There has been a lot of fist-pumping on the internet lately about mommy blogging. Seems the mommy bloggers feel under attack, between the main-stream media doing a flurry of stories about how much money they're making off their websites (and giving them a bunch of free advertising in the process) and a bunch of jealous commenters telling them that they're exploiting their children for cash and free goodies. And then there are the kiss-ass commenters rushing to the defense of the mommy-bloggers. It's all gotten a bit out of hand.
Much of the controversy seems to center around the idea that the kids of these famous bloggers are going to be so pissed when they're 16 and all their friends are reading about the constipation they suffered at 18 months. I just don't know what to think about that. Everything's a balance, inclduding blogging. The mommy bloggers, most notably Dooce, have a counter-argument. When these kids grow up, they say, they are going to be so stoked about the amazing and empowering community that bloggers created. They showed the world that moms are doing important and noble and difficult work, not just sipping cocktails and watching soap operas.
Obviously, I agree with this on some level. I spend a lot of time reading mommy blogs, and I'm kind of writing one myself here, although I think of it not as a mommy blog but as a blog about my life, which includes mothering. Plus, I don't stay home with the kid, so I can't qualify as a true mommy blogger. Plus, no one reads my website and I'm keeping everything anonymous, so I really, really don't count. Anyway... it is great to have a place where a woman can find a community of people who understand what she's going through and have been there too. It's great to see a true picture of what motherhood is like, rather than the glossy versions that many people like to tell to their real-life friends. Blogs help us realize how much we are alike, give us a sense of shared humanity. But I also think that mommy bloggers are showing some sides of themselves that aren't as empowering and complimentary as they'd like to think.
They're showing that they are petty and ready to pass judgment. How many times have you seen the comments of a blog taken over by women sniping about proper sleep training or potty training methods? Tertia had huge controversies over her admissions that she left her 3-year-old twins unattended in the bath for *gasp* seconds at a time. And then came the scandalous picture of her children riding their little trikes without helmets — or shoes. The mommy judges went nuts. Hundreds of comments, lots of vitriol. Have we all lost our minds?
They're showing their absolute love of stuff. The Target bulls-eye is practically a religious symbol among many mommy bloggers. Their love for the place is limitless. People wax eloquent about hand soap and faux designer bags. Some of it is so gushy you wonder if they are being paid to write it (and maybe they are). But even better than cool new stuff, or deeply discounted stuff, is stuff they got for free — from corporations that want to hijack their blogs to sell their stuff. They just can't get enough of bragging about their free cameras and free trips and free cars. So is this all about empowerment and free expression, about giving people a true unvarnished picture of motherhood? Or is it about raking in as many advertisers and as much free stuff as you can get, even if it means that your blog loses its authenticity? CityMama just admitted that she had a contract with an advertiser for the past year which didn't allow her to curse. Makes me wonder what her other contracts require. I think it's OK for people to make money from their blogs, but I think they need to have ethical guidelines and they need to state them upfront. It is not OK with me to tell me after the year is up that you've been under contract not to say certain things. I feel totally duped.
And, sometimes, they're also showing that they have a bit too much time on their hands. The amount of internet activity that some bloggers manage to maintain is absolutely stunning. They have time to write their own blogs, do Facebook, collaborate on two or three other sites, comment on dozens of other blogs, post pictures on Flickr, comment on other people's Flickr sites, respond to their own comments and there is probably more that I don't even know about. The number of people who take the time to write comments like, "Aww, how sweet." and "First commenter!" is kind of depressing. Isn't there something better, something truly inspiring, we could be doing with so much of our time? In the 50s and 60s, lots of women turned to alcohol and pills to fill the long isolated days. Now, I think it's internet addiction. I wonder how many moms have unhealthy attachments to their laptops that sometimes leave their kids sitting in front of videos for hours on end.
So there are my thoughts on mommy blogging. Not that you asked.