Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Social Interaction

A short note to those that take the time to comment on my blog: Thank you! I have finally returned to, at least this one time, responding to your comments. That makes one in a row!

To those that just read my dribble but don’t leave comments: Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I appreciate that you took the time out of your day.

Ok, so where is the profundity, the insight and the enlightenment? Ah… Ye of little faith! Surely you know me better than that!

It seems to me there are different reasons people leave comments. I know for me, I have two primary motivations and they apply to greater principles that go well beyond blogging. The first is easy enough – the author of the post has raised in me a response of some sort. It could be to counter the idea put forth, to agree with it and perhaps cite further evidence or experience, or because it has struck a chord with me. The words resonating within me produce entirely new perspectives that I am usually compelled to share with the author.

The second reason is plain, old-fashioned human interaction. Granted, it's through a relatively new medium, but it's social characteristic as old as our species. It could be argued that this second reason encompasses the first, but it doesn’t have to. It’s purely social in nature and for that reason it is a two-way street. It goes like this:

Post – Comment – Response.

The point is that it is more often I’ll comment on another blog for this social interaction than because of anything I really must say. In all humility, anything I have to add, usually, is nothing new or profound. The comments I leave are more often a way of saying “Hey, what’s up” to a friend across the country or even on the other side of the world.

I like it when they are acknowledged with a response, even if it’s just a couple of words.

It therefore pains me to acknowledge that I have not been responding to my friends’ comments. In essence saying, “I’m too busy to say ‘Hi’.”

And that is not the case.

Selfish? Perhaps. Lazy? Likely. Inconsiderate? Absolutely!

So I now recommit myself to trying to acknowledge each and every comment I receive, even if it’s just a couple of words acknowledging that I read what you had to say. I write, in part, to be read and I appreciate it when someone takes the time to say they read my musings. I’m going to assume you would appreciate the same courtesy from me.


Lacey said...

I don't know, Mike. I mean, sure, it's always nice to hear from you and all. But given that I'm commenting on your blog now, and also given that I realize I'm not saying too much in my comment--not even a "how are you" or any other sort of minimum threshhold I'd set for conversations with my friends--I don't want you to feel obliged to respond. I'd like to comment on your blog freely, without any expectations attatched, without any guilt on your part if you don't get around to responding to me every single time... Does that make sense?

Plus, as you've mentioned before, time is an issue. It's rude of US to expect/demand responses to our comments as if we had to be a top priority every day of your life.

If I didn't think I'd see you in real life, I suppose I would feel different... In the text-only world, clear communication becomes key to maintaining friendships online. I guess you have to ask yourself how much of a priority those friendships can be, in the long run.

This weekend I'm going out of town to meet some friends I made online. We've "known" each other for almost two years now, and we were both able to maintain our friendship as a priority for that long. We set aside time each week to interact with each other. It has been hard, and rewarding. But it was only with two people, and of course there were times when we couldn't make our time together a priority. Other things came up, and it's that flexibility that made our friendship possible, really. If we had to *absolutely* "hang out" online once a week, things wuld have gotten hairy very fast.

So... do what you're capable/comfortable with.. and don't be afraid to not comment or respond all the time! It's not rude, inconsiderate, lazy, or selfish. It's how things need to work oftentimes.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, I know what you mean, I like to comment to every comment as well but sometimes I just don't have the time or energy left at the end of a day. I think most people understand that comments are appreciated even if they can't be individually acknowledged every time. But it is a very cool gesture that adds to the social aspect of blogging.

Sometimes blogging can lead to getting to know a person "in real life" and I have found that to be very eye opening. I should post about it sometime...then again, maybe not.

Michael K. Althouse said...


My post was aimed at a certain segment of the blogging universe that abides by an unwritten de facto standard in which the comment process is as much a social interaction as it is a medium for the exchange of ideas and ideologies.

I can tell because my site meter shows where the visitors go and often it is to read and responses to their comments - and I maybe assuming this, but possibly they are looking for my response.

It's almost like the sending of a "thank you" note when receiving a gift. It is not "required" or even necessary, but it is very nice and always appreciated by the recipient.

And... since I do know you in "real life" and have the pleasure of our paths crossing frequently, not to mention being involved in other projects together, we have a rapport that I think may not be possible by purely "online" means.

I fully acknowledge that I will not be able to maintain the comment/response cycle 100%, but I can do better than I have for the last several weeks, which has been virtually nothing.

Have a great weekend; I look forward to you post upon your return,


Barb ~

I just know that I like to see that what I wrote was read. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in feeling that.


awareness said...

Hi Mike.

Hope your day is full of joy and harmony! :)

I'm glad that you have more time to write on your blog. Any chance you're going to write another bit for your story??? What has happened to Max Anderson?

I love it when you leave your feedback/comments on my posts because your opinion and insight do matter to me. However, I completely understand your time constraints. MY goodness, it was enough just to maintain your pace.

And who knows??? Maybe one day our paths with cross in real life/real time?? One never knows one's destiny!!

Enjoy your day.............and may your light continue to shine


awareness said... looks like I have more to say.........

One of the reasons that I feel a strong tie to you despite the fact that I "know" you through the blogworld and only for a short amount of time is that after writing on my blog for 8 or 9 months and not venturing out to read other blogs and stepping into the blogworld so to speak, I finally had the nerve to do so....... your first comment on my blog was the first one left from someone outside of my personal realm.
It seemed so prescient that I found you, and to have found someone with similar pursuits, and someone who has such a talent for writing, was such an uplift. I felt more confident to take another step into the blogworld because of your encouraging comments. Also, because of your link to me and the links you have to others, I have join a wonderful group of writers and thinkers and passionate people who are all trying their very best to make this world a more interesting place................

I now have a group of people connected to me who read my posts regularly and who have offered their kinds words and support with respect to my writing. Because of that....I have now started to look at sharing some of my writing to people who may be able to help me get published. Blogging has increased my confidence, and honed my skills. Bloggers have enhanced my life in ways that I was never expecting.

So, thank you.


Michael K. Althouse said...

Dana ~

As far as Max is concerned, well, he and his adventures are the lowest on my writing priority list. Rest assured, however, his story has many many more twists and turns to come. Trust that!

Secondly, thank you. You are one of a few who stop by here regularly and I always gain from your insights. I posted this post more for myself than anyone else, I guess. It's a means to remember that without those who read, those who write are just spinning their wheels, it pays to recognize them.

Lastly, I don't know what to say. It is a strange world we live in and one never can really predict what's around the next corner, who's path we may cross or whose life we might touch. I get it, and I know that you do too.


Kathleen Jennette said...

hnHey Mike,
I pop into the blogs usually a few times a day...sometimes responding, sometimes not, depending on timing. I like to have time to read and re-read if I have to -- then respond. I like the interaction of it all though.

Biker Betty said...

We all can't keep up all the time. I had to take a break for almost a week to get ready and then go camping with my son's Boy Scout troop. It was worth all the time needed to get all people ready.

I love to leave comments because the writer has written about something and I want to respond back. I love the blogging friends I have made.

Michael K. Althouse said...

kt ~

Ya, I do that too. I don't necessarily feel obligated to comment on everyone elses blog, but I do feel a certain obligation to respond to the comments left on mine.

BB ~

I agree that it's impossible to keep up all of the time, but for the past several weeks, I've been keeping up none of the time. I can and should do better.


Belizegial said...


I like coming over here to read your posts. well written and insightful.

I know most bloggers have precious time to spare. So if you are unable to reciprocate with a comment all the time, I understand too.

It's enough for you to keep on writing here and sharing your experiences.

Congrats on placing 1st runner up in the Prosper Blog Contest :)


Snaggle Tooth said...

I always feel like the "host" on charge of guest service on my blog... I tend to comment on blogs that answer me far more often, n check back in on comment sections on a regular basis because of it.

I don't mind the interaction at all! Always room for new friends...

Ellen said...

Well, it sure is nice when you are able to stop by, and I always gain a new well versed perspective on a piece by your comments, but it is all too understandable that life just plain gets in the way sometimes. I understand that one completely, and have been experiencing time management problems myself. On top of that I have been experiencing writers block problems... but that's a story for another day.

As for responding to comments.... I've often left my posts up for days before I could get to them as well. I read everything, but don't always have the time to respond in a timely matter. If only there were more hours in the day, and less wage-earning work to do.... ah, but such is life.

I'm just thrilled that I found your blog, and enjoy coming over to read. If you have the time to respond, that's great, if not, well, that's cool too. It's all good sweetie....

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Mike...Always good to visit you and always good when yoiu visit me and leave a comment for me, too!
I have a srange feeling about all this...Of course I hope people will read what I've written and the pictures that I post with these writings..(Did you see my post with some of my paintings? Gee, I hope so.) I find I spend a tremendous amount of time writing and posting and visiting and commenting...It sometimes feels like a "job", you know? (lol) And sometimes when I have very few today, so far....I wonder is something going on that I don't know about? I LOVE the interaction and I feel I've met so very many really wonderful people out here in Cyberspace--from all over the world---It's quite astounding, actually!
So...if I had a choice..I would say come on over to my place and take a look-see and leave a comment there because I don't know that I will get back over here to see if you have left a comment for me, you know? A lot of this has to do with time and feeling overwhelmed by trying to get around to many people every day...
So "Come on down...." As Bob Barker used to say..(maybe he still does say
I'd love to hear from you at my place!

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Well, Mike, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself.

Even coming by to say hello is an act of kindness. I have found not everything has to be an exercise in profanity. It has, by the way,taken me years to learn this principle.

Have a good week.

mckay said...

do whatcha gotta do, sam. personally i enjoy a good round of repartee, so yeah, more o' that on my plate, thanks.

(here comes a politically incorrect side comment, so mike's mom and dad, avert your eyes)

sometimes i read your posts, which are so eloquently written, and i wonder, "gee, does he talk like that in real life? how about in the throws of passion?" i thought it was kinda funny taking your blogging profundity and filtering that through a good ol' romp.

sorry, i know i should be focusing on the big picture; the crux of the post, but hey that's just me. my bad. carry on.

Lee Ann said...

I love the interaction to my friends across the states or in other countries.
I do try to comment back to everyone, I do know it is hard sometimes, it can be very time consuming.
I hope you are having a great week so far.

Michael K. Althouse said...

Enid ~

How true. I read your comment when you made it (emailed to me, I just love that option!), but just now find a few precious moments to reply. However, replying I am! mission accomplished, so far!

snags ~ There seem to be differing protocols and rules of exchange. And it's not as though anythings set in stone.

This medium, as I see it, is like a chat program with enhanced content, both in regards to variety and quality. It's that aspect that appeals to my social nature.

ellen ~ Thank you so much. you've been with me almost from the very start. You are one of my oldest blog friends.

ooloth ~ It does sometimes feel like a job. Not so much like the kind of job that is a daily grind (that's not the case for me anymore), but as much as I enjoy writing, sometimes enough is enough. The point is that I need to rememeber who my friends are and tell them more frequently.

BFC ~ I wouldn't argue that. I might be a little hars on myself, it wouldn't be the first time. And as time wears on, things change and I might have written that in a moment of pronounced remorse. Life has been a lot more reflective of late.

Be that as it may, thanks for stopping by!

mck ~ ahem... Well. I guess there is one sure way to fund out! And please, next time a profound moment of political incorrectness comes over you, fell free to share! (you know my email addy!)

lee ann ~ you are my "response" idol! I can always rely on you to ackowledge your comments and I can only hope to be so dedicated one day. You rock!

Rainbow dreams said...

Hi, being a few posts behind,I'm not sure you'll see this - I pop by, I love it when I have time to comment, more often than not I feel lucky to have stolen the time to read. Quite often the thoughts I read stay in my mind for some time. Sometimes I feel I don't have much to add. I know I comment more on tuesdays (day off)and evenings when I am home alone, though I never fit in all I wanted to. Having said that, I'm thinking I don't recall having commented on here before, though I do visit.
Have a lovely week, Katie