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Our Blog Friends

Over the past couple of months, I have received a fair amount of email from new readers wanting to know how to make friends online. Some ask for advice about starting a blog; others aren’t quite ready for that leap but would still like to connect with people their age.

In my own experience, I’ve found that it’s hard not to find friends if you jump in and make yourself part of the conversation on blogs. Darlene, now of Darlene’s Hodgepodge, had been a regular around the blogosphere for a couple of years before she began her blog, as had joared of Along the Way and Naomi Dagen Bloom of A Little Red Hen. I’m sure there are others who don’t come to mind right now.

There are also non-blogging readers we come to know through their comments (and at this blog, from their contributions to The Elder Storytelling Place) and with some, we further the friendship through email. In the TGB Blogging Survey in May, half of the 187 who responded to the question (all were age 50 or older) said they had made friends through blogging.

blog friends graph

In a follow-up question, nearly 32 percent of the 373 who answered the question described their relationship with blog friends as “good friends” or “as important as real world friends."

blog relationships

Sometimes we get to meet our online friends in person. I’ve been pleased to meet quite a few: Claude of Blogging in Paris, Millie of My Mom’s Blog, Pete of As I Was Saying…, Marian Van Eyk McCain of ElderWomanBlog, amba of Ambivablog, Frank Paynter of listics, Betsy Devine of Betsy Devine: Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Peculiar, Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode, Deejay of Small Beer, younger bloggers like Chris Pirillo of pirillo.com and Stan James of Wandering Stan and more (apologies to those unnamed).

I've known some of these people for years - they have become old friends now as have others there has not been the opportunity to meet (yet).

Although it is unlikely I’ll ever get on airplane again unless it’s a matter of life and death, wherever I go, I check to see if there are elderbloggers in the city to which I’m traveling and if we can make time to get together. Also, I’m surprised at how many bloggers I know online have reasons to visit so far afield as Portland, Maine. Citizen K and I are making arrangements now to meet when he and his wife are here in September.

Just guessing, but my closest friends are now split about evenly between offline and online, and those with whom I’m closest are equally important, whichever "world" they fall into; whether I know them in person or at the distance of a keyboard.

A sad result of getting old is how friends tend to die. One here, one there and pretty soon you’re talking about big-time holes in your life. The memories of old friends are wonderful to have, but it’s hard to meet them for dinner or have a phone chat.

Which is a big reason I work hard to advocate elderblogging. In retirement, we lose the daily camaraderie of the workplace, we may need to give up the car keys and sometimes physical mobility becomes limited. But sitting at the computer, we have a literal world of potential friends at our fingertips.

All you need to take advantage of that is to be open, join the conversation (don’t lurk for too long) and follow up with those for whom you feel a simpatico. And bloggers – be sure to welcome newcomers when you see their names in the comments more than once. Help bring them into the world of elderblogging and the world of friendship it creates.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellen Younkins is back with another poem, Golfer's Lament.]

Comments

Reaching out. Appreciating humanity. Yes, taking a chance and finding out it's worth it, and making new friends. I like that approach. Better than dwelling on 24 hour (mostly negative) news--sometimes like I do, and much to my regret.

What a coincidence! This subject has been on my mind a lot lately and thoughts of writing a post on it on my journal. It is new and was started in March.
My daughter kept sending me blogs to read and even suggested I begin one. I was not interested.
Then through her sites I came upon your's Ronni and also Marian's. That was my beginning. I liked what you had to say!
I began to read daily and then comment and it grew from there.
Another site that encouraged me greatly was "First 50 Words" where I came across the statement "just write".
I am overwhelmed at the response from people, friendships that are developing (all ages and from around the world) and the pleasure I am gaining from this.
I have always loved to read and the written word but never dreamed I would be writing almost daily.
So you never know who you are encouraging along the pathway of life.

I totally agree with you about the value of online friendships. It gives me great comfort to know that even if I get so ancient and decrepit that I can't go out any more, I'll still be in contact with my online friends, right to the end (presuming I retain enough marbles to remember who they are, that is).
In the past, people's worlds often closed in as they aged. These days, we can find our worlds opening out. Mine certainly has. Especially since I started the online social networking site, 'Elderwomanspace: women growing old with joy and zest, wit and wisdom'.
It gives me great joy to see the level of deep and soulful sharing that takes place there, between women from all round the globe. This is really precious to me amd I hope it continues long after I am gone.

You're right again Ronni! Since retiring to France I started a blog and have come across some wonderful people. So far, I've only met one blogger face to face but everyone on my sidebar is a valued friend and I look forward to reading their news on an almost daily basis.

Many of us, in my generation, had pen-pals as teenagers. I, myself, had a pen pal in England (whom I've been unsuccessful locating online--last correspondence was when we were in our late 20s) and a pen pal in Cherryvale KS (whose "paper boy" I later worked with after I moved to Kansas for the 3rd, and last, time). Fewer of us, communicated with "unknowns" from around the world via amateur radio.

Blogging is not so different from those media of communication. I've not written a real letter, in years; but, I can still get on the air with ham radio and communicate with "unknowns" and "found friends" via the internet and blogging. You and the community who have coalesced around you are a huge part of my blogging life. Thank you!

Truer words were never spoken. I resisted writing a blog because I didn't think I could fill up the space. Yet, since I started my blog I find I have too many things I want to post and so far I have filled up the space daily.

I have also found wonderful friends through my blog and am in touch with them oftener than I am with my face-to-face friends.

Another plus is that, in addition to crossword puzzles, it keeps my mind active.

I have yet to meet a blog friend in person but I feel they are friends as much as those who live nearby could be. Meeting internet friends was great for me and I know that the blog friends will be the same.

It's a great gift to me. To be able to go almost anywhere and meet someone new, with whom you already have things in common, is terrific and expands my horizons! I just met three more bloggers last weekend, and they were just as cute and smart as they are everyday on line. You have to extend yourself, and it's worth it!

In the short time I've been blogging, I've met several friends that I correspond with regularly. I am in touch with them as much as with my local "real" friends, and they are just as important to me.

It's amazing how fast these friendships form; maybe it has to do with shared interests or outlooks. If I were to meet them "live" I believe that I would feel like I was meeting a friend of many years.

All this would not have been possible had I not gotten over my years of lurking and started leaving comments. I wish I had not had the feeling that I had to have a blog to comment -- I lost so much time! If you are just lurking, I encourage you to join the community now!

It's astounding to me how my blog is read all over the world (yours, too!). Google Analytics tells me it is read throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and even Kyrgyzstan! What a wonderful mode of creating understanding among the peoples of the world a blog is. And what a wonderful opportunity to make friends throughout the world!

Thank you, Ronni, for another provocative post. It reminds us what social animals we humans are, and how all of us need community to flourish. And it's closer that it has ever been before: just on the other side of the keyboard!

About 10 years ago, I connected with a group of wonderful women I "met" at ivillage.com. On occasion & at least once a year we planned a trip to someplace special like an ocean resort. Once, 16 of us met with them for 5 days in Myrtle Beach & again in Savannah. We had a grand time & everyone clicked & the best part was the age differences didn't matter at all. I stayed on-line with that group a really long time & met with a couple one more time when I was in NYC. It's great because just as with all friends you can pick up & start "visiting" again & it's as tho' there never was time in between. And I can't say enough about "email" because I rely on it so much to broaden my friendship horizons. Thanks Ronni for talking about this. Once again, you are spot on!!!!!Dee

I've met some fabulous people through my blog. I made the effort to attend a meeting of bloggers and it has led me to some fantastic and genuine friendships. It is so fun to meet the author of a blog that you've been reading. I've had some bloggers visit me here and I've even gone on a short holiday with a few bloggers. We had a blast! It reminds me of when I was at college and met people there who became my life-long friends. If one meets people in a situation where there is already a common interest friendships will naturally develop.

I appreciate your advice on making friends via the blog world...I have been a lurker too long!ha
Actually I sent you an email asking if you would consider putting my blog on your elderblogs list...I think that might expand my world.
Mary Ann
ps I actually met my husband on Yahoo personals when we were just turning 60...why not use the computer for love as well?!

Well, I guess I won't be seeing you in Melbourne then, Ronni.

It's unlikely you'll "ever get on airplane again unless it’s a matter of life and death" ... ?!?
I must've missed a story somewhere along the line! Why not?!?

I met you too, Ronni! Smiles.

I've come a long way in thinking since I first happened on this blog two and a half years ago. I was surprised to experience a sense of connection and friendship with people I'd never met and didn't expect to meet. This certainly has been true as a consequence of interaction with you, and other bloggers I found here who so generously offered their friendship.

I've unintentionally put blogger friendship to the test as I've adjusted somewhat erratically to my husband's sudden death a few months after my first blogging contacts here. I am most appreciative of the support you and bloggers have offered me.

Ultimately, I've concluded meeting other bloggers could be enjoyable and fun. I have yet to do that as this year's life events have precluded an invitation to do so, but I may be able in the fall.

I became an elderblogging advocate soon after first visiting TGB based on being impressed by the writing and ideas expressed here. Some months later I hastily started my own blog with little planning and limited technical skills, but blogger friends rescued me. I haven't refined it as I intended, but I've kept my blog going despite periods heavy with other unexpected obligations (a challenge I've learned many bloggers experience.)

I enthusiastically promote elderblogging and was pleasantly surprised last week when, finally, a young elder who's a good writer launched a blog of their own.

What's really amazing about blogger friends is feeling that you have known them for ever!

I made a blog friend and a couple of years later learned that she was the aunt of my son's brother's mother (they all have the same father). I about fell off my computer chair.

Dear Ronni, it has been such a pleasure to meet you both in your blog and elsewhere. To new bloggers I will say, you might feel a little shy about reaching out to somebody you know online to have coffee with you in real life, but what is the worst that can happen if you do?

I have also enjoyed getting to know many other bloggers by reading their interesting comments and elder stories here. Thanks so much to "Ronni Bennett, Proprietor"!


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