This post was inspired by my salsa-encrusted friend Meghan’s post, “Are you blogging for all the wrong reasons???” This post is meant to be a personal reflection on my feelings of detachment towards immensely popular personal blogs. This post is not a comment on all popular personal blogs, but trends and patterns I notice, and my own emo-bullshit feelings on the subject. Proceed with a sense of humor, and a grain of salt – preferably on the rim of a margarita.
Blogging has roots in the glory days of Xanga and Livejournal (and even Geocities!), where readers got to peek into the minds of real people – relatable people! Just like you and me. It was an adventure in articulating yourself, in text form, and to the most hostile of audiences – the Internet. I’ve written a number of riveting blog posts on the subject of blogging. And by riveting, I mean, sometimes I ramble about things. And sometimes wine is involved. Here are just a few reasons I’ve become jaded with super popular blogs.
Aurora, you playin’
1. The bigger a blog gets, the less personal and less real it seems.
The more bloggers stage Instagram photos, endlessly promote their totes affordable e-book or e-course, or push out detached content (that feels like its written more for traffic, trend piggybacking, or shock value), the more it feels like a performance, and not an authentic blog. There’s a tricky correlation between how refined, polished, and poised a blog becomes, and how disingenuous it feels. Socality Barbie’s Instagram makes a spot-on satirical commentary on this staging of a life that no one leads, but that everyone can relate to. Blogging professionalism is not something to be poo-pooed on – I think an editorial calendar, smartly-shared pins and tweets, and top-notch photos are to be commended and encouraged! But there’s some kind of a wiggly squiggly line, and I’m not even sure my own self where it’s at. I just know I want to stay on the “real” side of it.
Tyler Oakley loves salad, as do Stock Photo Models
2. The pressure is on to put out content your audience expects, vs. content you want to put out. (Not that these things are mutually exclusive)
Once you build yourself up and develop your niche, diverting off this path has to be extremely difficult. I’d imagine your blog readers may even get hostile, if you have a change of heart, and begin to blog about something different (but maybe that’s just my perception of this terrifying place we call the world wide web). Let’s be real – people grow and change on the daily, and shouldn’t our blogs be free to do so? Or would readers of popular blogs bust down our doors (or comment buttons), pitchforks in hand, if perchance a blogger changed their tune? Not impossible, I’m sure, but undoubtedly difficult. And if a super blogger faces such peril, who can say they aren’t just an echo of their blog from years past, and not a changed person today, wanting to blog about something else?
3. It’s difficult to trust what’s being said, and constantly worrying what the motive is.
Once you know a blogger you love has been sponsored by Super Corp. USA, or whichever brand it is, it’s tough to trust that the content isn’t being weasled and wiggled by “the man” – as much as you might trust the blogger. As a blogger, the odds of being able to represent the products you truly love must be astronomical. Logically, we start at the bottom, and go through the less desirable brands first. So do bloggers sell their souls at first, blogging about the fiddle and the faddle, to then be able to represent the brands they truly love? It’s slippery hill you have to climb. Not impossible, but improbable, yes. Additionally, what message are bloggers sending when they do sell out for a brand, beloved or not? It might stink of consumerism, but we all love our stuff, especially when it doesn’t cost anything. But free stuff comes with strings attached – particularly marionette-style to your soul, while you feed the greed machine. Another wiggly line. Walk that tight rope with caution.
Office Space is my reality.
4. The authentic interactivity fizzles.
How can you develop a friendship with someone who has craptons of followers? It’s difficult enough weeding through endless notifications, but to authentically respond to them all? I’m no saint, but I love knowing who is out and about in my blog world, and having conversations with them. Checking up on peoples’ blogs and social media is an awesome way to catch up with those I consider Internet friends. My under-updated Geek Posse contains just a glimpse of the people I care to check up on – who deliver great (and personable) content! And the Geek Girl Pen Pals is also a community that makes it easy to see what all the amazing people in my community are up to! But popularity comes with sacrifices, and that sometimes includes real relationships and genuine conversation. With thousands or millions of people begging for your attention, it is impossible to keep up with it all, let alone develop genuine connections.
5. Celebrities, bloggers included, become less like people and more like brands. And while brands are cool, I don’t truly care about them.
Maybe bloggers aren’t always posting heart-wrenching and emotional stories, but I want to feel like I’m reading about a real person. I worry that if someone knows thousands of people will be reading their post, and judging it, they’d be carefully crafting it to be a perfect display of their brand. Yes, I advocate developing your brand. It’s valuable, professionally. But remember, when it comes to a personal blog, the word “person” is in there. Fame isn’t something people ask for, it’s driven by the random algorithm known as “popularity.” But an authentic blog needs to be a real, and needs to feel like the words of a person, not a brand.
I miss you, Ned.
Clearly, anyone can blog for any damn reason they want to. I can’t discern what or why people blog. Hoomans can choose to have a blog of any quality, that promotes and posts whatever they choose. But – TL;DR – I long for the days of LiveJournal, and raw emotion on the Internet. The authenticity that comes from pouring your heart out online is a genuine glimpse of humanity through the computer screen, and makes me – and hopefully all of you- feel a little less alone, in the tubes of the Internet.
I know I’m guilty of some of the stuff I’ve bitched about, as are some of you readers. Not that I want everyone to stop doing their thing, or being popular, which is outside of anyone’s control. That’s what we’re all trying to do as bloggers: grow ourselves and expand our reach, right? I’m sure if my blog exploded in an estrogen and glitter-filled rage of popularity, I’d be puffing a different pipe right about now. But alas, this is my reflection. So come with me, tiny bunnies… hop through the series of tubes with me. Go make an Internet friend (or two, or 10), while continuing to put out authentic content you really care about. Big blogs can be awesome, and clearly became popular for a reason. But teeny blogs are awesome in a way all their own. Keep it real, Interwebs.