An Open Letter To MommyBloggers

Back in 2006, as the PR companies started circling and the world was just starting to catch on to this ‘Mommyblogging’ phenomenon, I very clumsily attempted to tell Heather Armstrong the A-listers were hurting my feelings.

Of course this was at BlogHer con, and I was tipsy, so it came out very awkward and bitchy. I had heard grumblings of the cool kids’ club. I had heard complaints that all these new Mombloggers were just copycats. I wanted to know if the community I shoved myself into was, in fact, real and supportive.

Heather was, of course, gracious and understanding. She didn’t feel that way at all, she loves this community, and so on and so forth.

I felt better.

Flash forward to 2008 and BlogHer con just around the corner. I’m watching some high profile names make some pretty hefty accusations and some new and eager bloggers scratch their heads, fight back, and even second guess this amazing community.

The good thing about us bloggers, is we talk. We comment, we discuss, we post. Communicate. Sometimes we over-communicate…but at least it’s out there.

With the rise of Mommyblogging has come growing pains, competition, traffic, ad money, the works. It’s exciting and it’s frustrating. There are no longer thousands of us, there are millions and we have influence and reach.

What we can not stand to lose, is the community.

It is what makes us. It is what drives us. It is the entire reason we are who we are. There will always be flamewars and snarking and back channel chatter about who did what to whom. Human nature. But what is new is the megaphone’s power.

I learned this the hard way. I am one of the megaphone’s biggest abusers.

Like it or not, you are now widely read and widely heard. Like it or not, it comes with responsibility. Trust me, I’m the last person to like the responsibility part of it all.

Not too long ago a few entrepreneurs I know bickered over some ventures. One thought the other was copying, the other thought he was making it his own. The analogy that came up: it was like McDonalds getting mad Burger King had come to town and set up shop across the street.

I think that is a fair analogy here. McDonalds is mad Burger King is making hamburgers. However, as we all know, no one has the monopoly on hamburgers.

No one has a monopoly on snarky parentblogging either. Or the name ‘Queen’ or even who gets to be loudest at any given moment. I may protect my ‘business’ but I certainly can’t hate that someone wants to be the Pepsi to my Coke.

What we DO have a monopoly on is community. We own this one, outright. All of us. Not one of us is more of a rockstar than the other, and we all take inspiration from each other. MORE importantly, we all RELY on each other. We all know why we are involved in this blogging/twitter/fill-in-the-blank-social-media-service-here: it’s the support, the advice, the friendship.

As I have watched other communities get into pissing matches, it strikes me how much we may be traveling down that road.

Fame and fortune bring trainwrecks I guess. I’d like to see us remain the ‘closest knit community online.’

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, the world is watching.

Comments

  1. I nominate Erin to run for public office. Her diplomacy should be admired. Who’s with me?

  2. :: hurries to copy and paste on her own blog ::

    heh. Just kidding. You’d’bomb, babe.

  3. *sigh*

    Why is it whenever these kinds of posts go up I’m always solidly in the crowd scratching their heads and wondering what all the cool kids are talking about?

    Who’s mad at who? What’s going on? Dooce hates Shel Silverstien? Huh?

  4. No offense, but reading this without being given any idea what on earth it’s actually about makes me feel like I was invited to the cafeteria by the popular girls, told I’m part of the gang just for being me, then asked to sit at the bench while they discussed the facts at the table, out of earshot. I mean – in community-building, honesty and transparency are usually the things that engage me the most and make me feel part of something larger, including and sometimes especially the painful parts.

  5. I wish I’d known what was going on before I posted my first comment, too. Although I’m a mere blip on the blogosphere’s radar, the thought that someone might think I’m copying another blogger, or worse, I am unintentionally copying another blogger bothers me. I’ve been on the other side, too, where I thought my “ideas” were being ripped, but legally, I have no real proof, and I’m willing to entertain the thought that maybe, maybe, it was mere coincidence.

    Most of the time, it is.

  6. “And it all falls under “business”- if someone is violating your trademark or brand, I would suggest you handle it in a professional BUSINESS manner.”

    So very glad you said this. Sucks when another “mommyblogger” does it to you though. Probably why I have to call bullshit on some of the community sentiment – though I have met a lot of fabulous women I’m lucky enough to call friends.

  7. Thank you for this post Erin. Very well said. There are so many stereotypes that behavior like that perpetuates and it has the power to bring us all down, and as you mentioned, destroy the community we all value so much.

    I am also amazed to see a ‘mean girl’ or two comment here and thank you as well, I hope they are really listening along with the rest of us.

    Keep the goodness coming!
    -Ashlee

  8. Really, the whole affair just illustrates the way the internet can rob a comment of its emotion, so that it’s hard to know the spirit in which a comment was made. Then the viral part of the web means that if someone takes offense, the story spreads.

    Often real life requires chatting in person, on the phone, or in a case where people don’t know each other, maybe a personal email to clear the air.

    If I were the judge in this case, that’s what I’d recommend.

    Also– looking forward to meeting people at BlogHer. I think the more people you’ve “met” the less inclined you are to have this happen.

    I’ve met no one!! Please chat with me there! Am thinking my hair will be 6.3 (Brioche) which is brownish red. Will update if decide to
    come as a blonde.

  9. An uninformed opinion makes the person seem juvenile.

    Can’t read blogs with black backgrounds cause it strains my eyes. I don’t go around twittering & plurking & gathering a posse to put those down who do have black background blogs.

    Taking 3 minutes to form an opinion about a blogger’s content is wrong. Then EXAGGERATING & HYPING that opinion on a public network is double wrong. Not taking into account unemployment or some other IRL tragedy makes blogging & twittering less fun.

    3 does NOT equal 1/2 dozen…
    What kind of math is that ? Does twittering invalidate math facts ? Then including Bossy who would probably be the first to NOT care brings the percentage down to 2. 2/12 ths is 1/6 th. Farther & farther away from 1/2 or half a dozen.

    Don’t do logic…don’t twitter.
    Don’t do math…don’t twitter.

    Live by twitter might just die by twitter.

    Say what you want, but there will be consequences if what is said is wrong.

    I am all for accountability.

    Let’s just treat other bloggers like we want to be treated & agree to disagree.

  10. Awesome post, Erin. Thanks for putting this up. Sums up my thoughts pretty nicely.

    For those who don’t know about what this is about… I had the misfortune to watch it unfold before me on Twitter and it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to be privy to. It left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. I kinda wish I didn’t know, to be honest.

    I think it’s important for us all to stick together. Or if not stick together, at least treat each other with respect. It’s not about stifling yourself, it’s about comporting yourself with dignity in front of other people.

  11. As a pretty new-to-the-blogging-scene voice, I have to say that your post is important because the highly Twittered drama to which you refer is just one of THREE similar dramas I have witnessed go down in momblogland *in the past week*. And, seriously, three accusatory, blog first/ask questions later, attack dramas is a pretty awful ratio, given the relatively small number of blogs I follow and Twitterers to whose conversations I’m privvy.

    It’s true we need to support and value our community. It’s also true that we won’t always all get along because bloggers are an enormous and diverse group of women. HOWEVER, one thing that (supposedly) differentiates being an adult from being a teenager is the ability to disagree respectfully, discuss conflicts rationally, and live by some basic rules of fair play that include actual conversations between supposedly offending/offended parties rather than posting hatemail on the lockers between classes.

    Hiding behind popularity is just as cowardly as hiding behind anonymity, but the former is infinitely more cruel as it carries with it the added desire to inflame others.

    I want to be part of what is clearly a strong, vibrant, diverse, and interesting community. But honestly? The “popular crowd table in the cafeteria” gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’d much rather hang with the M-listers like me, or with the truly classy “A-listers” who get the value of women supporting other women than with the very few self-styled “populars” who are too important to deign to talk to me. Thank the stars for voices like yours, and all the many many who agree with you, who together make it clear that despite the hurtful dramas, it is in fact possible for the blogosphere to be more like a great conversation with friends over wine than like a judgmental high school PE class.

  12. Sorry for the novel above, but just wanted to add that I have no problem (obviously) with anonymity in blogging, just with hiding one’s identity specifically for the purpose of making ugly accusations about others, which is what I saw go down this week in another venue.

  13. I thought Twitter was broken so I have no idea what went down. In fact, I’ve been hiding from my own blog these days…because life is trying to swallow me whole.

    But even though I’m clueless, I think your post is on the mark, Erin. I can relate it to previous tiffs in the blogosphere.

    It’s a shame when things like this happen, and I really can’t find better words to say, because you’ve said them already. :)

  14. I didn’t want to rant all over your blog, so I ranted all over mine. http://tinyurl.com/5djflj :)

  15. Genius.

    Thanks for writing this.

  16. You’re Right. {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:”http://t.seesmic.com/thumbnail/cp93EA6e3N_th1.jpg”}”title”:{“value”:”You’re Right. “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”http://www.seesmic.com/video/ulLFfnHnvm”}}}

  17. Good post.

    I think – in general – as women, we all need something to “bitch” about it. It sucks when it comes to outlets that are necessary and wonderful and supporting for “us” women.

    After all… this is merely the “new front porch”… this is amazing way to connect.

    Take the money away. Take the fame away. What are we left with?

    Mothers wanting to connect and read about what other mothers are going through.

    - Audrey

  18. cheekie response to cranky mommies {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:”http://t.seesmic.com/thumbnail/zqTVM5sZ94_th1.jpg”}”title”:{“value”:”cheekie response to cranky mommies “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”http://www.seesmic.com/video/I8bNfPr2kY”}}}

  19. Fabulous post!

  20. Wow. Blissfully oblivious in the ‘daks, but looking forward to Blogher and man-alive, the rent-a-you-know-what tweet killed at our dinner table!

  21. I totally missed that this was happening. Someone just shared it with me.

    Last year, I took over a magazine called TopBlogMag. I immediately tore it apart, broke it down, made a public plan to rebuild it as something else, and then appeared to have buried it when I went offline for four months.

    I come back and there are other sites popping up that sort of look like what I had in mind but never finished. But not quite. So I move forward with what will be Blog Nosh Magazine, but then realize, “Crap, will these people think I am hacking their idea? Even though I started this last year?”

    So I emailed one of those people. Let’s call her Schmoocksy. Her new site sounds like Three Star Thursday. I contacted her and said, “Hey, I’m finally doing this magazine, I know you haven’t noticed me until recently, so I expect you don’t know that I am not, in fact, copying your idea. Actually, our ideas are not the same, but you know how people talk. No toes stepped on? Cool. Now get out of my way because I’m going to burn this mutha down.”

    Okay, I may not have said all that. But I knew how tongues wag and how no one does their research before they start talking smack, so I wanted to touch base. Her response?

    There is room on this internet for all of us. Of course our ideas are going to overlap. We’re cool.

    Suck on that, mutha suckas. We are a community. Our interests will overlap. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, huh?

    Seriously, suck it.

    Or, um, nosh on it. ;)
    http://www.blognosh.com

  22. i’m not a mommyblogger, but i do SOOOO enjoy the glimpses into your lives that you all so willingly share. i am a woman. after all, and i can’t think of a single mommyblogger who blogs solely about being a mommy. it is about community, even for those of us on the fringes.

    and, really? not that my compliment means much, but i have REALLY been enjoying reading you lately.
    you’ve been resonating, i think with a lot of people lately.
    that must feel just great.

  23. The more attention we give to this particular situation, the sillier it becomes.

    It’s clear that some up and coming mommybloggers are more interesting, more creative and are getting attention – and that’s great. I really DO believe there is room for everyone and no need to attack each other.

    I’ve never felt like a true part of the mommyblogging community, simply because I don’t blog about my kids consistently.

    It took a while to get over some of last year’s backstabbing and drama (I’m only human after all and some of it was well-deserved karma). I’m more guarded about who I let in now, that’s for sure.

    I’m happy in my smaller circle of true friends than I ever was back in the day. I don’t need popularity, PR companies on my case or validation of any kind. I don’t care about stats, ad dollars or getting traffic. It’s what works for me.

    All I hope is that every blogger in every community finds that kind of peace and gets joy from writing and sharing as we all do.

  24. oh, frak. I’m going to go ahead and take the lumps I deserve here. I was one of the “Blog First/Ask Questions later” people that Mommytime referred to, I may have been the first one for all I know. The comments on Table for Five have been pretty hard to read for the last few days, but I deserve a lot of the criticism I’m getting. I handled my reaction to the situation in a completely idiotic way.

    I missed a huge opportunity to just open up a discussion about what the best way is to address concerns over “copying”, or how to go about critiquing a blog without offending someone. I make a big fuss on my blog about how I follow a “Golden Rule of Blogging”, and how I only use my blog for good, never for evil, and then I broke my own rule.

    Commenters keep asking me why it’s “okay” for someone to hurt someone else just because they are my friend-it’s not okay. But it also wasn’t any of my business, either. And by writing those posts, I threw a big bunch of fuel on the fire and then it literally blew up in my face.

    All I can do is hope that I don’t lose too many more readers (I’ve had some people unsubscribe from my feed), and that I can continue to SUPPORT and ENCOURAGE and ENRICH the Mommyblogging community the way I have been for three years. Thanks for writing this post, Erin. You truly are the Queen.

  25. I agree. This is an awesome post. We need to work together with one another instead of against each other. If you don’t like somebody’s blog or work, click that little x at the top of your screen — don’t blast them on a public forum like Twitter.

  26. The fact that we’re all girls had to get in the way at some point. Now let’s all just learn from our awkward days of high school that being mean doesn’t do anyone a darn bit of good and help each other through the disgusting mess that can be parenting and life.
    Well said. Well said.

  27. This is the most sensible post I’ve seen on this whole debacle. I’m all nervous about going to BlogHer now because I’m thinking, OMG, what the heck am I walking into? Is this what it’s really like?

    I’ve been mommy blogging for awhile but I’m a small timer and only recently have begun to start blogging seriously. But I’ve always appreciated the support of my fellow mommy bloggers. I think it would be a shame if as we monetize our blogs, we start thinking that’s more important than the community aspect of it.

  28. See I’m safe here because nobody else wants to admit in the TITLE of their blog that their kids are heathens. LMFAO. Besides, I’d have my youngest piss on their car tires. j/k. Mebbe

    I missed out on all the hubbub but I’m glad it has since been resolved because as mothers we’ve got enough shit to deal with without kiddie crap online as well.

  29. Great post but where have I been? I have no idea what’s going on. Can someone tell me?

    Ok, better not know… I like it better in my world – peace and quiet. This is the second time I’ve commented in this blog. I don’t know how I got pointed to it from link to link…but it is always about some controversy. Last one was the PR people J&J kinda deal. I may just come here directly next time so I can cut the chase on knowing what’s going on…hehe

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