Friday, 29 August 2014

Seven thoughts on ICLW

I have just finished participating in ICLW for August. It has been a long time since I joined ICLW – it was almost as if I was a newbie doing it for the first time. Every day, I have left at least six comments on other blogs, and in particular I made an attempt to comment on the blogs of the others who had signed up.

The experience has made me think, and has brought up a few questions too.
  1. For the first time in a while, I was pulled out of my niche within the ALI community, and exposed to the wider community. There were a couple of us who are living life with no kids, there were women who were still trying to conceive through assisted reproduction, women who are adopting, and women who were parenting after infertility. It was good for me to remember how broad this community is, and how we all started from the same place – whether a week ago or fourteen years ago - and to participate in their lives on-line, even if briefly, even if we have ended up with very different lives.
  2. But on the other hand, it also reminded me how separate I am from most of the community.  I don’t deliberately isolate myself, just reading bloggers who are Not Kidding. I read bloggers who are trying to conceive, or are adopting, or who are now parenting.  I read them because we have a connection. But let’s face it, I am way further on in my life journey than most ALI bloggers, and so finding something in common, making that connection, is perhaps more difficult.  As I reflect on this, I realise it doesn't bother me at all, and that I am very comfortable with where I am in the ALI blogging world. I blog elsewhere too, and that fills a lot of my needs too.
  3. There was a small group of bloggers on the ICLW list that I could not relate to at all. It was a tone and approach and philosophy issue, and I'm afraid to say these blogs didn’t receive any comments from me. I didn't have anything to say to them, although I tried to think of something.  But in the end, I just didn’t see the point - for them, or for me. It would be “tick the box” commenting, and to me, that’s a waste of a comment.
  4. There were some bloggers who had signed up whose blogs were inaccessible – the links didn’t work or were private, for example – and there were other bloggers who had signed up, but who had not blogged for several months. Others made no effort to blog during the week at all, so there was no conversation going on. Why would these people sign up? They never participated – as far as I could see (though I fully accept that maybe they felt about me the same way I felt about the blogs in #3). So again, I decided that this would be “tick the box” commenting, and that’s not for me. It goes against the principle, as I understand it, of ICLW in the first place.
  5. With the above provisos, I happily commented on most of the blogs on the list (most of them new to me) for the first few days. But I struggled to find blogs to comment on during the last few days of ICLW, when there were few new posts.  So for the last couple of days, I found myself going through my own list of favourites rather more carefully – those in my reader, rather than those on the ICLW list. I commented on blog posts that I’d read a while ago, but had never commented on (I blame reading my iPad in bed for this). I appreciated the blogs I regularly read (and often who read me) by ensuring I commented.  And commented well. It was an exercise in mindfulness, in gratitude, and that was good for me.
  6. But this exercise also made me think about some blogs where I read and comment but never (NEVER) get return comments, or even acknowledgements of my comments. I have decided that I will delete these from my reader. I guess I feel I’m being ignored. I make an effort, but it is never returned in kind. I offer support, but it is never even acknowledged. So is it appreciated? I don’t know, but I suspect not. I reach out, in an effort to make a connection – after all, there are not that many of us who blog with no kids – but I am essentially rejected. I don’t comment simply to increase my own readership, or the number of comments I get. That’s not the issue. A feeling of personal connection attracts me to a blog. If, even after months or years, there is no reciprocal connection – whether through reciprocal comments, or a response to a comment, or even a message in a post that commenters are appreciated, then I get the message. I’ll stick with those who care, who engage in a conversation, who connect – for whatever reason – with me in some way. It’s better for my self-esteem, after all. And it is important for me to show my appreciation to bloggers who value it.
  7. So this brings me to my final thought. If you comment here, don’t ever doubt that you are appreciated. I respond to comments (sometimes but not always), and I try to visit your blogs too. I don’t always comment (the awkwardness of holding an iPad in bed and typing with one finger, and the contrariness of Blogger freezing on the iPad when editing a comment, all make it harder), but I try to do so regularly enough that you know I care. Because I do.  And I'm grateful.

12 comments:

  1. One thing about #4 -- you can do IComLeavWe and not blog yourself. In other words, there are people who read and comment during that week, but they don't necessarily write. And others who do both -- they write a lot that week knowing people will be on their blog, but they also go out and do the commenting piece. So if you couldn't get on their blog, it wasn't that they weren't participating in the commenting; they just weren't writing anything that week.

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    1. Fair point. I felt though that because some of them haven't blogged for months, it meant I didn't have anyone to connect to on their blogs. And as I said, they may have commented on other blogs, just not mine.

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  2. I haven't participated in ICLW in over a year, so it was interesting reading your thoughts and having so "oh yeah" moments.

    I think your last point was particularly interesting. I'm in a strange place at the moment where there are bloggers I follow an I know they comment, but due to some girl politics don't feel comfortable necessarily commenting on their blogs. It's nothing to do with them but more with the circle of followers/regular commenters who I feel uncomfortable with (and don't follow or ever read). Hence it's a weird dilemma. And I know a lot of it is me getting over the hesitation of joining a conversation I don't feel welcome to because of that crew.

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    1. That's an interesting point too, Cristy. I've seen that elsewhere - FB is an example where that happens.

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  3. dear Mali,
    I always appreciate your comments! Either on my blog or on the blog of other bloggers that I read.
    (but to be frank - there are only 5 blogs that I read, most of the "other" blogs hurt me one way or another. Or I just don't see point of wasting my time reading them).
    hugs from Europe!

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    1. Klara I love getting comments from Slovenia - in English, AND in Italian!

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  4. I'm glad I got here after Mel responded to #4 because initially I was thinking, what the what?! People sign up with private blogs or blogs they don't update?! But I guess it makes sense if they are commenting, though I still think it's weird. I thought the whole point in signing up was to give comments and get them. If people can't access your blog or you aren't really writing there, why not just go on the list and comment without signing up? It seems kind of weird to me.

    I haven't participated in ICLW for years. I used to regularly and I spent so much time writing thoughtful comments and I would rarely get any I'm return. It just felt like a lot of work for very little return and it was hard to keep up with my regular commenting and all the new ICLW commenting and not get anything back.

    You are a great commenter. I need to be a good commenter again. I've fallen down the rabbit hole of my new schedule and am not sure how to make blogging work again. I hope to figure it out soon.

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  5. Ha, a tick in the box comment from me! ;-) I'm at work and can't resist reading your blog and letting you know.

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    1. That's definitely not tick-the-box commenting!

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  6. You make a lot of good points about commenting. Sometimes I receive a comment or an email that makes me think for days but then the time goes by and I may not write any response after all. I think the roots of this problem come from being so sick of being on top of work related emails and other communication that it's so tempting to come home and relax. I think I'm much better on actual commenting than responding...

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  7. I haven't participated in ICLW in years. I just found it too difficult to keep up with all that blog reading, nevermind making a quota of thoughtful comments per day. But my hat is off to those who make the commitment. :) Some great observations here. :)

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  8. Don't always comment but I always follow. And I will always follow. I appreciate your contribution.

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