I've made some new friends recently, and I'm quite fond of them. These relationships are a bit unusual, though, because I know very little about these people. In most cases I don't know what they look like, where they live, or even their real names. I know them by their online handles -- made-up names like JellyHead and AZGoddess, or partial names like Melli, Julianna and Lori. I'm talking about the group of people who make a habit of dropping by this site and leaving comments.
As I surf around and read other blogs, I notice most sites tend to be visited by a group of regulars. It's obvious from the comments that many of the visitors have been to the site before and the comments on any particular day are part of ongoing online relationships. I bet you have a group of regulars who visit your blog. It's only natural; we all have our blogrolls, our daily reads.
It's amazing to me how much of the individual personalities come through in this limited form of interaction. From the comments I receive, I get to see how specific individuals react to a variety of issues. I get a sense of who tends to be agreeable and supportive (which is nice), and who likes to sink their teeth into issues, really think them through and offer alternatives to consider (which can amount to the same thing and is equally nice). I've gained a great deal of respect for the regulars on this site, and as I write my posts I find myself looking forward to hearing what they will have to say about the issues involved.
The whole process reminds me of characterization techniques used by fiction writers. When we read a novel, we meet the characters in a very limited way. We get to see them for only a brief period, and we only see the scenes that the writer chooses to show us. We must build a picture in our mind of what they look like based only on descriptions, and more to the point we get a sense of their personalities by the few words and actions in those scenes. Nonetheless, literature offers many examples of beloved characters. You probably have a few favorites of your own.
So tell me about your experience in interacting with the regulars on your site. How would you characterize this type of relationship? Do their individual personalities shine through? Do you find you develop a special kinship with some? Do you get the sense you are experiencing their true personalities (as opposed to the above cartoon)?
As always, I will post my personal favorite comment next Saturday with a link to the respondent's blog.