Last week, for the 6th year, many of the bloggers around our circle participated in what a community event originated by Bonnie -- Love Our Lurkers day. We don't participate, having opted out several years ago, but it is hard to not see it happening all around us. This year, watching with some bemusement, I got to contemplating not just those who lurk on our various blogs, but the whole cast of characters that populate our online world. Lurkers do have their part to play, but they are not the only denizens of the cyber universe. And so, I suggest the following as a sort of playbill style cast of characters for the spanking/BDSM blogging universe:
- Bloggers -- We are the writers. We put ourselves out here; telling our stories; spinning threads out of words. Some of us are eloquent, and some are funny, others are smart or witty, and some are vulgar or just plain crass. Whatever the style, and whatever the content, we are the ones who do the work and take the risks to share the ups and downs of our lives and our loves for whoever might care to read.
- Partners -- These are our opposite numbers -- dominant or submissive or switchy, we cannot live our kinky dreams without partners who are willing to make the journey with us. Most often, they are our loves (and I understand that is not always the case). They guide us, guard us, hurt us, help us, tease us, aggravate us, challenge us, confuse us... And we, more often than not, return the favor.
- Relatives -- We've all got them. These are the people that are related to us, by blood or by choice. Some of them may live with us or near us. Many others among this group populate the world outside our front doors. Maybe they know some of our proclivities, and maybe not. It may be that we show a vanilla face to those who share our lives. We make choices and decide carefully about what we tell them and what we don't. They are the "do they know" segment of our cast of characters.
- Exes and Outlaws -- We don't always talk about these folks, or the roles that they play (or once played) in our lives, but many of us have former spouses, or past lovers, or a once upon a time play partner... We might remember them with fondness, or sadness, or bitterness, or indifference -- but at some level, the exes and outlaws have helped to shape our lives.
- Imaginary Lovers -- They are the ones who do not really exist, except in our minds and fantasies. Like a fantasy football team, they are the ones that we imagine and dream about. For some of us, the imaginary lovers allow us to work out the darkest imaginings -- the ones that are too intense to ever live out in real life. For others, the imaginary lovers are more gentle, or more inventive, or more demanding... We may never name them, and they may never appear openly on our blogs, but there are lots of imaginary lovers wrapped around our back-stories.
- Friends -- It could be that these are girlfriends, or best buddies, but however they show up, we tend to connect, through this medium with a few kindred souls. They "get" us, and they share our path in that easy to maintain way that friends have. We know that we can count on them to hold us up through every trial, and tell us, too, when we are full of it. Our friends come to know who we are -- and like us anyway.
- Cheering Squad -- These dear souls are most often friends, but they take on the sometimes thankless job of affirming us, encouraging us, telling us that we are really OK ... no matter what happens and no matter who thinks otherwise. The cheering squad assures us that we are not alone; insists that we are valuable and appreciated; and gives us the ego-boost that makes it possible to keep on doing this ...
- Mentors -- Teachers. Examples. Guides. These are the ones who, whether they know it or not, show us how to become whatever it is that we might aspire to. Not to be confused with a guru.
- Lurkers -- Unseen visitors, identifiable only by the traces that are left behind on our stats. Lurkers have their own agendas and their own needs. Something that they find in our words draws them in and keeps them coming back. They are not seeking "relatedness" with us. Perhaps they are learning something, or perhaps they are merely peering in the windows for their own gratification. Whatever they are up to, they cannot be dragged into the light without fundamentally altering their natures. A lurker who becomes convinced to leave a comment (as is the goal of Bonnie's LOL Day) ceases to be a lurker. By definition.
- Gurus -- They find their way to some pinnacle and sit themselves down there, waiting for the adoring crowds to flock to their undeniable wisdom and brilliance. They take part in structured Q&A's. They sometimes write books. They offer guidance to those who are new and still trying to find their ways. I am quite sure that, somewhere there exists the "BDSM/Spanko Board of Certifiers and Credentialers" from whence the gurus earn their authority.
- Stalkers -- These sort of scary and usually intense ones are prone to hook onto various ones of us and grind away at whatever it is about us that bugs the living shit out of them. It never seems to occur to the stalker-ish ones that, whatever is ringing their bells, they do not have to look. Why do they insist on visiting our blogs, over and over and over, knowing even as they do it, that the likelihood is that everything they read on our sites will freak them out? Why, if you felt the way they so obviously do, wouldn't you just go off and read at www.nationalgeographic.com?
- Poor Unsuspecting Vanillas -- These are the regular folks who stumble into our places entirely by accident. They clearly weren't out looking for spanking and other kinks when they found us. They most often type something innocuous into a search engine, and land on our pages without any idea what they are getting themselves into. For them, those warnings that most of us post about the "adult" nature of our sites is the last safeguard -- if they heed the warning. If not... Oh, dear. Poor dears.
- Search Engine Trolls -- These are the ones who creep me out whenever I see their tracks on my keyword search list. What kind of critter goes looking for "gay man spanking grandma," or "teen girls in lacy panties?" I'm inclined to insist that it ought to be a "to each his or her own" sort of Internet, but really! Some things are just icky.
I bet there are lots of others that I haven't thought of. Probably, some bloggers get types that I don't ever see. I can imagine that those who are younger, more attractive, more adventurous, more sexy, more kinky -- get other kinds of visitors. Feel free to suggest additions to the cast.