Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Following

So, do you know about Following? In case you aren't immersed in the blogging world, let me explain: Following is when a blogger attaches to him or herself a list of frequented, favorite spots on the internet. You'll find these lists on many bloggers' sidebars or in their profiles and their Following status is mentioned on the blogs they follow. Though they aren't necessarily advertised as such, they amount to an endorsement. They've been the newest thing for a few months now, but until recently I hesitated to step up onto the bandwagon.

For one thing, I worried that by singling out a handful of favorites, I was excluding all the other wonderful blogs out there that I only have time to visit sporadically, or just haven't discovered yet. I mean, like, GOSH! I could end up with twenty-nine thousand favorites, there's so much good stuff out there.
And, gee, if I had twenty-nine thousand blogs on my list, then all those blogs would probably feel obliged to Follow me, too -- and it'd be clear to all that mine was one of the most popular blogs on the block. Woohoo!

Not.

Actually, I've had an aversion to that sort of competition since I was a wee tot getting my pigtails pulled in kindergarten -- and it does seem that the Followings list has the potential to turn into a popularity contest, similar to the "friends" list on Facebook (If you don't know about this phenomena, don't ask; you don't want to know.). The idea of counting my friends, or anyone else counting them, seems counter to the whole idea of friendship. Like the coffee I accidentally poured soured creamer into a couple mornings ago -- it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And that's bad enough, but I also worried about the fact that I can't predict the content of every blog I visit - even those whose authors I think I know well. What if some topic of discussion on one of the sites I Follow takes a turn in a direction I can't endorse? Or it might turn out that I just downright disagree with an opinion latently expressed or a lifestyle exposed, who knows? The best of us have our little quirks... But, I have a large, extended family and a wide circle of friends, not to mention ten children, who are looking at my example... It's a big responsibility. One that I admit I didn't want to be called on for being lax about.
But, all those things considered, I've decided to hop on and make my own Followings or Favorites list, and I'll tell you why:

Life, whether we like it or not, is all about disclaimers.
And it behooves all of us to have mercy, accepting that some of the things we question about one another very likely have an invisible disclaimer in parentheses nearby. Many trees can be judged by their fruit, but there's a lot of non-fruiting greenery out there that just needs to be given the benefit of the doubt.
I wish everything were cut and dry. Some people sacrifice a lot to make things very simple -- the Amish, for example. No confusion in the Amish life. But, though that sheltered lifestyle is awesome and admirable, it's not the path for me. For one thing, if I didn't have a washing machine, my fingers would be worn down to the bone by now and I'd be a worthless, miserable wreck...
And there are many other reasons outside of laundry for us to choose to live in the world and (try hard to) still not be of it, but that decision requires us to figure out, in the entire dot-matrix pattern of modern living, which areas of the grey are black and which are white. A tricky job. And one that can result in different choices for different families based on many different experiences and priorities and locations on the Divine Learning Curve. I think we've all seen how this is a situation ripe for misunderstanding amongst us. And it's the reason, no doubt, for God's great caveat: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
But, I digress...
What I'm getting at is that, by listing my Favorites, I take the chance of being misjudged for my choices. Here's a list of some favorites of mine, with caveats to illustrate what I mean:

*I love Starbucks, but, don't be mistaken, I've gotten wind of some liberal leanings the company has that I don't like, and I really can't afford Starbucks and only treat myself as a splurge when I feel like Dan won't be annoyed about it -- and I really need to cut down on coffee, anyway, because the caffeine is bad for my blood pressure and the acidity is bad for my PH, etc, etc, etc... (Note, I say this as I drink of cuppa joe made with Starbucks beans...)

*I love movies, but it's true that I don't feel safe (morality-wise) watching almost any movie after 1960 that is not made by Pixar.
*In the same vein, I think Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor, but I worry about admitting it. I've thoroughly enjoyed him in a couple of his movies, and though I can't think of a single one of his movies I can whole-heartedly endorse, if asked, I'd have to name him as one of my favorite modern actors. With reservations.
* I love mopping, but only if it's with my little Swiffer, and only then because it's quicker and easier than a string mop, and then only because a clean floor is better than a dirty floor, and a floor I mop is cleaner than a floor any of my children mops.
* I enjoy the television show Ghost Hunters, but, it occasionally adds a wiccan team member that I take grave exception to. Hunting ghosts scientifically is one thing, adding a devil-worshipper to the mix offends me and defeats the purpose of the supposed Scientific Pursuit. And, there are those who would misinterpret my interest in the paranormal as contrary to my Catholic Faith, a position I'd have to explain with reference to my own personal experience and understanding.
* I enjoy relaxing with the television on occasion, but I wouldn't watch it at all if we didn't have a DVR capability that allows us to tape things carefully chosen ahead of time -- and skip all the vile commercials.
*I love Paul Simon's music, but, some of his lyrics get a bit, how-shall-we say, "free-thinking" for my taste...
* I love snow, but, only in reasonable amounts, between Thanksgiving and New Years.

* I admire Sarah Palin, and believe God sometimes chooses women for great causes beyond their stations of wife and mother (check out the old testament, read the lives of the saints), but, I grieve for the toll her public life has taken on her family life, and would never, ever take the path she has, even if it meant my country would go to hell in a handbasket.
* I love rootbeer, but only if it's poured over ice cream.
Anyway, you get the idea. Should I not admit to having favorites at all, because there are caveats and possible exceptions in future unknowns? Pixar might very well make a movie whose premise I find objectionable, right? So should I avoid mentioning that their movies are consistently my favorites? Should I never admit to liking anything because I'm worried about someone taking it wrong? Of course that's a rhetorical question.
But to get back to the point again: There's a lot to like and little to dislike about the blogs I follow, anyway. I'd be hard-pressed, in fact, to find anything wrong with them at all ~ if I cared to make that kind of search. Most of the blogs I've decided to Follow belong to women I've come to know and love over a fairly long period of time -- and, though we often come from different walks of life and sometimes different faiths, I learn much from their hopeful and Godly approaches to life, their practical knowlege, their humor, and their warmth. But I can't promise that any of the blogs I Follow agrees 100% with my personal world-view, my understanding of my Faith, or the way I live my life.
But then, I can't say this about any of my dearest "real-life" friends or even my family members with complete assurance, either.

I stay close to my friends and family and visit my favorite blogs, not because I agree with everything they say, do, and think, but, rather, because we have enough of the important things in common that the other stuff is incidental; because they enrich my life; and because, for one reason or another, I care about them and want to support them. And I want to add them to my Followings or list of "Favorites" so they know I appreciate them.
Many of my blogging friends, by the way, are also on my other "Favorites List" with my in-real-life friends and family; you know the list -- the one at the end of my evening prayers, the one most of us add as a footnote to God's Great Big Favorites List.
Isn't that the most comforting thought ever? While I worry and ponder about who to consider a favorite and who might judge my choices and whether or not I should care... He's the One who's allowed to judge and everyone's His favorite. No caveats.

7 comments:

Linda Higgins said...

Very well said Lisa! I agree about the favorites list and would never be offended if I was not added to someone's list. Like you, I love to browse blog and see how other people blog and even for a brief moment I feel like I have made a new friend. I never count the number of favorites listed on other blogs, I would have a headache and have to quit my day job just to keep up! I only have time to check in on a few new beautiful friends. I appreciate your blog and admire you as a woman, wife, and mother and I don't even really know you...but I feel like I do a little. I have found that there are sooo many beautiful women and men that share similar interests with me and I am intrigued that across this vast world...I can say I have a new friend...thanks for allowing me to be one!

Blessings each day said...

Well, I am impressed with how well you wax philosophical (had this word spelled right but it looked so wrong...English drives me nuts...we make rules only to break rules in English!) and your mastery of turning a phrase is appreciated.

I am thrilled when you comment on my post, but it didn't bother me that I was neither listed among your favorites, nor did you list yourself as a follower until recently. In other words, I just enjoyed your Blog and was happy that you visited mine, hoping that you left happy and a tad closer to Our Lord from something, somewhere said.

This goes back to my premise, (inspiration from the Holy Spirit), when I have said (through HIM) that, no matter what the question or problem the answer is love (as in: to do in a loving way, with love, with care...the way of Jesus).

blessings and hugs,

marcy

diana said...

i do click on specific blogs as ones i want to follow because those are the blogs that appeal to me. i don't feel like i need to vouch for them and there are times that i don't agree with their opinions or choices. if it gets to a point that i don't enjoy the blog anymore because of these reasons, i stop reading. but i don't necessarily want friends (blogging or otherwise) who agree with me on everything. i enjoy reading about the differences.

i also have my favorites list on my sidebar and those are bloggers who i feel like i have made friendships with and read just about every post they put out there.

i think the longer a blogger blogs, the less they care about being on someone's favorites list. i know i don't care. i care about the relationships i make by reading and commenting and the other person reading and commenting my posts. i know not everyone approaches blogging this way, but that's who i am.

all of that said, i've enjoyed getting to know you through the posts i've read here in the short time i've been visiting. i'll talk to you again soon =)

SQUELLY said...

I really loved this post! You have such great insight. Did I tell you there is a little award for you on my blog?

MightyMom said...

shew you said a mouthfull!


none of us are perfect and even WE say and do things that we'd disapprove of in others.

so relax and enjoy your favorites!!

Aubrey said...

I noticed that you started following. I like it because then, in my dashboard, I get the feeds from each of the blogs that I'm following. I check many more, and some of the blogs that I follow I don't necessarily visit as often as others. It is a little unnerving to put your "stamp" on something, isn't it? I'm flattered. ;) Thanks!

GrandmaK said...

Thank you soooo much!! It's grand to be thought of in this way! Will be posting on Tuesday as we leave very EARLY tomorrow for Charlotte, NC. Wishing you a grand weekend!!! Cathy