Tuesday, December 2, 2008

bloggie boundaries, help me out here.


I want you all to hear me out here. I know we have a community and we enjoy reading eachother's posts and blogs and personal stuff, but when is it too much? When is there too much involvement with really, strangers?

I just joined Twitter and yes, it is nice to know you all better, I love friendliness and community and us to have interest in each other, it is very sweet. We rally when someone is being tormented by an author, and when we get sad news about one of our fellow community members. But when does it get weird? When does it become a substitute for personal human contact?

I have heard it said that in this generation we are much more likely to feel we know complete strangers online better than we know our own neighbors! I know, I know we have the glorious common bond of books here between us right?? And you all are the most supportive group, but when is it too much?

I know we are most likely all super healthy individuals who have tons of time that we spend with real-life folks in our community and I know that the book blogging community that we love is a very positive one, so please understand that....I just wonder about our kids, our husbands, our families, when we leave work, get dinner, and read and blog and comment...are there time limit boundaries we set up so that we take a step back and can be in true reality without constantly checking our blog comments?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and I know that you can have too much of a good thing (take chocolate for example, or review copies if you wish!) I am trying to lay a balance, set up something for me that will work. Since joining Twitter I have felt more connected, but also more involved than I really should be. Not on an emotional level or anything like that, but it just takes so much time to give that much and my kids are little! I don't want to be short with them or annoyed because they are cutting into "my blogging time"!

What do you think? Have you set up boundaries so that your family will not be affected negatively because of the time commitment that this community can be? A certain number of hours? Two times a day? What are your limits? What is your advice?


Jen - devourer of books said...

Hmm, maybe this is a good reason NOT to follow the crowd and join Twitter right now. Perhaps a sense of this is what had me putting it off.

Beth F said...

I know exactly what you mean. Each person has to set her own boundaries. I normally don't hang out online after about 6 pm. But since twittering (2 days ago?), I'm reluctant to leave the computer in the evening because I might miss out on some conversation.

Not healthy. I'm going back to my usual habits. I'm available about 12 hours of the day. What happens during the other 12, I'll just have to read about in the morning or miss out.

My offline life is very important to me!

Meghan said...

I think it is what you make of it. As you say, you have a family. Just by expressing these concerns I can tell that you're not going to neglect your family for your blog. If it bothers you this much, maybe then you should take a step back, as you're discussing. Real life always comes first and this little community takes what space you have to give it - not any more than that.

Amy said...

It's obviously going to be an individual choice. I'm single and have no kids, so I feel like I have more free time. I really don't know how those of you with kids do it. When you feel like it's too much...step back. Last week I was away for a week and I loved it. Set the boundaries that work for you--if you miss out on us talking about the UPS man on twitter...well big deal. ;)

bermudaonion said...

Well, I'm usually just on during the day while my hubby's at work, so it doesn't interfere with out time.

bookworm said...

That's why I am resisting the urge to join Twitter. I'm already on facebook a lot, plus blogging. I don't need a third thing to waste my time on. Plus, the more computer time I have, the less reading time! I recently spent a week where I didn't go on myspace or facebook. I still went on blogger in moderation but by the end of the week I realized there are much better ways to spend my time. As a result, I called my friends more instead of typing to them, which led to more meaningful conversation. Sometimes a little break does everyone good!

beastmomma said...

I am not on twitter or facebook because of my concern with spending even more time online. What I do right now is to limit myself to reading blogs in certain blogs and scheduling time to update my own blog at certain points during the day. Of course, I sometimes break my appointments and spend longer on blogging, but at least I try to keep myself open to doing other things.

Serena said...

I can't speak for those with kids, but I spend my time on the blog during my slow times at work and at lunch and right when I get home from work. On rare occasions during the week, I will be on in the evening...but Saturdays are off limits for me...Sunday I take time to catch up on google reader.

bibliomom said...

It's definitely a balancing act. Not only is it a balancing act of how much time you spend but also what sort of information you share and how you share it. I happen to be a single Mom of two young children. My online community has lifted me up through the depression following the death of my Mom, divorce and all of the ups and downs following all of that while parenting two very small children. As I said, it comes down to balance and to realizing that in your time away from the online community you're not missing anything your really living.

bibliomom said...

One more interesting observation. When I'm in bad place stress wise and flirting with depression it's not the computer or online world I turn to. Instead I find myself self medicating with television.

Ramya said...

i don't know if you have noticed, but i havent been active this month.. i have taken some time off from books and blogs to bond more with family and my poor husband who actually started to miss me! i don't want to join twitter coz then this book blog will be my constant occupation 24 hours a day.. don't get me wrong here.. i totally enojy blogging and interacting with the select few that i have been interacting with regularly.. but i've started to read a lot more these days and that's encroaching on my family time.. your posts are awesome bethany..

Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog said...

Great post, Bethany! I think we should be talking about this more. I have a pretty set blogging routine and very strong priorities about how I spend my time. When I get to work in the morning, I check my Google reader while I drink my coffee, then I post whatever I'm going to post for the day. When I have slow points throughout the day, I'll pop over to see if I have comments to moderate or look in the reader to see what's new, but these are things that have to fit around my other obligations. When I get home in the evening, my focus is on being with my hubby. We cook and eat dinner together, snuggle on the couch to catch up on TiVo, then he gets about an hour to mess around w/ fantasy baseball or whatever online, and I read for the rest of the evening. On weekends, I allow myself about one hour a day in front of the computer. Since I started blogging, I don't think I'm spending more time on the computer---I'm just spending it differently.

But if hubs ever started to complain, or I realized I was missing out on things in real life to be online, I'd quit it all in a heartbeat. Yes, I'm on Twitter, but no, I don't really care who has said what at who else's site during the day, and if I didn't work, I can promise you I wouldn't be sitting on Twitter all day or watching my blog hits roll up. Life's just too short.

softdrink said...

I'm not on facebook, or myspace, or twitter, or any of the other social networks. I don't even keep up with Good Reads or Library Thing, because I could see them as being time consuming. I have my blog and Google Reader and my email, and that keeps me busy enough.
But I do know what you mean. I'm trying hard not to request ARCs, or do any blog tours, or challenges so that my reading returns to my pre-blog habits and I don't feel like the blog has become a job.

Wendy said...

I think everyone's boundaries are different. I belong to a couple of LT groups which I love, but I am not as active there as some...I just don't have time to be. But, that said, I've met some wonderful people on line who I have actually gotten to meet in person. Several of my on-line friends I see being in my life forever since we have so much in common. I'm very busy in my work and volunteering in my community...and I'm married and like to spend time with my husband too! For me, I manage to keep things balanced most of the time...

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I think there is some good advice in these comments. It's going to come down to what feels right for you because, as several people have mentioned, everyone's personal circumstances are different.

When I'm working, for example, I'm away from home for up to 7 days straight. During those days, I'm on the computer quite a bit and read a lot more because there's little else to do in a hotel room, besides tv. Savvy readers will notice that I'm much less prolific when I'm at home because I'm spending time (read: chasing) my kids around.

Speaking of tv, though, I do notice that I watch very little television anymore. I think the computer is a good tradeoff in that department. ;)

You'll find your balance. It will just feel right to you and you'll know.

Joanne said...

What an interesting topic. I hadn't considered it too much, but I suppose my online habits have evolved around my family activities.
I also have kids, 2 boys - 11 and 15, and they have so many things going on right now like sports, music lessons and their own social circles. So my online time is normally when the house is empty; during the daytime or after supper when the kids are off at lessons, practices.
Creating a boundary has never been a problem for me because given the choice between the computer and my family, my family wins everytime.
I think if I ever felt like saying "oh just wait till I blog this" then there would be a problem.

Marg said...

I have avoided joining Twitter precisely because it would mean that I ended up spending more time on the computer than I already do!

As to boundaries, I do post a bit of my personal life on my blog - not a huge amount, but just when I have to get something off my chest. I do not however mention my son's name or hopefully anything that will help with identifying us or where we live. I guess someone clever or devious enough could figure it out if they really wanted to.

I am Facebook, but I am lucky if I log in more than once every couple of months. When I first started I was always on there, and I think about going on every now and again, but not enough to choose that over other online activities.

trish said...

Great post, Bethany. I have a couple of thoughts:

I haven't joined Twitter because it seems like it's the one thing that will put me over the edge. If I DID join Twitter, I wouldn't twitter a lot...I would do *maybe* one a day, but I wouldn't be twittering, "I'm making dinner now! Yum!" I already feel over-involved and don't think I need anything else at the moment.

The other thing is I don't have kids, and my job is slow sometimes and then I can type up blog posts, read other blogs, etc. My husband is supportive of my blogging efforts, though he does make it known when he's feeling neglected.

Finally, I don't know if other bloggers have noticed, but my reading of blogs has suffered immensely! When I first started blogging, I wasn't married. I had time to spend as much time as I wanted! I commented all the time! Now, I just don't have time to keep up with all the blogs I love. Something had to give, and unfortunately it was my ability to flit around the blogosphere. :-(

All that to say, when I have kids, I'm sure I'll blog a lot less. Unless I can get my blog to be a quasi-job, then maybe I could justify it. :-)

Anna said...

This is why I haven't joined Twitter. I barely have enough time to blog and read blogs as it is. I have a full-time job, and I can sneak in reading some blog posts here and there. If I go online in the evenings after work, I try not to do it until after my daughter goes to bed. I'm always behind on Google Reader, but Friday nights I allow myself to stay up late and read blogs because I really do enjoy it. Unless I have tour posts to prepare for, I don't usually go online at all on Sat. and Sun., other than to check email.

Diary of an Eccentric

Callista said...

Well I'm the kind of person you all say you don't want to be. I'm a mom of 2 who spends a lot of time on the computer, and the rest reading. I rarely go out, I don't have many friends and I don't work. However I consider my blogging my work so I take it seriously. I joined twitter and it posts my feeds from my 2 main blogs and I updated about once a day otherwise but I rarely reply to others. I might check out what they mentioned but I don't usually have anything to add. I am a member of facebook but I check in every few months like Marg said.

What you said here:
"I don't want to be short with them or annoyed because they are cutting into "my blogging time"!"

made me stop a moment. Right now I'm battling depression and other things so I just want to read and blog and that's it. I have to make myself do normal everyday things, it's a struggle. Okay that's probably more than I wanted to share but wanted to have my say. I hope no one would look down on me because i'm on a lot.

Luanne said...

Great discussion Bethany. I have joined Twitter, but haven't yet mastered it or spent much time on it. I try to catch up with the blogs I follow at least twice a week, but time is at a premium sometimes, so this is one of the things that is first to go. Especially at this time of the year - there is so much going on. I like to think that I can drop in, catch up and be welcomed when I'm able to.

Florinda said...

Good questions, and good discussion!

I've been on Twitter since this past spring, and while I felt the way you do early on, I've gotten over it :-). The more people you follow, the more conversations you won't be able to keep up with - and honestly, that's fine. Trying to keep tabs on ALL of it made me crazy early on. Some days I'm pretty active there, and on other days it pretty much stays in the background.

At home with my family at night, I'll spend time with Google Reader and e-mail, and I try to do most of the work on my blog posts on the weekends - but I mostly stay away from Twitter there.

You'll figure out what works for you before too long, I'm sure.

Trish said...

I love these posts, Bethany! I haven't been on my reader since last Saturday, and even when I left it there were 30 unread posts (which I'll probably now just mark as read). I hate not being as active as some of the other bloggers, but I have a demanding job that doesn't allow for me to have "free Internet time" and spend 2 hours in the car each day, plus sleep time, plus cooking and cleaning time, and hubby time, family and friends time, and reading time. It's hard. I can't even keep up with Book Blogs (the site and the groups there)!! It's definitely a challenge and I think there should be boundaries--but everyone needs to define her own for what works for her.

I think we have an AMAZING community and I love being a part of it, but I don't want this to be my only community either. Great question!

Kim said...

I have struggled with this question since I began blogging. I would love to be involved in lots of internet things, but being a wife, mother of 4 and holding down a full time job, I can barely fit in time to write on my 2 blogs. I try to write a few posts up a head of time on the weekends when my boys are off doing their things.

I don't have facebook, or twitter, or even google reader (I haven't figured out how to get it!). I do have some books listed on Good Reads,but I don't participate in any discussions on it.

So, I feel pretty out of it most of the time, and I do feel that the fewer events and discussions you are able to participate in the less traffic your blog gets--and lets face it, we all, whether we admit it or not, like to know people are reading what we write! :)

But for now, I will have to just do the little bit I can and try not to let it cut into my reading and family time.

Life is always a balancing act.

Ramya said...

i just came back to read the rest of the comments.. you've stirred up some interesting discussion here..:) have you decided what it is that you want to do??:)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Interesting. Most of the conversation has been against Twitter. Personally, I love it! I'm a stay at home mom of two small kids and I don't have that interaction with other adults that others may have. I miss working, so Twitter is like my "water cooler." A place to chit chat with people whom I already know from their blogs. Since joining I have gotten to know these bloggers so much better. Honestly, I wish some of my favorite bloggers were also on Twitter.

I don't blog about anything that isn't book related somehow, so Twitter gives me that outlet that lets me say if I'm having a good day, bad day, busy, etc. There is also a lot of back conversation going on about blog posts, etc. This was true of the whole J.M scenario, Dewey's passing, etc. And how often do you get to chit chat with some of your favorite authors? Publishers also become aware of your presence.

For me, Twitter doesn't take that much time. I only see it when I'm already on the computer and use a plug-in within my browser that just pops up updates at the intervals that I specify. I can respond, I don't have to respond, I can follow links, I only follow people that have the same interest as me.

I have more followers than I do blog subscribers and since all of my blog posts are tweeted, I have found that I'm gaining new readers and comments on my blog. I like new friends! Plus, I've got Twitter tied in with Facebook (where all of my extended family is) and have found that my interaction with them has also increased. And I only check Facebook once a week for about ten minutes.

The trick is to not let it take over. If it's affecting your personal life, then it's time to back off. That's true of anything. Twitter isn't for everybody. But it's for me.

bethany said...

yeah, I am thinking...I will do a recap and what I have decided soon. This really was not meant to bash anything at all, but just let people vent a little about what they are going through right now and also to help me make up my mind. I have another interesting thing to talk about soon.

Marie said...

Great post.
I'm suffering from a little burnout with respect to blogging. I joined Twitter and played with it for about two days before I became overwhelmed by it. Who has the time for all this? I try to limit my blogging time to when my husband's not home, but I'm finding my other hobbies have been suffering, so I may curtail it even more. We'll see. I'm sure the balance will work itself out over time and it's always easy to overindulge in something when it's new and different. Now that blogging has become routine it may be easier to cut back.