Blogging for IRL friends?
December 18, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Have you deliberately used your personal blog(s) to make IRL friends completely outside your social circle?

I would like to make IRL friends who share my SFW and NSFW interests, of the vague, sprawling, intellectual variety.

There aren't any existing meetups in my area for my interests, and previous attempts at creating said meetups (I tried hosting a few for months) brought in people who were very nice to chat a bit with but who I wasn't interested in being friends with. (If my interest were meditation, just as a pretend example, I would get tons of new-agey types, when I really wanted people who were interested in ancient texts. And this would happen no matter how carefully I worded the meetup description, with multiple ongoing experiments over a year. Again this is just pretend, but this is the kind of thing that kept happening.)

Do you have a range of difficult-to-classify, sort of introverted interests? And they're outside the mainstream but not halr-splitting minutiae that only a handful of people in the world would be interested in?

Do you blog? Did this accidentally or deliberately lead to IRL friends? Do you have any tips for me? I have SFW interests and NSFW interests. If you do too, do you have two blogs or just one?

Basically, I'm trying to decide whether to commit to blogging for a year or five or if I should put almost all of my focus on mingling at IRL events that don't quite fit my interests and referring to stuff I'm interested in, in conversation. A few minor hits so far. (I'll probably keep doing that anyway.) The blogging into a black hole has been gratifying but emotionally draining and time-consuming, and I'm wondering if I should stick with it until I become more googleable. I would also start getting more involved as a blog commenter, have a blogroll of somewhat related blogs and that sort of thing.

One thing that concerns me is that if I focus on a handful of interests instead of one main theme, would that make it much less likely for people to be able to google for my content? Another concern I have is that I've personally never found someone's blog incredibly awesome to the point where I've emailed them to say hi. Should this tell me something?

(Part of the problem, if you're going to ask me to actually post my interests here, is that it's difficult for me to summarize and classify them, except for listing lots and lots of thick books that are all interconnected to me but seem to come from lots of different subfields, and I'm not interested in the subfields in isolation, and the people in those subfields don't seem interested in stuff outside their work. So, I'm thinking writing might be a way to help articulate and clarify what I care about while serving as beacon for other potentially interested people.)

Would you commit to this route if you were me, specifically as an IRL friends strategy? I would also be actively working on making my writing less dense and run-on-y. I might just have to keep writing, for my own sanity, but it would be motivating if people had success stories and said, "Yes, write with your blog in mind."
posted by zeek321 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How are you defining IRL friends? Because if you want to blog about say, turkducken roasting, you are likely to attract at least a handful of people interested in turkducken. But virtually none of them will live anywhere near you, so you may be online friends but that is going to be hard to translate into something that fills the "hey want to grab a beer after work?" gap.

(If my interest were meditation, just as a pretend example, I would get tons of new-agey types, when I really wanted people who were interested in ancient texts. And this would happen no matter how carefully I worded the meetup description, with multiple ongoing experiments over a year. Again this is just pretend, but this is the kind of thing that kept happening.)

You understand you can't order made to measure friends, right? You understand that the above is basically how most adult friendships work? You go rock climbing with your death metal friend who likes rock climbing, you get beers with your bird watching home brew buddy, etc? I regularly share a meal with a group of people with whom I have basically nothing in common except owning a vagina and liking food. I enjoy sharing a foodie meal with them and learning more about them and catching up on their lives. I'm not going to go on vacation with any of them, but certainly we are friends.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2012

If you want to make IRL friends with the internet, do it by being active and pleasant in established communities rather than setting up a road flare and waiting for people to come to you.

A standalone blog will net you few, if any, friends. If you participate in some sort of community, and also blog, and people know you as that fun person in the community who also has a blog, that would work. It doesn't even have to be a built-in community like LiveJournal, but a loose associations of bloggers blogging about X and keeping in touch on Twitter and some forum and email and so on. But without some kind of network, depending on people Googling around to find you and want to hang out with you is a lost cause.
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It takes a long time to build up a community through blogging. Joining an established online community and hoping/trying to find people near you is a better bet. If you want to blog because you think you'd enjoy it, go ahead, but if you do it with some end goal in mind, you will likely end up disappointed and abandon your blog before too long.

If you specifically want to join a certain blog community, I think the best way is to start your own blog and get at least a few weeks' worth of posts up there, and start regularly commenting on other people's blogs. They will notice and click over to your blog. You could also email them. Honestly, though, if you've never been motivated to email someone to say hi, it seems unlikely you'll find the exact type of friends you're looking for this way.
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've made awesome IRL friend via Livejournal, using filters for SFW vs NSFW topics. While it's no longer as populated, I think there are a few lessons to be had from my experience.

1) I commented on other people's entries a lot. A lot! As you point out, you don't currently do that, and in order to build connections, you need to connect somehow.

2) Blogging into the void got me zero readers. Joining communities and linking up with friends of friends were the only way I made actual new friends.

3) I met people IRL early on. And not because we shared the exact same interests. It was more that a group of local folks were having a meetup, and so I decided to join. Some of these new friends share interests with me. Mostly we have diverse interests, but we can also often interest one another in new topics. And then once a few folks formed IRL friendships, more people joined in.

So from my experience I'd say that blogging into a black hole might get you the very occasional reader, but you're much more likely to make friends by working on your on-line communities. Sure, some of the blogroll friends may be far flung, but you'll have made friends. And those friends are likely to lead to more friends, some of whom will be local.
posted by ldthomps at 2:42 PM on December 18, 2012

I haven't ever had a blog work out this way, or been moved to comment on other local people's blogs. But unexpectedly, Twitter has worked this way for me. Just via chitchatting about my day, using the occasional hashtag for my city name or a particular event, over time I've met several local people, met some of their real-life friends via Twitter, and I'm out to the third generation of those people's friends by now. Some of these are people I've stayed only in Twitter-contact with, but I've met some in person and intend to meet up with others at some point. (One turned out to be my neighbor up the street, and she keeps chickens so now I get fresh eggs sometimes as a present. I will love Twitter forever for that reason alone, apart from anything else.)

Might be a slightly different route to take, or to explore in conjunction - perhaps with a bit of Twitter activity you could drive people to your blog to discuss things more in-depth.
posted by Stacey at 2:56 PM on December 18, 2012

There's a difference between a friend and a fellow hobby enthusiast. My hobby is photography, which is an extremely popular hobby, but I didn't find that I made a lot of friends when I went to local photo clubs. It was nice to talk about photography, but I really did not have anything in common with them except for photography. Talking about one subject does not make a friendship automatically.

I'm a long-time blogger. You'd need a lot of readership to attract people to your blog that you could meet in IRL. To get that kind of readership and to form that kind of community, you have to be willing to hustle: write every day, tons of self-promotion, lots of commenting elsewhere, etc. And blogging is actually not that easy to keep up- lots of people run out of steam or lose interest after a bit. To me, as a person who has blogged for more than 15 years, it mostly feels like talking to myself. A black hole. I would never make any friends IRL that way.

I have had success making IRL friends via Meetup. I created and sustained a group that just played a weekly trivia night at a local bar. It took awhile, and sure I got some crazy people at some early meetings, but a solid core of a team formed. They are now my good friends. We all have our own obscure interests that work very well in supporting the trivia team as a whole. We also have some group interests in geeky things that helped us bond in the first place, and keep us socializing together outside trivia night. Other than that, our main collective interest is in playing trivia and being really good at it. And it works for us.

If your hobby is as obscure as you're suggesting, it seems to me that requiring your friends to share this hobby will narrow your field so far that you're not going to have much success. You're writing a blog to meet the people who have your interest, who live in your area, and who are also interested in meeting up in real life. That's not going to be much better than a Meetup group you've designed to meet people who have your interest, live in your area, happen to be on Meetup, and are available to attend your event. That's a very small pool. And then you're looking for someone in that pool who actually clicks with you and is looking to make a friend.

If you just want to talk about the hobby, it may not happen IRL.
If you are instead looking to make real-life friends, you need to lessen up on the interests they must have (prerequisites) in order to get the chance to meet you in person.
posted by aabbbiee at 3:13 PM on December 18, 2012

I've also made IRL friends through Livejournal-- in my case through shared fandoms. We aren't all in the same fandoms anymore, but we have other shared interests to build on and we enjoy each other's company, which I think are the most important criteria for friendship. Communities like LJ (though sadly not LJ itself anymore-- try Dreamwidth) are great for finding local people who share your interests.
posted by nonasuch at 3:35 PM on December 18, 2012

I've made friends because of my blog, but not because they were readers. I would go out to relevant events (not meetups -- think more of panels or book signings or gallery openings or whatever) and begin to see some of the same people there. I was doing this to write about these events, but it got me out into the world. (I also volunteered at a particular event and made a bunch of friends that way.) In some instances, people may have vaguely known about my blog (or even read it!) or had at least heard of me before I met. It was an easy icebreaker.

But I haven't made friends directly because of my blog. Blogging became a good excuse to be social.
posted by darksong at 6:01 PM on December 18, 2012

I've made tons of friends through my blog! Granted, it's not in the same vein as yours would be given what you've said here (I run a music blog, albeit in a niche, but it's still a more populated interest, I assume, that what you've got going).

And nthing twitter. I've conversed with fans and artists over the past couple years and met up with quite a few at shows, coffee shops, and we've all gotten together just to get together from time to time. It was the one thing I really didn't expect to come from blogging -- it seems through that outlet I've found my people.

Shared interests, no matter how obscure, will always unite people. Go for it.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:25 AM on December 19, 2012

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