Blogging Insight – Make new friends, endlessly!

Rainbow image for Blogging Insights postIs there any place that mirrors change and impermanence more rapidly than the worldwide web?

I’ve seen my share of blogs – even blossoming ones – bite the dust since I began blogging just seven months ago.

Now, my new found blogging friends have been disappearing – one right after the other.

It seems like everyone’s disconnecting since reading Leo Babauta’s new ebook on focus. Some are taking a digital sabbatical one day a week or on the weekend. Others are taking a full month or two away.  Still others are shifting their focus to new interests or projects and have less time for blogging and social media.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is very good.  I encourage you to follow your passions.  I encourage you to nurture yourself with personal white space and real-time connections.

But I’m missing my friends, especially the ones that are taking longer breaks.  I feel sad.  I miss their frequent infusions of joy and inspiration.  I miss their thoughtful and provocative blog posts.  I miss their unique and fascinating spirits.  I miss their visits to my blog.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m not cut out for this fast-paced internet life where people bounce in and out of your vision for a few weeks or months at a time.  Maybe I place too much value on the idea of friends.

It makes me wonder – are internet friendships real?  Or has this just been an illusion of connection that I alone have created in my mind?

The Practical Impact on Your Blog

Then there’s the practical side – the way friends disconnecting impacts your blog.

Every seasoned blogger knows that your ability to promote a blog successfully depends upon friendly interconnections.  As Dragos Roua points out,

“The blogs ecosystem is an incredibly complex web of interactions, links, authority and trends. This web is changing constantly and the chances that you will survive as an isolated blogger are incredibly small. You need a solid team of partners who will support you. Partners that you will support too, enforcing the power of your links in the blogging ecosystem.”

There are over 130 million blogs on the internet.

Even with tip-top content, few will find your blog without skillful promotion.  To attract new readers, you need blogging friends – to share your articles on social media, comment on your blog, allow you to guess post, and to partner with you in collaborative projects.

If your blog is already a moderate or huge success, having a few blogging friends drop away will not faze you in the least.

But if you are in the early stages of building your blog, beware. Should a slew of your friends suddenly break away, your once active comment section can suddenly seem like a ghost town.  Article tweets, Facebook links, Stumbles, and other social media favors may be few and far between.

Ah, the endless endeavor to make more friends.

How many friends do we need?

We need blogging friends, that’s clear  How many?

Srinivas Rao says we only need 150 followers on twitter to be a success.  This is the number of social relationships a person can effectively manage and it’s the number needed for an idea to spread according to Malcolm Gladwell.  Rao suggests creating an “inner circle” of 150 followers who retweet your tweets, mention you, link to your blog, and/or comment on your blog.

The secret is to engage these real people in real conversations on twitter. Rao says this strategy is working exceptionally well for him.  I don’t doubt this is the case.

But for me, the idea of remembering and interacting regularly with 150 people is mind-boggling to say the least.  And, with the current trend toward periodic disconnection, you will need quite a few more than 150 as a buffer when some do take a break.

I can’t help but ask – is this how I really want to spend my time?  Glued to a computer endlessly searching for new friends?

Lessons to Be Learned, Questions to Be Asked

What are the lessons to be learned from all this?

  • Friendships are like rainbows. Enjoy yours – virtual or live – while they last.  Don’t expect them to last forever.  Or even more than a few months!
  • You’d better make new blogging friends constantly.  You never know when a few will suddenly disappear from your blog life.

Now for the questions I have for you:

  • Is this fast-paced internet the world of your dreams?
  • Is the blogosphere setting your life’s pace or are you?
  • How are you managing your time?
  • What’s your take on friends in the blogosphere?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

If you liked this article, please share it with others via your social network.  Thanks so much! Sandra

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Comments

  1. says

    Yes I too often wonder about the deeper meanings of finding myself interacting with tohers online! Is it really possible to befriend another through the internet? After all any of us can present any image at all about ourselves which we might wish to portray! However on a blog like yours and the kind of people you are interacting with, I find it hard to believe that you might come across too many ‘imposters’! Why would they bother? or am I just being naive??
    One thing I do know is that it is possibl to have a wonderful learning experience online, as I am having through yours and Bernie’s online meditation course. Thank you! And the beneficial effects of that virtual experience are very real!!! :-)

    • says

      Hi Soul Sister,

      It’s so nice to see you here! You have raised several good points. I think it’s good to exercise caution on the internet in general. At the same time, I’ve met so many remarkable people and feel strong connections with them. I feel that the people who consistently comment on my blog are very genuine and special people, which you picked up right off the bat!

      Thanks for your kind words about the meditation course. I find the beneficial effects very potent too! Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to comment.

  2. says

    Sandra,
    I want to start this out just by saying: I am so glad to be here in this space, and I DO consider you a friend. And that’s just it – the longer I’m here and the more I interact with you, the deeper and more meaningful this friendship becomes. And that…means a lot to me.

    I have seen friends come and go, too. And I have questioned – is it all worth it – the time I invest sometimes in these friendships. I have concluded that – yes – it IS worth it. Sometimes those friendships will fade away. And I’m okay with that – there’s a time and reason for all of this (I believe).

    And I also know that when these friendships DO become something more meaningful, that is very much a two-way street. And I believe that these friendships can remain…even with the loss of connection when someone steps away from the online world. Perhaps that friendship might take a new direction…still, I know that it can still flourish (although not all do).

    And feeling all of this, it is so worth it for me.

    Sandra, it’s an honor to be here, to be able to share my thoughts, and to feel your friendship in my life.

    Always with love,
    Lance

    • says

      Dear Lance,

      You’ve really touched my heart. I feel a growing connection and friendship with you too. I am so inspired by your view of your online friendships. I think it’s true: everyone comes into our life for a purpose and enriches us in one way or another. The speed of the internet just magnifies the impermanent nature of life and friendships too. But I think your right – the connection remains even when someone steps away from the internet – through the moments we’ve shared and lessons we’ve learned.

      I’m so glad you’ve decided that it is all so worth it for you and that you are not afraid to invest in genuine connections.

      It’s an honor to have you here. I love your heart-felt comments and all the wisdom that you share. So many remarkable people – like you – comment on my blog. I’m so honored and blessed, indeed. Thank you!

  3. says

    Friendship through the Internet is tricky. As you noted, it is hard to quantify and harder still to hold onto. If someone needs to “disappear” for awhile you may not even know where they went and why, causing you to wonder if you’ve done something to drive them away.

    Every once in awhile you have the chance to form a bond that can have a lasting , positive effect. I have managed to develop an e-mail relationship with a guy who really is adrift in one area in his life. He has made what he considers a serious mistake and now questions his decision-making ability. Our exchanges have helped him come to some important conclusions, feel better about himself, and allow him to move in a positive direction. I have given him my home phone number in case there comes a time when talking through a problem is important to him.

    The bottom line: some Internet friends will pass in and out of your life. But, for that one person you can truly help or touch, it is all worthwhile.

    • says

      Bob, I’m so awed by your response. You have such a pure motivation: “But, for that one person you can truly help or touch, it is all worthwhile.” This is the best blogging metric: being able to touch or help another person. Thank you for sharing this story and the bottom line!

      I also appreciated the first point you made: when someone disappears from your blog life you may not know why and it’s easy to wonder if you did something to drive them away. That’s come into my mind at times too.

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate you and the connection we have made!

  4. says

    Hi Sandra,

    Thought-provoking questions here.

    Like anything in time friendships can dissolve at a moment’s notice This seems like a more frequent phenomena in the offline world.

    I continue to make new friends but am sure to keep a tight knight group of people whom I engage with on a continual basis. By sticking to this practice I strengthen friendships and if one of my friends moves out of my life I continue to meet new folks.

    As for time management I pull back on an hourly basis for at least 10-15 minutes to meditate, visualize or walk. When I stick to this practice religiously I never experience burn-out and don’t feel the need to unplug for extended periods because I spend up to a quarter of an hour unplugging for each work hour daily.

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!

    Ryan

    • says

      Hi Ryan,

      I really like your approach to friendship and to time management. I’m always amazed by how prolific and energetic you are. You always share your secrets of success so generously and I appreciate that so much. I love the way you approach “disconnecting” throughout the day. It’s been great to connect with you. Thanks for sharing some of your RB Keys!

  5. says

    Hi Sandra,

    I’m your friend. I’m not going anywhere!

    I’ve been MIA (commenting) first we moved, then I was out of state for a work engagement. Then my mom is nearing end of life and I visited. Then 4 days after I arrived home I was called back. And she’s still with us so I may be absent again soon!

    I’m here for good. I want to be blogging when I’m 90 if I choose to live that long. I think friendships are real online although sometimes I find I have a friend and then get to know them better and I don’t choose to have that friend.

    I also believe that when any friendship ends we leave space in each other’s lives for new friends to come in.

    Lance and his son just visited hubs and I when they were in Arizona. I think I’ve met 7 people in person so far and that’s minus at conferences.

    • says

      Hi Tess,

      I’m so glad you can be with your Mom as she makes this important transition in life. I’ll be thinking of her too.

      I’m your friend too and I really value our connection! And, I’ve been missing you, but I know your absences are only temporary! It’s great to hear your enthusiasm and commitment to blogging. Let’s see if we are still commenting on each others’ blogs when we are 90. :)

      Thanks for this pearl of wisdom: “I also believe that when any friendship ends we leave space in each others’ lives for new friends to come in.”

  6. says

    Hi Sandra,
    I have been blogging for less than 2 months and I’m really touched by all the wonderful, positive comments I have recieved from other bloggers. It is overwhelming really. I love the comraderie and like mindedness. I hope people who are commenting on my blog will comtinue to do so because I’m learning so much from them. There are a zillion blogs out there and there are about a dozen I just love, love, love. Yours is one of them! I hope you concider me a friend! You have opened my mind to certain topics that I hadn’t really thought of and I appreciate it! Thanks Sandra!

    Dandy

    • says

      Hi Dandy,

      Isn’t the blogsphere amazing that way! I’ve connected with the kindest, most authentic, and deep reflective people like you. I’m so grateful for that too. I’m honored to have you as a friend! Thanks for your appreciative words. I’m really glad to have connected with you.

  7. says

    Hi Sandra!
    Lovely, lovely post. I think about this often, and have pondered similar ideas. I agree with Lance, Tess, Bob, and others; I do think it’s all worth it.

    I also think my ‘virtual’ friendships closely mimic my ‘in-person’ friendships. E.g., I’ve moved so many times, and friends have moved away, which usually results in a natural distance in the friendship. I think all friends naturally come and go similar to us all floating like leaves in a river. Some will synch with a current and drift away, others will stick by us with the natural energy of attractive forces — such as water’s inherent surface tension properties.

    Regarding your questions about time and pace, I think I’d have a pretty tough time if I was trying to support myself via my blog (monetarily), for me I think it’s important to continue my path of blogging for fun, and not for profit. With fun, connection, and healing being my only goals, it’s pretty easy to unplug when I need to do so. I agree with you, though, I really REALLY miss those friends who have either stopped blogging altogether or have been taking longer breaks. I’m happy they are doing what’s best for them, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. 😉 {float, fly, be free!}

    Sandra, you’ll have me here Tweettin’ and commenting as long as I’m able physically to do so. :)
    I love your blog and community.
    ~xo

    • says

      Lori,

      What a beautiful metaphor: “…all friends naturally come and go similar to us all floating like leaves in a river. Some will synch with a current and drift away, others will stick by us with the natural energy of attractive forces — such as water’s inherent surface tension properties.” That will stay in my mind for sure whenever thoughts of impermanence float my way! It fuses the nature love and molecular biologist in you.

      It’s refreshing to hear your blogging goals. I’ve always appreciated your playful spirit in the blog and twittersphere. So I’m glad you are planning to be blogging, tweeting, and commenting away till the cows come home! I would miss your beautiful spirit and words so much. Yeah, it’s OK to miss people and to also…. {float, fly, be free!}

      Thanks for your love and encouragement.

  8. says

    I have to say my taste in online friends is the same as meeting people. I have to feel connected, and that they are caring and real. I admit, I feel pressure to write, and sometimes it takes longer than I want it to. I have met one woman in person from my blog, and we are true friends, and another one calls me and we speak on the phone frequently. I took September off blogging to finish my manuscript. I had to, as I could not keep the online and memoir writing going at the same time. That’s the balance that’s a little tough for me.
    I do feel a connection with your blog and your theme. I’m one of your NEW friends.

    • says

      Hi Sonia,

      I’m with you in terms of being drawn to people who are caring and real. And I’m really happy to have you as a new friend!

      It’s easy to feel pressure to write regularly on your blog and I’m glad that you had the guts to take September off and focus on your manuscript. I wish you the best in publishing it – may it touch the hearts and minds of many. I can imagine it’s tricky finding balance, especially with two focuses for your writing. Hopefully, you will teach us the tricks as you learn them. Having the guts to take a month off is surely one of them!

  9. says

    I don’t think of online friends as necessarily less than other types of friends. For example, I can imagine having you over for tea if you weren’t in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. :)

    Maybe it’s peculiar to Dallas, but people come and go very fast. You seem to have a great time together and then they just stop returning your calls. I’ve learned not to take it personally. It is very tiring, in that I have to constantly meet more people just to keep my friend count steady.

    One advantage of blogging friends vs. live ones is that you can get past the superficial level much faster. I know that I personally am able to write things that I would have great difficulty saying in person because of my upbringing.

    On the flip side, the relative anonymity of the internet means that others may not value the connection as much as you do, or may be experimenting with different personas. I’ve had both great and awful experiences meeting someone in person that I’ve “met” on the internet.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer,

      I like your take on equality of friendship – on or off line. I can easily see having tea with you as well.

      It’s interesting to hear your experience in Dallas. I live in a very tiny community that tends to many small gatherings and seeing each other all around.

      That’s a very intriguing point how it’s easier to get past the superficial level online. I think it’s true that you can really feel you come to know someone closely through reading their blog. At the same time, you’re varied experiences of meeting people live is also another facet of online connections.

  10. says

    I think the Internet helps (possibly even forces) us to see that we’re all already connected. When I think of my “Internet” friends, I really don’t think of them as Internet friends. They are real people, with real lives. The only difference is, they’re too far away for me to see them in person. But I still feel connected to them. I still feel like they’re part of my life.

    That feeling allows my sense of reality to grow exponentially. As my circle of friends around the planet grows and as those relationships become richer, I feel less and less separate from the rest of the planet.

    I accept that some of those relationships will spring up and then fade away, but that’s no different than real world friendships. Friendships that started in the real world and have lasted over the years don’t require constant real world interaction. I have several good friends who I haven’t seen in years, but we still consider our friendship strong.

    I guess the important part of creating lasting friendships that begin online is to deepen them. This can involve chatting on Twitter, becoming Facebook friends, talking on Skype (audio first, then video), and finally meeting in person (the ultimate friendship solidifier). If you think about it, it’s actually quite backwards from the way we’ve started and maintained relationships for the past few thousand years.

    I was recently invited to a NASA Tweetup in Florida. Initially, I met a few of my future house-mates on Twitter (we rented a house together to save money). Every single person was a total strangers, but after we met in person and spent a week together, we felt like family. Our Twitter relationships instantly became nothing more than the medium that we use to stay in touch (much like a telephone doesn’t replace a family relationship, it only enables it to stay strong).

    All of us are already joined through an invisible energy that connects all of us. It doesn’t matter how far apart or how foreign each person is, we’re all connected. Up until now, physical distance has prevented us from being able to recognize that. It’s tough to feel and recognize how connected we are to someone thousands of miles away when we have no idea what they’re even doing or thinking.

    I think the Internet is changing that. It’s allowing us to see how, even through all our differences and the huge distances that separate us, we’re all one. We’re all already connected. There’s really no need to fear being disconnected or separated when we’re all connected. :)

    Thank you for the lovely, thought-provoking post, Sandra!

    • says

      Raam,

      I love how you the connections you’ve made with others via the internet helps you feel more and more connected to the whole planet. It’s really incredible that way, isn’t it! I agree with you about our interdependence and interrelatedness as this is my basic view of reality too. It helps me to have reminders though so I really appreciate your comment so much. I really like your example of the NASA Tweetup.

      This is a beautiful conclusion to your thoughts:

      “We’re all already connected. There’s really no need to fear being disconnected or separated when we’re all connected. :)”

      Very awesome advice in your comment. Thanks so much!

    • says

      Yes, the internet as made many people feel much more global. It has VERY much strengthened how I already experienced the world (or universe…or better yet, Existence) And that is as an energetic fabric where all things are actually one being. We are all already irrevocably interconnected, communicating in the great conversation.

      The internet just allows people to be more aware of this. It truly is a physical manifestation of what already existed (exists), but most did not see or consciously experience existence in this way. Now there is more potential for them to do so. I think it is a wonderful thing.

  11. says

    Sandra Lee, I started blogging seven months ago too and have also been questioning how to navigate the endless faces and spaces on the web. I’m reading Leo’s book ‘focus’ and feeling a pull to create pockets of disconnection so that I can be creative and ease away from all things “mind-boggling”. If that means fewer friends that’s okay. But I have to say, I’ve been amazed by the depth of friendship I’ve found on the internet and the love and generosity that flows amongst like-minded people. Mind boggled or not, I will always be grateful for those friends, even the ones that move on.

    • says

      Hi Katie,

      I’m glad you are finding your pockets of disconnection. I have also been amazed by the remarkable people I’ve connected to since I’ve been blogging. The love and generosity is incredible indeed! It’s uplifting to simply read your experience of it. Thanks so much.

  12. says

    I started blogging about a year ago purely for my own reasons: because I had something I needed to express. It has been incredibly therapeutic and healing. I did not have any goals and still do not.

    I have been healing from a brain injury resulting from a suicide attempt and the depression which preceded it. I truly want to share the tools I have learned and the realizations I have had on my healing journey. If someone can learn from and relate to my experiences, then my blogging is more than worth it to me.

    While I have healed over the last 3 years, I have been socially isolated. I cannot express to you how much it has meant to me to find the warmth and support I have from the online community of bloggers. Sometimes it may have been the only contact I had with another person all day.

    I think the relationships online are a good lesson for life in nonattachment. I appreciate any time any one tweets me, sends me an email, makes a comment on the blog , or posts on my facebook page. It is a good day when no one does and an even better day when they do.

    • says

      Debbie,

      You are a courageous woman indeed. I really admire your motivation for blogging. I’m happy you have been able to find so much warmth and support among the online community of bloggers.

      This is so wise, Debbie: “I think the relationships online are a good lesson for life in nonattachment. I appreciate any time any one tweets me, sends me an email, makes a comment on the blog , or posts on my facebook page. It is a good day when no one does and an even better day when they do.”

      It reminds me to count my blessings! Thank you.

  13. says

    Hi Sandra,

    Sorry, I’ve been slow making my rounds. I truly appreciate you tweeting and mentioning me on Twitter. 😉

    Like Ryan has mentioned, I have a few people that I can say I’m really tight with and we support each other and they’ve been with me when I was using blogger.

    I do find that people disconnect and it’s okay. I figure they have other interests and that’s okay. I usually find new people to connect with and it usually ends up being an even better friendship/connection.

    You mentioned something about having 150 friends on Twitter to keep up with. I have to say..it’s hard for me to keep up with a few people, let alone 150 people.

    These day’s I’ve been trying to do things first thing in the morning and then when my daughter awakes, I’m pretty much with her. After she goes to bed at night, that’s when I can devote time to other blogging duties. Managing my time has been a challenge.

    This is a good article and you pose some good questions. This really makes me examine myself to see if I’m doing the things that I would like others do for me.

    Well, take care!

    Evelyn

    • says

      You have a very balanced approach, Evelyn. It seems very healthy to me. Although I fully understand the challenge of balancing blogging with life and with having a child. It’s incredible that you accomplish all that you do online. I’m always awed by your active presence. I agree the 150 idea seems incredibly challenging to me. I’m glad the article got you thinking! Stay well and happy.

  14. says

    Sandra,

    Let’s see if my comment works this time!

    I too miss a few online friends, such as Jean from VBN. I am happy for her decision and there is a void now which is hard to fill.

    I blog part time between my 2 kids (5 and 1), homeschooling and teaching volunteer work and of course never ending house tasks so I am not as social online as I would like but I do sense people are changing, moving. Blogging can be fun but sometimes it can be thankless job.

    I know I say I blog part time but writing, thinking original contents, editing, replying to comments, emails and commenting on other blogs can take almost full time job time. It is even more sad when akismet puts my comments in spam lately.

    • says

      Hi Zengirl,

      Yep, you went into span this time. Glad I found you. Thanks for the heads up!

      Jean from VBN is one person I miss too. She is a special person. But like you have said, I am happy for her decision. I’m so amazed by mothers like you who manage to blog and do so beautifully. Blogging is almost like a full time job and you’ve done a terrific job of outlining so much of what it takes! I can see that we are all trying to come to grips with blogging in a balanced way.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. All the best to you.

  15. says

    Hi Sandra, there are some interesting questions you are putting out here. I will try to tackle them :-)

    Yes, the internet world is my dream world or at least a part of it. Why? Since I think we all meet life according to our dreams the life we live in some aspect has to reflect our dreams. And I´m living part of my life in the internet world and thus it is something I dream about. Did that make sense?

    Although internet is fast-paced I think we have to have an approach of persistence towards it. My experience is that persistence pays off, but you have to be prepared to deal with the ever ongoing changes that meet you during the journey.

    Is the blogosphere setting the pace of my life or am I? I´m still trying to find out the best way to manage my blog. I don´t think my biggest challenge is the blog in itself running my life, it´s more about the reactions of the readers of the blog. How much should I write and how can I make it interesting for more people to read? Should I write from my heart or should I have a more tactical approach? Questions like that.

    I´ve read Leo Babautas book on focus, and I think it is possible to find a balance between blogging and taking tim off from being connected. That is if blogging is what you really want to do. You usually find time to do what you really want to do. What we can do is to cut down on the time we spend doing things that don´t move us forward. I have for example pretty well managed to cut down checking e-mails to 2-3 times a day and maybe more important managed to reduce the time I spend surfing around internet just wasting time. Time wasting really is a big polluter.

    Since I´m pretty new to the blogging world I don´t have much experience on long term friendships, but I have made contact with a few people, like you Sandra, by commenting on their blogs and tweeting their blog posts so I guess that one is working at least.

    • says

      Hey Tom,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I loved your comments on dreams! I’m glad you are finding ways to balance blogging and time off and cutting back on those wasteful activities. You ideas are very inspiring.

      Focusing on your readers is so important! I like the questions that you ask here. These are so good to explore and to ask again and again.

      I’m so glad we’ve connected and wish you success with your blog.

  16. says

    Hi Sweet Sandra,
    You have touched on such a delicate yet important topic here. I often get the feeling that I might be missing my online freinds too. IN the past 1.5 years..I have made many freinds…truly many. I cherish each and every one of them irrespective of whether I interact with them regularly or not. I came to realize early on in my blogging days that people(including me) have offline lives. Everyone cant be glued to the computer all the time. Hence, when we retweet and promote our blogging freinds posts its kind of a sign of appreciation. Where we instantly feel a connection. I know it might seem weird, but for me when I make a freind its for life. You are my freind for life…thats for sure
    Like lori I move base a lot. Which means I cant really nurture all the friendships I kindle on the way atleast not by physically being there. So I email, I set reminders for their special days, I pop a surprise virtual gift…etc. But still there are many many freinds who although in this tech savvy world still dont like computers& email!! With those freinds, Its the an occasional phone call..and still some who call me everytime they are in the country…and believe me we might talk after 3 years sometimes, but it feels like no time has passed and our friendship is exactly like it always was. I suppose the way you bond matters. If there are reasons for bonding it wont last..if its out of pure love..then time& distance dont really matter…the connections we make are much above the physical plane….right :) But then hey, thats just me…I know not everyone thinks this way..but if they did…it would make for much deeper, more meaningful bonds and connections. And in the great scheme of life…we are all One. The feeling is ignited no matter what :)
    To me you are one of my best freinds online. We instantly connected on so many levels..and still when I want an honest opinion on something i send you a line..and you promptly respond. Physically there are oceans in between us…but still the connection the bond we share is far deeper than any distance or time can erase. You are such a precious gift to this blogging world…i wish more had an honest openness like you. You make my time online fun and full of adventure. Thank you for being you sweetie.
    No amount of time or distance can erase something so precious :)
    Love you lots,
    Z~

    • says

      Zeenat, You are such a remarkable person. When you say that you make friends for life, I truly believe it, and it’s a beautiful model of how the world can be. I also am very loyal and maybe that’s why these questions arose for me. I appreciate your point that when we connect via pure love then time and distance do not matter. I agree – the connections we make go beyond the physical plane and that we are all One.

      You are absolutely one of my best blogging friends. I really missed you when you were gone for a month! I appreciate all the kindness you have shown me.

      All your profound insights and those shared by others in the comments have really lifted me up.

      Thank you so much and I send all my love to you.

  17. says

    Very thought provoking post, Sandra.

    Friendship is friendship, whether “real” or “virtual”. Sometimes I’ve received more encouragements and inspiration from my “virtual” friends than from my “real” ones.
    Just a few days ago I was thinking about the beauty of being able to connect with so many beautiful souls, so many like-minded people, whom I’d never be able to reach if not for the internet…
    When I talk about something you wrote with my husband, I say “my friend Sandra says…” so yes, I consider you my friend :)
    A friend once told me that she considered all friends like travelling companions, and I agree. Some friends may travel with us for a long time, others for just a short while, but while we travel the same roads, we share thoughts, time, energy, emotions, and we grow together.
    About connecting with 150 people…I don’t know if I’d be able to do that…I mean, really connecting. I do my best, and only connect when I believe in what I share, blog, tweet.
    We’ll see how that works, and how it evolves :)

    • says

      This is so beautiful, Cristina! This is so true ~ “Sometimes I’ve received more encouragements and inspiration from my “virtual” friends than from my “real” ones.”

      This is simply gorgeous: “A friend once told me that she considered all friends like travelling companions, and I agree. Some friends may travel with us for a long time, others for just a short while, but while we travel the same roads, we share thoughts, time, energy, emotions, and we grow together.”

      I love your authentic approach to sharing, blogging, and tweeting.

      And yes, I consider you my friend too!

  18. says

    My take is one of balance.

    I set aside time each to day to focus on my family, me, writing content and interacting with other blogs and bloggers. I don’t try to boil the ocean every day, I just try to do things that are important and require a little attention.

    Alex

  19. says

    Hi dear Sandra,

    What a dynamically honest and thought provoking post. SO many things pass through me as I read this. I’ll tackle one. When I feel my blogging friends they are as real as people in my offline life, some even more so. I don’t think I have the ability to discern the difference. I really fall in love with them, marvel over them, and FEEL their importance in my life. However, I do think there are times I underestimate my own importance in other people’s lives, sometimes, not always. Well, at least until someone comes along and say, gosh, I missed you SO much. And I think, Oh wow, I had no idea that “I” was one the important people in their life. LOL! :)

    When I first started blogging 3 years ago, I would try to keep constantly on top of every single person who commented or contacted me, but eventually it got SO huge that I couldn’t. I was making my self sick trying to do it. Last week I looked at my stats for the first time in 2 year (I just never pay attention to things like that, maybe I should) but I was shocked. I had in this last 12 months almost 400,00 REAL visits (that’s not spam visits) and almost 1 million REAL page views. (I have no idea what to do with that or how it happened, or what it really means, as I don’t “professionally” promote my blog, and I no nothing about SEO or all that” stuff”. BUT what it did for me was make me see HOW BIG it can get in terms of the number of people one could end up trying to visit or keep track of.

    The other thought on this aspect is this. At first I panicked and thought if I don’t reciprocate every week they will forget I exist, and sometimes that happens, but VERY seldom. When they saw me on facebook or twitter, wherever, they would say, Heeeey, I’ve missed you so good to see you! And we would start interacting again. So eventually with time, I learned that I could let go and let people come and go and that I too could come and go, but the strong connections or friendships that had formed REMAINED. I found that people are like the tides of the sea, they ebb and flow and come and go. The ones that are really drawn to you, will be pleased to see you again when they do. I also learned to embrace the “new” because I realized that all my familiar friends were once “new”. So now I embrace them all as Love. They rapidly become familiar.

    In essence I let go and just let people flow around me at their own pace and needs, I relaxed into the flow, and began to find my own peace, pace and center. I am going through another level of this right now, another letting go, because I was again getting sick trying to do it ALL. I was losing myself, my creativity, my silence, my peace, my sense of self. Being extremely empathic, I feel EVERYTHING: I hear people’s thoughts, I know they are thinking of me and wondering where I am, I feel their pain, their joy, sometimes even exactly what they are going through,. It can be intense for me. I am still learning how to deal with all this, and ask many of the same questions you raise here. I don’t yet have many answers, but I do know that I have to listen to my heart.

    It is often hard for some of my friends online or offline because I am a very free spirit and often the social protocol means little to me, the protocol where, I called/emailed you so now you are “supposed” to call/email me back, I rang your doorbell so you are suppose to answer the door, and so on. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived by those rules. I do the best I can and try to be loving, kind and compassionate with people. But I doubt I will ever base my life on social protocol. But the upside of that is that I am very comfortable letting people come and go whenever they need to, I never keep score, and I understand the ebb and flow of human nature, of nature, very well. It’s ease-ful for me.

    What it does is that I learn to trust in love, and those that I love or love me will embrace me when we meet again. And those connections that weren’t really based on both parties wanting to be together, fall away. Maybe only for a time, maybe forever. So what this does it not only helps me find my true nitch, but it helps me find my true friends who embrace who I am as I really am, and I embrace them as they really are…..because we are bonded by something deeper, enduring. With someone like this, I might see them for months or even years, and then I run into them and it’s like no time has passed.

    I don’t think there is anyone way to go about this. I think we each have different needs, so we might have a core group that fills those needs. Some people might really thrive in social protocol and that is very important and necessary to them, so they would do best having people who feel the same way. I think it’s about finding what works for us.

    I also am one of these people who when I make a friend, they are my a friend for life, and not only a friend for life, but an actual part of who I am. They become part of the fabric that is me. Nothing changes that, not distance, time or frequency of contact. I so admire your honesty and laying yourself bare here. I found it very touching and sincere. It is one of the beautiful things I love about you dear Sandra.

    Sending you beauty, love and a very warm hug.
    Robin

    • says

      Dearest Robin,

      You are one of the instigators of this post! As you have taken some snatches of time away from blogging, I’ve missed you. I know that nature calls you and I support your return to your source of joy and happiness. But if you really take a two-month break, I will miss you dearly.

      It’s part of my process of learning to let go so I also thank you for teaching me by being true to yourself. I love what you have shared here about your own process of allowing people to come and go in your life and knowing that the true connection is always there. TRUST! That’s the keyword.

      I really appreciate how sensitive you are and, of course, I fully support you reconnecting with yourself, your creativity, your peace, your silence!!!! I’m so happy you are listening to your true self.

      You have taught me so much through this single comment. I am so grateful to you. I’m not surprised by the numbers you found in your stat check. You are beautifully impacting a big part of the world. The internet is so powerful.

      The way that you feel how everyone is a part of you is incredible indeed. Thank you dear Robin, friend for life!

      Sending you beauty, love and warmth too.

  20. says

    Sandra, what a beautiful article – and what caring and deep comments from all our friends here.

    People are people no matter how you connect with them, whether online or offline. We all crave for and seek love and also deeper connections.

    And we also get to give so much back – which is I believe a deep need in us.

    Yes, blogging does isolate me and cuts down on my face to face interactions but I gain so much from all my virtual friends.

    People come into our lives and they can just as quickly leave our lives. Yet, they always somehow leave a mark on us . The challenge is to see the gift in the time they are with us.

    I am so grateful that the internet and the blogosphere allows us all like-minded people to come together and strive to make the world a better place.

    I have also come to believe that actually we are ALL like minded in that we want to create a better world and make a difference. Through our newly formed friendships, we can make a significant contribution towards this – and have a lot of fun and joy at the same time:-)

    Thanks everyone – it is such a privilege to count you all as my friends.

    Love and gratitude

    • says

      Arvind, I really appreciate your insight that fundamentally we are all like-minded in that we all want to create a better world and make a difference deep inside. We are all seeking for love and deeper connections. Realizing that helps to create more of a sense of commonality with everyone else.

      I also love how you always do your best to infuse fun and joy into life. This is so uplifting.

      I too am grateful for the internet and how it allows us to come together to create a better world. Thanks for your wonderful contribution to the conversation.

  21. says

    As someone who interacts with people for business and friendship online more than in the real world, I can honestly say that my use of the internet isn’t sustainable in the long term. I’ll probably be online forever, but I’m really feeling the disconnection from reality.

    I think when interacting on twitter I’m at least partly interacting with myself. We project a lot from ourselves onto the entities we know so little about, to fill in the gaps we know about them.

    I know that being mostly online is a reaction against less than satisfying real world existence and an attempt to create a better, new one. Not this is without value.

    All this is why you’be heard less from me.

    I want to continue to use the net and maintain relationships here, mostly to help people in the ways I know how. I don’t expect emotional satisfaction, aside from the knowledge I’m making a difference. Importantly, I want to move my changemaking into the real world to some extent.

    Thanks for bringing this up!

    • says

      Ali,

      You have a great talent for introspection and self-awareness. I’m so glad you are coming to know yourself in the ways that you describe here. This seems to be allowing you to find greater meaning in your in-person relationships and clarifying that’s where you want to be.

      Your comments about twitter are very interesting and something for all of us to think about.

      Thanks for bringing a different perspective to the conversation. Good luck with moving your changemaking efforts into the real world and thanks for letting me know what’s up with you.

  22. says

    Dear Sandra, how appropriate you wrote this post just yesterday and I just linked to it today on my new post – because I have friendships, connections and relationships in mind – and I had heard all about Srini’s Twitip post, Leo’s Focus book and Dragos’s thoughts – and most of all I know what you mean about our friends dropping out of blogosphere one by one …. it is sad to see it but it is part of life and people go through phases – I used to be shocked when people would leave my team or my organization or my company years ago – goodbyes used to be so hard – but then you realize life is all about change and it truly means change of what we do, what communities we participate in, what hobbies we pursue and what dreams we set after ….but rest assured, as long as I am here, I am one of your biggest fans and hugest supporters….and looking at these comments shows I am not only not alone but in fabulous company!

    • says

      Hi Farnoosh,

      I thoroughly enjoyed your current post on relationships. I’m coming to realize how much they actually mean to me through this discussion and the exploration of relationships in your article. I’ve also realized that your definition of relationship requires being present in the moment, a quality that we are often missing in these busy times when our mind is more active than our heart!

      You have a beautifully seasoned attitude toward the changes you see in life and in the blogosphere. We do really need to flow with what is rather than fight against!

      Thanks for your appreciation and support. It means so much to me.

  23. says

    Hi Sandra, Such a stunningly beautiful voice you have…and it is reflected in the warmth and equally beautiful responses you have here. I started to blog in August and I have been swept off my feet by the different world that I can see here. I think that the blogosphere is a place that nurtures the warmest of friendships. There is so much love, sharing and caring between people…and I have no doubt that this is genuine. I think that in the real world it has become ‘uncool’ or ‘wet’ to share feelings, warmth and optimism so openly…particularly in the written word. But what I’m seeing here isn’t just an empty warmth…I am constantly astounded by the way that people are so generous and are genuinely try to help each other and to improve the world in general and that is why I know I don’t want to quit, even though I can see the dangers of becoming addicted and neglecting the real world. So in answer to your question about pace I think that following my initial whirl around this strange new world I am settling into a pace that I can feel more comfortable with, but I can see that this will be an ongoing battle. With regard to blogging friends…I believe they are maybe more real than real world friends at times because we choose to communicate with them and have not just been flung together by circumstances. So delighted to have connected with you Sandra…and I ain’t going nowhere!

    • says

      Welcome to the blogosphere, Rosemary!

      You have such lovely insights to report from your encounters in this new realm. What an interesting point – how it’s “uncool” to share feelings, warmth, and optimism so openly in the ‘live’ world. I really love how you see and have tapped into so much generosity, positivity, and kindness in the virtual world. I’m with you – astounded by all the depth, wisdom, and kindness I’ve seen here.

      Finding balance in blogging can indeed be a challenge, but it looks like you are finding your way quite well. I try to live mindfully in all that I do including blogging. I cherish too many other special activities like meditation and gardening to be glued to the internet night and day.

      It’s wonderful to connect with you. I like your “offbeat” approach! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  24. says

    Hello Sandra. This is my first time on your blog. I found via Raam Dev’s tweet of it. This is really a important topic for the 21rst century world.

    What I find fascinating about the internet interactions and the ability or inability to make new contacts is how much it seems to mirror your real world experience. When I first heard about the internet I thought that it would be a great way to avoid the superficial level. That is do you fit the make believe tv notions of what you should look like, what you should drive, or even not be able to and on and on ad nauseum.

    This is because as a tiny male legally blind fellow stuck in a car worshiping area(southern California) I couldn’t really connect with people. The few that I could will never be able to use the internet. So as a person interested in amongst other thins making a real difference in society view of what being disabled really means I thought that the internet was the answer. Well it hasn’t been. I have just as much trouble getting new people to my blog and actually commenting on the posts as I have in getting in on conversations in the real world.

    While I do think that Raam is quite correct in pointing out how the internet can help a person feel more connected to the world at large. It also mirrors are skills and life experiences both good and bad.

    • says

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for coming by to visit my blog. It’s nice to connect with you.

      Southern California is pretty extreme when it comes to dependence on cars. I’ve lived there in the past and have relatives who have lived there. I can appreciate how isolating it can be for disabled people.

      It’s not easy to get either traffiic to or comments on your blog. There are millions of blogs online and for people to really find and connect with you takes a certain amount of dedicated promotion. I’ve learned that writing good content isn’t enough on its own.

      I don’t know if you have time for promoting your blog or an interest in that. I don’t spend a huge amount of time on promotion myself, but I know my traffic and comments improved when I began to interact with others on twitter. You might be absolutely right about the internet mirroring your life experience. On the other hand, it might be that you would need to do more things to get the word out about your blog. Whether you want to do that is another story.

      I wish you the best of luck and hope you will be able to connect with others much more in one form or another. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  25. says

    Sandra, first I want to let you know that I found your blog through Evelyn Parham as part of her Saturday’s Must Read and Sees (http://evelynparham.com/2010/11/20/saturday-reads-sees/) I’m glad she shared it too!

    ~ When it comes to the world of my dreams, the Internet doesn’t even come into play.

    ~ I set my own life’s pace, besides I can’t keep up with my blogosphere colleagues. It seems to be more important to them than it is to me.

    ~ I manage my time be setting up a schedule and sticking to it. I’ve learned that you get a lot more done that way.

    ~I’ve met some wonderful people in the blogosphere and I credit that mainly to joining some awesome online blogging communities.
    -Bloggers.com
    -BlogEngage.com
    -BloggerLuv.com

    Just to name a few, 😉

    Nice meeting you, by the way.

    • says

      Hi Kissie,

      I love your clarity! Thanks for sharing these tips. I haven’t participated in any blogging communities so it’s nice to have your firsthand experience of how awesome it has been for you. I like the way you set a schedule and stick to it. I also appreciate how you have no desire to keep up with your blogging colleagues. You seem very comfortable in yourself!

      Evelyn is great. I really appreciated being included on your Saturday’s Must Reads this week. Thanks for commenting and have a great weekend.

  26. says

    Sandra,

    What a testament to your writing when you can generate such a trail of sharing by others! I have little else to add, but felt compelled to write. I think Robin’s (Easton) comments echo best what I feel too. Whether online or offline, relationships ebb and flow.

    Aside from lack of face-to-face contact, I view many of my virtual relationships in the same way as my non-virtual ones. I look forward to hearing from people; sharing and discovering; engaging in that push and pull of thought and verse. The best relationships — I feel — are those that no matter how much time or (virtual) distance between the contacts, you can pick up right where you left off.

    We’re all busy (heck, that’s an understatement sometimes…), but we’re all connecting for SOME reason. I believe that with all my heart. We’re all being thread together to create some new fabric — of life, of love, of being. I don’t question the details; rather, I just try to go with the flow and let it all play out.

    You’re a catalyst through and through in ways both big and small. And it’s wonderful to call you a friend. Be well.

    • says

      Hi Bill,

      It’s so nice to see you! Thanks for chiming into the discussion. This is fabulous, “…but we’re all connecting for SOME reason. I believe that with all my heart. We’re all being thread together to create some new fabric — of life, of love, of being.”

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the ebb and flow, push and pull. You have a great perspective! And thanks for your very generous words too.

  27. ntathu says

    Wow…amazing to read and feel everyone’s love and sense of committment to make and keep traditional values alive and flourishing. In yoga we are encouraged to live in the present, to be mindful and grateful for all blessings. The gift of friendship is a blessing…to give and receive love, to share your self and be yourself is a life long lesson…people come into our live for a season and a reason…and we have to be able to recognsie, live and let go as the seasons come and go. I am very new to blogging – and find the sense of community and trust very welcoming at a time when I am going though a lot of personal change (divorce). I know souls are placed in our life for a purpose..whether off-line or on-line…we have to take time to nurture ourselves and find our inner voice….blogging offers you that space….it will be a shame if folk disconnect as part of “some trend” as opposed to natural closure of a connection. Life is about balance, finding your inner balance and following your heart. I am thankful for your thoughts and for the insights its offered myself and others. Wishing you peace. Ntathu x

    • says

      Hi Ntathu,

      Thanks for sharing this inspiring wisdom from the tradition of yoga. I love the emphasis on being grateful for all blessings and your own appreciation of friendship as a wonderful blessing. It’s also good to be reminded that “souls are placed in our life for a purpose.” I see so many bloggers struggling with balance these days. Again, it is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and to grow as a result.

      I really appreciate your thoughtful and inspiring comment. There is much wisdom in your words!

  28. says

    Hello Sandra,

    Thank you for this lovely post. Judging by the number of comments — and the effort the commentors have made to share meaningful thoughts — it’s evident that you are great at connecting.

    I was happy to see a comment from Zeenat. I first “met” her on your blog and have followed her a bit (such a great feeling to see a familiar name and face on other sites around the cybersphere). I found your site through another blogger: Timethief.

    All this just to say… we may not realize how our writing touches others. We just have to have faith that it does.

    I appreciate your leadership.

    • says

      It’s so nice to see you, Susan. I feel you have reached a very important conclusion: “we may not realize how our writing touches. We just have to have faith that it does.” I’m grateful for your insight.

      timethief and Zeenat are two wonderful people that I too met up with in my early days of blogging.

      Wishing you well!

  29. says

    Hi Sandra!
    As a new blogger, I often ask myself the last four questions on your post. As my vision for my life is more of a contemplative life, I do make time for digital breaks on the weekends and I’ve reduced the amount of internet activity on my daily routine.
    Considering that my blog is about a happy life and self-growth with an introspective twist, I have to make sure that my life is in balance and that I have enough contemplation time to stay true to my readers.
    Thanks for this inspirational post. Loving blessings!

    • says

      Hi Andrea,

      A very well articulated consideration. I find it doesn’t hurt at all to ask those four questions from time to time. I love your blog and I love how you described it here: a happy life and self-growth with an introspective twist. That’s my bent too! So glad to see how you take time and balance your life well. It’s a great inspiration. Much love to you.

  30. says

    It reminds me that long ago a colleague taught me to think of relationships at work as a river not a lake … flowing, not static.

    I think the key is to enjoy the relationships you have, while you have them, wherever they are.

  31. says

    “It makes me wonder – are internet friendships real? Or has this just been an illusion of connection that I alone have created in my mind?”

    I think there is a certain level of inpermenance in many kinds of friendships ie. internet friends, work friends, travel friends.

    I agree with Rao that it’s key to keep people engaged. 1-on-1 conversations always build more rapport than group or 1-way conversations.

  32. says

    I think there is a certain level of impermanance in many kinds of friendships – internet friends, work friends, travel friends, friends of someone you’re dating…

    I agree with Rao. I think the key (as in any friendship) is to build 1-on-1 communication to strengthen rapport. Group communication and 1-way communication makes it a very temporary relationship.

    • says

      Hi Roy, I like your focus on building 1-1 communication. We can’t deny impermanence, but we can make our relationship meaningful while they last. Thanks for your thoughts.

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