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Together Apart

A really interesting comment was raised with the Exclusion Project which was that the person felt that the ALI blogosphere itself broke down into separate cliques.  She questioned whether we’re really a cohesive community or whether we divide ourselves into small groups usually based on experience (those parenting after adoption stick with those parenting after adoption, or those with PCOS hanging out online with those with PCOS).

I see it from where I stand as sort of both truths at the exact same time — we’re a cohesive group (especially in comparison to other online communities) yet we’re also very much divided into small cliques.

Back when I first started blogging, I had about 100 blogs on the original blogroll.  There were 10 categories.  Now, there are 52 categories and over 2700 blogs.  And I add about 20 more each week.  Back when there were 100 blogs on the blogroll, I didn’t read all 100 regularly, but I knew all of them and I checked in weekly or monthly.  Even if I didn’t read the blogger personally, when someone posted about someone else on their blog, I always knew exactly who they were talking about.  When the LFCA started, there were already many more than 100 blogs on the blogroll, but people still could look down the LFCA and know at least 90% of the people who had news listed.  Now there are times when I’m uploading a blurb for the LFCA and I don’t even know the blogger, and I read a wide-swathe of blogs and have a fairly good memory of blogs I’ve even only seen once.

By virtue of size, we have had to become fragmented.  No one can keep 2700+ blogs in their mind when blogging is a hobby; not a job.  It’s supposed to be enjoyable.  It’s supposed to be a place to draw support.  It is not supposed to be a huge guilt trip of what you’re not doing or not getting or not achieving — at least, that is how I see it.  I feel your online life should add to your overall emotional health, not suck it dry.  People break down into cliques not with the desire to exclude, but instead, with the desire to have an enjoyable online experience that brings something missing to their world.

I also don’t think these cliques are impossible to break into though people tend to enter a state once they’ve been online for a while where they travel with the people they originally found.  They add fewer and fewer new bloggers to their Readers.  It’s not that they wouldn’t welcome a new person into the conversation or go and read a blog post or two on a new blog, but they’re less likely to start up that two-way relationship with someone new when their Reader already feels full.  That said, there are always new people entering, so there are always new people to connect with.  And those connections certainly happen.  A big portion of my Reader are blogs I’ve been reading for 4+ years.  But there are also people in there who haven’t yet celebrated their first blogoversary.  Mostly because whatever they said or conversations we’ve had off-blog have resonated with me.

It is hard to be a new blogger.  It feels like it’s harder to be a new blogger now than it was to be a new blogger years ago.  It was still hard to find your niche and build a readership.  There are tools now that didn’t exist back then — such as other social networking sites — that can jump start a readership.  But it was also a smaller group and once you had stood around in the blogosphere for a while and participated in reading and commenting, people welcomed you in to the community simply by virtue of the fact that there were so few bloggers around at all.  Now, there are so many people entering the blogosphere that it can feel a bit like overload and new people aren’t necessarily going to be dragged into the center of things simply by standing around.  You need to shout to be heard.  You need to nudge a bit.

I think there are things we do exceptionally well as a community.  We cross out of our cliques to give comfort (which does not mean that there aren’t people who slip through the cracks).  We bond together for big projects.  We add our voices so we can shout extra loud to the outside world.  There are also things that have waned in our community — I believe due to size more than due to maliciousness or uppitiness — the LFCA, the support, the welcoming in of new people.

The President gives a State of the Union every year.  Perhaps we also need to revisit yearly the State of Our Blogosphere (SOOB!) to look at ways we can improve and places where we’re kicking ass.  Do you agree or disagree with how I see our corner of the blogosphere?  I’d love to hear from older bloggers and newer bloggers from what they’ve observed.


1 serenity { 02.09.11 at 10:29 am }

I do think it’s harder to start a blog now; there are so many! I’ve been blogging regularly for nearly 5 years now and sometimes it’s overwhelming to me to connect with new bloggers.

I have, though – have found new folks through comments left on my blog and the Resolve Night of Hope folks. I do always try and stop by someone else’s blog when they comment on mine, since that’s really how you make them feel welcome (IMO).

But I do confess I’m picky. It’s hard for me to remember what it was like to be newly diagnosed with IF or how I felt on my first IVF cycle ever. I can’t IDENTIFY with those sorts of bloggers, so I tend to find more like me now – older, cynical, somewhat jaded veterans. Or folks that are trying for #2, though that’s hard lately because there seem to be so many bloggers who have had success.

But, you know. There are lots of bloggers suffering from primary IF who can’t identify with my longing for another a sibling for O, too. And that’s okay.

I think being part of a community means seeking out more like-minded people that GET you. There are varying degrees of infertility itself as well as varying degrees of resolving your infertility. Finding like-minded people that GET your struggle is a really good thing.


2 N { 02.09.11 at 10:42 am }

I do think there are cliques, though not necessarily built through types of situations, and not necessarily just because of the size of the community. Sometimes that’s okay, and sometimes it’s not. I do agree that, as a community, we do rally together and crossed the lines of the cliques really well, and I doubt that there’s much to be done to break them down, but I definitely think they’re there.

3 Esperanza { 02.09.11 at 10:57 am }

I think it is really hard to start a new blog these days. My blog is 1.5 years old and I’ve had a hard time building a readership. I think that is partly because my story is not as difficult as many other people’s stories, and as you said, people tend to stick with narratives they know and understand. I also think the fact that I am now a mother makes it difficult for me to find readers in this particular community, just because so many bloggers are still struggling to get there and watching someone else have what they want, especially since it wasn’t very hard for them to get it, is difficult. And I totally understand that, in fact sometimes I feel guilty even participating in this community. The problem is I don’t really know where else to go.

The “mommy blog lists” all feel so commercial (probably because they are) and there is a real sink or swim mentality to it. If you can’t get hundreds of people to click to their site through yours you might as well not be a part of it. It’s a system that seems only to reward those that are already very popular, leaving the rest of us to languish on ambiguous lists 100-blogs long. I wish so much that there were a community like this (the ALI community) of mothers who are just trying to connect with other mothers, but if there is, I can’t seem to find it.

And even though I doubt that others feel I belong in the ALI community, I still feel like I do. My ectopic pregnancy affected me very deeply and I am still terrified to start trying for number two. Because of my story, and my mother’s, I don’t look at fertility and family building the way most mothers do. I feel a connection with people who are struggling to start their families, even if they don’t necessarily feel that with me. So perhaps my experience in the ALI community is especially unique.

And that is why I’m in kind of a weird place and perhaps see the ALI community a little differently. I’m kind of an outsider looking in and I don’t have the proper credentials to be accepted as others are. Plus I’m a relatively new blogger and I know how hard it is for others to find time to pick up someone new. I just had to trim my reader down yet again because it was too overwhelming to read 50 or more posts a day. My hope is that if I keep at it, and continue to find my own voice, that good things will happen. They already do! I have watched so many women become mothers and I have helped a blogger friend raise money to fund a longed-for adoption and I’ve supported people through tragedy and celebrated their triumphs. I’ve met blogging friends face to face and become Facebook friends with others. And even though I don’t get many comments, the ones I do get are that much more appreciated. So while my blogging experience is not always easy to navigate, it’s definitely worth the effort and I am so proud to be a part of this community, in the small way that I can.

4 Patience { 02.09.11 at 11:22 am }

What a great post, Mel.

I totally agree with your perspective on the ALI blogosphere. We have to break it down in order to manage and to find the connections we need. The challenge I am now facing is finding the way to cross over to a “new” clique while still keeping up with those I’ve become so close to. It’s hard to cross over. I’ve tried to start adding more adoption blogs to my reader, but I find myself gravitating to the blogs of those who I have become so very close to while in treatment. I haven’t been able to (ok, maybe not put the effort I should) into forming the same type of relationships with those who are adopting.

I was fortunate to be the recipient of so much support after my miscarriage was posted on LFCA. I try to make sure that I read it at least once a week now, and provide comments of support for those who need it. I do think that we are able to support those who need it- regardless of what “clique” we are in. That’s the universal need of everyone in the ALI community in my opinion- support!

Thanks again Mel for all you do to foster that sense of community in the ALI blogosphere!

5 Beautiful Mess { 02.09.11 at 11:25 am }

I completely disagreed with your first sentence, but as I read on, I get it. I do think we have cliques, but not in a high school snooty way. We all click with each other on a certain level, but then click with others on a more personal level.

The thing I love about our community is that no matter what category we are in the ALI header, when one of us is down, we’re right there! Like Wise Guy, for example. When we all heard that Lola had passed, we ALL ran to her side to give her words of comfort and virtually hold her hand. I’ve seen it many times, especially because of LFCA. I go to send a comment of congratulations of condolences and it warms my heart to see the comments before.

Yes, we all have our “groups” but, i don’t think, we’d ever exclude someone because they don’t fit our criteria.

6 electriclady { 02.09.11 at 12:13 pm }

I don’t think of it as “cliques” so much as “tribes.” We band together, not in order to shut others out, but to find an extra sense of connection with those we have the most in common with. There’s nothing wrong with that. I tend to read and comment most on (and get read by and commented on by) blogs by folks who were going through primary IF at the same time as me and/or were pregnant at the same time as me. That’s my tribe, even more so than those with whom I share a diagnosis. We have a shared experience, a shared vocabulary, that (as Serenity already pointed out) I’m simply not going to have with someone who’s newly diagnosed and just starting treatment. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily–it’s just a fact of human nature, like how high school seniors tend to stick together and don’t normally hang out with freshmen. They might have individual friends in other classes, but as a group they’re naturally going to hang out with other students applying to college and getting their driver’s licenses. And the freshmen benefit from hanging out with fellow newbies who are also trying to figure out where the bathrooms are and the best shortcut to make it across campus before the late bell rings.

For those of you who feel like it’s impossible to break in and start a new blog, may I remind you that even our dear Mel was a new blogger once. (I even remember back that far, which shows you what an old lady I am!) And I also think it’s more important to have 3 readers who really care than 300 readers who are just drive-bys.

7 HereWeGoAJen { 02.09.11 at 1:08 pm }

Well, I don’t know. I think that of course there is fragmenting because our corner of the blogosphere has gotten enormous. Which is good, but I also miss the time when I knew everyone. I’ve been around for three and a half years now and most of my blogs and most of my readers are from around the same time. I used to add every new blog that was posted on the LCFA to my reader. Obviously, I cannot do that anymore. And sadly, I haven’t been able to add many people at all in the last couple of years, I just can’t keep up. I read almost 300 blogs now, when I started I think I had something like fifteen.

I also think the fact that our community is getting so big is a wonderful thing. Obviously, there are days where I am not in the right place to lend support for someone or maybe just a day when I am too busy. The wonderful thing about us is that there is always someone else there who does have the strength and the time when that someone can’t be me.

8 Tara (TIMO) { 02.09.11 at 1:25 pm }

I’m a small blog in a sea of many blogs, some smaller but the majority it seems are larger. Plus, despite IF, we didn’t need treatment so I’ve had some fall back from the IF community because of that. Do I fit in here? I say I do.

I’m trying to comment more especially on the smaller blogs. But it’s tough. Like so many, my time is limited and I want to write a meaningful comment so often I end up not writing anything meaning to come back and then time has passed and it’s not relevant/important any more.

I was thinking of the blogroll this morning (before seeing this post). I was wondering if there was a category for people like me. And that got me thinking about how I define myself and my blog. It’s something I still need to ponder.

9 Michelle { 02.09.11 at 1:47 pm }

Wow, good post.

I think that organization is necessary, no doubt about it. We all are, however, under one big umbrella that binds us. It sometimes allows fluidity between the rooms and it often produces an empathy that only our ‘community’ can understand. That in itself is extrememly comforting.

I’ve recently switched rooms on this site. And yet I still feel very connected in both. I will always have LOSS very close to my heart. In fact, the decision to move itself, was very difficult for me. Because, it will never leave me. I will never leave ‘them’ behind. It’s sort of like offering a hand and lifting the person up with that face that says…”I know”.

And yet, on the other side of the ‘Adoption’ world, I’m still new. I need the lifting. I’m soooooooooooooo grateful to have found women to connect with, to share questions and answers with. So to have things sorted/cliqued out, has been really important to me. Sure, I’ve noticed that my reader list is starting to include more adoption blogs, but that is just what represents where I’m at now.

We need the organization to help us find each other as time/events/life challlenges present themselves to us. And at the same time, sometimes I’m not strong enough to hang out with women who are able to get pregnant and have those babies I’ve been longing for. So sometimes, yes, I need that separation too.

And that’s where I hear your point the loudest: ‘Adding to our emotional health, not sucking it dry’.

It’s the support. The bias free support that’s allowed here. And that rocks. Having only been blogging for about 8 months, I finally felt ALIVE and ROARING once I found more women like me..because of you, Mel. All because of you.

So as always, thank you for this. It’s sooooooooooo very much needed.

10 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.09.11 at 2:10 pm }

It’s human nature to seek out similarities and also notice our differences. I completely agree with the way you see the SOOB, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fragmenting. It’s inevitable given a certain critical mass.

That said, I agree with Beautiful Mess in that we are there to rally around when someone needs it. Especially if that someone has been very active in leaving comments and building relationships all over the globe (it took me 3 tries to type that word because I kept inputting “bloge.”)

I suppose I am now considered an “old” blogger. I know there are new groups that I’m not part of. I know my Reader is full-to-my-capacity. I know that I do not seek out new ones to add, but occasionally one does come across my radar through a comment, a post that resonates, a meme.

I am so glad I found this community. I would likely not be a blogger today if I hadn’t.

11 JessPond { 02.09.11 at 2:15 pm }

I’ve been blogging since 05 and I agree that it was easier back then….but with a smaller group of people blogging (period, let alone in this particular area of the blogosphere) there were obviously going to be more people looking for connections via blog…to read and to in turn read their blog and support them. It was easy enough back then to locate the few IF bloggers there were out there, and then find the ones that you could relate to and form real friendships with them. Although a lot of them from that time have dropped out of blogging or have moved on/gone pwp, there are still a lot of girls from the 05-08 time period that I talk to and they are the ones I trust the most probably because I know their stories so well. That said, building those types of relationships requires commitment. You have to comment on the bloggers who comment on you, and you have to share your story with them. Too many bloggers who have gone by the wayside have done so because they only update every month or so…which makes it hard to stay connected, especially if they’re not COMMENTING, either. (I used to not READ a post if I’d not comment on it, though now that I have two kids and less free time, I just try to comment now and again at the least, for sure if there’s a lot going on for a blogger.) Friendships, especially online friendships, are hard to keep going and if you don’t reciprocate and reciprocate A LOT (esp online when you don’t know the details of the other person’s every day life always to cut them slack) you’re not likely to have many people stick around. It’s hard to follow bloggers that don’t share their life with you, and harder yet to let them into your blog if you’re going private for one reason or another. You end up basically not knowing them.

I think that the cliques are fine as long as they’re not shouting “we’re all equal” and instead are just saying quietly “we’re friends in this group, but we’re open to having more friends.” Know what I mean? Otherwise, is it any better than high school in its fakeness?

I’ve seen great things come out of this community, but I’ve also seen a few instances of people shouting “community” while not truly caring about anyone, and in the end, that hurts more than saying nothing at all.

12 Marissa { 02.09.11 at 2:21 pm }

As a new blogger still deep in the throws of primary IF, I do think there are ‘groups’. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call them cliques, because I don’t think exclusion is the purpose. I think self-selection may have more to do with it.

During ICLW, I look at the lists for finding new blogs to read (not just to make a comment on and never come back). I do this because I know those blogs are active, and lots of the ones in the ‘rooms’ are not. But when I’m choosing blogs, I do NOT look for the ones that say “pregnant” or “children” in their descriptions. I follow your blog, Mel, and another older one, about people parenting after IF. But when I’m looking for a ‘community’, I’m not looking, right now, for people who are enjoying motherhood.

Of course, some of the blogs I’ve stumbled across and loved *are* about secondary IF. But everyone is actively (or not-so-actively but still hopefully) trying to conceive. That’s where I’m at. As nice as it is to know that, well, other people have children, that’s not what I turn to this community for.

And honestly, as some of my blog friends have gotten pregnant and their pregnancies progress, I find I have less and less to comment on, authentically. Sometimes posts still strike a chord, but sometimes they do not. It’s a bit sad and I hope to be in their shoes someday, but right now, I identify with those who want a child and don’t have one growing inside of them as they type.

I don’t much care about diagnosis or treatment (I’m currently doing a FET), it’s the TTC or not aspect that strikes me.

13 Shelli { 02.09.11 at 2:50 pm }

Considering I’ve had a stay in just about every category on the ALI Blogroll, and being a blogger for 5+ years, I have observed a shift over time.

Back in the day when we all knew each other (regardless of our “categorization”) it WAS much easier to follow and support everyone. I think that as you mentioned, with the quantity of bloggers it is really hard to keep a pulse on the whole community and very easy to disconnect entirely because of the overwhelming amount of information.

My reader is bursting at the seams, and although I am still commenting, I am finding less time to post to my own blog because of the time commitment. For me, it’s becoming more manageable to hang out on Twitter. But doing that, I feel like I am losing my connection with the ALI community.

Yeah, there are a lot of cliques, and I am not in any of them. I think because my path is more unique it’s hard to find a bond with other bloggers. As with real-life friendships blogging and commenting is a two-way street. I get easily restless when I feel like I am towing the line. I don’t have the time like I used to, so I value every interaction even more because of that. But yes, that kinship is hard to find now.

The net of it all- I think it’s really hard to not admit that the community breaks down into smaller segments because it has to. Evolution, I guess.

14 Mina { 02.09.11 at 3:45 pm }

I see this community as a tree. We feed through the same root (the desire to have children) and share the trunk (ALI), but individually, we, as seeds, have to stay on one branch or twig, depending how much the readership is.
Personally, I am on the main branch ‘miscarriage’, which in time grew another branch ‘pregnancy after miscarriage’, who got another branch ‘parenting after miscarriage’ and now I am very interested in finding out as much as I can about other people staying on the branch ‘sleep troubles and one-digit months old babies’, and I very much appreciate other shared experiences in this age group.
Are we together? Yes. Are we apart? Just like branches on a tree.

15 AFM { 02.09.11 at 4:44 pm }

I totally agree, we are all connected at a root level but our paths through the land of if are different. I have been blogging for a year and a half now and have a small and cherished readerrship. but i do sometimes feel that having secondary if makes it harder for people to relate. and while having suffered multiple losses i have no idea what its like to go through an IVF cycle. Its our experiences that draw us into our niches in the land of IF. But deep down we all understand the longing and heartbreak that the land of IF presents us with.

16 Denver Laura { 02.09.11 at 4:45 pm }

I don’t think clique is the right term. A clique forms and people want to be part of it. I don’t want to be a part of any of these cliques that make up ALI.

I’ll throw out another metaphor. Back when this nation was formed, each state had their own citizens, printed its own money, formed its own government. But the 13 states had to come together, united, to fight against a common enemy. Each state still retains a particular identity all while still being part of the larger nation. When I look at the weather map, although it lists the snow in DC, unless I’m traveling there, I’m not as concerned about it. I focus on Colorado because that’s where I live day to day.

My reader contains a few blogs from outside the fostering world, but I don’t live in the actively trying space any more.

17 Bea { 02.09.11 at 5:18 pm }

You have it. People relate best to those with similar experiences – that said, sometimes I read other stories precisely because they’re so different from my own. But I very much tend to stick, these days, with the same old blogs because I feel like I struggle hard enough to keep touch with those I do know, nevermind meeting new people. Which doesn’t mean I won’t click through from the roundup or the LFCA – reasons these community projects are so useful and important. But it must be hard for those just starting out (hint! if you are undergoing treatments, try listing at cyclesista.com and grab a button whilst you’re there to introduce the resource to other new bloggers!)

Hanging out in loosely-defined groups or circles isn’t a bad thing in itself, it’s just a fact of human social interaction. The problems only come when we start getting mean, snobby, or otherwise nasty towards “the other”, instead of focussing on our similarities and/or the support we can give each other.


18 Calliope { 02.09.11 at 6:22 pm }

To Esperanza: I soooooo understand your comment about Mom blogs. I confess that probably 90% of the Mom blogs I read are only from our own community because NO one else gets it. But within that group of blogs we all became Moms in different ways. I think what unites us is a love of wine and the F word…but I digress…

I’ve been blogging for a long time and I have gotten really awful about reading new blogs. I don’t even pay attention to when they begin (sorry!!)

Wish we could have a Behold Our Own Blogs Symposium (BOOBS!) and every 4 months/quarter we submit ourself, if need be, for attention and recognition. New blog that no one is reading? Submit your name and at the BOOBS we’ll all notice you. etc…

really I just wanted to say Boobs.

19 Warrior Woman { 02.09.11 at 6:55 pm }

Although not new to blogging in general, I am VERY new to blogging in the IF world. And I must admit that I feel a bit intimidated by the obvious friendships among many of the bloggers in this blogosphere. I feel like someone who has arrived very late and underdressed to a party. I think the main issue is that I’m definitely in the beginning stages (just starting injectables next cycle) where others have been through what I have and more and come out on the other side with a baby, or choosing to live child-free. I’m just not there yet, and I understand that it must be hard for all of you to remember what it’s like to be where I am now.

The LFCA has been a huge help for me, and I thank you for continuing to update it. I’ll continue to comment and put myself out there and hopefully one day I’ll be the veteran helping out a new blogger going through her first injection.

20 loribeth { 02.09.11 at 7:51 pm }

I can only echo what others have said before me. Been blogging for about 3.5 years, but I am among the small sub-segment (I don’t particularly like the term clique either) who are living childfree after loss &/or infertility, and who actually started blogging long after getting off the roller coaster. I just turned 50 (gulp). I know that I’m not going to get a lot of hopeful 25-year-olds who are just starting out in treatment (and who are, technically, young enough to be my daughters — eeeeekkkk…!) reading my blog — and frankly, I’m probably not going to be too interested in the twists & turns of all their cycles either. But I think we all wish each other well, no matter what our specific individual situation. : ) On some level, we have we have some basic understanding of what others in this community are going or have gone through, even if their stories are not exactly the same as our own.

My Google Reader is already way overstuffed. There is no way I can regularly read all the new blogs listed on LFCA, let alone leave comments on all of them — but I do try to at least visit the new ones at least once, & leave a supportive comment for those in special need of one. (Same with the people who take the time to comment on my blog.) I do take a special interest in others who have also made the decision to live childfree. And once in awhile, I stumble onto a new blog that resonates with me for some reason — maybe it’s by a fellow Canadian : ) , maybe it’s a loss story similar to my own, maybe it’s exceptionally well written — & I add it to my reader. But I’m trying to keep things manageable. There are only so many hours in the day…

I used to see some of this in our real-life pregnancy loss support group. Various members would tell us they felt guilty because they could get pregnant easily while others in the group were struggling with infertility, or because they “only” had a miscarriage while someone else lost their child at birth under tragic circumstances. People with living kids would say they felt guilty being around people who didn’t have any. We had to continually remind people that everyone’s loss was significant, regardless of the circumstances or the gestation of the baby, & try to get them to focus on the similarities among us rather than the differences.

And I think that’s where sites like Stirrup Queens & LFCA are so valuable. : ) You give us a common focal point that we can all rally around, regardless of what stage we’re at in our journey, & I for one am so grateful for that. : )

21 Toni { 02.09.11 at 7:53 pm }

Agreed. And what a completely interesting comment. I will admit most of the people I converse with regularly are in a similar position as me (not all PCOS though) but I do reach out to others. The bigger projects and ICLW provide a platform for me to do this, and every single time I do, I receive nothing but a wonderful response.

That’s not exclusion. That’s like working up the nerve to sit at a new lunch table in school. If they accept you at the table, you’re not excluded. If you choose not to even go there in the first place, that’s your own reservations holding you back..

I think of the blogging community like a giant party. Obviously, there isn’t going to be one conversation occurring, but rather dozens of smaller conversations taking place simultaneously. People divide based on interest and topics but you can move freely throughout the party and join in different conservations whenever the mood hits you. You may not all share the same likes and dislikes but you’re all at the party, which means you share some common denominator.

22 It is what it is { 02.09.11 at 8:56 pm }

I agree that there are sub-groups within the larger IF community and also agree with @Marissa that it is more by default than design.

IF (diagnosis, acceptance, treatment, outcome, etc) can be SUCH a long road that folks, if they are blogging, start at A, pick up readers that are kindred spirits and then as the process ebbs and flows, as it is wont to do, readers will move on and new ones will join the party.

I am ALWAYS looking for new blogs to add to my roll if they have to do with domestic adoption. I’m no longer in the IF space I was once it. That doesn’t mean that I won’t come across such a compelling writer with such a good story that I can’t help but to follow along (which does happen), but I mostly look for those that are in a similar space as I am.

However, I still follow the blogs of many of the original bloggers who are still on the ART path. I can’t help but want to support them and see them through.

I would still offer to share my story and be a resource to anyone pursuing IF, regardless.

23 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 02.09.11 at 9:02 pm }

Funny that you should say this, because right now one of the above commenters and I are working on a project that specifically, purposefully cuts across ALI categories.

Over the 2.5 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve been in several blogroll categories (and several others in which I could have been listed but wasn’t), but my blog friends, readers, and those I read regularly include many people from categories I’ve never belonged to.

Personally, aside from the saturation aspect, one thing that makes me reluctant to pick up new blogs is that many new bloggers don’t stick with it. Another issue, which has been discussed before on your blog, is the concern that a blogger who is TTC #1 may not want to hear from someone who now has children — even if it’s someone who struggled with IF for many many years, like me. There are a couple of blogs that I still read but never comment on for that very reason.

24 Christina { 02.09.11 at 9:37 pm }

As a very new blogger (1mo) and rather new IF’er (4mo), I would have to say that yes there is separation, but a lot more unity. In a weird way, the party analogy is perfect. We are all in the same house, different rooms, different conversations, but we are all there together and people can easily move from room to room and convo to convo if they so choose.

I have felt a very warm welcome since starting here. It takes time to form a readership, especially in such a large community. However, I can say that I have more followers visitors on my blog from here, than my husband had on his online novel that he was actively promoting on sites and forums, etc. I’ve found myself initially reading similar stories to mine, but click on an interesting blog name or a mentioned blog in a post and thus begins my trail of clicks to so many diff women, going through diff situations.

It may just be me (or a small selection of people on here), but I like to read a variety of experiences and circumstances. I’ve read adoption, loss, parenting, etc blogs. I’ve found some very good writers that way. And those are things that I choose to reas b/c I don’t know where this IF journey will take me and I want to ready myself for what ever path I may have to go down later. Besides, it is great to know that there is happiness to be found at the end of the IF journey, be it pregnancy or adoption, or even child-free. It gives me hope to keep trying and moving on because if they could do it, then so can I!

25 C { 02.09.11 at 10:51 pm }

I agree with a lot of what Marissa said. I made some really great connections during the last couple ICLWs, and have some new blogs that I love, whose journeys I’m following closely, and who have been great support to me. But I agree with her, also, that at this point I don’t feel like I get very much out of blogs about parenting after IF. Not that they aren’t good blogs. Not that I won’t ever want to read them. But that *right now* they are so very alien to the version of IF that I’m living. (And I realize how hypocritical this is, given that I’m newly pregnant. But to me, newly pregnant = waiting to miscarry)

Some of my favorite blogs are people who don’t seem to have much in common with me, but with whom I’ve managed to form a connection anyway. So it’s not like the *only* blogs I enjoy are carbon copies of myself. But it’s human nature for like to seek like. I think electriclady’s analogy was quite apt.

26 Mali { 02.09.11 at 11:14 pm }

I think it’s asking a lot of any community the size of the ALI community to be homogenous. (It’s like expecting all women to have the same political view, or all those of a particular race or religion to agree). After all, this is a community that brings people together based essentially on their biology. But we are all different, and it is only natural that people might group together with others who understand their own experiences. This very much depends of course on the stage you are at, as well. For example, my infertility journey ended 8 years ago, and so I would feel almost voyeuristic if I was involved with bloggers who were at the early stages, still full of hope. My story could be seen as depressing and scary to them (even though I love my life now). And so – if I’m reading and commenting on IF blogs, they are primarily those who are in a similar situation to me.

We also have our limits – in terms of time, energy, etc. So more established bloggers build up a network they can cope with, and don’t have the need to add new blogs (except from time to time). New bloggers are more likely to connect with other new bloggers. That’s no different to making friends in the real world. If we have a good group of supportive friends, we don’t necessarily go out to find a whole bunch of new friends, we just add one or two as the years go on.

I connect with a completely different community on other parts of my life – mothers (natural and adoptive), childfree, guys, etc – so I’m not a one trick pony!

However, I think you do an extraordinary job of pulling women together here, no matter our stage of life, our experiences or our outcome, and that is a wonderful thing.

27 MrsH { 02.10.11 at 1:08 am }

The first reason why I blog is for myself. It is however so nice to see that I get a consistent four comments or so after every post, it took me about six months to get here. And I must thank you for your support in organizing all of the blog connections activities, like the ICLW, which has added more readers and helped me find more blogs to read. I think overall you are spot on, I have seen the group get larger and larger, but I don’t feel excluded from any of the “cliques” though. I got a lot of support from my small group of “followers” and blogging has been good to me even though I have joined recently in these later harder times to join.

28 luna { 02.10.11 at 2:12 am }

I think some sort of fragmentation is just inherent, by virtue of sheer numbers, varied interests and experience, limited time and capacity, etc. I never had a huge readership but it certainly has evolved with my own story. I think having a hub (you) helps create a sense of community, and many of us do band together to support each other and to be heard. yet I certainly have limited ability to remain connected to someone just starting their first treatment, for example, when I fill my reader with other blogs that I’ve been following for years, or adoption related blogs of interest to me now.

but you brought this up in terms of exclusion, and I think a lot of the adoption-related blogs I read (including birth parents and adoptees) fall outside the main realm of the ALI blog community.

29 mash { 02.10.11 at 4:30 am }

I think the word “clique” has so many negative connotations, when really it’s just a few people with something in common who like to share things with each other!

There are blogs that I don’t actually enjoy reading within this community. There are definitely people who won’t enjoy reading mine.

It’s OK isn’t it?

30 Sam { 02.10.11 at 9:19 am }

In the years I’ve been blogging I’ve shifted through one or two catagories myself so I totally get what you’re saying.

I don’t think it’s about having cliques though, for me it was about connecting with like minded people who were/are going through the same or similar things that I was… it helped to know that there were other ppl out there who got where I was, who understood the blackness in my soul… When I first started blogging I could not get enough, but once I had made connections and started “relationships” with ppl it became harder to add more and more blogs to the feed…

I think with any community, one finds ppl that you “connect” with and you keep in touch with those ppl. It does not mean you don’t care about others within the community (in fact you do, and I personally use LFCA as my tool to reach out to them) it just means you have “special” ppl that you hit it off with better than others…. its a natural human progression in my mind. You tend to “hang out” with ppl who are similar to yourself.

And that is just fine, cos there is always someone else who will hit it off with the person you don’t… it’s the one benefit of a growing community.

There is someone there for everyone.


31 sushigirl { 02.10.11 at 11:24 am }

I can’t say I’ve found it difficult to start blogging. I suppose it depends on what you blog for; if you just want an online journal that’s easy, or if you want to make a small group of friends, although it’s more difficult if you want your blog to be a big-must read blog.

The other thing is, I really hate the reader. I tend to look at my blogroll to see who has updated and go from there. The reader makes it feel like I’ve set myself homework.

32 Kir { 02.10.11 at 11:30 am }

I agree, one of the reasons that I decided to own my blog domain was that I was sad that I felt “lost” in the blog community, I don’t have a “STORY” that keeps people coming back, but I wanted to have something new and deeper to share.

I would say it’s harder to start a blog today, I am already overwhelemed with all the ways to connect lately. Seriously, it is a full time job and I already have one. While I enjoy finding new people, being exposed to new blogs and lives etc, I also find comfort in the blogs that were with me and here for me from the beginning and I want to keep reading them without guilt.

I wish I knew the answer, because all of us in the ALI community have important things to say and I want to listen.

33 Pam/Wordgirl { 02.10.11 at 2:44 pm }

As always — a thought provoking post!

I remember when I started blogging in 07 I would wonder why it was that the larger blogs I read and commented on– why I seldom received a comment in return — and now I think I understand.

I do think that after you’ve found an initial niche in the larger community — that you do tend to follow along the same paths. I know that for me that’s a function of time partly, after the configuration of our family changed — so too my time and immersion in the community — and while I do enjoy the building connection of new blogs — and I have found a few in the last year — I tend to have a handful of blogs/friends that I follow…

34 m. { 02.10.11 at 5:34 pm }

I really like the idea of “tribe” over clique. Especially since clique conveys a kind of “ooh I wish I were in there” kind of vibe and I can honestly say that while some of my closest friends and confidants were found there, I really wish I never had to become part of the “loss” clique. I am guessing every single person there would say the same thing.

But Tribe – that kind of conveys how it feels, and how it felt when I entered each of these rooms in the ALI roll (IF, donor egg, loss, childfree…). Serious wide-eyed discovery. Oh my GOSH. There ARE people out there like me! It was heavenly. Like walking into a party just for you that you had no idea had been planned.

After our loss, a very specific subsection of a tribe, women and men that had lost their children around the same time we did, became my lifeline to the world and honestly, what kept me functional. I cannot and do not want to think about processing that raw grief without people around me saying, hey, I feel that way too, or reading words that somehow encapsulated thoughts I couldn’t even put together at the time. Ironically, these are probably some of the same blogs I avoided while pregnant. Because, as you said, Mel, blog reading should enhance your mental health not strain it, and we all know if you just think happy thoughts and rainbows everything will be fine (oh if only…)

But yes, it is easy to feel like you’re falling through the cracks sometimes. Esp. when no one tribe is where you presently “are.”

I am approaching a 4 year blogoversary. I can’t imagine my life without this Community. All of it. And the real and true friends I have made through it. But I am not feeling as active in the online piece of it as I once was. I much, much prefer getting a chance to sit down for lunch or coffee with amazing women I happened to meet online.

My life is richer for being here, and I think that is the definition of community, no matter how it segments and evolves.

35 TasIVFer { 02.10.11 at 8:23 pm }

I only started this blog (I have others) to get things off my chest after my miscarriage. At first meeting others was sort of incidental – but the support I’ve gotten from friends and drop-ins is fantastic and a key part of my sanity lately.

I’ve been contemplating why I add people to my reader and when, trying to see a rhyme or reason. I kept thinking ‘oh, I wouldn’t add someone who was XXX’ – but then I’d be able to think of someone who totally goes against that ‘rule’. I guess I just add people I feel a connection with. I don’t think it’s being cliquey; there are so many bloggers out there it would be impossible to keep up with all of them. Just like there are too many people in my city to be friends with all of them, so I stick to the people I know. I still add people to my reader. I have a shockingly bad memory, so I’m constantly going to a blog, relating to the person, then later realising I didn’t add them to my reader and kicking myself.

36 marilyn { 02.10.11 at 10:14 pm }

you bring up such a good point. I agree with you. Here is where my challenge is: There are just so many great blogs. I try to comment and read all my posts in my reader but really i can hardly keep up. i do not want to just comment frivolously. But i really enjoy reading success stories, give support with the grieving and couples who have bfn’s. Sometimes it gets really draining. Out of all my followers, only 10% really comments and give me support. Well..I have really become addicted to some blogs and not others. I am not clichy so far. I have a mixture..but mostly with women going through the same ivf experience i am going though. I read other’s blog..like adoption and other issues..but since i amnot going through the same experience, the know how or knowledge to give support is lacking. Anyways– you are great..I love you blog and gave you an award. I am not sure if you accept awards but it is on my blog. If it wasn’t for you i would not have found such great support!:)

37 marilyn { 02.10.11 at 10:16 pm }

this posts just reminds me not to be selfish..I have to go to my reader and give back the support all my friends have given me!

38 coffeegrl { 02.11.11 at 2:13 am }

Exclusion to me (at least when I think of the Exclusion Project) is really more about those active choices people make to keep others out, or to reject them. And while there are some instances of that in any community, virtual or face to face, I don’t think that segmentation or self-selection is really the same as exclusion. Yes, I actively exclude sea urchin from my diet on most days – I’d rather not eat it thank you very much! But there are lots of things that I “exclude” simply because I can only eat and consume so much in one day. I have to impose some limits otherwise I’d spend all day every day eating. And yet, I’m a pretty adventurous eater and I don’t find myself always eating the same things; I like to see what’s out there and keep myself open to new possibilities. I may find a new favorite food! I think blogging (and blog reading) is the same. I can’t read everything, so does that mean I’m being exclusive or just realistic about how much time I have? But I do try to be open to new bloggers and see what’s out there, through the LCFA, reading comments on others’ blogs etc. You never know where the next great blogger/friend may be.

39 Mrs. Spit { 02.11.11 at 12:03 pm }

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, mulling it over. I wrote a few weeks ago about finding a new community. I think we all write what we know, that’s what blogging is. It’s not that we aren’t interested in other people, but we naturally gravitate to what is familiar – what resonates for us most likely mirrors what already exists in our own lives.

When I think about blogs I talk about on my blog, they reflect my circumstance in some way. I know about perinatal death, I know about pre-eclampsia and I’m learning about living child free. Even though I’ve been blogging for 3 years, which I’m realizing does make me old-ish in the blogosphere, I’m very aware of all of the things I don’t know, all of the things that I don’t talk about on my blog. I have no knowledge of parenting after infertility, I have no knowledge of adoption, I have no knowledge a great many things, so I stick to what I know. I write through a particular lens. That act rules some things in, and some things out.

I think, as a general rule, we are a kinder group than other groups. We’ve all seen the biting that goes on in other communities. I think our experience with wanting what you may not get makes us kinder to others. We understand the nature of hurt and tragedy in a way that others might not. But, I’m not so sure that I would mistake kindness for inclusivity. I think that sort of inclusivity, where everyone gets time and equal voice takes a sort of planning and deliberate attempt that we aren’t making. I don’t know why, maybe we don’t have time, maybe we are busy, and maybe it is an unalterable truth that we stick to what we know.

I don’t think it matters whether we call ourselves tribes or cliques, the bottom line seems to be that whatever we call those groups, we stay in them. I think that’s human, but I do think if we are going to acknowledge that there are groups, then we also need to acknowledge that this means that people are split up; the word group confers on it a certain amount of exclusivity. When we split others up, that means that some will be marginalized, some won’t fit in.

I guess, if I could say anything about the ALI blogosphere, I would say that it contains a lot of people. Some of them will have interests in common with you. There are organizational tools, like the blog roll, to go help you find them. Understand, it’s run and administered by people who may have different experiences than yours, may look at things through a different lens. They may or may not talk about your circumstance or highlight your blog, and that may leave you feeling as if you are in a popularity contest that you can’t win.

Decide why you write, and write your own story. In the end, that’s what blogging is about – not popularity, but telling your story. As in anything else, what you put in is going to affect what you get out.

40 Bionic Baby Mama { 02.12.11 at 12:58 pm }

i haven’t read all of the comments, but i did find myself nodding my head at the tribe-vs.-clique distinction several people made.

the only time i have felt actively excluded — as opposed to just not enough in the same place (in any of several ways, not just re: IF) as a blogger to really be a part of that tribe — is by the occasional blog post i read that take time to specifically denounce, diminish, or dismiss gay parenting. For instance, a post that says a lesbian couple dealing with IF issues is less entitled to feel upset because they knew they couldn’t have children the “natural” way already. I do feel really taken aback and wonder at the “big umbrella-ness” of it all in those moments.

41 MommyOdyssey { 02.13.11 at 10:18 am }

As a relatively new blogger, I don’t think it’s an issue of cliques. I just think it’s hard to keep up. I blog daily, and most of the bloggers I follow do the same, and I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by the amount of people I follow. But it is true that the ones I follow most are ones in a similar situation to mine (multiple miscarriages). It’s not a clique thing, it’s just a place to find understanding. The women I’ve found through this community have literally saved my life, and so I would maybe not look at it as cliques, but rather, a large group comprised of smaller support groups. Which makes sense on a lot of levels. And each day I find new people to follow, (especially during ICLW!) but I just try to go for it in moderation. We’re only human, after all. 🙂

42 aisha { 02.13.11 at 11:31 pm }

I read IF/non IF, PCOS, adoption, DE, and everything in between- I read blogs that are either a) I developed a relationship with the blogger or b)I truly enjoy how the person writes. I add about 5 blogs a month to myer ader (many through ICLW). As someone who has been blogging for seven years at my main site, and two years at an anonymous site I had- I feel that its not necessarily harder to start a new blog- but because ther eare so many “big” bloggers out there- it can be a cas eof comparing yourself to others that can make you feel bad about blogging and make you feel excluded.

My motto has always been: Write. And Write Well. And nine times out of ten, they will follow.

43 Battynurse { 02.18.11 at 9:54 pm }

I agree with you totally. I used to follow a lot more and keep up with the LFCA and all of that but anymore it feels like it’s all I can do to keep up with what shows up in my reader. I’m perpetually behind. As much as I know I would love to follow along with so many others, I just feel like I can’t keep adding to it.

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