Right now I should be talking about the Bills big loss. Trust me, it’s huge and they are in a whole mess of trouble, but there’s something else on my mind right now.
Maybe it should be the Sabres. I haven’t talked about the Bruins game yet, and their “big” weekend should get some attention, too. However, I’m about as interested in talking about them as they looked interested in playing hockey last night. Instead, what I want to talk about something a bit more personal; and maybe a bit more awkward.
On Saturday I drove to a bar I’d never been to and met complete strangers. Just an ordinary night for most hookers, but for me it was anything but the usual Saturday.
There have been blogger get togethers before, but this was a first for me. You would never guess it from my antisocial posting patterns, but I am socially awkward when it comes to first introductions. It takes a good while for me to feel comfortable, and while some bloggers already knew each other, everyone was new to me. Ho boy, this was going to be strange.
However, everything went a lot better than I imagined. Despite standing next to a broken pig for about two periods, everyone introduced themselves and ended up talking a lot more than watching the game. What I thought was going to be uncomfortable turned out to be just like reading and commenting in the blogosphere: easy, friendly, and with very little heckling.
As I made the rounds I noticed a few interesting things. First of all, everyone assumed I was older. That’s probably a compliment, or perhaps my numerous references to social security reform have led everyone askew. They say age is but a number, but my glass of ice water sure made me stand out last. However, that fashion statement was self-enforced, as the rest of the Buffalo bloggers were willing to get me some ice cold draft Loganberry. Oh, and lots of beer.
As I talked to everyone I noticed how truly different we all are. Among our ranks there are businessmen, writers, musicians, teachers, and other people doing complicated-sounding things at RIT. Some have families and mortgage payments, and some are just starting the “real life” phase of things. And then there’s me, who can best be described as “just some kid”.
With all those differences one would imagine it hard to keep conversation flowing, but that was quite the opposite. There were drunk silences at times and a few moments devoted to The Hip’s “Fireworks”, but in between there was the everyday “blogger” conversation. The Aud, Sabermetrics, Bill Simmons, Paul Gaustad being adorable; everything you’d expect a Buffalo sports fan to talk about was on the table. In fact, if you didn’t know we all had subterranean dwellings with Internet access you would just think we were friends meeting up at a bar to watch the game.
In a way, that’s exactly what we were.
There are a lot of question marks out there about this whole “new media” thing, but out of the little scientific research done on blogs the idea of “cybernetic space” has come about. Basically, the formation of a blogging community creates an artificial space online that is inherently linked to the actual place or places they blog about. Blogging about Buffalo has linked us all to Buffalo in a way that is no longer possible for some.
When you think about it, that’s pretty unique. Our little corner of the web is out there for anyone in the world to see, and that means people outside the 716 suddenly have a way of connecting with the area. In a region with so many expatriates floating around, it’s no surprise our little blogopshere has grown so much over the past few years.
Sometimes I really feel like what we do just isn’t about the Bills or Sabres, but Buffalo as a whole. People move from place to place all the time these days, and what keeps them tied to their roots are the sports teams they love. When we write posts they aren’t about the new mayor or downtrodden economy or something that comes and goes; we write about the only two constants left in this city. It’s what makes the Bills and Sabres mean so much, and why it will hurt like hell if either ever leave.
Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been surprised by our conversations because that’s what we do. We write and read because we value eachother’s opinions and are all a part of this. The writers, the commenters, even the blogs you may not like or “totes” rip off your ideas. All of us are a part of this… something, and even if we aren’t sure what it is it’s pretty cool.
That was the other thing that came to mind often: this is really cool. It was cool that someone put forth the effort to organize it, and it was really cool to see everyone show up. It’s cool to hear what people think about what you do, and it’s cool to really know these people and just how far they drove to get there. This medium we all use may not be the pinnacle of “cool”, but Saturday night sure was a lot of fun.
Oh, and we should totally do it again sometime.