Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Are You In It For?

When I first started blogging over five years ago, I had just started my second marriage. Chronicling my feelings and observations about life in general seemed like a good way to help me cope with the massive change I and my children were undergoing. Sort of like therapy, without the massive fees, the oversized couch, or a strange man with a German accent. Besides, it was fun.

Interestingly, it didn't even take a week before I connected with a whole host of other bloggers that felt the same way. What really fascinated me was the wide range of lifestyles and backgrounds they came from. Married, single, men, women, all of varying ages and professions. I read, and was sometimes even read by, graphic designers, artists, undercover narcotics officers, stock brokers, bouncers, park rangers, Hollywood hopefuls, office peons, IT consultants, college students, and yes, a couple of moms. They came from across the country, and around the world, from Great Britain to Australia, Canada to Mexico, New York, California, Texas, Rhode Island, Montana, Colorado and more.

For over a year, I could spend almost every day being emotionally gripped by the stories they shared. I might laugh till my sides hurt one moment, be brought to tears the next, or feel my heart pounding in excitement and suspense. Even a seemingly mundane post captured my attention, because it was so genuine and real. I loved reading every word.

Inevitably, it seems, most of those blogs slowly died away, and I found myself filling the gap in a whole new corner of the virtual world...the "Mommy Blogger Community". It was great, at first. Everywhere I looked, women were talking about a wide variety of every day life issues that I could relate to, commiserate with and even learn from. Sometimes there were contests and giveaways. It all seemed like good fun.

But over the past year, I've become increasingly aware of just how many blogs are doing more and more giveaways, more and more reviews, and talking more and more about increasing traffic and attracting sponsors. Lately, I'm hard-pressed to find even one blog that doesn't have some kind of advertising on it, or a post that isn't promoting one company or another. And that, to me, is extremely sad.

Maybe it's just me, but something feels very wrong about opening up my Google reader and wading through one ad promotion after another. If you want to talk about getting your children to drink more milk, does it have to be only because you've been asked to write it in connection with a company campaign? If you're sharing a tender moment about snuggling with your baby, did you have to include the name-brand of the sling you're wearing, complete with a link to their website? If your tagline says something like "A look into the crazy life of Mommy X", I'd think one would expect to actually read about things going on in that mom's life. Instead, it's 5 percent personal, and 95 percent commercial. Talk about a lack of truth in advertising!

Apparently, my idea of blogging is completely out of step with the rest of the world. I'm alternately amused and revolted by some of the things I read. People complaining about not receiving free trips in one post and self-righteously proclaiming that they're paying their own way to insert-name-of-conference-here because they're committed to blogging and want to get together with others, and then following it immediately with a post literally begging for sponsorship to said conference. Or, the one I'm seeing frequently of late, the complaints about not having time to write about family life because they're under so much pressure to meet PR deadlines. "I really enjoy getting the free stuff and all, but it's getting so hard..."

I don't want to be judgmental, but I suppose that's what I'm doing. I'll be the first to say that I have no idea what life is like for these people (which is part of the point), but I believe that, more often than not, you get what you ask for. If your idea of blogging is to have big numbers on your stat counter so you can attract companies into giving you stuff to review and giveaway, and to hold said giveaways so you can have big numbers in your stat counter, then you're getting what you asked for...a job.

I don't have a problem with "professional" bloggers. Times are hard enough as it is, and I would never begrudge someone doing what it takes to put food on the table and provide for their family. But don't try to make your blog sound like something it's not. And don't complain about what you have allowed it to become, should you choose to go down that path.

And please don't think I'm writing this out of jealousy. Believe me, I'm not. I write for myself, first and foremost. If anyone comes along and likes what I'm sharing, fabulous. If I make a friend or two along the way, even better. That's why I put the Twitter thing in my sidebar. I like the socializing. I could care less about the networking.

I got into blogging because I wanted to find and share my voice. Along the way I discovered who I really am and what I'm passionate about, and I love writing and sharing pictures about it.

What are you in it for?

1 comment:

marye said...

You know Wendy this is really good. :)

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