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Friday, April 22, 2005

On Etiquette

I am horrible with etiquette. I usually forget to send thank you cards (but do I need to send thank you cards if I have thanked the person profusely in person, really?). I surreptitiously watch others at the dinner table, waiting to see which fork they are going to use. Alternatively, I stare at my food hungrily while others wait for theirs. Finally I say to hell with it and start inhaling my meal. I do a lot of things that I shouldn’t do, and don’t do a lot more than I should. An admission: It has never really bothered me.

This is not to say that I am impolite. I am a considerate driver and I usually will leave my cherished seat on the MRT if there is someone older or a woman with a baby standing. I hold doors open for people. I let other people go first. I try to remember that in Taiwan, it is considered proper to hand something to someone else using two hands instead of one. Perhaps it is the word “etiquette” that pushes me away. When I hear that word I think of Martha Stewart and the women who shopped at the bookstore I worked at on the east side of Cincinnati. I think about the conversations I overhead, the things these women would worry about doing, just so that their similarly wealthy and bored friends would be impressed. When I hear the word etiquette, I think this: “I am doing something just so that I will look good,” whereas when I think of being polite I think: “I am doing this because I should.”

I know that this is a bit skewed, but this is what I have to work with, so please bear with me.

Part of the problem may be that I really don’t know much about etiquette. I know golf etiquette, and I know road etiquette, and I handle those things OK. The rest of it, though, I draw a blank. I am sure I could get an Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette, or Etiquette for Dummies or Martha Stewart’s Treatise on Etiquette but when there are so many books that I want to read, I rather suspect I would never make it past the preface definition of etiquette. So what am I to do? I think I will just keep winging it, no doubt offending people along the way with my thoughtlessness.

I do not wish to offend anyone, though, especially anyone who is reading this and who thinks they might want to come back, or better yet, leave a comment filled with compliments for, well, me.

I have a further confession to make. I almost never look at other blogs. It isn’t that I don’t have a desire to see what other people are seeing or doing. The problem is that I don’t have time. I spend about two hours every morning writing, and then I go to school. After teaching, I still have to worry about studying, working out, reading, and oh…spending some quality time with Natalia lest she wake up and realize that she has a terrible boyfriend.

I know that visiting other blogs is beneficial to one’s own blog. Visiting other places means leaving a trace of you behind, a link to your own page. The more links, the more points of entry. So every now and then, and with the worst of intentions, I do a bit of random surfing, stopping by a place for a minute or two before moseying on, never stopping long enough to get an get the full idea for what is there. Perhaps this is why I like photoblogs the best. I can see the pictures, admire them, and move on.

On a decent percentage of the blogs I have stopped at, I have noticed entries related to traffic. XXX number of visitors yesterday, a new one day high! Or, I don’t really care that no one is coming here. I am writing this for myself. Or, please leave comments or feedback.

I always take a peek at the comments at the end of posts. It seems the majority of them are left by acquaintances of the person making the post, and then proceed into a back and forth dialogue between the blogger and the friend/friends who commented. Sort of like how Natalia is the one who I can always count on to leave a comment here, and how half the time I write something back to her even though I know I will be seeing her in a few hours. A bit absurd that.

I don’t get all that many comments outside of Natalia on my posts, but that does not bother me all that much. (I don’t really care who comes here…this blog is apparently meant for us to get to know each other better and it is merely a bonus if others find it interesting.) Oh, but of course I care that other people come and read and look at my pictures, who am I kidding? It is a great feeling, after all, to get a nice compliment from someone you have never met, a New Zealander living in Japan, a man in Belgium, a girl in Philly, a girl in Canada, etc…(I should add here, to those of you who have emailed me with encouraging words, thanks!)

There is something that has been bothering me, though. Is there an etiquette to this? Is there a blogging etiquette? If I receive a comment am I supposed to post something back, or am I obligated in some way to make a return visit to the other’s blog and leave a comment in return? And in general, is there some sort of unspoken rule in the blogging community dictating that one spend a certain number of hours per week surfing their fellows’ pages?

These are my questions. I really do not wish to offend, so if anyone has some information as to these queries or anything related to the topic of blogging etiquette, I would be much obliged your response.

Thank you, and have a lovely day.


Anonymous Natalia said...

I don't think there's a blooging etiquette, but I think it's nice that, once in a while, you answer or visit other's blog. As you said, you might learn something from somewhere else, and of course, come across really interesting people.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no hard & fast rule, but it is nice to reply to comments *if* you have something to reply. On my blog(s), I reply back if I have something to reply...some comments that are simple like "that looks great!"--there really isn't anything for me to say other than "Thanks," so I don't reply. But if someone asks a question, or sparks another thought, I always reply. Sometimes it stops there, but sometimes, conversations ensue.

It's a little different for my knitting blog than for yours...there is a set community for me. We all post comments and converse back & forth. We learn from each other and share ideas, and our knitting is better for it. Leaving comments & replying back is part of the community. One of the main reasons we (knitters) blog in the first place is to be a part of that community. We visit other blogs and comment because we want that interaction.


9:04 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

I agree that blogging makes you part of a community - if you really wanted to write just for yourself, you'd be keeping a journal or something else not meant for public eyes. It's always nice to comment on somebody's page if you enjoy the comments they leave on yours, and it always feels good to see comments from newcomers.

However, there are two blogs I read religiously and comment on frequently, and the owners have never commented on mine - hell, I don't even know if they've visited my page. But I get so much out of their writing that I can live without their comments. Their updates are good enough for me.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Alan Brinker said...

Thanks for the tips. Knowing how it feels to have a nice comment from a stranger, I should make an effort to see more of what is out there and let people know...It just always comes back to time. Why can't the day have 36 hours?

8:27 AM  

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