1-2, I Got a Crush on You

by Belle Waring on July 31, 2004

Milbarge, blogging at Crescat Sententia, has a nice post up about blogcrushes.

I’ve been talking a lot about this with a friend of mine. My friend confesses to a blog crush here and there, too. But my friend’s position is that the crushes are on the blog, not the blogger. I think my friend believes that the image of bloggers we get via the blog aren’t “real,” and my friend would rather have a crush on the idea of a person, based on what one sees on the blog, rather than the reality.

Do you think blogs reveal a person’s true personality? Is the truth-shading, the omission of embarassing details, etc. one gets in a blog any worse than one would get from a conversation with the person? Or are people perhaps more exhibitionist in print than they would be otherwise? (This must be true for many shy bloggers. And, I think, none of you will be surprised to learn that I am not shy.) A friend who hasn’t seen me in a long while read John and Belle Have a Blog recently and said that it was just like talking to me–that the posts were perfectly Belle-ish. I think that’s true, although I try not to curse so much on the blog. (Then again, now that I have small children I don’t curse in front of them either.) Thoughts? Do any of you hasve blogcrushes? Are we seeing the real Kieran here? Can Little Green Footballs possibly represent the real Charles Johnson, who appears at one time to have been a mild-mannered web designer of some talent, not notably lizardoid in any respect?



James Russell 07.31.04 at 9:31 am

I’ve been pondering the differences between the personalities of bloggers online vs in the flesh ever since I actually met my first blogger. I tend to the notion that there is indeed a certain degree of performance involved with some bloggers who’ve chosen to project a certain persona to their readership that isn’t really their own. Not all bloggers, mind you, but probably a fair few.

Apart from that, I think the REAL interesting question is not so much does LGF represent the “real” Charles Johnson as it is do the comments those goons who infest his comment boxes represent the “real” them.


John Quiggin 07.31.04 at 10:18 am

My writing style seems to project an image quite different from the way I appear in person (not one that seems at all conducive to blogcrushes, at least in my experience).

This isn’t a matter of conscious choice for me. I think it’s a reflection of the fact that writing allows for revision and rethinking. In person, I’m sharp and staccato, in print (or pixel) I’m more rounded and baroque.

I’m not sure which, if either is the “real me”.


Bart Exton 07.31.04 at 10:25 am

Charles Johnson does ban commenters and delete posts. But those bans seem to be firmly focussed on those who disagree with the “lizardoid” outlook.

By the way, you probably don’t want to show up on the LGF referrer logs with ths post.


random 07.31.04 at 11:09 am

I know I feel freer to blather in my own space, my blog or whatever, than I do in real life. If I had a cat, I’d happily inflict cat pictures and anecdotes upon the world, but wouldn’t be so cruel, in person, to my friends. :)


Ralph Luker 07.31.04 at 12:59 pm

We are looking forward to having Jacob Levy/John Holbo and Adam Kotsko weigh in on this issue, which has gone too long unaddressed on the net. Unfogged wants to know!


Rivka 07.31.04 at 2:51 pm

I think blogcrushes are kind of fun – I have a major crush on Making Light, for example, as does probably half the blogosphere.

On the other hand, the recent e-mails I’ve gotten from a reader prone to speculating about my physical appearance – he thinks I might look like a young Elizabeth Taylor in Ivanhoe – have been very, very creepy.

Ultimately, the critical factor in blogcrushes is not confusing the blogger with the blog.


PZ Myers 07.31.04 at 2:52 pm

This is a chilling post. I’m pretty sure I don’t project a ‘lizardoid’ personality on my weblog, or one that will inspire blogcrushes, but I don’t know what persona I do project…

Now I’m gonna be all self-conscious and stuff.


Carlos 07.31.04 at 3:08 pm

Hm. I’m bicoastal; I both blog and post on Usenet. On the blog, I appear to be a poetry-loving, pie-making, Brooklyn-based wannabe hipster. On Usenet, I have a reputation that’s a cross between Henry Spencer’s and Ahab’s. And yet, they’re both me.

I think an online persona is in large part determined by the conversations a person has online. If one is thrown into an online conversational environment that unfortunately has a high (i.e. non-zero) percentage of ranting Nazis and pedophiles, one’s persona will likely evolve in different ways than in an environment where the most annoying person is actually a Jack Vance character, and people don’t think that two tablespoons of cornstarch is the sekrit librul code phrase for the killing of Vince Foster.

As for blog crushes, wow, your whole family is cool!



Matt McIrvin 07.31.04 at 3:40 pm

My wife tells me that when she met me, she was surprised to discover that my personal voice was almost exactly the same one I used on Usenet. But to me, my Internet writing is more mannered and impersonal than the things I say in person. But I think that others work differently.

I imagine PZ Myers as having the ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes.


Carlos 07.31.04 at 4:02 pm

There’s a term of art on Usenet called the Brain Eater. You know, when conviction, rhetoric, and non-transferable authority make one immune to facts, especially when they’re served with a healthy helping of disrespect. LGF has the full case; Tic is well in its throes; and PZM, bless his unbelieving heart, appears to have stared into the creationist abyss a mite too long.

In my humble opinion, of course, but I’ve got the eye.



ranjan 07.31.04 at 4:31 pm

I had a blogcrush on you , Belle, about a month ago.


jamie 07.31.04 at 4:45 pm

I don’t know if it counts as a “blogcrush”, but I get the very strong impression that I wouldn’t half fancy riverbend from Baghdad Burning if I ever met her in person.


Chris Marcil 07.31.04 at 5:03 pm

In any case, I do believe we’re seeing the real Giblets.


bob mcmanus 07.31.04 at 5:13 pm

This post gave me a woody.


Kip Manley 07.31.04 at 5:56 pm

Well, any time you’re reading somebody, you’re filling in gaps, and somebody who knew you back in the day has a store of stuff to stick in those gaps that’s more verisimilar than just any old reader who’s just rolled in from a linkfarm. The latter’s bound to get some entertainingly incorrect ideas.

I’m interested in the ways that works to advantage: the cliques that end up forming online of folks you’d never expect to have gotten together in “real” life, precisely because they didn’t have silly, crufty verisimilar stuff with which to fill in those gaps. Blog crushes (or message-board post crushes, or Usenet crushes) help you get past the silly prejudicial stuff that would otherwise get in the way. (I gesture vaguely towards, say, the Pants Press cartoonists, as an example of message board crushes leading to an oddball but potent and attention-grabbing school of webcartoonists.)

But I’m going to start sounding like the late ’90s, I go on like this. I should just admit I’ve got a crush on John & Belle at the moment, but who doesn’t? (More cake!)


chun the unavoidable 07.31.04 at 6:40 pm

I have a crush on Eric Rasmusen.

Don’t much care for his blog, though.


Ophelia Benson 07.31.04 at 6:45 pm

Interesting subject – one I’ve been thinking about for several years.

“Or are people perhaps more exhibitionist in print than they would be otherwise?”

Sure, often, but then the question becomes, is ‘otherwise’ any more real than ‘in print’? Maybe it’s the otherwise that’s the false self and the print one that is more real. In the land of ‘otherwise’ there is all that physical appearance stuff, all those mannerisms and bodies to deal with, all that presentation of self. In print – it’s just language. For some people, language is more central to what they are than presentation of (real world, embodied) self is.


bob mcmanus 07.31.04 at 7:54 pm

I retract my previous comment, out of fear of Belle’s ninja sister. I retract it in a gentlemanly fashion, however, by saying I should not have said it. In any case, I would hate for Chun to think he has been displaced in my affections.

I am not sure what “crush” means in this context. Physical? Surely not. A pleasure in the content or style of a blog? A desire to be liked by the blogger? Yes, bloggers certainly reveal themselves in their writing, tho slowly if they write intellectual blogs, but I am also not sure there is that much variance in personality or character that crushes are rationally justified. We put our pants on one leg at a time.

I like what Johb Holbo writes, and how he writes. He makes me laugh, he makes me think. Do I ask myself if I like Holbo as a person? Sometimes. It is fun to look for clues.

There is little about Francis Bacon that does not appall me. I have 200 of his paintings in rotation on my hardrive.


Lindsay Beyerstein 07.31.04 at 8:49 pm

It’s hard read a lot of someone’s writing without getting to know them. This is especially true in the blogosphere because you get to watch the writer’s daily interactions with other bloggers and the larger world.

People may selectively report details of their personal lives, but they give themselves away in other ways. For me, the two most revealing are conflict management and humor. People who seem respectful, secure, and funny online tend embody those virtues in real life.

Some blogs are written “in character” like Wonkette, or, to use an extreme example, Fafblog. I’ve never met Anne Marie Cox and I don’t even know who writes Fafblog, but I suspect that if I these characters capture some very salient aspects of the authors’ personalities.


Rajeev Advani 07.31.04 at 11:43 pm

Personally I’m much more exhibitionist on my blog. I will never be seen at a dinner conversation engaging in even light political discussion, nor will I be seen at the local bar or with nearby friends fuming about the latest antics of Kerry or Bush. Blogs provide a suitable context to be exhibitionist without being as self-conscious or domineering (as you say, especially for us shy people). I imagine that for every daytime worker, night-time prostitute there’s a day-time worker, night-time exhibitionist blogger.


fafnir 08.01.04 at 1:20 am

Bob McManus you are absolutely right. Giblets doesnt hold nothin back lemme tell you.

I try to put as much Faf as I can in Fafblog but as some longtime readers an my friends will tell you I have kept quiet about my personal religious beliefs on account of I do not believe the world is quite ready yet an we do not have enough oranges yet.

Lindsay I do not know what you mean about written in character cept that folks are always comin up to me an goin “of Fafnir you are such a character” which I think is diffrent.


Lindsay Beyerstein 08.01.04 at 4:09 am

I’m more exhibitionistic in print than I am in real life. I’m pretty shy face-to-face, but I’ll cheerfully sign my name to all kinds of inflammatory, contentious, speculative stuff. Maybe that’s evidence that blogs don’t reflect personality after all. But I’m not just a demure person pretending to be a blowhard. I just use the blog to give voice to my inner Bill O’Reilly.


Zizka 08.01.04 at 4:19 pm

I am pretty much the same in person as on the net, but the average person I run into (e.g., my ex-wife at a recent family-obligation-event) does not want to deal with the real me. And never really did, in her case.

To the extent that I maintain a prudent message discipline in everyday life, my flesh and blood self is somewhat different than the annoying Zizka persona.

So Zizka is the person I really am or would like to be, but am not allowed to be. In another sense, however, I have screwed up my life considerably by not suppressing the Zizka persona in day to day life.

This is all just the dreams of the pwoerless, of course. The real Zizka is the editor of the New York Times. He is talking to William Safire this very minute, as a hefty security guard stands by, explaining to William that he should probably get a lawyer and has ten minutes to leave the building forever, and that Bubba is there to help him out.


Zizka 08.01.04 at 4:26 pm

Actually, the security guard’s name is Weasel. Bubba doesn’t work for us any more. He was just too nice for the job.


Adam Kotsko 08.02.04 at 3:57 am

I have historically been known to have a blogcrush on Belle, but it’s not nearly as serious as the blogcrush someone I know has on her. (He’s too shy to talk to her, though. That kind of thing.)

Aside from that tidbit, though, this is an example of my blog persona not giving the full information that you might be able to pry from me in personal conversation — although in essence, Adam Kotsko is the same yesterday, today, and forever, whether he appears in the flesh or via the Interweb. This is especially true given the fact that I am often too lazy to get upset about news stories or editorials, so I just fall back on my personal life.


Zizka 08.02.04 at 5:17 am

Does Ms. Waring know Sebastian Holsclaw? Now that would be a fun couple.

Oh wait, this is the crush thread, not the matchmaking thread. Forget I said that.


Sandriana 08.02.04 at 9:56 am

Hey, I took a blogcrush and ran with it, all the way to Amsterdam. At this point, I can’t remember what came first, the blog or the crush. Whatever, the blog was integral to the whole process.

(…already I have blogcrushes on the side though… *throws sherbet-filled flying saucers at Fafnir*. Does that make me a bad person?)


David Tiley 08.02.04 at 4:17 pm

On the internet I’m not deformed.


David Tiley 08.02.04 at 4:25 pm

Gee, that was a gross joke, wasn’t it. Did it come from David or Barista?

Seriously, I don’t think that online interaction with someone else, particularly someone I care about, is like the stuff we do in the real world. In that sense the real inner lovable me is not available online. You can’t massage bodies, only egos.

I reckon my online self is another persona, intersecting closely with my meatware self and profoundly compatible with it, but nonetheless a self that just lives in another domain.

When I started blogging I grew another me. In the real world, it most closely resembles the persona I use in the classroom – a mix of rants, jokes, examples, asides and encouragements. The me at dinner or in the pub is much quieter, and much slower. And yes I blog because I am motivated to by my real personality, where I am less confident and certainly short on freedom.


ben wolfson 08.02.04 at 6:28 pm

What the shit, Adam—you don’t know me.

I had a Usenet crush on someone who I met in real life, but she started dating someone else she met through the same group.

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