the state of my blogosphere

October 12, 2011

I learned a lot of things at blogher this year but my biggest lesson was that I would rather plunge my breasts into a boiling pot of oil than participate in "networking." I much prefer "making friends." I've noticed more and more lately that we bloggers are divided into separate spheres defined by our goals. There are bloggers who are writers, ones who love to connect, ones who just love to blog, and then there are bloggers who are in it as a business, to make money, to get free stuff from companies, to jump up and down and scream, "LOOK HOW IMPORTANT I AM."

The spheres are not standalone, they intersect at all kinds of points and there are sub-spheres and connecting lines and overarching themes and blah blah blah. I'm not pigeonholing anybody so don't get all pissy. There are amazing creative writers who are also making some cash. There are people who love to blog but are also getting free products. There are bloggers who write for amazing non-profit causes. There are bloggers who only blog about other bloggers. No one way is right or wrong, we just have different motives. With over 50 million blogs worldwide our motivations are as diverse as we are. Which is to say, very.

With that established, may I direct your attention to this diagram:


Here we have our my problem. It is orange.

Up front: I have no beef with people who want to make money blogging. You have worked hard! You deserve some compensation for the free entertainment you're generating! My problem is when greed intersects with self promotion. It creates a cycle of MORE attention for MORE money and MORE and MORE– and the irritatingly tacky lengths to get them.

There's an element of me! attention! to blogging as a medium, it would be naive to deny it. However most of us keep it tactfully under control. The boys will still come to your yard if you have the milkshake to back it up. When money and attention put their heads together they seem to breed a special kind of blogging monster that hides among us shrieking, "PAGEVIEWS! GIVEAWAYS! PAID POSTS!" They may be very nice people... but it's annoying and I have zero desire to read their blogs.

That's the crux of it really. I don't want to read your review of shampoo. That's boring. Partially because you're boring and didn't take the time to make your review unique, partially because I'm not that into shampoo, and partially because you're not hiding it very well that you just did it for the money. There's a difference between a genuine glowing referral and a paid post. Yes, we can all tell the difference.

The realization that my blogging goals lie somewhere else beyond the realm of PR has been eye opening. I always knew I was blogging because I enjoyed it (regardless of who is/is not out there reading, including no one) but to be directly confronted with the reality of bloggers marketing themselves... well, it's clear that my personal honey badger doesn't give a fuck about that.

I'm as guilty as anyone of checking my stats and counting my comments. It's difficult to concentrate on writing better and being myself. Still, I feel more driven than ever to just keep producing things I'm proud of. There are methods of measuring success beyond pageviews and dollars, they're just less quantifiable. Bombarded with discussions of stats page rank and klout I consistently remind myself that those aren't my goals, that's someone else's standard of success. I'm not awesome. I have no idea what I'm doing. I just want to do a really great job.

So what's the takeaway here? I can't tell anyone else how to blog. You can do whatever you want with your blog! It's yours! Isn't that the joy of it? Love it, tend it, leave it, soil it, sell it out, go ahead, knock yourself out. Link bait to your heart's content. Write controversial titles to get more views. Take PR offers for products you don't endorse. Spam your friends until you win every voting contest. Become the new face of feminine toothbrushes. Scream at the top of your lungs through every twitter party to get free shit. Tell everyone how awesome you are, more power to you. You have every right to do it and there will be plenty of people out there willing to read it. I'm just not one of them anymore.
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