I use Bloglines to track updates for blogs that I enjoy and the total number that I now read has reached a stunning 104. I know, can't understand it myself. But really, of all the blogs that you visit in a day, how many update daily? Or even every other day? Bloglines gives me a great way to consolidate all of my blog checking to one click.
Having so many on my list makes me wonder, though -- what is the appeal of reading these stories and observations that this eclectic group of writers puts on the internet? I mean, I know what I'm hoping to find when I click on a new blog: wit, intelligence, humor, honesty, with something interesting to say. These are the same qualities I look for in friends, but here is the thing. I think another level of appeal is having a story or approach that intrigues me, so that I get a window on someone else's life without any real obligation. I can be very lazy about friendships (I sometimes think I have too many friends in real life as I'm often reluctant to actually do anything with them. It's like I want to keep them on standby just in case). But reading someone's blog can make you feel you know that person in real life, that you have a connection with them, and this kind of ersatz friendship appeals to the lazy friendmaker like me.
With Bloglines I'm able to click through my blogs that have been recently updated, check in on the blogfriends who've got something new to say, and when I'm feeling very good click through so that I can comment on their entry. I know that some people think that reading and not commenting on a blog is a kind of rudeness. I see it as enjoying someone's company without the obligation to fully participate. Unless bloggers obsessively track their stats they're not going to know the number of people who read but don't comment. It's a kind of guilt free laziness. I love it when people leave comments here, but hey -- if you come by, enjoy what I've written and then move on that's fine too. I'm happy to be a guilt free stop.