Monday, January 11, 2010

Balancing the blogging criticism

I mentioned a few days ago the perception that bloggers are narcissists, or at least, self-centered.

Fellow bloggers know that we create a community here. That we cheer each other on, commiserate together, learn from each other. We relate to one another's human experiences, and find our common ground.

So what's the root of this criticism? Is it a few bad blogs? Is it the social marketing?

No, the criticism of blogging began just about the same time as the first blog entries. I don't believe it has to do with the content of some blogs. I believe it comes from the very essence of what blogging is: using our voices.

That ability used to belong to just a select few; those lucky enough to have weekly columns or talk shows or had the money to be influential where it mattered.

As much as we tout free speech, as much as we believe in the ideology, never before has it been able to be practiced to the extent that we can today.

If we're not rich, famous, powerful, we're supposed to lead lives of quiet desperation. Bloggers refuse to do that. We speak our minds. We tell our stories. We're rarely desperate, and never quiet.

Mainly, we don't let others speak for us. We don't rely on politicians, authors or experts to tell us how we should be feeling or what we should be doing. And we demand better of them.

Personally, I'm delighted when someone thoughtfully challenges my views. If I'm not being personally attacked, I'm happy to have some back and forth discussion and debate. I have, however, had to implement some comment restrictions (sorry, BigLittleWolf) to keep my critics honest. I've had too much spam and too many hateful comments, and I will exercise my right to keep my space my own. Free speech has always had its price.

I won't run away, though, because someone slaps a label on me. I'm not afraid of being called a narcissist because I know it just isn't so.

I don't know if I'll blog forever. I'm grateful it will always remain my choice to do so.

Still, I won't ever apologize for being a blogger, or even (gasp!) a Mommy blogger. Nor will I apologize for speaking out loud. I prefer that label to being quietly desperate any day!

10 comments:

Huckdoll said...

Bravo!

"I prefer that label to being quietly desperate any day!"

LOVED that.

Kori said...

I too enjoyed this; I had a whole long comment all typed out, but really, it all boils down to well said!

qandlequeen said...

The addage, "write what you know," means that mommy bloggers are going to discuss mundane intimacies. It seems narcissistic, but really it's sharing. Yes, we talk about ourselves and our kids, but it's not self-promotion, it's not bragging, it's how we as women communicate every day. We don't pontificate, the male standard of communication; we tell little stories on ourselves. We find commonality and from that commonality we form community.

MindyMom said...

Exactly.

You always state it so well, April.

vinomom said...

I love this post!

I can see how people get the whole narcissism idea if you aren't familiar with blogging, but as you say, we form communities. It is just like going to Happy Hour w/ girlfriends or maybe Therapy, take your pick.

I don't write about very "hot" topics. Not to avoid confrontation, but I just don't have a lot of opinions about the big issues. But I certainly don't mind if someone disagrees or questions my ideas and or opinions. I know how to take criticism constructively.

Cat said...

Well said!

Ms Crazy Princess said...

Very very well said!!!!!!!!!
I missed reading your blog so much!
Look, I've had some issues, I'm sure I'll write about them. New blog.
http://newstartnewlifenewme.blogspot.com/

Danielle said...

So agree. As long as it doesn't personally attach me, bring it on!!! That is why we are here, to learn and grow and how better to do it than to be challanged.

April said...

From BigLittleWolf:

Yes. Very well said. I can't help but wonder about statistics (I haven't thought to research this) - proportion of male bloggers vs female bloggers? And the types of bloggers? Because we know there are those who provide more of a personal diary, others who approach blogging as a column with a personal hook, those who do it as adjunct to their profession, those who promote products - and so on.

It would be interesting data - those rough percentages - by gender. But more than anything, even a raw breakdown of all blogging by gender.

I suspect the freedom of voice which we now enjoy in this dynamic and varied community - that which takes the heat - may be the woman's voice, in all her incarnations. A place to speak. At last.


BLW

(boo hoo - but thanks for the link!)

onely said...

Blogging gets a bad rap because the open nature of the forum allows a lot of self-centered people with no core message to just blather on about their day. Now, I'm not saying that Onely doesn't blather on sometimes (often, blathering is one of our favorite things!), but it's so important to structure your writing so that it resonates with other people, at least some of the time. For this reason I prefer blogs with a strong angle (single parenting would fit!) or theme as opposed to "these are just my random thoughts!" type blogs. I think it's the latter that create a stigma among the non-blogging public other, more serious, progressive, or literary bloggers.

Of course everyone also has the right to open a random-thoughts-and-venting blog too. That's the beauty of the internet! To a large extent, it's the responsibility of the viewing public to recognize that there are many different kinds of blogs out there, and not to lump them all together under one judgement.

Christina