A Lone Wolf in Tribal Blogland

18 Aug

Who’s your tribe?

Or more to the point, who’s mine?

“A tribe is a movement of people with a common goal, having the same passions and needs, who can connect with each other to exchange views and ideas, discuss trends and developments, and who all strive for the common good of the tribe.”

So says Michael Hogg talking about online entrepreneurs, but it applies equally to those of us online and non-entrepreneurial. And I’m sure it’s OK to be in more than one.

Thing is, I’m having trouble finding my online tribe, a group (or groups) I can kick-back, be myself and feel comfortable with. The only online group I’ve ever spent any length of time with was a lovely internationally flavoured bunch of crazy ladies brought together by our admiration of one Brendan Fraser. Some were crazier than others but they were (still are), without fault, the most fab people I’ve met online. In 2001 I travelled to London to meet two of my online buddies in the flesh and see Brendan on the West End stage in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. You’d have thought we’d know each other for years. When Gabby popped to the loo during a gin soaked pre-meal pre-show session in a little Italian restaurant opposite the theatre, Jax asked me how long we’d known each other (and was shocked it was a mere 2 hours longer than I’d known her). I met Joan when she was over from Australia the next Christmas and we took a (yeah gin-soaked again) wander down Edinburgh’s Rose Street. Outwardly you’d have thought this tribe had next to nothing in common. We came from every continent, filled a range of ages from grandmothers to college students and followed an impressively wide variety of occupations and lifestyles. We all agreed, however, that George of the Jungle was a hottie.

all  brendans

And that was enough grounds to build on and discover plenty enough other things we shared. I still dip in and out of this tribe, they’re nice like that. But they’re not really my blogging tribe… if they are reading here I’ll be expecting COMMENTS from you ladies.

MrW is a member of a fairly prominent tribe of edu-bloggers. They blog professionally insofar as they blog about their profession. Not for cash. Let’s face it who teaches for what you can stash away in a Swiss bank account? But they blog quite singularly in their pursuit and advancement of all things educational. I imagine if I still held down gainful employment I’d have no trouble finding a tribe of professionals to hang with. But my profession was IT, and if you’re out of it for a while it tends to race on ahead without you. It’s not really the sort of tribe you can dip into from the outside. Believe me I tried and gave up a long time ago. Painful as it is to admit, I am an IT dinosaur, biding my time for the day the world is about to end for want of someone who can re-code the 16 lines of COBOL blocking access to the planetary defence systems. Yeah, I didn’t find a Science Fiction tribe I felt comfortable with either. They often have a very fluid interpretation of the word “fiction”.

I tried edu-parent blogging for a while (as opposed to edu-professional blogging). I have children. They are being educated. You’d think there’d be a tribe out there for me. Yeah? No. I found most of the edu-parent bloggers to be anti-pedagogue home-schoolers often (though not exclusively) more wrapped up in defending what they do by attacking formal education than actually doing any educating. I’m just not comfortable in the company of child-centred anything. I’m the parent. I make-a-da-decisions. My children have to learn and earn the right to manipulate me, no handing them it on a plate from this Mutha. Honestly? I don’t have the patience to home-school. Someone would get hurt. Probably me banging my head against something smooth and solid. I am so lacking in the passing on of essential skills to my children. My 14 year old daughter doesn’t even know hot to pour a Bacardi and coke. I was mixing whiskys by the time I was ten.  Not drinking them, just mixing them.

Anyway, I fell out with the private educators. I’m a militant socialist Mutha. As I don’t have the time to keep up-to-date enough to join the political or current affairs bloggers I’ll just wallow in my militancy happy that I’m right (hahaha!).

Being a student with the Open University (a distance learning student for anyone unfamiliar with the biggest University in Europe) I sought out the (hundreds of) thousands of people out there in distance learning land sharing experiences and supporting each other online. There are Open University tech students out there blogging, and occasionally I’ve stumbled across a social science student or even a tutor or two. There are many T189 photography student groups on Flickr. But no recognisable tribe. I think the whole distance learning thing depends on students who don’t want to meet and mix. Otherwise they’d be at a brick university. On the other hand, and to be fair, social communication between OU students is more than adequately served by its internal message boards.

I enjoy lots of acerbic Mommy Blog humour. Are my kids that funny? Well probably, but since MrW isn’t exactly anonymous and the older two are lucky enough to go to the school where he works I think I’d better remain circumspect regarding how much I take the piss out of my offspring. You can thank me in the comments Kathryn.

So I kind of hover around the edges of a tribe of Mommy Photobloggers. And I try to focus on the photography, some of which is brilliant, and I strive to hold the photography in the same place my BrenBuddies and I held Mr Fraser… simply the first thing we found in common. But the word “Mommy” is the first indication that this tribe and me are a bit of an awkward fit. It’s largely populated by, hierarchically, Americans, (American) Christians, (American, Christian) right-wing conservatives, (American, Christian, right-wing conservative) pro-lifers. For a Scottish Nationalist, atheist, socialist pro-choicer with Marxist-feminist leanings that’s a lot of ground to cover looking for shared interests other than our cameras! There are some lovely American Christians out there who I enjoy reading, but I struggle with the right-wing neo-con pro-lifers. And I really struggle with the submissive wife nut-jobs like MckMama – even more than I gag over that “k” not being capitalised. It’s hard to avoid the “star” bloggers when you’re a lone wolf seeking a tribe. I stumbled on them simply because so many blogs I briefly flitted though linked to them. You gotta look. And like a car crash you gotta look again. Even when you know its going to make you feel weirdly uncomfortable. So I look and can only wonder what motivates a mother to Twitter that her dying child is being intubated or a father to post a photograph of his young daughter receiving chemotherapy. Or how a woman can  call for the contraceptive pill to be banned because it kills potential babies. Where does it end? No egg unfertilised? Having a period kills potential babies FFS!

At the time I put it down to my British reticence in the face of all this sordid emotion and sought out British Mummy Bloggers. Luckily they call themselves “British Mummy Bloggers” or I might have missed them. I’m equally uncomfortable there though as the activity seems to be pretty much commercially focussed.

So I remain a lone wolf. No pack. No tribe. Confused at the “social” and “networking” used to describe blogging. I gravitate towards the Ozzie Mum bloggers. I comment honestly. I can’t bring myself to comment vacuously. And maybe that’s where I stumble with the tribes I bite at the ankles of. I dish my “Wows!” out sparingly. If I tell you I think something is brilliant you better believe I mean it.

Are you still reading this? I’ve finished now.


4 Responses to “A Lone Wolf in Tribal Blogland”

  1. Niecey August 19, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    Phew. Yeah. He really is a hottie!
    Hold on while I wipe my monitor off, it just got all steamy for some reason.
    Just about…
    ok there. That’s better.

    I am a homeschooling mom, but I don’t think I’m like the ones you described…right? I’m not again formal education. It’s a wonderful thing. I also happen to love teaching my kids and having them around, so homeschooling works perfectly for us. Well, maybe not perfectly, but as close as we’re gonna get, me thinks.

    I’ve made some great bonds in mothering message boards. Especially like the due date ones. I’ve also started posting on a dreadlock message board. Go figure. And there are some nice folks on there. Weird this whole internet pa lava.

  2. MrsW August 19, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Egads no! Of course you’re not Niecey. Most of the fanatical anti-school zealots I’ve encountered have been Middle-Englanders who basically couldn’t afford private education.

    As you no doubt know home-ed and private education are lesser used alternatives to state education in Scotland than they are in England. I think private education accounts for around 10% of English pupils and only 4% of Scottish pupils – and a fair whack of the pupils in Scottish private schools are neither Scottish nor have parents who even live in Scotland.

    The latest figures on home-ed in Scotland indicate between 700 and 800 children are educated outwith a school setting. Believe me I considered it myself for a whole other reason. Our local primary has a fantastic reputation and the children enter secondary with very good levels of achievement. But is has a horrendously ineffectual senior management team who coast along in a cash rich school apparently ignorant of the the possibility that their predominantly middle class children could possibly be bullies. The head teacher is also a loony fundie born again who allows PWAMM (People With A Mission – sorry but this particular group counts amongst its members some of the most odious self-entitled cretins I have ever met) reps into the school but vetoed a request from a parent to give a talk on animism.

    With recommended class sizes of 18 in P1-P3 I seriously considered keeping Paul at home until P4 when I would have more chance of getting him into another primary school, next door to the secondary where Neil works and Kathryn and Andrew go. But my car is off the road so for now we’ve registered him at the local pre-school so I can (a) avoid a stroke and (b) get some time to myself to study! They are on a warning tho. At the first sign of trouble I will have him whipped out of there and be knocking down the director of education’s door… I’ll not be quite as aaccepting of the “truth” as I was last time.

  3. Kate - k8tography August 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    First off, no way did I realise that Brendan Fraser was that hot! Seriously gorgeous actually.

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It is currently how I feel although I have had a few ‘tribes’ in my online life over the past 10 or more years.

    With one group I have made life-long friends – we have met in real life as a larger group a couple of time – had a serious blast. Lots of drinking, eating and laughter – full on abandoned laughter. It is so amazing that online relationships seem to have a way of working instantaneously in real life. I love that.

    However, I have also met my share of fruit loops. Nutcases. Weirdos.

    I am struggling to meet a photography tribe at the moment. As it is my main interest in life – surprise, surprise – even more interesting than my life as a mum – I would dearly love to chat on a regular basis with people of like minded interest. I have tried the ILP (I love photography) forum but seriously – there is so much SERIOUSNESS there it does my head in. And their formula for ‘good’ photos is soooo uniform – it does my head in too. I like quirky. I am already a little tired of newborn babies in baskets, on scales, in nets etc.

    Anyway – my fingers are cold – my nose is running – I must run too!



  1. Caught with my curlers in - February 8, 2010

    […] I don’t really consider myself a parent blogger. Certainly no more than I consider myself a female blogger, a hobby photographer blogger, a student blogger, an overweight blogger, a left-wing Scottish Nationalist blogger, a wifey of a teacher blogger… you get my drift? I chose not to pigeon-hole myself because I couldn’t really find my tribe. […]

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