Doug and I are headed to his parents' house for Passover Seder this weekend and I am reminded of our last trip down there for Thanksgiving dinner. I had just started blogging and was very excited to share my new hobby with the family.
Most people I know don't actually know what a blog is; so if I want to talk about it, I usually have some explaining to do first. Over Thanksgiving dinner, I had just such a conversation with my sister-in-law's mother-in-law. (Is it any less confusing to say my husband's sister's husband's mother?)
Her first question was "Aren't you worried about having a blog? There was some girl around here that had a blog and she got murdered. You should be careful." I wasn't familiar with the story she was talking about, but figured this girl tried to meet someone through a social networking site (that is, if this story was even real to begin with.) I explained the difference between social networking and blogging, which is really irrelevant anyway, because there is no inherent danger in either one. I am in more danger of getting murdered walking down the street than I am by posting to my blog. She was not convinced.
"Well then, don't you worry about someone stealing your identity?" Well, no, it's not like I publish my visa card or bank account numbers.
"But you just post stuff on the Internet for ANYONE to read?" Well yes, that's kind of the point. Kind of like what writers do in newspapers and magazines. In fact, the more readers, the better. And even better if they leave comments, turning the whole activity into a conversation.
I told her how interesting it is that I get readers from all over the globe. A college professor from Lithuania commented the other day. "Well how do you know he's really a college professor or that he really lives in Lithuania?" Well I guess I don't, but he really has nothing to gain by making this up.
So I gave her another example, recounting my excitement when Millionaire Mommy Next Door had commented on my blog for the first time. "How do you even know that this Millionaire Mommy is a real person?" (MMND, this was before you were on the Montel Williams Show, which I'm sure would have helped me immensely here!) I explained that every blog has a real person behind it because someone has to actually write the posts. "But what if she's not really who she says she is?" She writes stuff, I read it. What do I care "who she says she is?" Am I worried that, in reality "she" is really a "he" and he is an ax murderer? No, not if I like the writing.
I could see I was getting nowhere fast so I told her I would be careful and try not to get murdered.
I would now like to offer one piece of advice for those of you new to the blog world. If a friend tells you she has a blog and then you later say "I read your blog," you need to follow that up with "and I really enjoyed it." Don't make her ask after an awkward pause . . . "well, did you LIKE it?" And if you didn't really enjoy it, it's probably better not to bring it up in the first place. I would never know you read it and I'd rather not know you hated it.