Punctuality Rules!

Microcosm

Microcosm

I just spent the weekend immersed in the world of knit-bloggers at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. One of the highlights–other than access to a whole lot of beautiful yarn and spinning fibers–was meeting the other bloggers. Like any community, many of us read one another’s blogs, exchange e-mails, and were anxious to see each other face to face, and, as always at events like these, it was the socializing that made it so much fun.

img_5347.JPGOne of the unique features, though . . . and, I promise that I’m getting this post on-topic . . . is an invention called “Blogger Bingo.” There were actual bingo cards made up of the names of bloggers wanting to be target “squares,” and throughout the day, people ran around, approaching complete strangers, asking, “You’re a square? Who are you? Are you on my card?” Mind you, the “squares” were all volunteers and every “square” was required to wear something that announced that fact, so innocent bystanders were left unaccosted, and the “approaching strangers” part wasn’t quite so rude as it sounds. It was, in fact, a huge amount of fun.

But it got me thinking. I happily participated in Blogger Bingo and thoroughly enjoyed the giddy buzz it generated around the fairgrounds, but could this sort of thing possibly have happened at any other time in history? Bloggers–no matter what the topic–are a geographically far-flung group. Not all blogs are part of a true “community,” of course. Some people just blog quietly about family events in their own little corner of the internet; some are blogging in niches that are too impersonal or too competitive to be able to build a communal sense of anything. Even when they can be considered a community, though–like knit-bloggers–they are an unusual one because, even with regular e-mails and the occasional in-person meeting, as a rule, bloggers don’t usually SEE each other.

So, it’s certainly unique (to say the least) to be able to pull a group of dozens of people who only “know” each other via the internet and let them loose in a crowd of hundreds and expect them to find each other. Then, when they do, naturally, different rules have to apply for them to be able to interact. If you know someone by exchanging e-mails and blog-comments, does that make it more or less awkward when you meet in person? Do you immediately act as if the person is a true, real friend and greet them with a hug or a warm handshake? Or do you hang back and stick to the more formal, “Nice to meet you” manners you use with a new acquaintance? Has there ever been a time where this could even happen? There have always been conventions and symposiums where people with similar interests have congregrated, and certainly friendships would be struck up and renewed over time, but blogging–and the internet in general–is such a unique medium in the way it combines real life with electronic forms of closeness.

And then, I like to talk about “Civilization” and how manners and good grammar are things that we should all pay a little more attention to, and then something like this happens. I’ve heard that there are “old-timers” at this festival who hate the bloggers that come because they’re (supposedly) rowdy and pushy and rude. They’d like it to go back to the older, quieter days when knitters were more . . . well, sane . . . despite the fact that the bloggers and their friends are spending lots of money and have made this festival immensely more profitable. So, is this giddy craziness a step forward? Or backward? A sign of encroaching selfish behavior, with the bloggers not caring whose booth they block while they squeal with delight? A symbol of the growing laxity in anything overly formal (like, say, spelling conventions)? Or is the sense of community more important? It’s hard to see such happy enthusiasm as a bad thing, but what if it is?

And, if it is a bad sign of encroaching selfishness, what does it say about me when I enjoyed it so much? Darn, I hate being a hypocrite…. (grin)

8 thoughts on “Microcosm

  1. Marcia

    Funny, but at Rhinebeck 2005, I met several bloggers for the first time. I recognized Cassie FROM BEHIND, having seen no photographs of her beyond her eye! I also recognized Laurie instantly, and in both cases, hugs! As for the rest, I don’t think the bloggers are so much the problem with the changes at Rhinebeck: it’s all the new knitters who hear about festivals on the blogs and decide they must. go. And then proceed to drag kids in strollers, grandmas in wheelchairs, reluctant husbands, etc. Wait a minute…I guess you CAN blame the bloggers!

  2. Judy H.

    I find it interesting that most popular bloggers are quite literate. They use proper grammar and punctuation for the most part, and are much easier to read than those who use ‘txt’ language. Blogging, as a community, seems to encourage correct use of language. I can see how it could be seen as bringing out other bad manners, but I’m not sure there’s any type of gathering where old-timers, at least some of them, won’t be unhappy about how things have changed. Doesn’t mean those changes really are for the worse; it just means they’re changes.

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  4. Stephanie

    I think it’s a step forward. Increased attention to the festival and fiber artists as a community will improve the quality of materials available and of the festival overall.

    I can say for certain that for every younger woman annoyed by detouring 18″ around my baby’s stroller, there are three middle-aged women lined up asking how old he is and if he sleeps through the night! πŸ™‚

  5. Debby

    Your question about “could this have happened at another time in history?” brought to mind the mail-order brides, or arranged marriages, when young women had to marry men they had never seen, much less dated or got to know in person through family gatherings, etc. That creeps me out. How are you supposed to feel sharing a house with someone you don’t know, much less all the rest of it? Maybe it’s because I’m looking at it with 21st century Western eyes that I don’t understand that, but in comparison, giving a new blog friend a hug if you feel that’s appropriate seems pale in comparison. I’m on the shy side so I’m not able to do that when I haven’t met the person in person yet, but I don’t mind it if other bloggers do.

    I suspect the old-timers are not distinguishing between actual bloggers, and any knitter under the age of 50 whether they blog or not. They may just assume the knitter is a blogger because of their age. It’s sad because these are often the people who bemoan the fact that handwork is dying, and yet when younger people take an interest, they don’t like the direction the craft moves in. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

  6. Liz

    Heh, well, we know how you and I were! After I hugged Chappy of course I think there was a hug for you and your mom! πŸ™‚ An interesting thought. Hard to say. I think it would be similar to pen pals meeting and exchanging hugs. It’s a similar sitaution.

    As for as people blocking booths, it’s usually only for a moment and then they will step to the side. At least the series of meetings I have seen anyway. Nothing rude about that.

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