The blogosphere is a funny place. Even with pictures added, the majority of the impression one gets from a particular poster is via the written word. One would think that this would make posters one-dimensional--it's just letters thrown up on a monitor. How can you get a real grasp of what someone is like, or how someone is feeling, by just reading some words sent in little packets from one computer to another to another?
In one corner, there's a snarky remark about a feminist blogger posing for a group photo with Bill Clinton. Boobs are pointed out. I read it, and immediately form a mental image of the original poster, pursed lips and all.
In another corner, there's a laconic economist who posts a few paragraphs now and then, a portrait in minimalism.
In this spot, there's a long-waiting adoptive mom-to-be who finally gets her referral. The joy and delight practically fizzes and dances out of the monitor. Days of hectic work are interrupted by sneak peeks at this blog, to warm my heart and remind me of those days of rising excitement.
Over here is a mother whose latest post spurs me to a frenzy of worry. "Just words", again, but the exhaustion and despair and beyond-caringness that the words describe is palpable. I want to step through the screen, be able to take some of the burden off her.
Here is a woman waiting for her army spouse to return. Here is a straightforward man writing about fatherhood, adoption, and remodeling. Here is a woman in the early stages of a tenuous surprise pregnancy after many miscarriages. There is a mother who is watching her son turn into an adult before her eyes. Yonder is a woman who has packed up her daughter's belongings into a few small boxes, waiting for her to return from her ill-advised adventures. In this spot, a man is passionately calling for blogging to be a conversation. Over there is a widow who is cultivating her eye for interesting details in her hometown via a photo and text blog. In another spot, a father is writing about the hopeful progress of his young daughter's anxiety and depression treatment, and gleefully tossing up nostalgic music videos recalling the '80s.
Each of them is a snapshot in time. "The moving finger writes, and, having writ, moves on." The mom with a referral travels to China. The economist (I think) starts teaching yet another semester. The snarky poster moves on to making snippy remarks about how weddings are supposed to be about all the guests being excited that the virginal bride and groom are about to consummate their relationship (Yes. Really. Very odd.). The exhausted mother...? I don't know. I just know that the ones and zeroes that cross the fiber optic cables criss-crossing the country can coalesce into real, live individuals, people who you care about.