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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.