Monday, April 11, 2011

Friends from the Blogosphere


Blog friends on a Yucatan beach outing

I have been participating in a phenomenon for some time now and it took me a while to realize it.

I've been e-dating.

Well, not really. It would be more correct to say I have been e-socializing.

To backtrack a little, I was invited to many parties and met quite a few expatriate residents of Mérida when I first came here about eight years ago. Although many were nice people, few of my initial acquaintances from those days became long-term friends. The expat population of Mérida is equivalent in size to a very small town. The pool is limited. Finding others with common interests or attitudes is not always easy if you want a relationship that extends beyond discussing the ins and outs of living here and restoring and decorating old houses, which is the topical lingua franca among expats in this area.

Actually, I have never been the type to hang out with a drink in my left hand and a little napkin cradling cheese on a cracker in my right and make easy conversation with strangers. My stock of small talk is not large, so at these events I tend to hug the wall and observe. That's not the best strategy if your purpose is to "meet and mingle." I now have a full social life with Mexican friends and a small handful of foreigners, so quantity of social contacts is not an issue. But I have at times longed for more of the type of friend with whom I have a lot in common, who always knows where I am coming from. That's not easy to find across cultures and languages.

I never considered the internet as a way to make friends (I am not talking about "friends," as in Facebook, here). However through blogging I have discovered a new way to get to know people and develop new friendships.

Steve, whom I met through blogging, has mentioned from time to time visits with people he has met via the world of blogs. Steve has traveled a lot throughout Mexico, and in many places he goes is able to visit with people he has gotten to know first through their blogs. It appears to me that Steve has made many interesting acquaintances, and some real friends, through his years of blogging. It looks as if I am on that same path.

What usually happens is that I start reading a new blog because the author has begun to make comments on An Alaskan in Yucatán. Or, I notice an interesting blog and begin making comments there. Occasionally that begins a dialog, which may lead to emails or other types of communication. Often we focus on a common philosophy or interest, usually having to do with Yucatán or Mexico. Some of my contacts are people who live here, and others are travelers, visitors or dreamers who hope one day to live or visit here.

Following a good blog for a while allows you to learn quite a bit about the author, who may be someone you've never met. If you read and comment back and forth a while, you get a good feeling for shared interests and attitudes. If you finally meet the blogger in person, the need for "getting acquainted" small talk has been dispensed with, and there is usually a lot to talk about.

Some months ago I met face-to-face for the first time a blogger whose point of view I appreciate and with whom I had communicated for the better part of a year. He'd been reading and commenting on my blog for some time as well. In a final email before he came with his wife to Mérida for a seasonal visit, he wrote, "I feel as if I already know you." I felt the same way. And when we sat down for the very first time to talk, the feelings were proven to be correct. We dove into a conversation that rambled as if we were picking up where we'd left off on a previous meeting, and we continue to get together on a regular basis when he is in town. The rest of the time, we keep in touch through our blogs.

If you read this blog you probably are interested in the Yucatán or Mexico. I encourage you to browse through some of my favorite blogs, listed in my blog roll, "Mexico Blogs I Read," to the right of this post. Some are informal and chatty like letters to family, and some are of professional quality or approach the status of literature. All have something interesting to offer. Take a look. Offer a comment. Who knows...you may make new friends.

9 comments:

  1. I agree that blogs are a good way to get to know people. A lot of my "friends" in my industry are people I've followed through their blogs, sometimes never meeting them in person.

    In Mérida, I've had experiences similar to yours at all-expat gatherings and now tend to skip them. Happily, I'm a big fan of the Monday night conversaciones at the Mérida English Library. The event attracts an interesting mix of Mexicans and Spanish-speaking expats, and because the goal is inclusive conversation, the topics can vary widely. I don't consider myself good at small talk but I still enjoy most Mondays.

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  2. Well, Marc, our minds seem to be running in the same track again. I am in the drafting stages of a post about the image we portray to our readers. You have given me another angle to come at it. Thanks.

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  3. I've had the pleasure of meeting, in person, quite a few people whom I first "met" online. You're exactly right about not having to go through all the small talk that takes place when you first meet someone.

    I smiled at your self-description of being a wall hugger and observer. I'm exactly the same way, and Señor B and I aren't much for partying, either. Despite your and my wall hugging tendencies, when you came to visit us at our condo, we had a lovely afternoon talking about all sorts of things. Perhaps because we already "knew" each other?

    I enjoy reading your blog, Marc, and learning more about you. I appreciate that you read mine and that you have me listed. I hope we can get together with you each time we come down.

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  4. Well said, Marc!

    ~eric.

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  5. I found two new (to me) blogs just by reading the comments on this post!

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  6. Being an introvert, I can relate to the wall-hugging at large social events. Hopefully, when we are living permanently in Mérida, we will connect with a few like minded people. We are not really into the cocktail party scene and prefer good conversation over coffee or dinner. I like the idea of getting to know people through blogging. Tried the Facebook thing for a brief time but deleted my account. Huge waste of time and boring beyond belief.

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  7. Hi Marc, I also enjoy your blog but I don't comment as often as I'd like to... Never enough hours in the day. John and Allan say they are not on Facebook... me neither! I can't imagine the additional time that it would take. Take care!

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  8. Great post.
    When I started blogging I didn't know another soul who was living in the Yucatan or harboring the same half-baked fantasy of doing so. I thought I was mainly posting notes to myself. What an unexpected gift it has been to find blog friends who are sharing the same dream, or already living it.

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  9. Hi Marc:

    You are the first person I have met through blogging, and I am enjoying getting to know you in this way. Hopefully in this lifetime our paths will cross in the physical world...
    Cheers,
    June

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