I started blogging years ago, as a lark. A friend told me it was the new “thing” and suggested I give it a try. I was hesitant at first, not really wanting to make what I felt was essentially a public diary. I mean, who would give a shit what I had to say about stuff anyway? Who cared what I had for dinner? But I had nothing better to do and no one to really talk to aside from the Man, so I decided to give it a shot. Couldn’t hurt, right?
It started out for me as essentially that, a diary of sorts. My first year of posts were painfully boring, mostly revolving around The Kid and what she had for dinner. Every so often I’d write an essay-type post about something in the news that caught my eye, and that was about it. But as I progressed, I started being able to write about more personal things. And I actually grew as a writer.
And, I realized people were actually reading me. People beyond the first five friends with whom I’d started. And I started reading other blogs and commenting on them. I met some incredible people, purely by chance. And people started linking to me and sharing my stories with other people. And it was pretty cool. I realized that, as isolated as I was, I wasn’t actually alone. I felt like I belonged and wanted to sit and sing Kumbaya with people.
But, something happened. I became vaguely dissatisfied, and then outright disgusted and frustrated. Because, I’d discovered that the blog world was kind of like high school. There were cliques. And I realized that I just wasn’t fitting in to many of them. For the same reasons high school didn’t work for me, because I was different I was honest.
A lot of the parenting blogs out there claim to be honest looks into motherhood and marriage. And I would read them and think to myself: This isn’t real. This isn’t honest. This person is playing a part here.
And, I started to notice a trend. The popular tables were full of this person, this play-actor. And if you weren’t like them, well, you didn’t quite fit in. And if you didn’t fit in, you didn’t get the links, the promotion, the mentions that are what helps us parents make an actual business out of this. And I saw several people who were once honest, become tame, watered down, censored versions of themselves in order to get advertising or readers. To fit in to what the desired demographic was.
The demographic is simple: Married Mom-bloggers with multiple kids, mostly. Heterosexual, Married mothers of a certain mindset. Mothers who were willing to pimp products and talk about baby poop and labor breastfeeding, but nothing worse. (And nothing else) Moms with clean, marketable life stories. Because who’s going to want to advertise on a blog where the mother has lost some of her kids? Or is, god forbid, living in sin with a man?
The fact that I wasn’t married felt like a huge black mark. And then there was my child situation. While many awesome bloggers were, (and are!) supportive and, well, awesome, some sat in judgment of me. Which, I mean, I can’t entirely blame them for it, we all judge, whether we pretend otherwise or not. And my situation is a crappy one with lots of failure on my part. Lots of room for judgment. And I knew people were coming and reading my stories about the kids, stories that ripped my heart up to even think about, let alone write, and then, you know, talking about me in the locker room after cheerleading practice, or whatever.
Which is fine. I mean, I know people are going to wonder about things. And talk about them. But after awhile, it got rather disheartening. I got sick of the whole thing. I wanted to fit in and connect with these people, but I didn’t want to have to take my one outlet, my one place of honesty, and just homogenize myself. Make myself into something more marketable and less honest. I didn’t really want to be the token train wreck either. But I also didn’t want to be dishonest. I wanted to actually talk about the hard stuff. Divorce, addiction, the kids, being sick. And the good stuff too. I wanted a place where I could use real honesty. Not just Oh-my-god-parenting-is-hard honesty, other things as well. Oh-my-god-divorce-is-hard. Oh-my-god-missing-my-kids-is-hard. And it seemed like the “Momblogger” demographic was just not willing to accept me into their fold unless I changed myself completely.
So I stopped.
I missed it though. I missed having a place to vent, a place to explore and improve my writing, a place to share the joys, AND the sorrows of life. More than that though, I missed the community. I missed knowing that other people are going through the same things, even if they couldn’t talk about them as candidly as I did. My heart hurt as well, with the missing of the wonderful people I had connected with.
Finally, after a year or so, I came back to the fold. I deleted the old blog, though, and started over. I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to be more than just a Momblogger. I wanted to try from a different angle. I wanted to be me, not just a mother, but also an artist. A writer (sort-of). A person with serious joys, but also serious problems. A person with serious dogs that eat random shit.
So I started over, from scratch. And it’s gone well, from a creative standpoint. I am much happier with this Blog. I am actually much more honest, much more candid, and I feel, much more interesting.
I guess I had forgotten about the cliques though. And the silent judgment.
And now with everyone using Twitter, the cliques are just so much more cliquey.
(As a side note, I finally threw a little Twitter tantrum and dumped most of the people I was following who couldn’t be bothered to follow me back. I too, used to think it was impossible to follow so many people coherently and still have time left over to sleep and pee, but then I got Tweetdeck to work right. And really. There is NO EXCUSE. Even like, famous people now follow back, and deal with it, and they actually have other things to do besides be online, unlike the rest of us. (Yes I know they pay interns to manage their Twitters) This article popped up in my feed, right as I began my Twitterpurge, it’s exactly on point about all of this. I’m not saying you have to follow all the spam bot’s either. But you should follow the real people. It’s just Twitter etiquette (twitquette). Use a twitter client to filter if you can’t handle the volume, but follow back. I’m seriously going to start a movement about this issue. #twitquette People who want to have one sided conversations, who have thousands of followers and 80 followees should be dumped until they learn to follow back. Pass it on.)
Anyway, yes, the cliques are much more evident on Twitter, because only the popular kids get follow backs, apparently. And then I am left feeling like a loser for trying to have a conversation with someone who simply doesn’t care what the uncool or unknown kid at the mathletes table is trying to share. I know I am a huge geek and you can’t be seen with me. That’s fine. You know what, there’s a whole bunch of geeks who DO want to sit at my table. Who do care what I have to say. Who read, and respond to my posts. Even when they are not homogenized for mass consumption. Even when they are about uncomfortable topics.
I don’t need to be one of the cool kids. I don’t need to be seated at the cool table. I want the community, I need the community, but not at the cost of making me feel like the kid on the bus with the glasses and the headgear and the glandular problem. Not at the cost of my honesty, my self. This is supposed to be a place where we all come together to support each other. Not a place where we get all elitist and exclusionary. I’m not getting sucked into all of that again.
Wait, I take that back. Let’s start our own group of renegade people. People with tattoos and piercings and Super Mario fetishes. Families of any kind welcome. Breastfeeding not required. Kids not required either. People who want to meet other, accepting people. AlternaBloggers! Unite! Hurrah! We can have our OWN conferences, complete with gift bags full of 20sided dice and toys from Thinkgeek. Sound good?
(For what its worth, I’m absolutely not ragging on anyone specific. Even If I did unfollow you recently. Chances are, if you are reading this, then it’s not about you.)