Most of my thoughts about blogging are ones I've had before and don't need to rehash (even if repetition is the soul of Ferule & Fescue). But as I move into my fifth bloggy year, I'm struck by how inextricable my blogging and my professional life now feel. My corner of the blogosphere may be modest, but I've come to know an awful lot of my readers--and I like the way that blogging sometimes creates, but almost always reinforces and deepens my real-world connections.
I guess the term for that is "social networking," but I remain more interested in the social than the networking, and blogging under a pseudonym six or eight times a month in a personal essayish vein isn't exactly the fast lane to fame and influence. Still, it's a pleasure to know people and to think that some of them like knowing and reading me--and if pseudonymity is occasionally an inconvenience, it can also be a pleasure. Yes, it's awkward to worry about retelling a story I've already told on my blog to new acquaintances at conferences--and it's even more awkward to have to announce to someone who has gradually become a friend that, actually? I kinda have this blog? And no, I'm not, like, famous. . . except maybe, a little, to several hundred people.
But pseudonymity means that blogging is officially something I do on the side: I don't get "credit" for the writing I do here; casual acquaintances, arch-enemies, and students can't find this site by Googling me; and I assume or hope that none of my friends feels any obligation to visit. And yet people come wandering by anyway.
At my conference in London last summer, I went to dinner with some fun younger scholars I'd dined or drunk with earlier in the week, but whom I hadn't known before the conference. I was chatting with one of them when he suddenly asked, nonsequiturially, "So what are you doing this summer?"
"Um," I said. "It's mostly over, right? I'm here now and I was in [State Capital that Is also Home to a Major University] for all of June."He and I are friends now--as I'm delighted to be friends with so many of you. Thanks for sticking around, peeps.
"Were you there on a. . . fellowship?"
"Yeah," I said. "At [institution]. Why?"
He smiled. "Then I guess I read your blog."