I am in need of a book on blogging etiquette. Ever since I started reading blogs I have had a niggling worry that I may be doing the wrong thing.
At first, it was quite shocking to realise that most bloggers were sharing extremely personal information with me. But were they? After all, I had only discovered their blogs by mere happenstance, and I had never commented, so they actually had no idea that I was there. Was I not being the internet equivalent of the nosy neighbour who leans against her wall with a cup so as to better hear her neighbours' conversations? Well, not really, because a person doesn't publish a blog so as to keep secrets. If the blogger wanted to keep a PRIVATE journal he or she would surely use a pen and a notepad and leave it at that. These thoughts circled around in my head for quite a while.
As I continued my blog-reading I came across the term "lurker", which immediately confirmed my worst suspicion about my behaviour. I was definitely doing something wrong. It was at this point that I began making a few comments, here and there, as anonymous, and then later as Eleanor. Of course, that really served only to complicate my ethical dilemma, for commenting is not as simple as it seems.
The easiest (and most fun) comments are those you can write in response to blogs which are witty, funny and light; you try to match the tone, add an eccentricity of your own, and often get a giggle at the end. The hardest comments are those which you feel you'd like to make to bloggers who describe very, very personal, difficult, heartbreaking problems. More often than not, I simply bow out of the comments box because of the fear that anything I write has the potential to make the blogger's situation even worse. After all, I really do not know the blogger, so I cannot even begin to know how they might interpret my words, or what they might need to hear in their moment of greatest need.
I have now started my own blog, which has certainly not simplified the ethical gobbledygook flying around in my head. Now I have people commenting on my blog. Well, only three so far, but hey, for all I know there may be a few lurking around as well. I would really like to pick up that blogging etiquette book right now, and find in the index section: "Comments, responding to comments on one's blog".
It's a very strange, new world I have entered. I just wish that I had a lovely, elderly aunt who would advise me on my blogging manners. I would like to visit her in her little country cottage, and I would like her to say "oh no, darling, it's quite well known in blog circles that a comment box is not a dialogue box. You must embrace the beauty of the comments received, and move on to the next post. That is the way it is done." Then she would pour our tea, and we would quietly sit and sip together. I would look up from my china tea-cup, as would she, and we would share a little smile, and she would nod lovingly.