Not unreasonably, John asked:
...what is a "blog crush"?
Am I right in saying you've never met the man?
A troll made a comment, since deleted, insinuating that my blog crush on Chris was evidence of latent homosexuality. That's not worth responding to, but John's query is.
Lots of folks in the blogosphere use the phrase "blog crush." (If someone can tell me with certainty who coined the term, I'd be happy to assign credit!) As I understand it and use it, a "blog crush" refers to a profound degree of admiration, intellectual attraction, and a certain desire to emulate the writing style (or life habits) of the blogger on whom you are crushing.
In my post about student crushes, I wrote that in my experience, crushes on teachers are rarely about actual sexual desire. I wrote:
we don't just get crushes on people whom we want, we get crushes on people whom we want to be like! Students don't get crushes on me because they want to go to bed with me or be my girlfriend or boyfriend; they get crushes on me because I've got a quality that they want to bring out in themselves.
And that's also what I mean by a "blog crush." I may be months away from turning forty (a milestone I eagerly anticipate), but I still occasionally find myself idolizing, in a breathlessly adolescent way, certain inspirational people whom I encounter in person or in cyberspace. I call that a "crush." While crushes can have a sexual or a romantic component to them, those qualities are not essential to a crush. A crush is about idealization, even when that idealization is tempered (as it ought to be at my age) by a realistic understanding of human nature.
When I first met my old pastor at All Saint Church, Scott Richardson, I immediately "crushed" on him. He's now the dean of the cathedral at St. Paul's in San Diego. Did I -- do I -- want to sleep with Scott? No. At my age, with both men and women, I'm able to separate a "crush" from its sexual and romantic aspects. But I loved listening to his sermons. I wanted to know everything about his life, how he lived, how he thought, how his marriage worked, what his favorite sport was, who his own heroes were. I wanted to be near him, and to meet with him as often as possible. I didn't want him sexually, but I saw in him qualities I was eager to bring out in myself. I knew that like me, he was just another flawed human being -- but even in his human brokenness, I could see something glorious shining through and I wanted to be near that as often as possible. I call that "crushing."
I could call it hero-worship, except that I am leery of using the word "worship" for anything other than God. I didn't worship Scott, and I don't worship Chris Clarke. Worship implies a hierarchical relationship that I don't think is present in the kind of crushes I'm talking about here. "Crush" is a useful noun (and verb) because it captures the giddy admiration of the experience.
And I also use "crush", frankly, to play with people's homophobic anxieties. I am happily married to a wonderful, beautiful woman in whom I delight and who (mirabile dictu) delights in me. My sexual energy is directed towards her, and is not available for any other woman -- or any other man. That said, I recognize we live in a world where there is an extraordinary amount of anxiety about male-male attraction. Heterosexual men have a very hard time acknowledging their love for, or "crushes" (in the sense I use the term) on, other guys. Part of pro-feminist work is creating a culture where men can speak more easily of their feelings for each other, and where acknowledging intense and profound admiration is not automatically construed as a reflection of sexual interest.
I have a "blog crush" on Chris Clarke because he writes beautifully. He writes poetry and prose well, but there is a beauty in the grace with which he lives his life -- and in the values he embodies -- that I respond to instinctively. Obviously, I have never met the man. I suppose he could be a fraud, creating a false self on his blog page. In that case, I have a "blog crush" on a phantom! But I suspect he is who he seems to be. And his grace, his earthiness, his gift for language, his commitment to the environment are all things I deeply admire. And as a consequence, I'm crushing on him, big-time.
Does anyone else get what I'm talkin' about here?
UPDATE: Thinking more about this, I wonder if it's almost easier for some people to confess to a blog-crush on a same-sex blogger than on someone from another sex? If I were to mention regularly blog-crushing on a female blogger (and there are many female bloggers for whom I have profound admiration), would that be interpreted differently? I suspect so.