Just recently I have seen many comments and some posts pop up around the subject of some established bloggers not being very friendly or bloggers being in cliques and groups of friends that they cannot penetrate. There seems to be a trend that each January and February this happens and roll back a few years, I was the newbie wondering what on earth I was up to in this big scary blogsphere.
But I'll share with you what I have discovered in the last few years, in the hope that it might help you put your mind at rest and to relax and enjoy blogging and social media. For it should be enjoyed, it is not a life or death matter it is just a hobby (whoops, I'll have offended a ton of serious bloggers there!).
So here is my opinion on the whole parenting blogsphere is cliquey business. So what? Life is life, it is rich because people are so different and because we all communicate and act in completely different ways. I really do believe that life would be boring if everyone was the same. The beauty of a group of friends is that you are all unique and bring something special and differnet to the group collective. Blogging relationships mirror real life ones. Simple really.
At any point when you are the new person, so in adult life that could be new job, new school for your kids, new evening class, new park that you visit, new toddler group and so forth you will probably feel a bit vulnerable and alone. But what do we do in most everyday life situations? We smile at people, we say hi, we strike up a conversation, we look for a similarity that we can use and lets be honest we make judgement calls - is she my kind of person? You look at her clothes and the group of friends she is chatting to, how boisterous her kids are and you decide if you will make the effort to chat to that person. Again blogging mirrors real life, do you like their tone on twitter, is their blog design nice, do they do too many reviews?
Yes there are some superb circles of friends in the parenting blogsphere and some of them use media like twitter to chat and many of their conversations look as if they know stuff about each other that no-one else knows and their tweets are full of innuendo that you and me do not get but so what? They may have years of history together and have shared things we could never hope to understand - bereavement, divorce, parenting issues, all sorts and we know that this draws friends close and creates special bonds. Ones we cannot hope to penetrate in a week or even a month. However, that does not mean they are exclusive with each other. If people choose to follow you on something like twitter it means they want to engage with you. So go ahead and say hi, but into a conversation, especially if it just looks as if it is general opinion and persevere. Keep chatting to people.
Please do not go on twitter and sit there feeling lonely. I have done that many times and it does not feel nice. Why torture yourself? Make sure you follow at least 100 people and tweet multiple people in one sitting, soon you will be having a chat with a few people. Yes it might be all fluff and no substance but you are building new friendships here - baby steps. Remember in the playground we may smile for a couple of weeks before we venture a hello. Social media will be the same, unless of course you are one of those super dynamic people who storm in and establish yourself in a week. Not many of those about and certainly not me.
I'll let you in on another secret, it is not just established bloggers who have circles of friends. Last January loads of new bloggers came onto the parenting blogging scene and within a couple of weeks there were at least two groups that I knew of who had established firm friendships and tweeted each other as a collective group, therefore perhaps looking cliquey to the naked eye. They started blogging at the same time, had things in common, had kids at the same stage and chatted loads. So what did I do, as a blogger who has no particular circle? I butted in every now and then, I commented on their blogs and I was friendly and helpful. I now call those two circles of friends my friends too but that does not mean I am always involved in their tweets as I go on twitter far less than many people, so I sit on the outskirts and I watch and listen and then chat sometimes but I have made a wonderful range of friends who I can trust and call on. I just do not speak to them everyday....
So what I say to any newbie who feels a bit out of their depth at the moment is to keep with it and remember that many of the cliques that you perceive are in your mind. Just because people have a group of close friends does not mean that they don't want to make some new friends too. I truly know this from experience. I have met and shared time with loads of great bloggers, I have one super fab one coming to stay soon, I am excited to be sharing a room with a couple for BritMums and there are some new friends I have been chatting to online who I will be really excited to meet for the first time in the summer. Blogging can result in some awesome real life friendships but it does take time and work.