“Your comment is important to us…”
Considering what they say, that you can’t choose your own family, I guess I’ve been pretty lucky with mine.
I’m talking about my blog family, the coterie of far-flung readers who have grown close around my Oddly Enough Blog over the past three years.
The blog, if you’re not a reader, is my own quirky take on news and non-news. It is sarcastic, snarky and, some readers think, entertaining.
It’s a little hard to categorize. Travel and Leisure magazine named it one of their “Top Travel Websites of 2009,” much to my surprise. As the slogan on my landing page says, it’s “News, but not the serious kind.”
The overwhelming majority of people who come to my blog just read it and go on to something else, leaving a trail of 3.1 million page views last year.
But a plucky few stick around, commenting, joking, flirting and just doing what people with something in common do.
According to the blog tool Reuters uses, a few days ago I got my 30,000th comment. That is a serious level of interactivity, even for a popular blog like this one, with a Facebook Network following of nearly 17,000 readers.
The readers who comment share as little or as much of themselves as they care to. We don’t pry behind the nickname they choose.
“CrowGirl” is a swineherd in Wales, a self-described “farmhand, fatalist, potato enthusiast, frivoler, map addict and deontologist. Yeah, I had to look up that last one, too.
“Dave_not_Dave” is a former major in the U.S. Marines who manages a construction company in Afghanistan and lives in a converted storage container on an Afghan airfield. Dave’s second biggest problem, after suicide bombers, is what he calls “to whom it may concern” rockets, lobbed randomly in his direction.
Not surprisingly, Dave’s blog comments tend to be brief and to the point.
Then there is “Shra,” a native of India who works in Scotland and likes to roam the world so much that she has “traveler” tattooed in kanji on her ankle. Within my blog commenting family, Shra is the keeper of an imaginary taser, used without mercy on readers who take the blog too seriously. The blog is a place for fun, not pedantry, she reminds them. Zap.
On and on it goes. “Nosmo,” born in New Zealand of a UK father and Danish mother, trains border security agents in Canada. “JustK,” a conservative Republican, home schools her children from a trailer home in Texas, plays drums at her church, and has been cracking me up with her comments for three years.
While most readers preserve their anonymity, a few chip away at it in private messages, some of them surprisingly personal. A marriage falling apart, a new baby, bouts with depression, health problems and other secrets, often confided just to tell me why a reader may not be back for a while.
Some of my readers have even gotten together in various parts of the world, to share notes, have drinks and toast the blog that brought them together. I am not convinced that such fraternization is good for the universe, but it goes on just the same.
For my own part, I haven’t met any of them yet. Perhaps that’s for the best.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t tried the blog, have a look.
Nah, on second thought, you probably wouldn’t like it.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama makes a point as she talks to children about health and fitness during a visit to an elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland, May 19, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The Dalai Lama jokes with a nasal spray after being asked his opinion on the swine flu during a press conference after his first lecture in Lausanne, August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud
A swimmer dressed as a toilet waits to enter the waters of English Bay during the 90th annual Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark
U.S. actor George Clooney arrives for a charity dinner in Venice August 26, 2008. The 65th Venice Film Festival will take place from August 27 to September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) drives Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s limousine as they arrive at an event in Margarita Island, September 28, 2009. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout