Welcome to our weekly BlogAnon meeting where we confess a particular blogging sin and turn to you for support, suggestions and that blogging bond so we know we're not all alone. Don't be shy. Read along and let us know if you identify with us this week.
Have you ever met another blogger in person? Or are you too scared to take the plunge if the opportunity presented itself? I talk here all the time about how enjoyable it can be to use your personal blog to build an online community. Which is a fancy way of saying get out in the blogosphere and meet people in order to make some new friends. A lot of bloggers are very shy people in the real world and they love the veil that the blogosphere provides - allowing them to open up and share more about themselves than they ever would have the courage to do in person. So what do you do when one of your blog buddies comes knocking on your door?
When we were planning a SOX road trip to Philadelphia, I instantly thought of Matty @ Matty Thoughts. His blog features lots of baseball, but he also is a great photographer and is always sharing loving tales of his family in the Philly suburbs. So, while initially I felt he might be a good resource in things to do and places to go, I eventually decided that he would also be a pretty cool guy to meet. So I asked.
It was easy for me to ask since we would be dragging our posse with us to this meeting - we would be vacationing with another couple and they would be along for any blogger meet-up. But I imagine it could be quite a decision on the receiving end of that invitation. It is one thing to say "Sure! Sounds fun!" Quite another to actually show up. To meet 4 people you've never met or seen, and whom you have only conversed with in print.
Matty confessed that his wife, Mary, thought his whole blogging hobby was a bit bizarre and she didn't really understand that world. I suggested they meet us so Matty and I could show Mary, as well as our friends traveling with us, that it was totally not weird to gather for dinner with people you've only known online. So Matty worked on Mary and we worked on our friends.
As the big trip drew near, Mary did a little recon on our blog to check out just who the heck these Bumbles were for herself. She sent me this great e-mail introducing herself and offering restaurant recommendations for our dinner. We had a nice e-mail conversation about Faulkner, family, pets and of course - Matty. On our end, we spent our trip down to Philly trying to explain to our friends what a blog was, how we "knew" these people, and why it was exactly we wanted to hang out with them.
The big night arrived. Matty & Mary sat through a lot of baseball game traffic to drive into the city and find our hotel. They walked in to the wine bar and I instantly recognized them from all the photos Matty has shared on his blog. But I realized at that moment that I had never told the poor guy what we looked like so it was probably pretty strange making all of this effort to come and find people you not only didn't really know, but you didn't even know how you'd know them if you saw them!
We waved them over and spent a very spirited hour or so getting to know each other. The boys had a rousing conversation about sports and the ladies chatted about each other personally - what we did for work and our families. We then all moved on to a group conversation about the different parts of the country that we came from and how we share common preferences for vacation spots. As we headed out to our dinner destination, it dawned on me for the first time that I was relieved. Somewhere in the back of my mind I must have been worried whether or not Matty & Mary would get along with our friends, if our friends would think they were nice to spend an evening of their vacation with, and whether we would have something to talk about!
Over dinner, Matty and I got to have more direct conversations about the blogosphere and our journies within it. It was so nice to talk about this blogging experience in an off-line environment! Mary shared a funny story about how her co-worker teased her that we were probably a bunch of wacko swingers ;0) It was so cool to meet them, get to know them and find out that we enjoyed who they were!
The longer we wandered around after dinner, the more comfortable our conversations were with each other. We shared, laughed and debated. And Matty especially exerted much patience as the Designated Driver being dragged around by this bunch of happy Bumbles enjoying plenty of cocktails.
My point in all of this is to not just share my first face-to-face blogger encounter. It is to illustrate the point that your blog can be a window to as much of the world as you allow it to be. Sometimes you need to stick your neck out the window and holler, while other times you need to be brave or curious enough to accept the invitation to come on over. Matty and Mary are great new friends and some day if ever they head up this way, they know we'd love to return the favor and show them our town. And until then, we'll continue to stay in touch in our part of the blogosphere. After all, without it, we never would have met.
Have you ever met another blogger in person thanks to your online connection? Were you nervous? Did it turn out the way you'd expected? Or are you too shy to cross that line and bring the bloggers into your reality? Well, you need to get over that. Because that is the only way you'll ever find out what The Bumbles look like ;0)