Don't know what IRL means? Don't worry. I'll explain. There's been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about Mindcrushes and Blogcrushes and whether what you see is what you get with either one. Is the infatuation with bloggers who speak to our soul just a passing fancy based on projected images of perfection? Are the recipients of our affection real and worthy? Or as many of our less tech-savvy friends and family may wonder, are they just mysterious constructed "others" swirling around a crazy Wild Wild West Internet vortex?
I propose that the Blogger IS real
Just not the way you picture him or her. First, the caveat stated so eloquently by Derek Shanahan in his post, The Blogger is Not Real. Derek describes the fallacy of thinking you know someone from reading their blog. He says, "We, as authors, bloggers...we are not who our blogs say we are. We are not what the reader sees." I agree wholeheartedly. No matter how much I reveal here, how many pictures and videos I post, how often I tweet - you won't really know me until you meet me in person.
But here's what I do want you to know: despite the fact that you can't truly "know me" without meeting me in person, I am real! I sit here typing and darting my fingers around my keyboard just like all of you. I have feelings, insecurities, and identity crisis' with the best of 'em. And who is to say that people we interact with everyday truly "know us" anyway? I feel more seen and understood by people - especially other bloggers and tweeters - than I have in my whole life. There are many times I actually feel more ME on the Internet than I do at social events in real life (abbreviated as IRL for those of you still wondering).
Take a Leap! Talk live or meet in person when the opportunity strikes
I feel incredibly blessed when I meet or talk to people I've met online in real life - whether in person or on the phone. During my recent trip to New York City, I had the great fortune of meeting up with six (count them, six!) blogging friends. We had cupcakes at Magnolia bakery, breakfast at Google, coffee at Starbucks and danced on a bar in the Meatpacking District (videos are NSFW and thus will not be posted here). My co-workers looked at me a little sideways when I told them I was meeting up with "strangers" after work (their word, not mine). I loved every minute of it.
Is the blogger as you know him or her real?
Not the version you've constructed. But are your connections real? Hell yes. And when you get the awesome opportunity to meet one in person, will they be different from how you pictured? Always. But hopefully in that fun, exciting 2D-comes-to-life kind of way. You're probably sick of me saying this, but meeting in real life (over a red velvet cupcake) is how I met the hilariously fabulous Jamie Varon (look At, I didn't describe you as lovely!) - who is now one of my closest friends...wait for it...IRL!
The message I tweeted earlier sums up my feelings well: all these amazing connections give me the sudden urge to run around the internet hugging people I've never met in real life. So to those of you still reading: come in for the real thing!