Monday, April 6, 2009

Love is in the Blogosphere

There was an article in the New York Times yesterday about the on-line romance between Ann Althouse, a well-known blogger, and one of her commenters named Meade.

The blogger is boss, a salon host with wit and whip. Certainly a blogger thrives on commenters — who wants to declaim to an empty e-room? But let’s be clear: blogger, sovereign; commenters, courtiers.

That’s why the bloggerati pounced gleefully last week on the news that one of their own had fallen in love with a commoner, er, commenter.

Reader, she is going to marry him.

Ann Althouse, 58, is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who blogs about politics, law and cultural whatnots in a sharp, occasionally ribald tone. She admires Rush Limbaugh, voted for George Bush in ’04 and Barack Obama in ’08. She attracts derision and applause from 500,000 monthly visitors.

The jeers spiked ever since the March 22 announcement on her blog that this divorced mother of two adult sons, stalwartly single for more than 20 years, is engaged to a commenter known simply as “Meade.” Except for her closest readers, the blogosphere was taken by surprise.

“Does she know the guy?” sniggered Mickey Kaus, the Slate blogger, in a bloggingheads.tv interview.

In a phone interview, Ms. Althouse shot back, “If a male blogger found women to consort with by going into his comments, I think he’d be congratulated.”

The tale of Meade and Ms. Althouse is a cross between the studiedness of a Victorian epistolary courtship —a modern-day Robert Browning googling his dear Elizabeth Barrett — and the wackiness of 21st-century life online. The Althouse commentariat would log into the virtual local pub of the blog, gossiping and fantasizing about their queen’s offline love life, and even egging the couple on. When the announcement finally came, the commentariat cheered, bursting with hometown pride that a humble, anonymous son of the Internet could win the hand of the blogger.

With all the snark going around, I suspect there’s a bit of envy on the part of the critics. But love is where you find it, on-line wacky or not, and I’ve heard of some stranger connections that worked out very well.

Best wishes to the happy couple.