Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Friends and Bloggers

3kids.jpg
(not a photo of anyone I know!)

The relationships you begin to develop with fellow bloggers reminds me a lot of those you have with "real" friends.  With some people, you grow closer.  With others, you lose touch completely or simply grow apart.

I’ve always considered my friendships important.  When I got married, I lost a few friends.  This was very upsetting to me, although I understand that it is a normal occurence when a couple falls in love.   Suddenly, there’s a new person mixing it up with your buddies.  And this person is not just a "another buddy."  This person gets a lot more of your time than a usual friend.   Think of Yoko Ono and the Beatles. 

Is there an equivalent to this in blogging relationships?  Recently, my blogging-friend Modigli moved from Cleveland to San Diego to be with her new boyfriend, another blogger named Dating Dummy.  This posed a problem for me.   Do I need to become the blog-friend of her boyfriend?  Should I say hello in his comments so he knows I exist — or does that make me look like I’m butting in?  What if her boyfriend hates my blog?  Will Modigli abandon me as well?  What is the proper online etiquette, Emily Blogpost?

(Look, I know this sounds a bit neurotic.  But give me some slack.  I’m an emotional Pisces).

I consider myself "sort of" friends with some of you.   But lately, I’ve been wondering if becoming too friendly is bad for your blogging. 

One of my first blog crushes was with Brooke.  Every day, I would write a flirtatious, sexy comment on her blog.  Then, a month ago, she invited me to IM with her.  You can imagine how excited I was to do this.  But you know what? … something terrible happened — we became friends, which completely de-fanged me as a sexy stud.  We talked about family and work and blogging.   After all that, talking about her boobs just seemed sleazy, even for me.   She’s a really nice woman — and a dedicated teacher.  Getting to know her turned me from guy in heat to the "gay friend" who she feels comfortable with to gossip and talk about her new shoes. 

So much for friendship! 

Now when I write a comment on her blog, I’m as dull as dishwater.  Since I now respect her as an individual, my comments are pretty much, "Great, Brooke!   Keep at it, my new friend… and I mean, a friend in a non-sexual way, of course."  Boring.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I soon find myself erased from her blogroll.

While I love my online acquaintances, I sometimes have to remind myself that you’re NOT my friends, despite all the time we spend together.  

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that two of my real-life friends from New York, Rob and Barry, read my blog every day.  That’s exciting to know, and a little scary.  I hope they don’t think I turned too crazy out here in California.  I haven’t  become a Scientologist… yet.

I know both Rob and Barry pretty much since birth.  We all grew up in the same Flushing neighborhood, and attended the same schools until college.

I’ve written about Rob a couple of times (here, here, and here).  Of the three of us in school, he was the least studious in his classes — which means, naturally, that he is now the one who makes the most money and works for a prestigious company in Manhattan.   Which only goes to show that school isn’t everything.  I’m sure Rob learned more about ambition and work skills from being a paper boy and a hot dog vendor at Shea Stadium than I did studying algebra night after night.  Rob has a beautiful wife, a son, and another child on the way.

Barry is married with two children, and just got a new sales job that is going to take him around the country.  He lives on Long Island.  His two sons are turning into little athletes, taking karate, soccer, and every sport in the book.  This amuses us to no end, since Barry and I were awful athletes.  We used to sneak out of gym just to avoid "climbing the rope."  I think the myth of the non-athletic Jewish man is ending with his kids.  Barry is also the funniest person I know.   Seriously.  I can sit in a diner for hours with him and listen to his bullshit.  There is a bit of Barry’s personality in my "penis" character, something I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear.

You know how you get nervous when you introduce different groups of friends?  Will they like each other?

Regular readers, may I introduce you to Rob and Barry, who I know are lurking.  Whatever I learned about friendship, I learned through them.

Rob and Barry, may I introduce you to this weird assortment of people, most who I don’t know, who come to visit here.  They are the reason I haven’t called you as often lately.   I’ve been too busy "blogging."  I know you understand why I’m doing this  (Yes, I do think some of the women are really hot in real life). 

See you soon on my next trip to New York! 

56 Comments

  1. It wasn’t gay until you started talking about Barry’s influence on your penis.

  2. First of all … I don’t wish to be disagreeable, and this isn’t directed at you, but I’m starting to get really annoyed by how the word “gay” is applied to anything a person does that shows even an iota of something that has emotional content or is something other than grunting and yanking on the groin.

    But this is such an interesting post!

    I’ve a friend I’m trying to introduce to blogging. And it has led me to think the world can be divided into blogging people and non-blogging people. And all that means is that some people like to chat through words, they sometimes communicate best through words, and they are immediately drawn to and connect to others who are similar. Other people simply aren’t good at it. They communicate and connect in other ways. Neither is better or worse, it’s simply that there are different types of people in the world.

    At the same time, friends and family who are not bloggers sometimes go to my blogs to see what I’m yacking about and sometimes one of my posts makes the rounds of the family. (“Did you see what Bill wrote about his Dad? Laurie? It’s on the Internet, you know …”) Many of them don’t read them online. They print them out and mail them to one another!

    As for friends … I don’t think there is much difference between blog friends and “real” world friends. It sounds simplistic, but a friend is a friend is a friend. Some won’t be there when things are difficult but that’s because they weren’t really friends to begin with – maybe they were just chatty acquaintances. Other people, whether they are connected online or in flesh and blood, are friends no matter what. (Which doesn’t mean you can hit them up for cash. It just means they’ll listen no matter what.)

  3. Bill, you are absolutely right. I’m taking the “gay” line out right now! Thanks.

  4. There is a tremendous difference between “blogging” friends and “real world” friends. The blog is a two dimensional representation of ourselves. Sure, we divulge some secrets, post stories we might not tell in real life, but the blog is contrived. Like the bikini, the blog hides more than it reveals.

    Depends on how serious a blogger one is. Does one’s livelihood depend upon it? Does one’s ego depend upon it? Bloggers for whom this is true take their blogs MUCH more seriously than do I.

    There are bloggers who use their blogs to create a world in which they are perfect. They screen comments, only post flattering things and photos. That’s their prerogative. But I’ve seen and interacted with a couple of those people in life and they are anything but the perfect picture painted in the blog.

    That said, this forum/medium is refreshing since we are NOT accountable here in ways we are in real life. Our words stand alone. Which is why we can be studs or flirts or badasses when we are the complete opposite in 3-D.

    I suspect that should they meet, some bloggers would get along and some would not. Just like life. Kinda.
    Namaste.
    ~HDJ

  5. i think you need to keep a perspective on things, some bloggers may not have close friendships in their lives and feel that on line friendships are really a part of their lives. i have a few bloggers that i exchange im’s with, but i’m still careful with that as well. sometimes not revealing too much is the better way to go, you can still get to know someone, but not too much

  6. a friend from college decided that the best plan for friends was to have three. no more, no less. you would insist that these friends know and like each other with equal value. that way, if one called and wanted to do something, but you had plans with another friend, you could just invite them and you would all enjoy yourselves.

    then he got married and i moved back home and shot that plan all to hell. it was a good theory though.

  7. Neil, I don’t know what the future may hold, but you can always feel free to crack sleazy boob jokes at my site.

  8. Um…Elaine Kramer,and Sophia, if you’re listening, “Can Neil come out to play? He’s the funniest kid on the block, and he’s adventurous, and he can get my pals and I into lots of trouble… That should be fun. Oh ya, and my parents would probably look at him askance a bit, but would get a kick out of him, too.”

    Or else, Neil, I could just say, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship…” (a long-distance one, you understand)

  9. Worlds are colliding…

  10. It’s great that you let your friends see how entertaining and funny you can be as well.

  11. Neil, I miss the days when you used to comment on my blog. I’m sorry that we’ve grown apart.

    A lot of my friends read my blog, too. I told one or two and then they all told each other. Now I’m everyone’s favorite work distraction. There are worse things.

  12. Nice writing. I have been thinking about the blogging friends lately too.

  13. My guy and I are looking forward with an equal amount of excitement and apprehension to introducing our California friends to our Oregon friends when we get married up north in a few months. I can’t even imagine tossing blog friends into that mix.

  14. Hi Neil,

    What about when blogging friends become more than friends? When online flirting becomes face-to-face stumbling through the actuality without having a monitor to hide behind? I believe for some it can be very successful (crossing my fingers and hoping anyway and I remember how to flirt in real life), but some people seem to become so comfortable with writing out life that they forget how to live without a keyboard.

    I have real life people who read my blog and never comment, most of whom I know – one of whom was the current girlfriend of an ex (which was just creepy), but the rest of my circle seem to be other bloggers.

    More internet ranting on my own blog later… 🙂 thanks for coming by… and… sometimes a little high maintenance is there just to keep the owner appreciating the thing of beauty he has before him 😉

  15. and i am left wondering what you consider to be “the most prestigious company in manhattan.”

    but, i agree. blog crushes are futile and annoying. a couple days/weeks/months of fascination and fantasy and but there’s nothing really concrete. i would prefer something in the real world. but i have enjoyed my blog friends, on the whole.

  16. You can leave dirty comments on my blog any time. I promise I won’t want to be your friend. :-p

  17. I really enjoy my online family of friends. As a married man who works a lot, I was really missing that large circle of friends I used to have but it was impractical to go out drinking every night. The blog world filled that void without hangovers. Sounds like an infomercial testimonial, doesn’t it?

  18. Thank you, Hope. I was waiting for someone to say that. Without flirting with sexy women, there’s really very few reasons to blog.

    JJ – Maybe that’s been my problem. I’ve been drinking large amounts of vodka while blogging, so I still get that same hangover I used to get with real friends.

    (by the way, I put a new spam blocker in — so if your comment is rejected, please tell me. It’s not because I don’t want to be your friend anymore.)

  19. “Whatever I learned about friendship, I learned through them.”…aaah, Neil, that is so sweet!

  20. Neil, if it means that you stop flirting with me, then I never want to meet you. Flirting with you online gives my life meaning.

    Hi Rob and Barry!

  21. Thanks, Ashbloem. I’m thinking of you completely naked right now. And happy birthday!

    Jeez, this “sensitive male” approach is working better than I planned.

    Men, take notes!

  22. I love my real friends and blogging friends and totally different ways, but I find myself talking about everyone the same – but by their blog names. For instance “yeah, Neilochka cracked me up the other day when he said… (fill in blank)” which tends to confuse my real-life friends at times. It’s a thin line.

  23. Alissa — I’ve even started to change the names on my blogroll from their blog title to their names — mostly because I’ve started thinking of the person rather than the clunky blog titles we all chose for ourselves. Does that bother anyone?

    Although sometimes, the title is better than the blogger’s name. How many Davids and Steves do you really want on your blogroll?

    And yes, A, I do like your boyfriend’s blog.

  24. Neil, I quite enjoy your comments, dirty or otherwise. And I’m STILL waiting for those flowers.

  25. Awwww…. Neil, he likes your ‘blog too, and I like him, and I like your ‘blog and….

  26. i love how blogging has introduced me to all different kinds of people, many of whom i call friend. it doesn’t matter that we haven’t met (yet) or shared some wine or even, heard one another’s voices. . .what makes a friendship? so many things and being physically there isn’t actually at the top of the list for me.

    🙂 sizz

  27. Despite all the legitimate fears people have about meeting their online pals in the flesh, I’ve only had good experiences when I’ve met bloggers. Sure, it may be awkward for the first few minutes (as every exchange I have with another human being is) but then I realize how much background I have on the person and how that sort of speeds up the getting-to-know-you phase. I know more about what makes some bloggers tick than some people I’ve known since I was six. That is, unless someone masquerading as a 46-year-old neurotic Jewish man in Los Angeles is really a 13-year-old Christian fundamentalist girl in St. Paul. Oops, did I just out myself?

    P.S. I like your gay jokes–but that’s because I know they’re said with love and that you probably wish you were gay to avoid all the mishegoss you’re dealing with as you pretend you’re available and not bound to your allegedly separated wife.

  28. This part “Now when I write a comment on her blog, I’m as dull as dishwater. Since I now respect her as an individual” made me laugh aloud.

    Respect, the libido killer.

  29. And this: “P.S. I like your gay jokes–but that’s because I know they’re said with love and that you probably wish you were gay to avoid all the mishegoss you’re dealing with as you pretend you’re available and not bound to your allegedly separated wife.”

    also made me laugh aloud. I need to stop reading this at work.

  30. Ah yes, clunky blog titles. There were so many things I didn’t consider when I chose mine. I do the same thing pretty much, some by name, some by title, some both. Just depends on how I remember the blog.

    I enjoy my blog buddies- bluddies, if you will- as 21st century pen pals. Some live abroad and the rest seem to live in LA which lets me reminisce about my times there.

  31. Ahhh Neil…this was nice. What about people who do not have blogs…but only know you through yours? 🙂

  32. How about when blogging friendships sour? This happened not so long ago to a couple of blogging “friends” that I actually met. While it happens, I felt stuck in the middle. Again like everything else, I kept my head burried in the sand while those two slung trash comments at each other.

    I noticed though that my “live” friends rarely read my blog. Sometimes they read it and then they forget about it. I think they like me better in real life. I like it better that way.

  33. love it. (hi.. new reader, blah)… none of my friends understand what a blog even IS. when i talk about my “blogger friends” they roll their eyes as if i’m playing dolls with imaginary people, a la a 4 year old.

    i’ve developed friendships thru my blog that are surprisingly strong.

    anyway.. enjoying the blog!

  34. The people I babysit for I met through blogging. AT first we all found it weird, but now it’s pretty normal. Though when real world friends ask who I’m babysitting for I usually hesitate and make up something.
    Anyway, it’s totally a when worlds collide type of thing. But I like the bloggers that I’ve met in real life and now they’re like friends. And I’m slowly telling my real world friends the truth, which is strange, but whatever.

  35. So now that we are friends, I am no longer sexy to you. Way to stroke a girl’s ego Neil! Now I’m just the dedicated school marm. Nice.

    Just remember, I still like to fuck to Nine Inch Nails.

  36. Great post. And great comments. I think about this too. It is just odd to bring up someone at dinner as if he or she is someone I know. I’ve really enjoyed getting to “know” some bloggers – definitely has added to my life in some ways. Also takes away, I suppose, from some of the real interactions. But surely making “blog-friends” is a way to expand your universe…

  37. Brooke, Brooke, that’s not true. I still have the hots for you. There’s nothing sexier than a schoolteacher. It’s just we’re now like a “When Harry Met Sally” type relationship. C’mon, it’s not like I haven’t been looking at that tattoo on your ass that you posted on your blog!

    (only a real friend sends traffic to another blogger)

  38. no matter how close we get (yes, even if it’s the slab of butter close) I promise to always leave salacious and lewd comments here

  39. Hi Rob and Barry! Welcome to Neil’s blog. I noticed that not too many folks said Hi to y’all. So, as you can see, Neil is the life of the party. We all just stand around with our drinks in hand and wait for him to crack a funny joke, then we can giggle and try and get his attention.

    Was he THIS popular in school? No? A huge GEEK?

    Revenge is sweet, right Neil?

  40. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Except the fact that I DO actually refer to bloggers as “a friend of mine from such-and-so city” and it always sort of weirds me out while I’m saying it. I wouldn’t recognize these people in a photo lineup and I’m referring to them as friends. Strange days indeed.

    Hello to Rob and Barry, too!

  41. I’ve not met any of my blogger pals in the flesh yet. But if I talk about them to others then I’ll say “My friend who lives in such and such” not “someone whose blog I read in such and such.”

    I have met people in the flesh that I first met online in places other than blogs though. Dang, this month I will have been married to one of them eight years!

    Mik

  42. This is precisely why it is so hard to explain blogging to non bloggers. I don’t know the people who come and visit me almost daily, but in many ways they know me better than the people who “know” me. Strange days indeed.

  43. Thank you, Studet Nurse and Denise for saying hello to my dearest friends.

    Student Nurse, was I real geek? Probably. Unfortunately, Sophia sucked much of the geekiness out of me, so now I can almost pass as normal. And besides, who has time to keep up with all the geeky stuff anymore?

    As for my “school daze,” being a geek in the New York City public schools is so common that no on really called you a geek. There was always some guy from Pakistan or India who was geekier than you. I never went to a suburban school with football players and cheerleaders and all the high school drama you see on TV. Our school was known for it’s high crime rate and it’s math team. When I watch shows like “Beauty and the Geek” it’s like watching people from another planet. Although I would hang around with the guys on the show, especially the guy who can do the Rubic Cube in 10 seconds, those idiotic girls would not be worthy of my precious time. I always liked women smarter than myself.

    As for being geeky, I actually think BLOGGING is one of the geekiest things I’ve ever done — more so than entering any of my science fairs.

  44. Lol!

    Never ask for advice or opinions from your fellow neurotics!

  45. Blogging has become the new pen paling I think. Before PCs were mainstream, pen paling was a big thing to many people. I became addicted to the whole pen pal thing for a year in the early 90’s. I met some life long friends through pen paling and one even saved my life once (and was later a matron of honor at my wedding). Another let me live with him for 6 weeks after my 1st husband and I split.

    I am proud to say that friends that I met during that one year of pen paling and bloggers have become better friends that people I am friends with in my offline life. And the bloggers don’t borrow money from me and not pay it back either.

    And you are right, once you become friends it’s hard to talk about body parts. What a shame.

  46. All the blog people we interact with everyday look like supermodels in real life, right?

    It’s like a fucking GAP commercial or something, isn’t it?

    I doubt Rob and Barry even exist. You can’t believe anything you read on the Internet. 🙂

  47. Used Hack, this is something ironic about everyone telling all about their lives, but being afraid of showing their photo. Or posting information about their bank account number on their blog.

  48. (yes, I do think some of the women are really hot in real life).

    Aside from the capitalization and punctuation error, this line stuck in my head. How could you say that some of your female readers are hot? Don’t you know ALL of us are?

    Pfft.

    I’m dying to know what Barry thinks about being the voice (sort of) of your penis. Hahahaha!

  49. Oops, and HI GUYS! Nice to (not really) meet you both. 🙂

  50. I like having different perspectives. My real world friends and blog friends have way different ideas on things sometimes, and I think it’s how much we know about each other, or how much we are willing to share.

    But other than that, I just like reading what other people write. I am a word-aholic.

  51. Wow Neil, you wrote about me and DD on this post. That was a nice treat to read! 🙂 And he and I actually met through our blogs before we started dating. How weird is that?! If I’d never started my blog, I’d still be sitting in Cleveland, freezing my ass off right now! 🙂

    I definitely consider my blog friends as real friends, as strange as that may seem to some ppl.

    Being so close to each other in California means we still need to get together sometime and cross the blogging gap, y’know. I’d never abandon you or think you were butting in, Neil. You’re one of my favorite bloggers ever! 🙂

  52. Thank you, Mo. And Megan, I did fix those punctuation errors.

    I told you teachers were hot!

  53. It’s funny, I feel just the opposite. Once I get to know a blogger via email, im, phone etc., I am MORE interested in their blogs cause now I know the “back story.”

  54. I don’t hate you or your blog, Neil. 🙂 I always hear a giggle from Mo whenever she’s reading blogs, and it almost always happens when she’s reading yours. So she’s gotten my curiosity piqued, and now here I am, doing the same, stopping by from time to time to catch the wit and humor. So I guess that means we can all be friends!

  55. Good to know, Dating Dummy. And it sounds like you’re making Mo the happiest woman around. Isn’t it time to change your name to “Dating Winner?”

  56. Um, so we’re a “weird assortment of people,” are we?

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