Friday, June 24, 2005

Blogging Builds Community

Charlie Tuttle has died.

One of the runners of The Predator's Den, Charlie finally succombed to the effects of the cancer he's been battling for some time.

I never met him. It's likely I saw him at a Predator's game somewhere along the line. I might have even sat next to him, not knowing his identity. But I never really met him the traditional way.

I did, however, meet him in a non-traditional, new-wave the blog-o-sphere.

Some of you might remember the little tiff I got into with Jason from The Den late last year. I won't link to those posts, because it honestly embarasses me to have gotten so heated up over such a silly thing as the NHL lockout...and with fellow Preds fans to boot. I was still a blogging novice at the time, and had yet to learn some of the important lessons of what blogging was really all about.

I read the The Predator's Den regularly, checking for updates at least once a day. There hasn't been much hockey news to discuss lately, but there have still been posts...the most recent ones regarding Charlie's illness.

I checked it this morning and read a post by Jason, confirming that Mr. Tuttle had passed away yesterday, and had a reaction I did not expect. It made me sad. Much more so than I could have ever predicted. It has affected my entire morning, bringing pensive and reflective thoughts. Here was a man I had never met outside of the internet trend of blogging, and yet I felt as if one of my own friends had died.

That might sound silly to you, but to me...well, it's taught me a huge lesson about the positives of blogging. Blogging builds community.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that. Some of the prominent politically-themed or celebrity-run blogs have surely been trumpeting the benefits of blogging for some time. But the lesson is still new for me.

We may think we're just posting our little rants and raves about sports and movies--and sometimes we are--but it's really a lot more than that. One glance at the tiny map on the sidebar shows us we've been read by people all over the world. Some have left comments, and some have not. Some have become blogging friends, such as the boys at The Electric Commentary. Our list of links to other fellow bloggers has steadily grown, as has the number of bloggers linking to us on their sites.

And we're touching lives. I don't mean that in a spiritual or emotional sense, but in a purely academic one. We've got people reading and reacting to our thoughts daily (and likely reflecting on them). We're having dialogues that wouldn't have been possible without blogging's creation. And we're having them with people that we would not have any contact with in the real world.

Communication isn't just about face-to-face anymore. The internet (and, several years earlier, the telephone) has taught us that. But with blogging, we have a new, even deeper community being developed. I can go to a movie website, and read all sorts of news and opinions, and I may even feel like I know that person a tiny bit. But on our blog, we can talk movie news and opinions and have an actual conversation. A back and forth. A dialoge. A discussion. And interaction is what defines community. Without interaction then it's merely one-sided.

Consider our own L&N Line. I've never met Mike--had a chance to at the Admiral's game in town, but had a vicious migraine and was not able to attend. I met Jonathan once, a few years back, before I knew what a blog was...and I don't really remember it outside of the fact that we met (no offense, Jonathan). We've never hung out. (Chris and I, however, have been friends for a while now, and we do hang out pretty consistently). But I feel like I'm slowly getting to know Jonathan and Mike. As we write posts and read each other's...we're revealing ourselves a bit. And then, when we comment on a post, or write an entire post in response to a previous one...well, then we're interacting...having a conversation...building community.

I recently asked Chris (half-joking) the other day, "Is Mike okay? I haven't seen any posts or comments from him recently." Ordinarily, that might seem weird, to be curious (dare I say, concerned) about someone I've never met. But in the blogging world...such is not the case. I was glad to see him post recently. I'm sure he just got busy. But do you realize how much a part of each other's daily routine we've become? Do you realize how affected each of us would be if one of us up and went away...from existence or from the blog?

Blogging gives us something new...a community that is not dependent on face-to-face interaction. It gives us the friendship-building experience without the prerequisite that we be in the same room at the same time. One of us could live in China and the experience would still be the same (as we learned when Mike was there). And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what people mean when they refer to globalization. The internet was just the tip of the iceberg, with websites giving us a peek into someone else's world. Blogs are the next evolutionary step, allowing for give and take, small group dynamics, and true interpersonal relationships.

I, for one, am fairly excited to see what the next evolutionary step will be, and how it might bring me into a community that is even more diversified and varied.

My prayers go out for the Tuttle family, and for Jason and the rest of Charlie's friends, that they may have comfort and peace during their time of loss. I wish I'd gotten to know him better, and to meet him in experience his passion for the game of hockey. In no way am I being corny to say that it was a privilege to be a part (however small a part) of a community with Charlie, and it is a privilege to do the same with all of you.


At 6/24/2005 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

Very well said.

At 6/24/2005 01:43:00 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

It's been a pleasure meeting and knowing you too, Kennelworthy, et al.

My condolences to the Tuttle family.

At 6/24/2005 04:47:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I was fortunate enough to meet Charlie at the Admirals game last year. Man, did he love hockey. He was taking as many pictures as possible, as I was. He looked at my pictures online and sent me an email saying how much he liked them. That made my day. Whenever I get sick of blogging, I remember that you have to put in a little work to make meaningful connections. I was glad I met Charlie.

At 6/24/2005 08:22:00 PM, Blogger MaraJade said...

Great post. I'm saving it to my computer right now.
I like to think that I do have a life outside of the internet, but blogging and forums have totally brought me a sense of community that I was missing in my "real life".
I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

At 6/25/2005 08:02:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Mike talked about this a couple of months ago, but to refresh. Mike started up this blog so he, Chris, and I could be able to have a forum to throw our rants out there to each other, movie reviews, thoughts on sports, our daily lives, etc. Due to work, living in a different state on Mike's part, and other personal things we couldn't get together all the time like we did in the past, and this works out a lot better than e-mail.

And now with the interjection of the likes of KW, Paul Noonan, Mara Jade, and a host of others that have linked to our site we have become a litttle on-line family, and that is a cool thing.

We all most definately have lives outside of this; I might spend thirty minutes a day on-line, but this has become one of my favorite things to do especially after unwinding from work or various other things that go on throughout the day.

Great post KW; everything was well put. And I am sorry to hear about Charlie. Not being a huge hockey fan I rarely read his blog. However, in the past ten months I have lost my father and two of my grandparents. So believe me when I say that those who were close to Charlie whether it be family or fellow bloggers, I do know how they feel right now. It's a terrible feeling, and I am very sorry.

And you never have to worry about Mike, KW. Sometimes he just gets very busy. Knowing Mike, trust me, that dude is going to outlive us all; death would piss him off too much.


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