Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Towards a New Definition of Friendship


Today Mandarine lists the goals he has set for his blog in 2007. One of them is to:

Keep my blogging friends. 2006 has brought me the joy of new friends from all around the world. Friends of the rare and invaluable ‘can-read/can-think/can-write’ kind (otherwise known as literati/ae). When I started out, I had no idea blogging would end up being more about enriching relationships than about writing. I will be cherishing these relationships through 2007 by practising fidelity to these blogger friends.

I agree whole-heartedly. I had no idea when I wrote my first post in March that blogging, which I regarded as a slightly weird and geeky thing to be doing at all, would bring me as much satisfaction in making friends and building relationships as it would in writing. I feel lucky and honoured that I have chanced upon such wise, funny and interesting people, so interesting in fact, that I have given up my magazine habit altogether. Twice this month, I have had a blue moment and instead of buying a chocolate to perk myself up, I’ve bought a magazine, and you know what, they’ve lost their magic. Instead, I would far rather read a few blogs.

Blogs give me so much. They provide an English island in the sea of Germany, they give me perspective on worlds far from my own, I find inspiration from other writers, beauty in people’s photographs. Book reviews, movie reviews, fashion tips, cookery advice, life skills. Who needs a magazine?

And you can’t have a friendship with a magazine. Anthromama and I had a brief email exchange about this new kind of friendship. She says that to her it’s like a speeded-up form of having a pen-pal, without the anticipation of waiting for a letter. I think she’s probably right. When I mention my blog-friends to my real friends, I feel slightly shamefaced, as if blog-friends aren’t as valid somehow, as if because I haven’t met them, they are slightly less real.

Well yesterday I was assured that they certainly are real. And even if I don’t know what they look like, they are just as kind and generous as the friends I can see and meet. First off, Kerryn and I had a discussion about the scarf I want to knit for my husband, and she very kindly mailed me some tips and a link to a pattern. Then the doorbell rang, and the postman stood there with a book that Ms Make Tea had posted to me from New Zealand. It’s a thriller called The Dark Room by Minette Walters, and I look forward to reading it very much (and I’ll pass it on to anyone who mentions in the comments that they might be interested in having it).

And then the doorbell rang again. And there stood the postman again. With another parcel. For me. From a blog-friend. The amazingly generous Lilalia had sent me the entire Stephanie Plum series to read; books one to ten. And as if that were not enough, she included two DVDs for me to watch too. With strict instructions to luxuriate. So if I don’t post much it’s because my reading list’s just doubled in size. When I emailed her to say thank you, I sent her a photograph of myself. Because I think if someone’s borrowing your books, you at least want to know what they look like.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

20 thoughts on “Towards a New Definition of Friendship

  1. I agree! I started my blog as a way to keep in touch with my far-away family, since I’m notoriously bad about letter writing and even E-mail.

    Then I realized it would also be a kind of scrapbook for my girls to go back and look at when they’re older (since, while my scrapbooking skills are actually quite good, the actual assembling of the photos in the book seems to have lapsed about 10 years ago.)

    And now, unexpectedly, over the past year I’ve somehow begun to accumulate like-minded people who very kindly visit my blog and leave lovely comments and have great blogs of their own.

    In a lot of ways that has become the most important part of blogging for me. I can actually be in daily contact with other women who have, for one reason or another, married outside their culture, settled on another continent, and are raising bilingual, bicultural children. There’s so much value in that. Even though (or perhaps because) a lot of our posts end up being about day-to-day things like pets and birthday parties and sick children and anecdotes from yesterday’s shopping trip!

  2. You’re absolutely right. I started blogging for about a million different reasons, but “making new friends” was not one of them. As a matter of fact, when one of my “real life friends” told me I’d make new friends if I started blogging, I thought he was nuts. I might “meet” people, but they wouldn’t be friends, not really. I was far more focused on the writing aspect of it. I had no idea I’d find so many wonderful like-minded souls out there whose blogs and comments I’ve come to enjoy far more than my own, and yes, I do consider all of you to really be friends.

  3. It’s the very best bit of blogging. I never thought I would make such good friends, but of course, in retrospect, it’s a way of finally finding people who are like you, not just people who like you. And the generosity of the blog community has to be experienced to be believed!

  4. Nononono… Charlotte, you are allowed to escape into a cupboard and read the last bit of a Stephanie Plum book, but you absolutely must keep up with the blogging. Do go off and disappear on us.

  5. Oh absolutely — to everything, even the giving up of the magazine habit. When I started blogging it was for myself, a toned down version of my offline journals. I hoped for readers (and which blogger doesn’t?) but I never expected to meet people who I would come to consider as friends. I’m glad I was so spectacularly wrong. Philosophical and political discussion, book recommendations, trifle recipes (!!), knitting patterns — the list of things shared with new friends could go on. And, as they have for Jennifer, the friendships have become the most important part of blogging to me.

    We may not be able to sit down to a chat over coffee (or tea) and cake but that doesn’t mean the friendship is any less real.

  6. Well, now I understand why I don’t seem to read any of my magazines any more…

    I completely agree. Blog friends have been responsible for helping me through writing my first novel!

  7. Yay, Charlotte, count me in your corner!

  8. I totally agree. I’ve been going through one of those times where I feel as if nobody around me is at all supportive or understanding about my writing. I don’t mean in a Yellow Wallpaper type way. I mean more of a “the laundry ought to come first” vibe. Feeling incredibly frustrated by this, I logged into my blog… to discover so many messages of encouragement from people I’ve never even met. I was so touched, I wanted to cry. I used to feel as if I was writing in a vacuum. My perspective has changed so much since I started using the internet, and even more so since I began blogging. In “reality” it would probably take me a lifetime to meet just a few likeminded people but through my blog I have met so many already. Isn’t the world amazing?

  9. It is a gift to be able to connect with like minds. And I do think on-line friendships are real. I think the penpal analogy is a good one though with blogs there is more of community aspect to it.

  10. Wow Choc, what an incredible and deserved endorsement of your online warmth, honesty and of course great sense of humour. Of course Cos that’s what I have always loved about you and what I get when I read your blog. Everyday by the way.

  11. And blogs take so much less room and weight than magazines (I’ve moved four times this year and I can tell you the pile of National Geographic weighed a ton).

  12. I agree with everyone! Yes, blogs do create real friendships, and that’s surprised me too. The Hobgoblin and I talk about fellow bloggers quite a lot, as though we’ve met them and spent a lot of time with them, and it’s so much fun!

  13. I’m often at a loss as to how I should refer to those I know through the blogosphere. I’ve had so many people I considered good friends turn out to be anything but that I’m now extremely reluctant to form an attachment to *anyone* I know only through the computer. Your post makes me glad to know that blogs and the web in general, does work as a means of connecting people to each other.

  14. Thanks to everyone for turning up and commenting here. I think we’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the human aspect of blogging. I still want a word though to describe a friend made through blogging. I guess I’m going to have to ponder that some more.

  15. Charlotte, I would like to read the Dark Room when you are done with it.

    I think I may be the first to ask, since everybody else was busy talking about how wonderful it is to make friends while blogging. amen to that. I had no idea what was going to happen when I started blogging, and if someone had told me I would be making friends with people all over the world I would have wondered “How?” Because a non-blogger has no concept of what goes on in the blog world. It is so totally wonderful and amazing, and I treasure it.

    By the way, my husband has become fascinated with my blog and reads it and the comments every chance he can get. It would be really cool if someone went to my comments and told him “hello”. . .

  16. Ms MHH, The Dark Room is yours! I will post it on to you when I am done.

  17. How about “blog-friends?” Or is that too cumbersome?

  18. Charlotte, I have to report the Mr. HMH noticed that you said “hi” to him. We may end up with a dual blog like Laverne and Shirley if we aren’t careful.

    I don’t think blog-friends is too cumbersom. I must not, since that is how I refer to y’all in real life. I have my social circle here, the sauna friends, and then I have my international community, the blogging friends.

  19. Ich erklare meinen Freunden uber diese Seite. Interessieren!

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