Friday, September 26, 2008

OMG, are you BLOGGING again?

Early tomorrow morning I will hop on the Deutsche Bahn headed to Bremen for the Fourth Annual Whiney Expat Bloggers in Germany Meetup. When I tell my German buddies that I'm going to Bremen they have two things to say, "Make sure to see the Stadtmusikanten statue," and "Maybe you could catch a football game".

Magical Bremen. This town is supposed to be free. Well, at least in old fairy tales. It is the setting of the original story Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (The Town Musicians of Bremen). Here you can read the story in side-by-side German and English. The animals were all headed to Bremen to get freedom from their respective crappy owners. A little freedom, that sounds nice! A little time away from normal life, that sounds even better.

Most of what I actually expect is a group of English native speakers getting together for a little fellowship and sparking conversation as we eat, drink and be merry all over Bremen. Something tells me that it will be interesting. I don't have the figures in front of me at the moment, but I seem to remember that there were at least 27 people signed up for one of the meals... cool!

This get-together gives me the chance to meet up close and personal with people which until now I have only known through the Internet. Sure I've managed to meet a handful of them face to face, but the great majority are only known to me by their blog handles.

With so many expats in Germany I've often wondered how I ended up reading these people's blogs. I bet it all started with Mausi. It is fuzzy in my mind (just like many things) exactly how I happened upon her blog, but soon I realized that I was going to that website every day, checking for an update.

All in all this blogging thing is pretty viral. I would read the comments posted by others and follow the links to their blogs. After a while I began checking Mausi and others' blogrolls to find bloggers I might like. Of course this got hard to manage without software help, and I got into Bloglines to keep it all straight. Wouldn't you know it that Google came out with it's Google Reader not long after I painstakenly put links to my favorite blogs into Bloglines complete with a detailed filing system? Well, I'm sticking to my Bloglines until I have to make a major change, dammit. Yup stats checkers... that blip from Bloglines is me.

Which brings me to another point. I spend a lot of time reading blogs but rarely actually comment on them. Most of the time I don't feel that I have anything to add, sometimes I see that others have covered my salient point in the comments section before my arrival, and other times I am still giggling from the post I've just read and don't want to spoil that smile by putting my head to the task of formulating a reasonable sentence.

So why do we blog? Deep inside I've always wondered if it is some kind of narcissistic need to put myself out there. I know for certain that it isn't because I'm a fantastic writer. I've always thought that a true log of one's life can be quite therapeutic. Looking back on such a thing years later can give a person perspective which they just could not see at the time of the event.

For about a year after coming to Germany I maintained a website which was very much like a blog. I would update my friends and family back home with stories of what I was doing and of course pictures which would give them an idea of what my life across the pond was all about. This made it seem as though I actually had a REASON to blog.

But after the discovery of the other German expat blogs I was pulled toward them, perhaps in search of kinship. These people have probably had similar life experiences to me, this is why I like to "spend time with them". Don't we almost always gravitate to people with similar attributes to ourselves? Come on... how many other people could possibly understand my initial shock, then understanding, and eventual appreciation of the German toilet?

This blogging thing smacks of that interesting need for similarity and emotional bonding in us all. Think about it, somewhere I am sure that there is a blogging group of people who all love to collect plastic spoons. What were the the chances of them meeting each other in the 70's? Maybe there was even a "Plastic Spoon Collector" magazine... but what would its subscriber list look like? 300 people spread out all over the world. What the Internet does is bring people of similar interests closer together, making the world a smaller place.

It reminds me of my explanation to a straight friend who asked why I spent my 20's "hanging out" in gay bars. Because those people were like me! They might have come from differing social and/or educational backgrounds, they could be different races, ages, or any number of variables... but they were all gay. They all had experienced many of the same problems/situations/joys/difficulties, and I wanted to be with people who had a better chance of understanding me for who I was.

At the end of the day I am writing a log about my life. Actually I do a piss poor job of this, many people are much better about expressing the interesting side of their lives. Some even take less than exciting lives and pick out that one thing which relates to most other people's lives, and they write about it in such a way as to make you relate to them even more. Maria is one of these. The mundane aspects of life viewed through such a person can seem so delightful.

I know these bloggers in the sense that I know what they have deemed ok for passing along to the entire Internet... but trust me, there is much more to these people just as there is much more to me.

So here I sit quite excited to meet up with this eclectic group of bloggers. While I assume that we won't agree on everything, we will at least have some wonderful similarities to talk about.

Been reading:
Love story: Knut mourns his keeper - OK, so the headline is false. The article even says it is false... then why even print that headline?


CrackerLilo said...

Hope you have fun!!!

I love the graphic about the evolution of blogging.

Maybe this can provide a bit of insight: I like reading other peoples' blogs because it gives me an insight into how other people live their lives. I always loved looking at pictures of other peoples' homes and tents in National Geographic when I was a kid. I loved the ancient housewares best of all in museums. And now I can see what it's like to be a straight married mother, or an autoworker, or an expatriate in Berlin. I love it when people tell me my blog gives them a good idea of what it's like to be bisexual or same-sex married.

Location: Berlin, DE said...

I do it because it is therapeutic and great way to keep friends/family updated on our life here but do you ever find blogging to be drag sometimes, too? I sometimes feel that it's just as much of a burden to maintain as I do a release. Too much pressure!! :)