Real Life vs. The Blogosphere

The world’s a strange place. Connected beyond imagination, our real lives involve separation and loneliness.

When I was a child, I’d visit my neighbors. The old woman around the corner was a round, loud person with a slight, soft-spoken husband. He puttered around their yard and house, repairing and fixing and amusing himself. She’d invite me in to their homespun, soft-furnitured living room and insist I eat the cookies she’d just made.

They kept a dog or two. Whenever we played outside in our backyard, the dogs would bark. Sure enough, after a few rounds of yip-yip-yip, we’d hear her screech, “Skipper! Quiet!” I could imitate her tone and inflection; still can.

Nowadays, my neighbors are more reclusive. I still try to visit them. I plan a block party each summer. But, it’s different. It’s isolated. It’s even a bit cold.

One time, bearing the Christmas cookie plate I make and gift every year, I rang my neighbors who never come out and socialize. They’d just installed a door camera, I noted. I could hear it whirring as the focus changed, probably recording me. Their teenage daughters’ cars were out front. Their interior lights were on. I could hear their talking before I rang. Yet, no one answered.

Resisting my inner child’s urge to do something less kind, I left the plate on their porch and went back home.

It’s different. It’s rude.

I feel a similar confusion and slight affront where my writing’s concerned. Here, on my blog, I post every day. I write about my thoughts and feelings, my ideas, my odd story plots, my poetry, and -most vulnerably- my depression.

Occasionally, I share what I write to my Facebook page. Like, my personal one that everyone who is my ‘friend’ can read. All of my neighbors are ‘friends,’ although I happen to know they don’t read what I write. Only when I announce I’m having a baby do about a fourth of my ‘friends’ (130ish) click that little Like.

The rest of the time, about 30 people respond.

If I write something depressive, about 8.

In real life, sometimes 1 or 2 come up and say something.

I wonder what things would have been like if I’d become an adult fifty years ago, or even twenty. My mom would tell me that her mom’s neighbors met every morning for coffee. My grandmother said she and the kids of her childhood played jacks together. My husband’s grandmother sat outside with the other mothers in their complex at college, while their children all played in the central courtyard.

Different times. Warmer times.

This age allows me an outlet I wouldn’t have had fifty years ago, or even twenty. Instead of living in the isolation of my two-story house with only the dishes and laundry for company, I have you all.

But, I often wonder, why don’t I have those who are closer? Why don’t they notice? Why don’t they care?

Maybe it’s the cookies.

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—————-

Here’s what I wrote this week:

Wednesday, January 15: Examined the differences between the sexes in “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (and I’m Adrift in Space).”

Thursday, January 16: Throwback to how to write poetry with “A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry.”

Friday, January 17: Posted the winners of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to AnneMichael, and Rob.

Saturday, January 18: Announced the 55th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is what paradise looks like to you. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, January 19: “A Small Protest,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Also, “How Much is That Poem in the Window?,” in response to Crispina Kemp’s prompt photo.

Monday, January 20: An inspirational quote from Almost Iowa.

Tuesday, January 21: Poemed “As I Lay, Here.”

Wednesday, January 22: This post, plus “The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part).”

I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “Did You Go Swimming Today? and Other Post-Delivery Fallacies” and “Short, Sweet, Sleep.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit: BBH Singapore

85 thoughts on “Real Life vs. The Blogosphere

  1. I still remember my neighbors I had as a kid. I walked 1/4 a mile by myself going to school from first to fourth grades, by the second grade, my younger sister was in first grade and walked with me. People were friendly. Now I may not see any of my neighbors’ faces in months and months. I only do Facebook a few times a year, don’t want to compare with some friends who are on it as often as every 20 minutes!!
    Wow, you blog every day! I used to do that several years ago. I made average of two posts a day. Since I take classes for the retirees (making human contacts), I’m blogging less often.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In some ways, I think people are more guarded nowadays. That is unfortunate and yet somewhat understandable. It’s bizarre that your neighbors didn’t open the door to receive your offering. Sometimes people are just socially awkward.

    I’m not the anti-technology police, but I do find it completely weird how obsessed people have become with their phones. The other night my wife and I went out to eat at a restaurant, and there were four people (two adults and two kids) sitting at a table nearby all engrossed in their phones instead of conversing with the people in front of them. It looked like a scene that someone might use for a documentary to show the lack of interpersonal skills.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I see the phone thing all the time!!! When I remember to, I vow to not have mine out while my kids are around. -I’m making good progress in turning off whatever I’m holding and setting it aside when they talk to me, but think I’ll progress to the old put-in-a-box practice during evening hours with the family.

      What’s crazy is I use my phone or Kindle for work on the blog, but my peeking shows others are just browsing social media or playing games…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a tricky area isnt it. Since i was about ten ,,, so mid sixties… and apart from my hall at uni, I’ve lived in either isolated rural areas or where neighbours nod but don’t engage much. I know a few, maybe four or five houses, and recognise several more but that’s it. My parent’s were never very social even back when i was small though i did play on the street way back when. Mind you i dont feel the lack and neither does my wife. However my 80 year old mother in law has constantly regretted the lack of neighbours who interact even now in her sheltered flat, one of 50 which has a communal lounge that she visits 3 times a week and enjoys. She would like it to be daily and often wonders why, of the many residents only 10 or so are regulars. She’d understand your cookie frustration completely

    Liked by 1 person

    • What’s funny is that I’m more introverted and most of our neighborhood is, too. I just like feeling like we CAN and occasionally DO converse. I mean, you have friends you walk with, right? You have some human interaction, right?

      …interesting perspective, though. I assumed you, in being more extroverted, would prefer knowing those around you.

      Like

  4. I love cookies! The ultimate icebreaker, well worth opening the door and saying, ‘thank you.’ There seems to be a self-imposed isolation and social awkwardness in our society. I am encouraged when I see my kids putting themselves in situations that force them to have human interaction. We are better together; learning, sharing and caring for one another.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In ‘real life’ I have no friends at all. I keep it that way on purpose. Not because I distrust or dislike people, but because I know I do not play well with others. I am selfish and self serving and do not believe it fair to inflict myself on innocent people who I will no doubt find it necessary to trod upon at some point to get what I want.

    Sooooooo.. That being said, maybe your just lucky that the people who incapable of being real friends, people like me perhaps, keep our distance- even though our doing so is often interpreted as rude.

    And very probably is….

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I once lived in a high rise in Toronto. Not once did any neighbor say hi my name is…
    Here in this mobile park I know the names of all my neighbors.
    People now are afraid to get involved, reach out. I have neighbors who can have quite a few others around, they are not talking to each other because they are all looking down at the phones playing a multi player game.
    I believe that is the case more often than not.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think people met up with neighbors more, but I don’t know if they necessarily listened more. People used to hide their feelings and such because they didn’t want to seem off.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, cookies help! Ha… Neighbors are another story. In the deep south we came and went to each others homes a lot… Here in the midwest… not so much! At least we have wonderful neighbors who bring us goodies and I take them veggies… ;-)))
    This post is pretty spot-on with the change of times…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah… guilty… I would take cookies and talk your ear off and invite you in! But to do that myself, while I see myself doing it, I don’t. I’ve lived here two years. Everyone stays inside. I’m going to our a bench out front to sit in and watch and hopefully engage with my neighbors. Auntie who is 99 does not want to meet neighbors or talk with them. She never has been that way – to socialize on purpose. I knew my neighbors when I had kids. Kids help.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my gosh, Chelsea! Yes! What happened to society? Can it just be social media? The internet? People really don’t seem to care about each other anymore and don’t get together or meet with each other. I mean, back in our parents’ time they didn’t have anything else to do but actually talk face to face. Now we have the option of just scrolling by so many seem to think they can do that in real life too. I was struggling with friendships and I took time off social media to try to connect with real people. Unfortunately, out of sight out of mind even more then usual. My “friends” stopped talking to me even more and now none of them talk to me, call or even text to see if I am alive. And yes! I have called or texted them and they always say how happy it makes them but then ….. they never make the first move and do the same. I tested it one time to see if they would – that was … uh… two years ago. Lol. Still no contact unless the ones kid wanted to see mine (he’s popular, more so than me I guess). I think one friend did message me finally. Anyhow, I just don’t get it anymore and also wonder if I would have had more close friends if I had been born long ago and become an adult in the 50s or 60s or even the 80s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is my experience, too. I had a friend recently get off Twofacebook, saying she needed a break… well, i noticed she’s back on. At least here in Utah, people connect at church if they’re LDS. My friend is not, so I don’t think she HAS any other outlet but online…

      I agree with what you said that we only had visiting and talking in the past. Convenience and connection is making us anti-social and over-simulated.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Americans all over are withdrawing from public society. I believe there are several causes:

    – Urbanization
    – Mobility
    – Electronic entertainment
    – Withdrawal from Christianity
    – Diversity*

    There are still some pockets of strong communitarianism here—e.g., the Amish—in cases where fewer of those causes exist.

    * I read a study which found that increased diversity in a neighborhood reduced trust even among members of the same ethnicity. It makes people more guarded.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Life is dangerous and scary these days and most people are fearful. I have a Ring doorbell and can see and hear anyone who walks past my front door. Why? There are a lot of wackos out there.
    Sadly, even having cancer very few of my condo neighbors stop by and visit. People these days keep to themselves.
    It’s weird. People I worked with visit. But neighbors? Only a few are friendly. I moved into a condo after my second husband passed away so I’d be around people but found that even in a condo they aren’t very friendly. Go figure!?
    I think most folks are just afraid. Or maybe they are just unfriendly. I don’t get it.
    I’d invite you in, especially if you had cookies. 😉❤️😁

    Liked by 1 person

  13. When I Iived in Gastonia, North Carolina, at first I couldn’t work out why the only outside space any household had was at the front of the house in full public view – until early evening when everyone came out into the front areas and the conversation rang up and down the street. It was the most social place I’ve ever lived in – and incidentally I was the only white personage within miles!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I miss those times of not so long ago. Growing up, we had a neighbor with kids around my and my brother’s ages that we would play with. When they moved away, a strange couple moved in. The worked in the city a half hour or so away, but only seemed to live in the house part-time. I miss knowing my neighbors, miss seeing friendly smiles and exchanging hellos. These days, I like to think all the people I’ve connected with through blogging are my neighbors, but might perhaps be too glued to technology or too introverted to wander out the door. I’m afraid to think of the society today’s kids will be growing up into.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I sometimes think about these things, too. People used to keep their doors unlocked, leave their kids home alone, church doors were always open. No more. I’m not sure sure what began it all, as human crime is old as time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I almost feel guilty for clicking “Like”. I don’t like how disconnected we are, especially among neighbors. I too, think back on to when I knew all our neighbors. Maybe it’s just a nostalgia for how I thought things were. People haven’t changed that much it seems…

    What I really like about your writing is the sometimes quirky, and always honest, way you communicate. I love how the blogosphere welcomes that. I have met none of our fellow bloggers, and yet it seems like I feel far more community than I do on my own block. Go figure…

    Thanks for being a part of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 I’m definitely quirky.

      We need more people like you, working to build good things in their community. The Good Old Days had bad things as well; why not take the best from then and now, AND practice a lot more self-control where screens are concerned. 🙂

      Like

  17. Someone I know once made me a handmade card – covered it with many unique hamburger characters, each doing something funny or creative. I still marvel when I think of the time it must have taken. I still smile when I think of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It certainly does seem a bit different. I used to (still do) walk around the neighborhood a lot, and the people who’ve been moving in are very reclusive and don’t care to interact. In fact, a couple that moved in right next door…they’re a bit standoffish. I’ll smile and nod at them and they just stare back with a blank face.

    Studies have been coming out about how the world seems lonelier and isolated (in the US at least). I guess there’s trade-offs here. On the one hand, the Internet grants the ability to express a side society may not want to deal with, but on the other hand, this new world seems a bit smaller and less open.

    also

    Those neighbors? RUDE. I’d have accepted the cookies and then awkwardly mumble a ‘thanks’ before rushing to a cookbook for a cake recipe to return the favor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 I felt like sliding them a “Dear Abby” article…

      I’ve been hearing more and more odd stories like yours, where younger peoples cannot socially interact in person. We recently acquired a new neighbor. They’ll open to cookies and came to my block party, but I’m amazed how much they keep to themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. We used to know more of our neighbors when our children were still living at home. Now I know the about six fairly well, and another dozen or so just by walking and saying hello. We help out a few, simple things like taking up their morning paper or others in more detail. It is a different world than it was before the access of the net. Because I used to move around quite a bit I had pen-pals that I would spend hours reading and writing too. As the only ‘social media’ I have is WordPress… that is where I connect with my writing friends. May we continue to respect each other and visit as often as we can. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Yes, yes, yes. I’ve had the exact same experience with some of my neighbors, though fortunately, a few are really lovely people who do things like plow our driveway when it snows, or stop to chat when mowing their lawn.
    My husband and I have talked about how even within our church, very few people truly seem to reach out to one another. So, I just keep trying to do my part, as you said.
    All this connected-ness, and people are farther apart than ever. I have a feeling that the Enemy just loves that.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I remember growing up in actual neighborhoods, as well, but I think technology has played a large part in the drift. The technology made our lives ‘easier’, but with less time needed to cook, we had more time to do other things, so life got busier. Sometimes we don’t want to engage with someone who might want to talk our ear off when we are going somewhere and don’t want to be late. Then we got social media. Only trouble is, social media isn’t all that ‘social’. It is infamous for allowing people to be as anonymous as they wish to be. In lieu of letters, or even emails/phone calls/texts, now the default is to post things on your social media and expect your ‘friends’ to go read about you there in order to ‘catch up’. That quickly becomes an overwhelming task, especially if you know very many people (friends and/or family), so the distance grows. And, over the years, society has sprawled. People used to live in the same state, often the same city/town, their entire lives, and their family did also. Now people go wherever their hearts or their jobs lead them. So in addition to the social distance, you’ve added geographical distance.

    And, for whatever reason, people stop trying. I moved about 15 miles across town. Everyone at church was going to miss me so much, yet they neither initiated nor were good about responding to emails or phone calls. I happened to move near a place that I know many of them regularly visit, but never did they contact me to see if we could get together for lunch or dinner while they were in the area. They let the friendship fall by thw wayside in favor of those more at hand. And eventually I stopped trying to sustain it.

    So many factors play into the demise of social interaction. Busyness, laziness, tiredness, fear with all the new dangers that have surfaced in life. After a while, the safest thing to do seems to be go hide in your basement for the rest of your life.

    As for the Like button, well, that’s a whole other issue. In many ways it’s lost all meaning – people press it without any real thought behind it. If I click on Like, then I really did like something. I’m not going to click on a post about someone struggling with depression – that just seems ‘wrong’. I might comment in some encouraging way, or say the post was well-written, but I’m not going to Like it. It’s also unlikely that I would Like everything someone did – there will be hits and misses. I might smile and move on (no Like), or I might burst out laughing and really grin broadly (big Like). I prefer that button mean something, not just be one of those ‘everyone is a winner for participating’ awards.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. beautifully written, Chelsea. A pleasure to read and ruminate upon. I love that phrase: ‘different times; warmer times’ ; but we’re lucky now: we have the real world and the cyber world; as long as we DO have both and strike a balance. It is too easy to get lost in the cyber world. I know. I was a Facebook addict for a few years

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think the internet is a great place to find like-minded people, i.e. people who understand depression and want to think about it more critically/positively(?)/comfortably. It’s the same principle as why all the Neonazis find each other on the internet, but with less antisemitism and hate speech.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ve thought a lot about this too. No answers, but I’ve observed it. Real relationships are messy. Face to face communication is vulnerable, and after an interaction with real connection you now obligated in some way to that person. It is so much more convenient and controlled to keep your distance; to pop in digitally when it suits your purposes, but avoid too much real time together. Also a factor I think is how many more people our lives now include because we have ways and means of keeping in contact (and meeting people in the first place) from all over time and place. It’s overwhelming. But also, the love of men has grown cold and we don’t love as freely and openly and generously to the people around us as other generations seemed to.

    Liked by 1 person

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