Love Your Blog: Interactions and Community

Although this post has been in my head ever since the Love Your Blog link up was announced, I completely failed to write it in advance and schedule it. The last four days have been a slog of travel and hospitals (not for me!) and more travel and late nights and another epic journey back home again. But that might be a good thing, because I think the resulting post, written in a little more of a hurry and with a lot more exhaustion (and largely in the car!), might be a more distilled version of all the posts I’ve been writing in my head for the last week.

A Playful Day

I like the inspiration for this week, ‘Interactions and Community’ because it very much breaks down my experience into its two halves. As someone who enjoys Twitter and Instagram and blogging and Ravelry, I feel I have a lot of interactions with other crafters. Over this weekend, with all its stresses and worries, I’ve been able to dip into those sources for happy pictures of what other people are up to, a reminder of the world beyond.

But for all that, I’m not very good at online community. As a fairly outgoing person, who is more-than chatty in most social situations, I am shy online. I worry that my written words aren’t going to be read in the way I meant them, and having been caught up in a few online ‘dramas’, I can be very wary of established communities. Most knitting ones are friendly and welcoming, but my general anxiety and some bad experiences make me nervous. As I said in one group I joined recently, I more or less ‘anxioused myself out of posting’ on Ravelry for a while, and the nervousness still lingers.

But that’s why I like -alongs, I think. In these, I understand how the group works – we’re all taking about the same thing – and it gives me a nice introduction to them while not feeling under pressure. If, after the -along has finished, the group isn’t for me, I can go back to lurking. I do run into the KAL/CAL problem, as a crocheter when so many of these are for knitters, so I love yarn-alongs that let everyone take part. The things I love to crochet – mostly lacy shawls – are out of step with what I see across the crochet community, in their beautiful blankets and cute toys. They’re both awesome, but they’re not me.*

So where is my community? I think it’s in person, or at least one-to-one. It’s my knitting group, where I feel welcomed and at home. It’s my church, where I find faith lived out in love (and amused tolerance when I get carried away talking about yarn!). It’s the long emails to friends, where I can talk about everything and nothing. I love getting into a long conversation with someone on Twitter, where you go back and forth for a while, rather than the free-for-all that some discussions can turn into where I completely lose track of what’s going on.

I’ve always felt on the outside looking in when it comes to communities. It feels like I’m a crocheter in a craft-world where everyone knits. I’m a lace-lover in a crochet-world where everyone is making stunning blankets. I’m a chatty person in a world of 140 characters. A practical one in a world of creative wonder. I’ve always felt that I see the world sideways to other people, and not in a cool, geeky way (trust me, oddness is only cool on TV). Just in a ‘I don’t quite fit’ kind of way.

But one thing the ‘interactions’ side of thing has shown to me is that that’s okay. I come across wonderful people, ploughing their own path, not worrying whether it’s cool, or in, or whatever. It’s them, and that makes it awesome. So maybe, in amongst all these interactions, I’ve found my community after all. And if it doesn’t quite look like everyone else’s, then maybe I need to just stop worrying, get out a bit more (in person and online) and enjoy it for what it is. Community doesn’t just come to you, and challenges like this are a great chance to find a new one.

If you’ve just jumped in, or are thinking of doing so, then do say hello. The link up post for today is here and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone 🙂

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*Disclaimer: I have made both blankets and toys, and probably will in the future! They’re just not the first thing I reach for when I want to make something new.

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21 thoughts on “Love Your Blog: Interactions and Community

  1. I’m sure we’ve discussed this before, but I find it really funny that our social anxieties are such direct opposites! I’m fine with online communities, largely because I can lurk until I feel comfortable joining it, but joining real-life groups where I haven’t met people online before is really hard for me!

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    1. It’s so odd! Even after I lurk for a while, I find it really, really hard to join in with online communities, where I can’t get the instant feedback to tell me whether or not I’m ‘doing it right’. In person, I can gauge instantly, which I find much easier 🙂

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      1. You’re quite a visual person, aren’t you? I wonder if that’s part of it. I’m not great at judging people’s emotions from their expressions, so being in a medium that’s all about the words suits me much better, but if you rely more on expressions and body language in social interactions I can see why online discussion would be less comfortable.

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  2. I always assumed an outgoing person would be outgoing everywhere:) I’m the opposite. I find it extremely easy to connect online, but a lot more painful in the real world!

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    1. For me, as someone who worries about getting every word right, I can tell instantly in person whether or not I’m getting on with someone. Online, that’s much harder to judge, and while I’ve made good friends online, they’ve been through one-to-one interactions rather than communities. Even chatty people can be socially anxious! 🙂

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      1. That is a relief:)) It may be easier to approach someone now knowing they could be anxious as well! And I agree with the one on one bit, whether in the real or virtual world, that’s what ultimately works.

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  3. I’m a really sociable in real life. Online I can be a quaking gibbering wreck, so your comment about being anxious in online communities hit a note with me, I found myself nodding as I read. I’m currently debating whether to leave a group on Revelry on that basis.
    Looking sideways is good, I find lots of inspiring things when I step back and look at the ordinary in a different way

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    1. I think it’s just assumed these days that interaction online is something we’re all comfortable with, while for some of us, it can be a huge undertaking requiring considerable mental energy! I’m happy on my own blog, but on the wilds of the internet, I find it much harder and do a lot of lurking. My general feeling is that if it’s causing more stress than joy, unless it’s something you *have* to do, it might not be worth it.

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  4. I so know where you’re coming from! I’m ‘chatty’ in real life but find it quite hard on-line… I love to read though and have many more conversations with bloggers, ravellers, tweeters etc. in my head than I actually manage to engage in! Looking forward to your next ‘love your blog’ post (and hope the hospital stress isn’t too stress…)

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    1. It’s intriguing that people seem to gravitate to one or the other – I think we can learn to do the other, and I’m definitely trying to have more conversations outside my own head (that’s something I do too!), but it’s never going to come naturally.

      Thanks 🙂

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  5. I really enjoyed your post and found your observations on joining in with online communities really interesting. I find the very fragmented nature of online conversations quite difficult to keep up with. It’s so much easier to focus properly in real life! Think I just need to retrain my attention sian to work differently!

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    1. Fragmented is a really good word for it. Like you, I have trouble focussing online – too many other things going on! It’s something you have to get the hang of if it doesn’t come naturally, I think.

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  6. Loved reading your thoughts on where you find community and your online trepidation. I do sometimes feel like I’m standing at the back online, if that makes sense. For me, I think I need a balance of face-to-face interaction as well as social media chattery. I’ve never done a KAL or CAL, but I think I will this summer! 🙂 x

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    1. Yes, “standing at the back” makes total sense! That’s just the feeling – you’re in the room, but not quite part of it somehow. It’s why K/CALs can be so good, I think, because the structure is there and makes interacting easier. Hope you find one you like 🙂

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