Flipflops in the Rain


you say goodbye, and i say hello
July 17, 2012, 2:05 pm
Filed under: geek chic, obscure pop culture references, perfectly impossible

Good news: I’m going to start blogging again!

Bad(?) news: I’ve been dragging my flipflops on this decision for awhile, but I’m moving to a new site. If you want to follow me on my new adventures, you’ll have to update your favorites bar and resubscribe at http://achicknamedcarl.wordpress.com.

 

 

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Community Through Blogging

Editor’s note: I wrote the following essay for a class about social dynamics through communication technology, which is why it’s a bit longer than normal. If it’s not your cup of tea, my feelings won’t be hurt, but since it’s about the community I found through blogging, I’d recommend giving it a read. If you still don’t want to read it, then go watch a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon instead.

The world is becoming a smaller place, thanks to computer-mediated communication (CMC). Although some researchers argue that CMC may lead to superficial and less-inhibited relationships (Thurlow et. al, 2004), I believe it actually strengthens our bonds with other people. With CMC, we can just as quickly chat with our friends 3,000 miles away as we can with those sitting three feet away. We can even create live diaries, or blogs, that live on the Web and allow people to read our innermost thoughts, breaking down distance boundaries by building up emotional connections.

According to Baker and Moore, “Blogs can bring together likeminded and supportive communities and thus provide opportunities to relieve feelings of isolation” (2008, p. 747). This paper will expand on that idea and demonstrate how personal blogs build cohesion and encourage interaction, leading to a deeply engaged and enthusiastic online community.

Building Cohesion

Four years ago, I was living in Washington, D.C., where I hardly knew a soul. My previously active social life was nonexistent, and I was desperately homesick for the West Coast. So, using an alias, I created a blog, which I shared with my friends back home. Many of my early posts were painfully honest, expressing feelings I wouldn’t normally share with anyone, but the lack of face-to-face communication made me feel somewhat anonymous and free from the restraints that usually accompany offline communication (Thurlow et. al, 2004). At the same time, my vulnerability and self-disclosure helped my faraway friends feel a relational closeness that we may not have felt over our typical CMC methods, such as email or Facebook posts (Griffin, 2009).

Research has shown that blogging can have many beneficial effects on one’s well-being (Baker & Moore, 2008), and through consistent posting, I began to notice a change in my overall disposition and offline confidence. My writing began to morph, as well, and chatty musings and anecdotes replaced my diary-style therapy sessions, eventually leading to a much more diverse audience. “For many young people, keeping a Web journal is less about soul-searching than about keeping in touch with a circle of friends and perhaps expanding it” (Gallagher, 2002).

Encouraging Interaction

I soon discovered readers from all over were visiting my mundane little corner of the world. Even though I was posting for people back home, strangers with similar interests commented on each post, leading me to realize that the Internet could help me interact with new friends while still reconnecting with my old ones. Using my blog as a networking tool, I soon discovered other D.C. bloggers with similar interests, leading to several offline friendships I may not have otherwise found.

Personal blogs are an easy way for people to create new friendships because the authors are voluntarily disclosing personal information to the masses, which leads to social penetration among peers (Griffin, 2009). The potential for intimacy increases because readers feel a relational closeness to an author who reveals private details about his or her personality. The blogging forum allows readers to engage directly with the writer by posting comments at the end of each post. Many blogs also include email contact information, allowing shy readers to communicate with the author in a less-public domain. These interactivity options provide a desirable advantage for building relationships and maintaining open dialogue (Thurlow et al, 2004), which helped me communicate with bloggers both inside and outside of the D.C. area.

Online Community

My personal blog and new blogging friendships motivated me to seek out 20-Something Bloggers (20sb), a network with only two requirements: “Be in your twenties. And have a personal blog” (20sb.net, 2011, para. 3).” The network was created in 2007 and has since grown to more than 10,000 members, all looking for an online space that connects them with like-minded people around the world.

20sb provided me with a sense of belonging almost instantly, since I was interacting with individuals who also wanted to fit in as members of a cohesive group (Thurlow et al, 2004), especially one tailored to those finding it difficult to adjust to their impending adulthood and their “age 30 deadline” (Henig, 2010, p. 2). The network attracts many who feel that “the 20s are a black box,” (Henig, 2010, p. 1), and I soon formed bonds with other 20-something bloggers with whom I could commiserate and celebrate our major (and often unsettling) life changes through CMC, even though we had never met in person. By connecting its members, 20sb has become an online community with highly engaged members who feel passionate about their inclusion and often feel more connected with their online friends than those they know offline.

Conclusion

My time in D.C. may be over, and my blog may lie dormant most days, but the community I found through blogging will not soon be forgotten. It helped me maintain friendships from 3,000 miles away, as well as cultivate new ones, through a unique method of CMC that encouraged self-disclosure, cohesion and interactivity. Many of the friendships I found on 20sb are the best I have today – even though we still communicate primarily online. More research stands to be done, but my personal experience supports the idea that blogging can build an enthusiastic and engaged online community.

References

Baker, J. R. & Susan M. Moore. (2008) Blogging as a social tool: A psychosocial examination of the effects of blogging. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(6): 747-749. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0053.

Henig , R. M. (2010, August 22). What is it about 20-somethings? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.

Gallagher, D. J. (2002, September 5). A site to pour out emotions, and just about anything else. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nytimes.com.

Griffin, E. (2009). A First Look at Communication Theory. Boston: McGraw Hill. 7th Edition.

Thurlow, C., Lengel, L., & Tomic, A. (2004). Computer mediated communication: Social interaction and the Internet.London: SAGE.

20 Something Bloggers. (2007-2011). The bloggers with the most to say. Retrieved from http://www.20sb.net/page/about-20sb.



all the cool kids read
June 29, 2010, 12:21 pm
Filed under: a few of my favorite things, geek chic, the cat's meow | Tags: , ,

i’m a bit of a book worm. i don’t mention it much (maybe only once?), but i’m pretty content wrapped up in my down comforter with a good book in one hand, a wine glass in the other and a fluffy cat in my lap. even better, subtract the comforter and lap cat and add a sea of bubbles and candlelight.

since moving back to a small town with not a lot to do and my books all packed away until i move into my own place in FOUR days, i’ve rediscovered the wonderfulness that is the library. these days, if i’m at home with some time to spare, i’m reading rather than watching guilty-pleasure tv.

a sneak peak at my (embarrassingly girly) bookshelf*:
-Spooky Little Girl by Laurie Notaro.
-Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner.
-Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton.
-The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
-A Stopover in Venice by Kathryn Walker.
-Confessions of a Rebel Débutante by Anna Fields.
-Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster.

any suggested reads? (i’ve placed a hold on the crazy popular The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.)

*apologies: i’m sorry, but i’m far too lazy to link to all of these. you can find them all by plugging these titles into a nifty tool i like to call google.



Is this thing on?
June 22, 2010, 12:35 pm
Filed under: geek chic, the cat's meow | Tags: , ,

image

Just a lil test from my Android. Nothin to see here.

(Man, I love having a phone with apps! The auto-capitalization is messing with my lazy style, though.)

Look! There’s my fat cat!



wanted: extremely patient assistant to fix my phone and tell me when to eat
January 5, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: fear and loathing, geek chic | Tags: , , , ,

i’m pretty sure i should hire a personal assistant.

granted, i don’t have any money, and i can get really bitchy and/or whiny when i haven’t slept. but basically, i really need someone to take on the full-time job of making sure i act like a grown-up.

example: i don’t eat when i should. and when i do eat, i make poor choices. for instance, i’m sitting here, shaking because i’m so hungry, but instead of doing the responsible thing and making a sandwich, i’m blogging about it. (if you’re in the neighborhood, turkey on rye with a wee bit of mayo. thanks.)

another example: i don’t do errands. one of the main reasons i’m not eating (besides pure laziness) is because i need to go grocery shopping. i’ve needed to for about three weeks. i went before christmas, but only so i could buy six bottles of wine and a case of cheese dip.

the grocery shopping isn’t my biggest concern right now. that’s why they invented “pizza delivery” and “fast food.” no, my biggest concern is that my blackberry committed suicide this weekend and i needed to order a new one and i now have to fedex the original blackberry back to my phone company. WHAT?! how do i even begin to fedex something? don’t i already have enough to worry about with the whole phone-breaking-and-i-can’t-update-my-twitter-every-15-seconds thing and trying to figure out how to activate the replacement phone? and can someone please tell me how to back-up all my contacts when i don’t have access to the network? this is all far too complicated. i’ve managed to download five different programs and i’m nowhere closer to transferring my contacts from one phone to another.

(if you knew that i worked in a tech center, your brain would probably explode at my sheer incompetence with this phone debacle.)

so, yeah. if you’re looking for a new job that doesn’t pay well (or at all), requires a high tolerance for dealing with bitchy, sleep-deprived idiots and starts within the next 10 days (because that’s how long i have to fedex this stupid thing), call me! no, wait. e-mail me. god damn phone.



my cat joined twitter today.

for those of you who follow my tweets, you may have seen an explosion in pet talk today.

a seemingly harmless suggestion to follow another pet led to my cat magically creating an account with the sole purpose of taunting and harassing my friends and me.  (examples: “@flipflopsinrain Who says I’m alone? The raccoons are taking turns mating on your pillow.” or “my mommeh could kick the refried beans out of your mommehs ass.”)

i am not writing these tweets. i didn’t even create the account. i find this a little unsettling, especially since my cat seems to be a pretty superb artist, in between surfing icanhazcheeseburger.

i’m finally going crazy, aren’t i?

a shout out to the other free-spirited creatures who joined twitter today: Kismet, Just a Girl‘s “borderline retarded chihuahua with a serious thing for blankets,” and Nutsak, Pithy‘s one-eyed kitteh. you animals are smarter than the average bear… and that scares me.


little [woman] lost and… some overdue shout outs

it rained last week, and i didn’t want to wear flip flops. either i’m getting older or i’m completely losing my sense of self.

i’ve gotta say, the past six months have been a roller coaster. well, ok — the last 26 years have been a roller coaster. i’m highly sensitive to boredom and completely overemotional. these traits do not a fun blog make.

however!

in the past six months, i’ve met several lovely people through the d.c. blogging community, and each of them has (unknowingly) motivated me to dip my toes back into the interwebz water and keep writing. So, without further ado, i’m going to put off writing one more day, and finally pass on some bloggy love:

Pithy: Thanks for making me watch gilmore girls and reminding me that highly caffeinated and random rambles are still pretty cool.
Maxie: You’re one awesome, crazy biatch. And yes, I find that inspirational. Your blog posts are legeennnnnnndary! (if you don’t know what that means, give me back my dvds immediately.)
Lilu: Without you and your 1,000+ blog subscriptions, I never would’ve discovered such a tight-knit group of debauchery-loving writers. i love the wide range of topics you cover, and i love you, man.
doniree: I love that you have the follow-through and determination to take on so many amazing projects. i imagine you’ll travel to d.c. someday for one of your adventures, and I can’t wait to finally meet someone I’ve been reading  for ages.
Lemmonex: Your openness and honesty have always been a breath of fresh air, and you have a way of making the most painful words sound beautiful.
Katherine: Come back. We miss your stories.
Malnatured Snay: Thank you for always letting me know people care about what I have to say. Even if they don’t, it’s quite encouraging.
Vagabondventures: I miss you, but you make me want to drop everything and follow my dreams. Someday, I will…
DC Princess: I know we just met, but I love that you’ve created a blog community from scratch. You, my dear, can totally achieve anything you put your mind to.

some honorable mentions to some long-time bloggy friends: Je, Castlemonkey, Paolo, WriteGal, GeekGiant, CoffeeonTwoWheels and Woolls.

you all rock my socks off. except i’m not wearing socks. you get the gist.