Friday, February 15, 2013

Approaching Bloggers In Real Life

Maybe it's because it seems like my entire campus is on Tumblr where I have semi-internet presence, but I'm becoming very acquainted with the concept of people coming up to me in the real world and mentioning that they recognize me from my blog. Usually it comes in the form of a dialogue-- are you Mary? Did you study abroad in Scotland? Are you on Tumblr? Oh, yeah, I recognized you from your blog. but sometimes it can be as blunt as "THE EVERYDAY GOTH!" which is pretty much guaranteed to make me jump like a frightened rabbit. Anyway, in this post I'll discuss how to approach someone you know from the internet and  not give them a heart attack.

And this is where the magic happens. Yeaaaaah.

Now, for my intents and purposes, I'm not talking about people who have serious internet fame going on. I don't know how to address celebrities. I'm talking about how to introduce yourself to people of minor internet significance that you, for some reason, are seeing in real life. For example, when I moved onto campus at Mount Holyoke I posted a quick note to Tumblr saying so, and there were some people who I follow who are also here. It's okay if the person doesn't follow you back, by the way. That shouldn't be a factor in your deciding to come say hello, and hey maybe you'll get a new follower or reader out of it.

First, try to be pretty sure it's them that you're talking about. I know this sounds obvious, but when you have just seen webcam photos of someone and only have a vague idea of who they are, you want to be more careful. If all else fails, just ask them if they are _____ and they will probably be honest with you. If they say no, don't push it (even if you're very certain of this) as they might not be ready to allow their online presence and real world identity to mingle.

Then, you should consider who is around. If they're around a group of people, you might want to hold off blurting out their username or their presence on a website. Not everyone wants to make their blog publicly known to people they know in real life, especially if it's a place they confess their private thoughts to. And don't assume that you can just ask them if they're on Tumblr without mentioning their username, because someone else might be in the group who will blurt out "Oh, so am I! What's your URL?" which could be embarrassing to your intended. So, wait until you're in a much smaller group and can ask them in a one-on-one conversation.

Also, be sure to consider what the person is doing. I got stopped once while almost running to an activity I was late for, which was a little bit annoying (flattering, but annoying.) So, try to observe their personal state before approaching them. If they look busy, anxious, hurried, or distracted, perhaps it can wait until another time.

Now, how to approach them? Really, this is just general politeness, but attract their attention, make eye contact, smile, then introduce yourself (you should probably use your real name and your username) and ask if it really is _____ you're seeing. I would use their name (if you can remember it) and their username, because it's slightly disconcerting for someone to know my first name and I don't know theirs or know how they know mine. Here are some examples:

  • Hi, I'm _____, and I'm sorry to bother you but I thought I recognized you from _____. Are you _____?
  • Hey, are you ______ on ______? I'm ______, I think I follow you.
  • Hi! You're ______, right? I've seen your blog on ______ but I wasn't sure if it was you or not. I'm ______, nice to meet you. 

You can also sprinkle in some compliments about their blog if you really feel like making their day. If or when you've actually started conversing about your shared internet experience, it's alright to discuss posts but try not to voice anything that they may have hidden under a read-more tag or that is just sensitive information. If they were complaining about personal issues, don't bring it up, even to be consoling. That is, unless they bring it up first. And even then be careful.

If ever during the brief conversation they start to look uncomfortable, you should gracefully exit the conversation and move away to another location. If for some reason you cannot exit the person's vacinity, make yourself busy with something else. Then, when you get back to your computer, shoot them a quick message. Something along the lines of "Hey, I'm the person who came up to you today about your blog, and it looked like it made you a bit uncomfortable. I'm sorry for freaking you out, I didn't mean to. Have a nice night!" should do nicely.

I speak for myself when I say this, but I'm sure there are other bloggers who agree, but most of us don't have a problem with someone recognizing us from our blogs and saying so. Having someone come up to me and tell me they read my blog is a lot less creepy than getting an anonymous message later that day saying "I saw you today" and wondering if I have a stalker. However, with that said, use your best judgement. And don't forget keep your eyes peeled for any faces you might have seen on the internet last week.


  1. I can't even imagine this kind of scenario. I don't think anyone's ever recognized me.

    I HAVE recognized others though, but I never bothered to say hi or make MY presence known. I always felt like I'd be bothering them or something.

  2. I've never seen anyone whose blog I follow in person, but that's quite easy when you live in The Netherlands xD As for being recognised, I choose not to publish any pictures of myself on which you can clearly see my face, because I find it rather unsettling that people I don't know in person know what I look like exactly.

  3. Very nice post.

    It happened to me that a month ago a tv channel contact to me to appear on a tv show. I say no, mainly because it was about steampunk, but also because I don´t like the idea of appearing in tv (I even don´t post photos of myself in my blog). And tv reporters were shock because of my answer.

    It´s curious how many people presume that if you have a blog is because you want to become famous o something similar.