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Stepping Through the Screen

So, the end of the autograph story.  We went to see American Idiot on Broadway last weekend.  It was a fantastic performance despite the plotline being a little thin.  Okay, a lot thin.  But the music was great and the kids had a lot of energy and Billie Joe Armstrong was the most adorable drug dealer in the world.

Afterward, we walked outside and there were hundreds of people all lined up, DOWN A CITY BLOCK, in order to catch a glimpse of Billie Joe when he walked out.  Josh and I ducked across the street behind the police barrier, trying to catch a picture of him for the twins.  One of the policemen dryly said to the other policeman, “If I told these people I was giving out $1000, I don’t think it would get a reaction like seeing this guy would.”  Fair enough, but money is pretty much meaningless to the twins right now, but a picture of Billie Joe Armstrong would bring about a huge grin.

After waiting a half hour, security came out and announced that he wasn’t going to exit the theater (ever?) so Josh and I turned and left.  The reality was that I was fulfilled by that point, but it had nothing to do with the play exactly.  We had witnessed two moments that made the trip worth it.  The first was when we were waiting to get into the theater, this little boy with Down syndrome walked by with his mother, and when he saw the painting of Billie Joe on the building, he stopped and got so excited.  His mother took his picture with it.  It was actually quite touching to watch this little boy get so emotional at seeing the painting — like we live in this magical world where you could pass your favourite person painted onto the side of a building.  I will never forget that smile he made while posing.

The other was the teenager in front of us in the theater.  I forget which song it happened during, but he gave this emotional fist pump at the end of the song.  He played air guitar.  He mouthed all the words.  It was again catching this moment that meant so much to another person.  I think as you move away from the teenage years you forget how meaningful it can to have your thoughts reflected back in song.  Every once in a while, I can tap into that — but it is so much easier to remember when you see a teenager hooked into their music.

So… no autograph, no picture.  But seeing those two moments meant more to me than a signature on a Playbill.

(Though, Billie Joe, if you’re reading this, please email my kids at the address under the “contact me” section — they were so disappointed that we came home with just stories and no visuals, though we stayed up giving them the sanitized version of American Idiot.  My daughter was particularly amused to hear that you proposed to Van Hughes on stage and that Leslie McDonel pretended to be upset.  She made me retell that story several times.)


The other post was getting too convoluted, and I thought it best to divide this thought from it.

My other question was whether interacting with a blogger changes the way you read their blog.  It’s different from actors or musicians because the medium literally has interaction embedded in the process.  There is that comment box, practically begging you to start a conversation.  Most bloggers freely give out their email address.

But still, there is the moment where the blogger steps out through the screen and you meet in the face-to-face world or you speak over the phone or you Skype — and in those moments, does it change the way you read their blog?

I’ve had it happen both ways — I’ve had bloggers step through the screen and appear exactly as I imagined they would be based on their writing.  And I’ve had bloggers step through the screen and be so wholly different from their blog that it affected how I read their blog after that point.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it’s not as if the blog was ruined and I could never read it again.  But I now needed to incorporate this experience into the equation.

And because of that knowledge, there are some people I would rather not meet.  I’d rather not have their blog change for me at all, and not knowing which way it would go — would it enhance my reading experience or change it — I think I would choose to have them remain on the other side of the screen.  Therefore, I’d never be offended if someone didn’t want to meet me, either because they think I’m as boring as a syrup-less pancake or because they don’t want reading this space changed for them in any way.

Have you met many bloggers in the face-to-face world?  Were they exactly as they appeared on their blog?  Did it change the way you read their space?


1 BigP's Heather { 04.21.11 at 10:29 am }

I’ve never met another blogger…unless you count my friend from college who started one recently to document her pregnancy. But I’ve never met one who I “knew” online first. Just not many Arkansas IF bloggers out there that I have found.

2 April { 04.21.11 at 10:36 am }

I’ve not met or spoken to any bloggers in person, but I am fa.cebook friends with a few. I have e-mailed back and forth with a few as well. So far, this hasn’t colored my perception of them. however, I must admit that I’m afraid to meet these people in person, in case they look at me and think “Oh my word, what a weirdo”. For me it’s not a matter of if they would live up to my expectations, but would I live up to theirs.

3 HereWeGoAJen { 04.21.11 at 10:37 am }

I’ve found that it depends on how anonymous their blog is. The more anonymous they are, the bigger the difference is between their blog self and their 3D self.

Don’t tell them until I see if I can find it, but we’ve got an autographed Green Day picture around here somewhere.

4 Lacie { 04.21.11 at 11:51 am }

I LOVE this post. Though, the fact that I have yet to meet blogger and author, Melissa Ford, admittedly bothers me a little. As I live in Lancaster, PA, which, I am thinking, is not too far away, if I am not mistaken. Ahem. I would probably weird and star struck for a minute. She’d have to understand and be patient with me. But, I think she’d be okay with that.

I have, however, met my OTHER blogging idol, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. She was as lovely in person as I always imagined her to be. She is so gracious and warm. She’s not full of herself in the least. I LOVE, love, LOVE everything she does on her blog. I, too, am a cook, a writer and a photographer. I so badly wanted to slip her a note at the book signing so that she would have my cell number and, obviously, we would meet for sushi and wine and become BFFs. She would love me, seriously! Wait…what was I talking about?

Here is my blog post with a pic of me and Ree.

But, no, meeting Ree did not make me change how I read her space. I left feeling like I knew her a little better and couldn’t wait to return to her blog for more of what I had always loved about her.

5 kateanon { 04.21.11 at 12:15 pm }

I’ve met a few, but only one really changed how I read their blog. We didn’t click in person, and the time we did spend together felt forced. They were less gregarious than I would have expected and it left me wondering if they just didn’t like me; Especially since there were so many posts from others about meeting this person and how fun they were, how great of a time they had.

6 aisha { 04.21.11 at 12:20 pm }

I’ve met 6 bloggers in person. With ALL it was a bit awkward at first, with only one did it delve into laughing and enjoying and just totally at ease- and the person I saw was the person I read and is now one of my best friends ever. . . the other was someone who was the person they were on-line but a lot more awkward and shy and unable to overcome this in person. [but we remain close, just not in-person close] The others, all very nice people, but the click we had online did not translate to the in-person meeting since they didn’t appear to be what they said. Which sucked, and did affect how I read their blogs.

I’m sure that won’t happen when WE meet at some point though 🙂

7 Heather { 04.21.11 at 1:01 pm }

I haven’t met anyone…because I don’t leave my house! 🙂

That said, I sort of fear meeting anyone. I’m afriad I will be a big disappointment—especially if they are really awesome. I fear that I will not be what they expected. That I really AM who I write. Sigh.

8 figgymommy { 04.21.11 at 2:01 pm }

I’ve connected with more bloggers than I can count over the years, given the amount of time I spend online. And I’ve had it happen in both ways. I find that it mostly depends on how true to themselves they are in their blog. And I don’t mean to say that they have to show all aspects of themselves in their blog – I certainly don’t show all aspects of myself in my TTC/parenting blog, as it’s a TTC/parenting blog. But you can tell when somebody puts up a front, so to speak. Whether it’s intentional, or it’s because it’s how they truly believe themselves to be. I find that it’s not all that different whether they mean it or not, but if they aren’t true to themselves, I have a hard time reading. But when they are true to themselves, it enhances the blog for me that much more.

9 It Is What It Is { 04.21.11 at 2:42 pm }

First, and I’m revealing my lack of cool quotient, I had to Google Billy Joe Armstrong to know who he was (and, yes, I own a Green Day CD so sue me).

Second, I have met 4 url friends (from several boards I’ve belonged to over the years) IRL and will meet a 5th next week. They have all been exactly as they were on-line and having had a long standing url relationship and after sharing the minute details of the IF struggle that led to the children we have now, we felt like old friends…like we had already met.

God bless the relationships formed from on-line introductions. But for them, where would I be?

10 magpie { 04.21.11 at 2:47 pm }

Waving! Hi!

(But you’ll probably wonder if you’ve really met me when I tell you that I have no idea who Billie Joe is. Well, some idea, but not enough to stand on line for an autograph. Or to have heard the music.)

11 Justine { 04.21.11 at 2:47 pm }

While I haven’t *met* anyone yet, I’ve mailed food. And breaking bread (or muffins and cookies, really) is serious business. I think those exchanges make people feel more like friends, giving them a dimension you might not see in their blog. I really hope to get to BlogHer this year, though, and really meet people.

And oh, yeah … I met my husband online, too. Not blogging. But I married him largely because he could construct complete sentences with appropriate punctuation, despite the fact that he’s an engineer. 😉

12 Justine { 04.21.11 at 2:50 pm }

ugh … did I actually type “really” twice in a single sentence in a comment about writing? Yeesh.

13 Marisa { 04.21.11 at 3:57 pm }

I’ve met 2 and both were lovely. One I have met up with every year since 2006. She’s and her husband have become good friends.

14 Joanna { 04.21.11 at 4:51 pm }

Hi, Mel! 🙂

I’m Joanna, doing my rounds for the IComLeavWe, and I felt it is only appropriate to leave my first comment for today on your post; I have been lurking, since I am more of a reader ever since I started blogging 5 years ago. The IComLeavWe is a great occasion to create a balance that I would like to achieve for 2011. 🙂

This is a great read! I am very delighted that the first post on your page I comment to is full of subject that I can also pass onto family, friends and fellow bloggers.

My almost 18 y.o. soulson (I prefer using this term of endearment versus stepson) introduced me to Green Day Summer of 2009. He is a fan and through him I became one, too. Now, I wonder if he is aware of the musical, and if he would like it!

I have met more than a couple of blogging friends in person. Well, I think I would be needing more time and space to answer the question you posed.

Offhand, I will say I feel meeting in person does change the dynamic of communication whether minutely that one would say nothing changed at all or drastically, that it leads to breaking communication, or dissonance.

My experience so far has been positive, and I would still continue to want to meet bloggers I have interacted in deep level even if I might have a bad experience.

15 Amel { 04.21.11 at 6:13 pm }

Hmmm…I’ve only met one blogger friend so far and she’s the way I expected her to be. However, she said she thought I’d laugh much more in real life just like in my posts (I tend to write “ha ha ha” a lot in my non-IF blog.)

Just like Justine, I met hubby online through a penpal club. Before meeting hubby in real life, I had met other emailpals and through those experiences, I realized that things could be different in real life than on “paper” (or emails or blogs), so before meeting hubby, I had told him to keep our hopes low and not expect anything much. It’s just that I think sometimes there are things you can talk about more easily in emails or blogs than in real life. And you can be more “expressive” in blogs or emails than in real life.

Some people bring out some parts of me, whereas some others don’t. Hubby is one of those people who brings out the best in me. One emailpal of mine who clicked so much with me in emails didn’t really click so well with me in real life.

I find that some people are “more talkative” in real life, whereas some are more so in cyber world.

16 a { 04.21.11 at 7:03 pm }

I haven’t met any bloggers…I don’t know if I ever will. I know there are some in my area, but for the most part, everyone I read is “away.” And I would feel very awkward to inject myself into someone’s life – saying “Hey, I’m going to be in your town” feels more like “I’m coming to where you live – entertain me.” So I probably wouldn’t even mention that I was there until after I got back.

17 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 04.21.11 at 7:14 pm }

As I’ve said to you before, you are exactly as I thought you would be — but I think that’s because we met one-on-one. If the first time I’d met you had been in a group setting like the get-together at BlogHer, I would have found you a bit different from your blog persona. I don’t think that big groups are the best way to get to know the real anyone, whether bloggers or not.

Most bloggers I’ve met have been exactly as I imagined.

One blogger I’ve met comes across somewhat differently in person but I think the blog persona and the true person inside are the same, and that the initial impression was the false one.

18 loribeth { 04.21.11 at 7:45 pm }

I haven’t met any bloggers (yet!!), but I have met several people I’ve been on message boards with (ALI related & not) — as well as penpals from the pre-digital era (!). There’s sometimes been a bit of awkwardness on both our parts, but overall, I’ve enjoyed meeting every one of them. : )

19 Brenda { 04.21.11 at 8:37 pm }

I haven’t met any bloggers yet. I can imagine that it would be a little awkward at first to start up a conversation, but I am sure it would be well worth it!

20 Barb { 04.21.11 at 10:08 pm }

AWESOME! I would love to see that! LOVE LOVE LOVE Billie Joe!
Did you hear his interview on NPR a while back? (Fresh Air I think) I love the story of how he met his wife.
Yes I’ve met many online people. Blogging specifically? Jen, Farah, Maresi, Mrs. Spit, Calliope… I think that’s all. But yes it changes how I read their blog. It’s more personal and more interesting to me after. I also feel like I see a much more fully fleshed out person when reading their written word.

21 Barb { 04.21.11 at 10:09 pm }

And yeah.. I met hubby online way before it was fashionable. I feel like I form a better attachment with people (when they’re honest) through online media after I meet them because I know more of their true selves without all the visual etc crap.

22 Keiko { 04.22.11 at 10:19 am }

For some reason, your last question reminded me of the film, Julie & Julia, when Julie finds out that Julia Child actually hates her blog. To clarify: having met you, I do not hate your blog 🙂

I don’t think meeting people has necessarily changed how I read or look at their blog, but it allows me to feel closer to their writing, like, “I know this person, so now I’m more connected to their words.” I do find that the voice I hear in my head as I read has been replaced by that blogger’s actual voice. When I read your words here, I’m hearing your voice read the words. When I read A Little Pregnant, I hear Julie’s distinct voice. (It was like once I started watching the HP movies, I was still reading the books, so all of the characters’ voices in the novel took on the voices of the actors in the films.)

Also, totally random: a blog award for you 🙂 http://bit.ly/enB8ib

23 JJ { 04.22.11 at 1:03 pm }

I have loved reaching through the screen and meeting bloggers–I have had great experiences and treasure the relationships that have come out of common blogging 🙂

24 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.22.11 at 4:33 pm }

Yikes. I wonder whom BabySmiling was talking about.

I’ve been spot on about the bloggers I’ve met. I love meeting bloggers, btw. Yes, the meeting changes how I read them — it gives the reading more depth.

Poor Billy Joe. He doesn’t know how close he came to greatness. Sigh.

25 Kathy { 04.23.11 at 3:28 pm }

You are the only blogger that I have met, that I didn’t already know (had met IRL) before I started reading their blog. Well, I guess technically I met other bloggers the same day I met and ate lunch with you when I came to meet you during your lunch break at the BlogHer conference in July 2009. However, I had not read any of those bloggers blogs before, so I did not have preconceived notions about them. I did check out some of their blogs soon after I got home, but never really got into reading any of them regularly. I did find it interesting to meet them in person and then read some of their blogs.

As for you, I agree with those who said that you were just as I would expect you to be in person. You seemed very genuine and very much like the persona that project in your blog entries. After meeting you it made me want to follow and comment on your blog more, as I felt an even stronger connection to you.

I have met a number of women that first I got to know through Fertility Friend discussion boards/buddy groups in 2002 – 2003 when we were trying to conceive our first child and then once I was pregnant with him. That was still 4 – 5 years before I began my blog. We once had a girls weekend here in Chicago and some of the women actually flew in just to meet the rest of us and hang out together. I am still in touch with many of these women and it has been wonderful to see how all of our lives have played out and how our families have grown since those early years of reaching out for support while TTC. Similar to meeting bloggers I guess, I would say that pretty much all of the women were similar to how they portrayed themselves on the discussion boards/in our buddy groups and meeting them in person just made me want to keep in touch and communicate more with them.

26 Mali { 04.25.11 at 2:23 am }

I’ve not met any bloggers, but I am hopeful of doing so. Most of the blogs I read (and who read me) are offshore, and so it will require a major effort to meet. I’ve met other internet friends though, and find that our voices in writing are usually very true to the type of people we are in real life. I’m hoping when I meet my blogging friends this will be the case, as I would hate to lose them!

27 TasIVFer { 05.02.11 at 12:53 am }

I’ve only met a couple ALI bloggers face-to-face, and it’s only made me feel closer to them. However I have had mixed reactions to meeting other geocachers. Some I was disappointed because I enjoyed knowing them online and couldn’t stand them IRL, but some I like even more online. Some people are just great communicators online but can’t quite make it in the meat world; some are better face-to-face than online. And there have been some I assume were disappointed in me because they were so eager to meet the first time and not as excted about follow-up (fair enough!).

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