(Note: I hate catchy buzzwords like "blogosphere", but I couldn't think of what else to call it here, so eh.)
I had a pretty weird dream last night. Now, to understand it, you first need to know that I am a massive lurker. I love to read blogs of people who don't have much in common with me, to see how different people live and how those people are actually similar to me. It's kind of the same effect as watching shows about the Duggars or the Gosselins or what have you, except much more personal and real. (And with less child exploitation.) And of course, once you've been following a favorite blog for some time, you begin to feel like you really know the person writing it. In a sense, you do - but they don't know you from Adam. So it can feel sort of creepy and voyeuristic, too. I have occasionally met people in person, usually unschoolers, whose blogs I'd been following without commenting, and I felt weird about it. I'm not sure why I feel weird, since I'm happy for people to read my blog - otherwise I wouldn't put it out in public! But it does make some people uncomfortable.
Anyway. Onto my dream.
The setting was... weird. It was like a mix between an unschooling conference and one of those big church revivals with a rock band and so forth. Yeah, I can't think of a weirder combination of things, but that's dreaming for you. Anyway, there was this one family there which was like, a combination of a couple different families whose blogs I read. These people aren't unschoolers (they weren't unschoolers in the dream, either - I'm still not clear on the nature of the "conference"), and I'm really not likely to ever meet them in real life. So I was pretty surprised to run into them in the dream. Everyone was in like, a main conference room together, and I was hanging out and chatting with one of the family's kids, just having that awesome kind of interaction you get at unschooling conferences where conversations flow freely without any kind of age gap.
I don't remember exactly what happened next, except that I introduced myself to the mom and she got freaked out by me. I'm not sure if it was over a religious difference (there was, like I mentioned, a sort of religious tone to the event), or if she was just freaked out that some stranger had been reading her blog and was talking to her kid (which does sound weird, phrased like that!) But she started backing away and telling me not to talk to her and to leave her alone, and she grabbed her kids and went back toward her cabin or whatever sort of buildings this place had.
In the dream I felt really hurt by the whole thing, because I genuinely liked this person (from what I'd read) and didn't want to upset or scare her. So I went and found her (she was still outside) and... I don't remember how the dream ended, exactly, but I explained why I liked her blog and I think she calmed down and talked to me. I don't think we ended up being buddy-buddy, but I do think we had a conversation. The end of the dream is pretty hazy.
What stood out about the dream is how real it felt. I woke up feeling like I had honestly met this person and had to convince myself that I hadn't. I also woke up feeling genuinely embarassed, like maybe I shouldn't be reading people's blogs. That's pretty silly though - people blog to share information, and if they were that afraid of strangers reading what they've written, they wouldn't make it public. And most people do not freak out and run away if you say you love their writing, unless they have serious social anxiety.
Still, it does make you think about how weird it is to put your life out to the whole internet - blogging is kind of like being the star of your own reality show. It's on a much smaller scale, true, and most bloggers I know don't have the sort of ego that would make them see themselves that way. But it means that occasionally, you're going to run into what could reasonably be described as fans - people who know all about you, while you know nothing about them. Unsettling as that may sound, I find it exciting too - it means your ideas are reaching people who might never have considered them otherwise.