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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Shout-out to Jane Ellen (or: The Strange New World brought about by Blogging.)

Well, I should give a shout-out to Jane Ellen (I think she goes by Jane in real life), a seminarian at Seabury, my alma mater. She has a blog that I ran into from AKMA or Clifton or someone. I had a look at it, found it interesting, and linked to it off my homepage to keep up a bit on doings back at school. I checked it out from time to time, read her posts, even looked at a picture or two. So I knew her name, knew what she looked like, where she came from, even knew a little about what she thought, all the usual stuff one would get from a blog.

Kristen and I visited Seabury last Monday, we came in late to chapel and sat in the "court of the Gentiles" near the back. I plopped my bag down on a chair thoughtlessly, and only later noticed that a sign on it said "reserved for cantor". I realized I should probably apologize, looked on the sheet and saw that Jane was the cantor that day. After chapel I saw her and recognized her from pictures I had seen on her blog. I don't remember the exact chain of events, but we went up to her to apologize. She welcomed us and I mentioned my name, and that I knew her from her blog. She was somewhat taken aback, I think, although she was entirely gracious about it. We eventually got on to apologies for taking the cantor's chair, and she said it was no problem.

But I was later reflecting on her response (she looked surprised), and the odd nature of blogging. One can come across rather a lot of information about a person on blogs without actually knowing the person. This is pretty obvious, but we used to have another word for it: stalking (or, the socially accepted form of it, celebrity). Of course, this was never my intention for anyone, and it feels a little spooky when I think about it.

Now, of all the many people who read Gower Street, I think both of you know me face to face, so reading this blog is a function of a pre-existent relationship. That's true of many of the blogs I read, but not all of them. When the blog comes first, and then you meet the person, it is an odd occurence. I can only imagine it is unsettling for the blogger. I don't know what to make of it all, except this:

Sorry to have surprised(?) you on Monday, Jane. Good blog, great to meet you, and continued blessings on your work at Seabury.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

tsk! There's at least three of us who read your blog, and you and I have never met -- as the geeks would put it -- in the "meat world".

HH

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

LOL! I guess my half-hearted attempt at modesty has been trumped by "reality" -- I do have at least three readers, and in fact the first one that I know of (besides me) is Howlin' Hobbit, who I have never met in the "meat world". (Nice phrase!) Props to you, Hobbit!

Maybe some day I will "meat" you, but for now we only "meet" in cyberspace.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 7:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

No problem-- it was great to meet you, too!

If I seemed surprised, it was in part because you're right about my name. I took to using my middle name online because a friend was confusing me with another Jane who also commented regularly on his blog; but I don't often hear it outside my family.

Actually, one of the perks I've found from blogging is the occasional pleasure of meeting someone in "real life," that I never would have encountered had it not been for the sort of amorphous community that is the blogiverse.

So, thanks for taking the time to say hello-- and I hope to meet you again in person someday!

Thursday, November 11, 2004 8:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Actually, you have at least 4. I stumbled across your blog several weeks ago while looking for reveiws of The Beauty of the Infinite. And as an added oddness, Jane Ellen is a friend of my friend Beth, who is also a Seabury seminarian.

A world of 6 billion people can be strangly small sometimes.

Sunday, November 14, 2004 5:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Well shut my mouth!
I never fail to be amazed at how small the world is. A friend of mine is fond of saying that there are only eleven Episcopalians, and all the rest is done with mirrors...maybe that's true of the whole world. The surprising thing, then, is that four out of the eleven apparently occupy themselves with my blog!
Simplified moral of the story: don't be mean, because you are almost certainly hurting someone you know.

Monday, November 15, 2004 9:01:00 PM  

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