’t these three rules solve all your blogging problems? 😛

    Plus, I think virtual friendship is completely equal to physical friendship. My own friends are mostly gathered from the net, dammit. That’s just a new social phenomenon, a consequence of the virtual net of communication woven all over this planet. Think of it as sci-fi.
    But if you need actual friends around yourself, get together with at least the german ones, meet once a year somewhere, declare it as holidays. It’s terrible when friendships break just because you don’t see each other anymore.

  11. I’ve also been struggling with this one. It is now 10:30 in the evening, I am tired and sick of my computer yet I keep on thinking just one more blog.


  12. I often wish I had more time to read blogs. Work used to be slow so I could do it there but then I realized that my boss was probably seeing everywhere that I went online and things got very busy and now I only get to read blogs at home after everyone is in bed. Often the newspaper on the couch wins the battle for my time and no blogs get read for weeks.

    I feel bad about not commenting – a lot of times I get interrupted and have no time to comment on a post I really enjoyed. Sometimes I am just slamming through and feel like I’m so late that everything has been said already.

    But I love my commenters, and they make me feel happy, so I read their blogs. And I try to comment. Me me me.

  13. Su,
    I think these are great rules. Mine are slightly different. I blog weekday evenings: 3 to write and read a wee bit. Two to read exclusively. I try to comment as much as I can but I am less religious about getting to posts the day they are published. I usually make the rounds through my blog roll about once every 2-3 weeks and when I do I back-read quite a bite. That’s why people sometimes get 2 or 3 comments from me at once. I have an extremely small handful of bloggers (mainly people I have met in real life) that I give myself permission to read their every post no matter where or when but as I say, I keep that # of bloggers to an extremely small handful (5-ish).

    I know I posted a bit more frequently in Jan, but my goal is and remains to write only 3 posts a week and only 2 of them can be long, thoughtful pieces. I do that as much for my own sanity as for everyone else’s.

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