Aug 20, 2010 Blogging
Making fun of bloggers is easy. The image of a lonely, somewhat nerdy, sweaty person in a basement full of Radio Shack equipment, eating burritos while wearing sweats and unleashing their unappreciated genius on the world, is an easy one to conjure. In my case it’s usually pjs, and my couch isn’t in the basement, but other than that I do what I can to promote that image. You’re welcome.
It’s all tongue-in-cheek and funny and almost completely false (almost!), but behind the scenes there are some serious businesswomen and writers and photographers, people who are passionate about what they do whether they’re trying to make a living at it or not, whether they have ten readers or ten thousand. I myself have had an especially hard time this year transitioning from hobbyist to professional in a career I didn’t know existed two years ago. What might have been cute when I had 15 readers – “So sorry I didn’t post that for you on time, one of my kids was throwing up and a pipe burst and OMG I don’t know how women with kids work from home HA HA HA LOL I’ll try to get it up ASAP!” – isn’t so funny once companies have decided to take a real chance on you, and NDAs and W9s are involved and you’re starting to get somewhere. An essential part of that growth and transition for me has been getting my hands dirty out in the real world, giving my precious time to go other places. And I’ve finally come to the realization that when I’m out in public with other bloggers at blogging events, I am my brand. I am representing myself either as someone other people want to know and work with, or not.
I have a real love/hate relationship with events and trips for bloggers. On the one hand, I hate having to get off of my couch, get into respectable clothes, and try not to say anything completely offensive for a few hours or days. But on the other hand, I get to connect with people. Real live people who I might know pretty well on twitter or email, but I’ve never hugged or eaten a meal with. If given a choice between a big, loud, flashy party with hundreds of dancing, happy people, or a small table with three friends and some take-out Mexican, I will always choose the smaller gathering. And that’s why I like going on blogging trips, where someone has gathered a small group of people who all have a loose connection – writing online – and we get to spend two or three days getting to know each other in more than 140 characters. It’s fantastic. It’s something that I probably wouldn’t make a move to do on my own, because I usually let inertia take over (and it’s taken my ass over quite nicely), so I love that companies do this for me. I know they’re not gathering a group of us to help me make friends, they’ve got the economies of scale on their side. Still, it’s a nice fringe benefit.
I’ve always felt that by going on those trips I’m indicating something. To the company that invited me, I’m saying that I’m interested in taking things to the next level, that I’m willing to leave my house and family for a few days and immerse myself in their world. And to the other bloggers, I’m saying that I want to get something out of the trip that I can’t get online. We may not end up best friends, we may not ever see each other again, but we’ll always have some kind of special bond. I’ll keep up with your tweets, I’ll smile when I see you. When something good or bad happens to you it will mean a bit more to me because you’re no longer just an avatar staring back at me. When I go on these trips I’m saying to the other people involved, we get to have a connection that’s one step up from the one we had online. It doesn’t mean that I click with everybody, but it means that I give it a shot. Otherwise I might as well just stay home and stay anonymous and two-dimentional.
This is why I get upset when I hear about bloggers being bitchy on trips. Being a blogger does not in any way mean that you have to be a nice person. In fact, a few bloggers are making names for themselves being exceedingly bitchy, and it seems to be working for them, so brava. But it absolutely astounds me when I hear stories about bloggers traveling somewhere to spend time with a group of people and then being completely disrespectful.
This isn’t Montessori kindergarten. You are under no obligation to be anybody but yourself. If you’re not a nice person, let your bitch flag fly high and wave. But why then would you want to sequester yourself with strangers? Why would you bother leaving the cocoon of your online world to mix with people if not to try to be a part of some kind of community? What’s in it for you? It seems like it would be torture.
I’ve always thought that my blog was a good representation of me: happy, a little flighty and inconsistent, sometimes grumpy and bitchy and cynical, but overall a good heart beating alongside a willing and hopeful soul. When I go out into the world I don’t always represent myself the way I want to, sometimes I overreact or underreact or try to steal focus, and sometimes on the way home I beat myself up a little. But I do try to be a productive member of whatever group I’m in. And I think that’s the key: if you don’t want to try to be a respectful member of a group, nobody will blame you for staying home. But if your unyielding tendency is to stir up trouble on someone else’s dime, you give all of us a bad name.
Originally posted on Behind the Screen, a part of SelfishMom.com. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.
Mar 5, 2010 Blogging
This evening one of my google alerts let me know that a blog had linked to mine. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing this, that’s always a good feeling. So I clicked on the link, thinking it would be the usual: My new friend this, or check out this blog that, or even a post picking apart a view I had on something. Instead, what I found was a post that started out by insulting my readers. Or rather, in this case, my video watchers, basically saying that anyone who watched my videos to the end was a sucker.
I don’t need to defend my videos. They’re a minor part of my blog, they don’t get much traffic compared to the rest of the site, and I mostly do them for myself. Complaining out loud when I’m home alone might indicate that I need to visit a psychiatrist, but if I put a camera on while I do it then I’m “vlogging” and not necessarily nuts. And they’re so incredibly quick to do compared to actual writing that they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something. So if someone doesn’t like them or doesn’t watch them, whatever. I’ll keep doing them as long as my face doesn’t break YouTube. Oops, I guess I just defended them.
But I was baffled as to why this blogger would insult my blog like that. I expect to be criticized for what I write. I often have strong opinions and I put them out there knowing that they’ll be challenged. But this blogger is new, and she’s writing on someone else’s site. She has a handful of posts under her belt and twitter followers numbering around 50. I was at that stage not all that long ago, and I can remember my attitude towards my fellow bloggers clearly: I’m in awe of you, I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’d be ever-so-grateful if you’d help me out in any little way you can. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to try to get ahead by insulting another mom blogger.
Notice that I’m not telling you who the blogger is or what site she writes for. I don’t need anyone to defend me and I don’t want to give her any traffic. In blogging, any kind of attention tends to be good attention. So, she missed an opportunity to get a link back from me, to engage me in a discussion. And as much as I’d like to pretend that I let these things roll off my back, I will remember her name forever and will never be rooting for her, because she started out her writing career insulting me.
So is there ever a reason to insult a fellow blogger? (I’m wracking my brain trying to think if I’ve ever done it, because there’s nothing more embarrassing than saying you should never do something and then having ten people show you exactly where you did it.) If I disagree with someone I try to focus on the issue, not the blogger. And that can be hard. Sometimes what I really want to do is just go on twitter and start calling names. But I take a deep breath, and I try not to stoop to that level.
I’ve seen plenty of bloggers attack other bloggers. Am I in the minority here, thinking that this isn’t cool?
Originally posted on Behind the Screen, a part of SelfishMom.com. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.