So who here reads January One? Who is as flummoxed as me by the rudeness of not-that-strangers?
Forget that the whiner actually knows her – that does add to the rudeness, sure, but it doesn’t change the fundamental conceptual gap I’m seeing. People often say that the hardest customers to please are the ones for free stuff, and I don’t understand why that should be, but it does seem to be the case. Somehow when something’s free, people seem to have even more sense of entitlement than when they pay for it. Go figure.
But what really puzzles me is the different ways readers perceive these funny things we call blogs. In trying to explain blogs to the blogless, I generally describe them as a kind of informal opinion column crossed with emails to friends. If you consider them purely as columns, then one can sort of understand those commenters who feel the need to provide unsolicited feedback on the direction of the column itself – much as the Guardian Weekend magazine’s letters column is always full of people moaning about the worth or otherwise of various departments. And even though the content on blogs is provided for free, it’s possible to see that this might be sincerely meant. Constructive criticism and all that.
Deliberately disguising your identity, though, suggests that the commenter knows herself to be out of line. That she is consciously going beyond constructive criticism of a “product”, to criticism of a friend. Of course there are always occasions when it’s totally valid and helpful, maybe even necessary, to criticise a friend. But you wouldn’t do it publicly, and anonymously, would you?
This is what is so strange to me. There are of course plenty of blogs that do not aim to be personal, or friendly. But I can’t imagine a knitting blog – even one of a very narrow focus, one that reveals nothing of the writer’s life beyond her fibre projects – that wasn’t personal. Most knitblogs go beyond that, opening a window on the knitter’s life, introducing him or her to the rest of us, offering and inviting friendship. I don’t read knitblogs in the same way that I read newspaper columns, or any blog created solely to comment on the outside world (from cuteoverload to make!). I visit them, as I would visit a friend. And just as my friends may have good days and bad days, may be interested in (even consumed by) different things at different times, I take variations in focus and mood in my stride. Can you imagine lashing out at a friend, in public, because she’s had the cheek to try talking about some huge news in her life that I don’t personally care about?
Neither can I.

2 thoughts on “Hm.

  1. Wow, I just got back from reading Januaryone. Sounds like she is having a hard time with the pregnancy. It is a pity that the anonymous knitter couldn’t offer support instead of criticism.
    People do get very funny about blogs though. It makes me wonder if they think that we are paid for posting!
    PS My knitting blog is back online…just.

  2. Thanks for your support! Although I found some pants that fit and all is forgotten! (Until, of course, I hear from the pants police.)

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