The Age of Mommy Blogger Discontent
*Note: I’ve never been wild about the term mommy blogger, but I use it here given common convention. I arrived home from BlogHer early this morning in a bleary eyed haze attributable to much more than my 4am wake up call and steady BlogHer “diet” of cocktails and finger foods.
This, my friends, apparently is the age of mommy blogger discontent.
Before I get started, let me say that for the most part, I had a fabulous time at BlogHer. I didn’t learn any new skills per se (that’s fodder for a separate post) but I walked in with a positive, adolescent-issue-free mindset, and experienced both the utter joy of connecting and catching up with bloggers I adore and respect, and the humbling honor of having bloggers approach me with kind words about my work. Even my regret over missing out on more face time with friends such as Jennifer and Elizabeth were positive misgivings, in the sense that I suspect any amount of time with them would never feel like enough. And then of course there was the freedom from household chores and the ability to party it up with my friends during the wee hours. It was so ridiculously fun.
In stark contrast, the negatives were grossly observable in embarrassing ways; for example, the swag-related mayhem that reduced people to elbowing babies and bloggers to get goods, or the instances of bloggers making absurd demands of expo brands (e.g., asking for free product on the spot - one for review and one for a giveaway of course - even apparently to the level of asking for an addition to one's home...I sh*t you not).
This behavior made me cringe on a basic ethical level, but what deeply and palpably saddened me to my core was that the perpetrators apparently were the mommy bloggers.
Now, as a former academic and data cruncher, it’s difficult for me to make a statement like this and not back it up with some hard numbers. This generalization was discerned from my own observations (mom bloggers I recognized or overheard) and conversations with many others (mom bloggers others recognized or overheard). And frankly, I wish I had more data points to suggest otherwise, because by the end of the weekend, I was embarrassed to be identified as part of this niche (via my primary blog Boston Mamas).
So what the hell is all of this about? Many of us mommy bloggers didn’t care about the swag (and really why would you care about free sponges if you have the delicious Ivy?) but we certainly appeared to be in the minority. The greed and entitlement were perplexing, yet the strong sense of discontent, longing, and righteous indignation seemed similar to the emotions felt around inclusion in blogger junkets and the quest for "A-list" blogger status.
It’s impossible to pinpoint a single source of the discontent from the mommy blogging community. Perhaps it’s a power in numbers thing, as more moms are hopping on the bandwagon every day. Perhaps it’s a basic biological survival instinct kicking in in the presence of product (think circling the carcass in the dead of winter). Perhaps bloggers who are making little or no money from their blogs feel that they deserve something in return for the expenses they incurred to get to the conference (other than, you know, the programming). Perhaps there is true financial hardship and the family really needs the extra detergent samples or whatever to survive (seems a shady excuse I'm afraid). Perhaps it feels unfair to have stories of diaper changes gone awry that seem similar to those translated by the “big bloggers” but that have not gotten on agency radars. Perhaps the elusive dreams of financial success of the level of mommy bloggers Heather and Danielle have made bloggers so crazy and dizzy over the possibilities that they forego courtesy and good graces.
The etiology of the discontent and subsequent deplorable behavior remains mysterious to me, but one thing is clear. The discontent doesn’t stop at the level of pining over swag or event invitations or climbing the mommy blogging ranks. It’s truly sad that we’ve come to a point where bloggers feel the need to qualify their blogging identity with, “Not all bloggers are like that” or “Don’t call me a mommy blogger.” Because at the end of the day blogging is supposed to be about creating and sharing and community. It’s deeply troubling that bloggers are losing sight of these basic principles in the presence of free stickers and sponge samples.