the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Anxiety Friday – New Post!

The goal of Anxiety Friday is to share some of my anxieties with you before the weekend.  Hopefully, this will allow me to better relax by transfering my angst onto you.  Thank you very much!

This week’s topic will be blogging.

Most of you seem to be so NORMAL — and relaxed — about the blogging experience, caring about each other, coming and going with the friendliness of a country pastor at a church picnic.  Why does the reciprocal nature of blogging give me so much anxiety?   Am I petty, over-sensitive, or just an anti-social only child?

One of my problems is that I don”t find it natural for me to “hear” so many voices during one day, even if I am just hearing those voices in my head as I read.   Some say they “don’t distinguish between real-life and online friends.”  WHAT?!  How can that be possible?!  How do I know who is my “friend” here?  What is the criteria?

Here are three questions that I asked myself last night, and it really drove me batty.

Which ten bloggers are most supportive of my blog and my writing?

I love and appreciate these inspirational people.

If I were only allowed to read ten bloggers on a deserted island, who would they be?

I love and appreciate these amazing talents.

Which ten bloggers do I think are wonderful people and would be ideal friends in real life?

I love and appreciate these terrific  people.

Now, here is the big question — Do any of these lists match up?    Of course not!

And if they don’t, does that make me an asshole?

And if they do, does that make me an even bigger asshole?

No comments necessary.  I’ll let yourself go crazy instead of me.


  1. Mary @ Holy Mackerel

    If it makes you an asshole, then we’re all assholes. And I can live with that.

  2. slouching mom

    It could make you crazy if you let it.

    Umm, yeah, I guess you’re already at that point. I was there. I had to give it up, though. It was unhealthy. I’m 41 years old. Time (past time?) to lose the shoulds, musts, and oughts.

  3. Jack

    Crazy is as crazy does. C’mon in, the water is fine.

  4. V-Grrrl

    Relationships of any kind, onine or off, are rarely neat and tidy or easily labeled. They evolve and change, and I think we have to let them do that and accept they all have different roles in our lives at different times.

  5. Kathy

    “Some say they “don’t distinguish between real-life and online friends.”

    I don’t believe that’s always the case,. When two bloggers claim to be such great friends, but looking at their blogs I could never see these two people having a drink together (or renting movies and eating popcorn — whatever), I wonder if they’re as “BFF” as they say they are. I dunno. I didn’t get the “online niceness” gene.

    As far as blogging anxiety goes, yeah, that’s normal. It should be normal. You’re opening yourself to criticism every time you hit the publish button. Do you know how many posts I have sitting in my drafts folder I’ve yet to publish because I count on one hand how many people would or could be offended by them? (And barely have enough readers to count on two hands.)

  6. headbang8

    You know, Neilochka, one of the most interesting experiences which two of your blog-buds (Diane M and myself) ever experienced was to go to a bloggers meetup. Names and faces going together, that kind of thing. It’s not so scary. We’re having another in Munich in early September. Why don’t you hop a plane? Philadelphia to Munich is quite cheap.

  7. Marinka

    I’ve met several bloggers in the flesh and for the most part, they’ve been exactly what I expected from their blogs. Except male. and naked.

  8. Nat

    I think about you when I decide not to post something or take something down.

    I’d say none of this or them matter, but I feel guilty when I unsubscribe to a blog.

  9. teahouseblossom

    I don’t have anything witty or clever to say in this little box, Neil..except that I like your blog, and I like you in person as well! And I’ll give you as much confirmation of that as you want.

  10. Twenty Four At Heart

    I like to read different people on different days depending on my mood or what’s going on in my life. Some of them aren’t great writers, but they have interesting lives and I’ve become interested in their stories. One of the thing I love about blogging is “meeting” people I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. It’s great to learn about a person’s life in Austalia or South Africa and I assume many of my readers visit me because they’re curious about life in Orange County or California. Do I love everyone equally on any given day? No. Does anyone love me EVER? Probably not. I’m still having fun though! I show up here mainly to see if you’ll post a pic of your talking penis, but so far no luck.

  11. lucy

    I am deflated. You’ve made my face all scrunchy.

  12. Christine

    I can’t imagine why those first three questions *should* match up, let alone why them not would make you an asshole.

    Some people are, by nature, supportive. Others are, by a twist of fate or hard work, talented writers. And for one reason or another, you are going to click with people through sheer chemistry.

    (p.s. you’d be one of my ten bloggers if I was on a deserted island…as my blog is so neglected these days, no worries about reciprocity!)

  13. Finn

    What I hear you saying is that I am not on all of these lists. Asshole.

  14. anymommy

    Finn’s comment is awesome.

    Don’t you think you could do the same thing (and we all have the same angst) with “IRL” relationships?

    Which ten people in your life are most supportive?
    Which ten people in the world would you invite to a dinner party?
    Which ten people do you know are wonderful and you should put more energy into your relationships?

    There see, now I’ve transferred your angst to the real world. Wasn’t that nice of me? Put me on a list. Asshole.

  15. Neil

    Anymommy – I do not have that problem in real life. I have a handful of friends who probably would go on all of those lists. I know who my associates are and who are my friends.

    That is more difficult online. I know intimate details of people who I have never met before. I have no real idea if you and I could sit together for a half hour and have a conversation.

    And usually, when I go out with a friend, it is with one or two people. Online, I am confronted with 1000 friends. And then there are websites, like Schmutzie’s Five Star Friday announcing NEW AND EVEN MORE EXCITING people to read and associate with every week. I don’t find this experience ANYTHING like the real world.

  16. Annie

    I have a few on line friends that I am sure I would hang out with. I think you and I are very different, but I do believe we would get on great. I don’t expect a lot from my on line friends, just kind words and support. I do get a little worried about always responding to a comment, which, the more comments you get, gets harder to do, so I have relaxed and just do my best.
    And Neil this is as much the real world as any of the rest of it :-).

  17. flutter

    you are not an asshole. Well, maybe you are but whatever. Assholes are useful. At least you aren’t an appendix. I mean, wtf appendix? Doesn’t do shit until it burst then it can kill you? What the crap is that?

  18. Miss Grace

    Does the idea of people reading your posts and NOT commenting make you more or less angsty than the thought that fewer people read?

    I often don’t comment, and I wonder about this.

  19. jess

    god, i wish i was on that list, but know i am not because i am the biggest anxious girl around.

  20. better safe than sorry

    i don’t even read ten blogs on a regular basis, i need to keep things simpler. i think you’re an over achiever.

  21. Astrogirl

    You know, I’ve often said to you that it would help you out a great deal to not worry so much about what other people are saying/thinking. All those “should”s are going to sneak up on you some night and murder you while you sleep.

    Oh – I guess that didn’t help with the whole anxiety thing. Sorry.

    To make up for that, I’ll pass on my own perspective on online relationships. It might be less anxiety-inducing for me because I suspect I’ve been exposed to the internet (yes, I said “exposed”) for a bigger portion of my life, so I’ve had more time to figure it out. Or maybe not.

    Anyway, here’s my philosophy. Although there are people I’m friendly with online (I’m pretty much friendly with everyone), and there are a select few I would consider “friends”, I do acknowledge that, except for maybe one or two, most people I meet online are not going to be friends the way offline friends are. There’s something you lose when you don’t ever spend time with someone in real life – an element to the friendship that never gets filled in.

    So, although I have varyingly deep levels of friendship with some people I meet online, in my head, I sort of separate out those people into different categories, based on the depth of that friendship. And it’s all based on my interactions with them – has our friendship deepened to the level of IRL friends, or not?

    But you’re overthinking it, kid – just enjoy people’s company, and let things happen as they will.

  22. AnnieH

    This is really not meant to be funny, but it all may well depend on your definition of “friend.”
    I think blogging has put a different perspective into friendship and intimacy because a person can be quite forthright and open online with individuals never seen. Perhaps not so modern–reminiscent of the days when communications were by letters and traveling was difficult. I know that in my own life I’ve told very few of my daily friends or worklife friends about my own blogsite, which is a little ironic, but it would be exposing too much of myself. So, to answer your question–no, I don’t believe this makes you an asshole. As for reciprocity, I struggle with this also. How much time to devote to this and not spend on my family or projects I want/need to get done? I’ve come up with the solution that I read through my “blogroll” during the mornings I’m off (work with my coffee) and if I have something to add I’ll comment. Four or five and I’m usually commented out and need to wash dishes, walk dog, buy groceries, etc. More than that I don’t know. It might be a little like my workplace–I cannot be there ALL THE TIME. That’s why I have to trust that another individual has something to offer in my absence and that I do the best that I can when I’m there.
    Not much of a solution, sorry.

  23. anymommy

    I see what you’re saying, but I agree with Annie. It is real. I don’t know if we could have a 1/2 hour conversation either, but if we were going to be in the same place we might try? If it didn’t fly, we might agree we just like each other’s writing…or not. If we met up and didn’t have a thing to say, I wouldn’t stop reading. That’s the level of our relationship.

    And the same thing has happened to me with women in my town. We go out for a drink after a board meeting, it’s okay, but a little awkward, we’re both busy, and so, while I talk to her enthusiastically for 1/2 hour before every board meeting, while I might know about her tough pregnancy, or her mom’s cancer, we don’t cross over into close friends or hang out.

    I don’t know. I see some of your points, but it just doesn’t seem that different to me, overall. Maybe I’ll change my mind and it will all seem like a bigger deal after I attend BlogHer – I haven’t met very many bloggers in person yet!

  24. Neil

    Miss Grace — I don’t worry as much about what you do than what I do…

  25. TheQueen

    I think you are confusing “Entertainment” with friendship. Good entertainers, in music or text or acting, make you feel like they would be your best friend if you ever knew them in real life. Bloggers too. And like entertainers, you might discover they are tremendous Billy-Bob-Thornton-level dicks.

  26. SciFi Dad

    There is a line in blogging… in some cases, people cross it, while in others, the line remains defined.

    For example, I have met some bloggers in real life, or spoken with them privately via email or chat. They know my real name, have seen images of my kids without markups on the faces, etc.

    There are others who read and comment at my place, whose sites I read and comment on as well. I would never divulge personal info to them, but we exchange readership.

    There are yet others who read me that I do not read, often because I tried and cannot connect with them.

    Finally, there are those I read and enjoy who never (or rarely) read my blog (like you for example… no animosity or namecalling intended; but that is the category you fall into in my world).

    Acknowledging that not every relationship is identical doesn’t make you an asshole. Comparing gay marriage to bestiality does. 😉

  27. sarah g

    hi 🙂
    I dont think they have to match up. Especially the blogs that provide you the most entertainment. Also, just because someone is supportive doesnt mean you have to make them a friend. I think its okay to have distinctions in real life and in the online community 🙂

  28. leah

    i wasn’t sure i understood this post so i actually read the comments and i think i understand.

    i see the social networking/online experience as a painting or a picture of what transpires in real life (not to the same degree or quantity as online gives a person more opportunities to connect). i believe most humans desperately want to connect to other people (social networking and blogging is a prime example of this), despite those that claim they are antisocial.

    online gives some people the chance to jump into the pool whereas they would not in real life out of fear of being themselves. fear holds us back, it keeps us from our core (or whatever word a person wants to use). i understand the need for certain social graces, but i don’t always understand the need to hide our true feelings about something. i’m a dork in that if i like something, i try to let the person know, i don’t keep it all bundled up inside of myself. that’s just me, i’m gullible as heck and not cut out for games.

    i am guilty of projecting my “stuff” onto unsuspecting bloggers and online folks thinking i understand their posts and later realizing that i completely missed the boat. i’m trying to temper that a little, b/c it seems to make people mad.

    you wrote: [Some say they “don’t distinguish between real-life and online friends.” WHAT?! How can that be possible?! How do I know who is my “friend” here? What is the criteria?]

    is there something at stake to lose? if you’ve got real life friends that you know you can trust and depend on, why is it important to determine who is your friend and who isn’t online? this seems to come up for a lot of people in the blogging world and i guess there are levels in online friendships *are* different.

    i like to think that i do not have any expectations of my real life friends, nor my blogging peeps so it isn’t important that they carry the same weight as my real life friends and vice versa. my real life experience with friends is, people come into our lives, and they leave, some stay long and some stay not as long. the important part to me, is the experience they leave me with and vice versa.

    if a blogger inspires me, i like to tell them but i don’t expect to marry them or to always be a fan of their blog. people grow and sometimes we outgrow other people, but not in a snarky way.

    most of my real life friends do not comment on my blog, but they do communicate with me on facebook. i’m not sure why that is, maybe you could think about it for a spell and let me know what you come up with.

  29. churlita

    I can honestly say that I haven’t worried about any of that. Firstly, I don’t care if what I feel about other people’s blogs makes me an A-hole. Secondly, I blog for myself and I try to reciprocate with other blogs. The people who read and comment the most, are the ones I try to get to first. There are also blogs I love who don’t read or comment on mine, and I don’t feel bad if I choose one over the other when blog reading time is limited. Blogging is a pretty selfish venture, so we shouldn’t have to feel badly about that, right?

  30. lizriz


    The blogosphere is like the sun, it’s better if you don’t look directly at it. Just enjoy the sunshine, and have your umbrella ready for when it rains.

  31. Gwen

    Anyone who is truly normal and relaxed probably isn’t blogging.

    Some people will need it to be reciprocal and they’ll think you’re an asshole, but you may never know it, because instead of telling you directly, they’ll sit in their blog corner and sulk and bitch about how the “big bloggers” are a clique into which they can never break. (wait, why am I talking about myself in the third person?)

  32. 180/360

    oh neil.

  33. maggie, dammit

    Not crazy at all. I read some blogs because the writing blows me away. I read some blogs because I genuinely like the people behind the words. I read some blogs because the authors are so loyal and consistent with reading me. It’s the last group I feel most guilty about, but I don’t think that makes me (or you) an asshole.

  34. Zoeyjane

    yeah, don’t we all feel like that?

  35. Amy @ Milk Breath & Margaritas

    I was with a group of blog friends yesterday that have become IRL friends. We were walking for Maddie. One of them said that she throught I made a better blog friend than IRL because I am a size 2 and who wants to be seen with that?

    heh. (she was totally kidding. I hope.)

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