When is it too much?

We all have our escapes.  One of my favorites happens to be reading mom-blogs as I’m sure you know if you’ve been around here much.  I don’t have that many that I follow regularly, and I’ve slowed down my reading times, but I still use them as a real escape/pleasure several times a week. 

One of my favorites is P-dub aka The Pioneer Woman, and I recently referred my house-mate “A” to one of her recipes that I thought she’d love, thus introducing her to the site.  At dinner the next night, we had mutual friends over and were all sitting around the table chatting.  A had made a dessert she found on p-Dub’s Tasty Kitchen, and the subject of mom-blogs came up as we were devouring it’s pear and ginger crispiness.  Being my philosophical self, I tried to analyze why P-Dub and dooce, the two most-read blogs I was aware of, were so popular.  Things like transparency, honesty, great photography, and belches-and-all reality were tossed around for a minute or two. 

The two males at the table entered in at first, but when I waxed on overly-eloquently about the perceived romantic appeal of the country life and men in chaps (can I blame the wine?!) things went south.  “Why don’t we play Pioneer Woman?” was tossed into the fray by one of the men, and everything fell apart from there.  Comments about misplaced chaps and riding were bandied about, and we all dissolved into laughter, thankfully ending my little soapbox.

It got me thinking though, how much of the online sharing/reading that happens is borderline voyeurism.  I really wonder.  I started reading dooce when I was pregnant with my 2nd and didn’t have enough to do at work.  A coworker pointer her out, and I was hooked.  Her relationships and struggles with leaving the Mormon church really struck a chord, as I was in the process of stepping away from the church I was raised in.  I loved her sarcasm, admired her willingness to say what she thought, and got a little hooked into her life.  At times I’d obessively check for updates on my blog-roll, hoping to avoid going back to work. (no worries, I wasn’t that hooked while still working in the office!  One of the distractions of working at home …) 

In the end, I became too involved in the lives of the women I was reading about, more than I had time for and more than I felt was healthy.  I got emotionally involved in the lives of people I’d never meet, and finally realized how ridiculous that was.  I deleted half my blog roll, and stopped the daily checks.  I felt a lot better, started using a Reader, and now only switch over to that folder when I consciously want a break.  I no longer read every post even on the ones I still follow.  There is real fellowship to be had online, and sometimes the relationships DO turn into real-life ones, but it’s kinda rare.  It’s better for me to use it as escapism, and spend more of my time hunting down real-life friends in my neighborhood.  How about you?