Thoughtful Thursday: Why

March 8, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayThere has recently been a lot of controversy in the ALI community. I won’t get into it, except to say that it has raised a fundamental question.

Why do you blog?

Some people are basically keeping a journal in public, and what they write would be the same whether or not anyone was reading. Not me.

Some people blog to be heard, to have their words read and acknowledged. That’s not it for me.

Some people blog to make connections, with their readers and with other bloggers. That’s part of it, but not all. I’m certainly not trying to rack up high numbers. I was just having a conversation with a friend who is a respected but not bestselling professional writer; he declared that he is sick of being a cult favorite, and he would like to be a mainstream success. I, on the other hand, love that my blog readers are people who get me. I’m not for everyone, in blogging or in life.

I blog, in large part, to help others. When I was at my most desperate, or hungry for information about being a certain number of days past transfer or how to administer an injection into my own butt, reading blogs helped, a lot. I have made a very conscious effort to provide information that can help others, such as my posts on breastfeeding after IF.

I also blog for intellectual engagement — for myself and my readers. That is certainly the impetus behind Thoughtful Thursdays. I enjoy crafting posts, challenging myself to write in different ways, expressing things that are hard to express.

However, if everyone stopped reading, the intellectual engagement would be there, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to keep blogging. I presumably couldn’t help people unless people stumbled upon posts later, and I definitely couldn’t connect to people in the same way if I never heard from them. I didn’t start blogging to make friends, but as a side benefit of the search to connect and to engage intellectually, I’ve made some great ones.

Why do you blog?

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Thoughtful ThursdayAlthough the weather around here doesn’t feel like July, it is indeed July. This means it’s time for another batch of Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of June). Hooray for everyone!

Rounding out a full half-year membership is Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?. Wow.

Not only did Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy join the Intelligentsia for a consecutive fifth time, but she gave birth this month and still managed to submit a comment in a timely manner. Special prize for Ernessa: honorary Intelligentsia membership for baby Betty.

Next we have four-timer Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair.

Three-peaters include Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose and Beautiful Mess from Life induces thoughts, mostly random.

Returning for a second time is Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat.

Our new Intelligentia member, all the way from France, is Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV. She’s currently more than 41 weeks pregnant, and hopefully will go into labor any minute. Good luck!

Thoughtful ThursdayThis week’s Thoughtful Thursday theme is something that Wiseguy raised this week. It’s also a topic that Lollipop Goldstein and I discussed last week when we met in person, and which I’ve thought about many times in the past year.

Deal breakers.

Specifically, deal breakers when it comes to reading blogs.

Wiseguy talked about the frustration that can come from commenting regularly on someone’s blog yet never hearing back from them via comment or email. After a while, she gives up and stops reading, as do many others who are accustomed to the give-and-take that our community encourages. In most blog circles, someone who didn’t return a blog comment would be the norm, but in the ALI community, reciprocal communication is the default.

(Side note: It’s a default that I don’t always manage, for reasons that I describe in Wiseguy’s comment section. I’m a very good commenter in some ways, but not so good in others. So, sorry if I don’t comment on your blog as much as you wish I did. And, sorry if I comment on your blog more than you wish I did!)

Lollipop and I talked about… actually I won’t tell you, because I didn’t ask her if I could. She can comment if she likes.

I have my own (fairly long) list of deal breakers. Some apply when I read a blog for the first time, such as through ICLW, Lost and Found, or a link from another blog, and are enough to keep me from coming back. My tolerance for each of these waxes and wanes:

  • Poor writing. I have mentioned a few times what a stickler I am for precision in language. I am also a member of the grammar police… and the spelling police… and the coherence police… It requires mental effort for me to get past errors and glean the real message. My mental effort is in short supply these days. I also tend to make the (sometimes but not always untrue) assumption that the quality of the writing corresponds to the quality of the thoughts. You’re/your? It’s/its? Extraneous apostrophe in a plural noun? One instance I can tolerate, but repeated errors (especially in the blog name!) and I run screaming in the other direction.
  • Misinformation. Say something cockamamie (“Going on vacation cures infertility”), and I’m gone. This doesn’t happen that often in the ALI blogosphere.
  • Nothing but cycle updates. I actually have really appreciated such blogs when I’ve been dealing with my own cycle and am filling the sleepless nights trying to find out how early post-transfer people have gotten positive pregnancy tests, but when reading in real time, I prefer blogs that sometimes address bigger picture issues, even if they also include cycle updates. On that note…
  • Uninteresting content. I don’t think that anybody sticks around for boring content, but what’s interesting to one person isn’t interesting to another. We all have our preferences. At this point I happen to find the emotions around infertility quite fascinating, but details about breastfeeding quite boring. I’m sure that will change in a few months.
  • Different places in life. Related to the last point, some people are in a very different place than I am. That’s fine, but it makes me less likely to read their blog. In your mid-20s and starting to think you might be infertile? I was there once too, but that was 7 years ago, and the veterans tend to resonate more for me now. Raising twin teenagers? Not there yet, but I’ll be back to your archives in 15 years. Someone who’s in quite a different life space has to be a great writer for me to read their blog regularly. Conversely, those who are in a very similar life space are easy to revisit. I currently read just about every pregnant-with-twins blog I can find. I won’t seek that category out forever, but for now, those are my peeps.
  • Stuff that is hard to look at. This depends on where I’m at. Prior to my getting pregnant, belly shots, pregnancy tickers, and sometimes photos of kids were hard to look at. This is why I do not post belly shots or pregnancy tickers on this blog, even though people have asked. I don’t mind them now, and actually enjoy the progressive belly shots sometimes, but this blog is infertility-themed above all else.
  • Very different values systems. Some people espouse beliefs that I just can’t get behind, and which I don’t really want to read about. Nothing personal. I’m actually pretty non-judgmental, but certain things push my buttons. For example, a heavy focus on Christianity is one that tends to turn me off, even though I know it draws many other readers in. I don’t object to people’s religious beliefs or expressions, of course, but it’s not something that I happen to want to read about very often (so says the blogger with a dozen religion-themed posts in her archives).

Then there are the deal breakers that cause me to stop reading blogs that I’ve followed regularly. The bar is set much higher for these — once you’re on my Reader list, it’s pretty hard to get yourself off. Including my Clicker duties, I have over 100 blogs on my Reader. Aside from the Clicker blogs, my blogroll is a pretty static list.

  • Nonstop negativity. Some negativity is fine, but too much gets to be… too much. Unless it’s funny.
  • Statements or beliefs that go against everything I believe. Recently I stopped reading a blog that I’d followed for over a year — longer than I’ve been blogging myself. It bothered me a lot to do this, because I’ve developed an attachment to the blogger and her family, but I couldn’t bear to keep reading. After hundreds of posts (including some that I didn’t agree with, but for which I respected her beliefs), she came out with a deal breaker. It wasn’t even the main point of the post, and I doubt that she imagined that it would bother anyone. She said that she’s a fan of someone whose beliefs are so damaging, so counter to everything that I know in my heart and in my head, that I feared she might start to enact those teachings and do something horrible. It’s only a matter of time, really, if she truly follows what that person preaches. Sorry if I’m being obtuse — I can go into it in a different post if people are desperate to know. It happens to overlap with one of my professional areas of expertise, and I try to keep my work far away from my blog. I will say that if one of my real-life friends were a fan of that person, I would try hard to convince them in the other direction. If I were unsuccessful, I would probably stop being friends with them — it’s that much of a deal breaker. Satan worshipper? Drug dealer? Someone who kills animals for a living? Not deal breakers! In fact, I have a friend who does kill animals for a living, and another who used to be a drug dealer. As I said, I’m not that judgmental, except when it comes to certain beliefs. Or grammar.

What are your deal breakers? What keeps you from going back to a blog? What makes you abandon a blog you’ve been following?

Cold Coffee Report

November 14, 2008

Yesterday I informed you of the my first meeting with an IRL support group, which then was upcoming and now has passed. Without going into specifics (for the sake of confidentiality), here’s how it went.

  1. No cold coffee. Tea.
  2. Several people have seen the same RE as I have (Dr. Full Steam Ahead), and multiple other professionals’ names were mentioned as common links. One benefit of local IRL support group over blogging, I suppose.
  3. The blogging format works better for me than the in-person talking format. On a blog, you can always offer a complete story/argument/thought. Even when commenting, you get the space you need to say what you have to say. Sometimes in conversation, it can be hard to get points in before someone else starts talking, or lines of conversation get redirected before you can talk. That’s really saying something, because as you may have guessed by now, I am neither quiet nor shy — nor taciturn!
  4. Because it’s a safe space, people really expose their vulnerabilities. I suppose that many bloggers do too, but the effect is different when you can actually see people crying, or expressing anger, or looking afraid, or numb. In that regard, blogging is probably easier to manage emotionally — as a reader, if you are overwhelmed by someone’s display of emotion, you can just click away or skim the rest of the post. And if you want to respond to emotion, you can offer appropriate words in a comment whether or not you actually feel them. Mustering genuine empathy is a lot more work in person — and it becomes obvious when you’re forcing it. From the perspective of the writer/speaker, I think it’s more comfortable to blog difficult emotions than speak and feel them to a room of people. At least for me.
  5. There are bloggers that I would meet up with if the opportunity arose, but I would have to have made a strong personal connection. With the support group, I could see random lunches happening after only a couple of meetings — the bar is set lower.
  6. As with blogging, people are at all sorts of different stages in the process. As a blog reader, I can and often do choose to focus on people at similar stages to mine. As a support group member, you’re stuck with the newbie and the woman who may be pregnant at the next meeting. On the other hand, as a relative veteran, you are seen as a source of information.
  7. I didn’t mention anything about blogging. I don’t know that I will.
  8. There are all sorts of things I’ve blogged about that I don’t think I’d ever say in the group. They may know my name and face and other identifying info, but you get more of me.

If anyone has questions (such as Cara, who is trying to start her own loss support group), I may answer them in the comments or I may hold them for another post. I will probably write another post later about some other process issues, such as things that I expected to get said that didn’t, or things that I was surprised actually came out of someone’s mouth. You know I love a cliffhanger. But first, the hysteroscopy. And then a proper Show and Tell. And maybe a Perfect Moment Monday.

The bottom line? I like blogging better. But I’ll still go back.

Welcome to my blog, dear reader! And welcome to the infertility blogosphere, me!

We have been trying to conceive for over 6 years — since before blogs really existed. In that time, I have used the internet in every other possible way available to an Infertile Myrtle: message boards, medical websites, fertility tracking, reviews of fertility doctors and clinics, first-person accounts of various interventions, getting ahead of myself by researching doulas and baby furniture, and so much more… if you’re reading this, you probably have your own similar list. I have been lurking on various infertility blogs for a while, but always avoided creating my own. For a while, I was trying to keep IF out of the forefront of my mind. Then, when IF pushed its way back to the forefront, I hoped that our newly escalating interventions would be successful, I would graduate from the IF world, and therefore an infertility-oriented blog would be moot. That didn’t pan out. To keep myself sane in the few months until our next IVF cycle and beyond, I decided that it was finally time to create my own blog and hopefully share some insights.

We have been very secretive about TTC and IF in our real lives, so it will be interesting to finally put some of the secrets out there for the world to see (everyone in the world except the people that we actually know, who we will still keep in the dark).

I don’t know how it ends, but I predict excitement, drama, romance, and a few laughs. Come along for the ride!