Friday, March 28, 2008

Disturbing Truths

In a bit of a departure from my usual entries, here’s a small glimpse into my thought process – a practice I usually keep under lock and key...

Voyeur (voi-yur) noun. A person who derives sexual gratification from observing the sexual acts of others (The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed. , pg. 912) a.k.a. Peeping Tom or your basic all around pervert. Unfortunately, it’s also the Not-Too-Distant Cousin of the “Blog-Stalker.”

While I can’t say that people are deriving “sexual gratification” from Blog-Hooping/Stalking (I hope), nor are bloggers generally displaying lewd acts on their posts (Perez Hilton excluded), there is something eerily satisfying about spying on people through their blogs. This isn’t a new phenomenon; many of us are familiar with the excitement of spying on old boyfriends and former BFFs on MySpace and Facebook, but the blogs are somehow much more intimate. AND because they’re more difficult to find, its exhilarating to stumble across people from your long forgotten past – especially when their links include a treasure chest of others from the good ‘ol days (or those days better buried and repressed, depending on one's life experience). Either way, it’s addicting and could easily develop into an obsession.

A friend* recently recounted the sort of surreal and slightly uncomfortable experience of meeting a couple for the first time, but having already read all about them via their blog (because they are friends of a friend, etc). How awkward! Do you immediately come clean with this new acquaintance or do you silently go through the “getting-to-know-you” steps and conversations without informing this new friend that you already know where they went to school, when they got married, what they do for a living, where they’ve been vacationing, etc.? In her blog my friend* mused that this occurrence probably is happening more than people are ready to admit and it will likely increase as more people seek to immortalize themselves via virtual journaling. Interesting. Will blog-stalking develop the same (albeit well deserved) stigma as voyeurism? The phenomenon is still in its infancy, but it’s very possible, and it should be interesting to see.

Anyway, today’s post was inspired in part by my friend’s experience and by my hitting blogging gold this morning: an old boyfriend, old church “friends” and the like. I’m pretty excited. I’ve yet to assess the full value of this find, although my estimations are enough to keep me distracted from getting any real work done. However, as I assessed my excitement, I was a little disturbed by how much I was enjoying spying on these people who I haven’t spoken to in years (and whom I still avoid like the plague when I’m visiting home). I recently ran into said ex-boyfriend and couldn’t even say a simple hello. Here I was thinking I was a mature, confident adult, but apparently I’m still very much a shy, self-conscious teenager; how... depressing. However, to my defense, I can say that I’ve been happily humbled by the fact that most of these people have grown into (as far as I can tell) responsible, decent individuals (not the disgusting, rotten, and mean hypocrites I remember from high school), and I am truly happy for their happiness. AND I don’t wish vengeance and ill-health on them, like I thought I might. (I was(am?) a disgusting, rotten, mean hypocrite too after all.)

I hope that comparing blog-stalking to voyeurism helps me curb my developing obsession, but I will likely still relish the moment of excitement in finding new people from my past. I don’t know that I’d like to meet someone I’ve “met” already via blog, but if/when it happens, I’ll at least have an interesting story to about.

The End. Future posts will continue with the usual recounts and pictures of daily activities.

*I use the term “friend” loosely because, well, she feels like a friend, even though I’ve technically never actually hung out with her. I’ve logged my time though, as I’ve spent much time reading about her on her blog.


Erin & Adam said...

Yes we did meet your friends at a blood drive, small mormon world.

Caitlin said...

I have had these same conflicting feelings of voyeuristic shame and a surprising amnount delight although I don't think I could have written them as eloquently as you have. I too love to look at people's blogs even though they have no idea that I am doing so. As for seeing old flames and BF's from long ago, I also revert back to a self conscious 17-year-old. I think we do this simply because that's how those relationships ended. It is very disconcerting to feel so awkward around exes. Maybe it's because they conjure up old memories of just how angst ridden and tortured we felt at that exact moment in our lives. Don't get me wrong, HS was fun, but it was also difficult. I also find it a little strange that people ended up "OK" and I am almost surprised at the normality of their lives. But then again, I am not proud of the way I acted sometimes and I am sure that there were people who thought I would never end up where I am today. I guess we all have to give each other the benefit of the doubt that we all have grown up. Meanwhile, I will keep reading strangers' blogs. What's the harm? If people are putting it out there, then then they have to assume that people outside of their circle of family and friend's are going to be reading it. I am not sure if I would "confess" to them that I have read their blogs though. I guess I would if their blog contents were generic. It's the private-thoughts-made-public that throw me off. There is such a thing as TMI.

Elise said...

I love the blog world! If I could find my ex's blog then I would read them. You can avoid awkwardness this way. If I ever happen to see one of them in the future I wouldn't have to talk to them to see what they have been up to. Spying is ok. Don't feel bad.

Brennon and Sundee Gomm said...

This is very odd because your blog happens to be one I read due to the friends of my past. So it is very ironic that you are discussing this! I am a stocker of my ex's/family/friends blog and I am glad to hear I am not the only one!

Anonymous said...
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cJb said...

Not Stocking, just blogging my way through the waves of internet so I can catch a wave.

Love the blog!

& yes very disturbing at the same time. I'll have to look into a private blog account for security!