Has the Blogosphere Become High School All Over Again?

Short answer: YES. Long answer:

I wrote a blog about six months ago called “Are Bloggers Becoming Mean Girls?” In it I argued against the notion that bloggers are cliquey. I had seen some bloggers complaining about how they couldn’t seem to “break in” to the mom blog, and other blog community, cliques, and for this they felt a great injustice. In the post, I started by saying:

In high school, I hated the cliques. Now when I think of them I think of Mean Girls with Linsay-the-trainwreck-Lohan. When you have cliques, you have backstabbing. You have cheating. You have a load of gossip. You have more drama than a daytime soap opera. And you have people being excluded for no reason other than that they aren’t “cool” enough, by whatever standards of “cool” the clique collectively determines. I have a hard time believing that bloggers have become Mean Girls.

Either I was terribly wrong, or things have changed. A lot. Today – over six months after writing that blog – I believe more than ever that bloggers are the new Mean Girls. In fact, I know exactly who could be slated as the main characters (although I’ll keep that opinion to myself).

Let’s examine how my opinions have changed.

#1 Good versus Bad Content

In my post six months ago, I argued that maybe it isn’t really you or your blog, per se; just that you were not one of the more popular blogs because you had an absence of good blog content. And this is perhaps the most compelling reason in my mind now for proof that the blogosphere has become high school all over again: there is more bad content out there than my mom’s supply of edible panties.

It’s just like in high school. The meanest and ugliest girls were always the most popular. The douchiest guys with the worst acne were co-captains of the football team.

Sure, when you give access to a portal of information sharing to anyone and everyone, you’re going to have gads of bad content. But I’m not just talking about your run-of-the-mill crap that never gets around. I’m referring to the truly bad content that gets thousands (dare I suggest millions?) of hits. That everyone knows about. The bad content that people “like” and comment and share and find witty, in spite of its over all dryness, lack of whit, lack of insight, and glaring grammatical errors.

Here’s the deal: if you are going to call yourself a writer, be one. Only post what’s good. Get the opinion of others (and by that I mean objective others, not your BFFs) before you just assume that anything coming out of you is the next best thing to bars of gold. If you think you’re a writer, prove it with good spelling and appropriate grammar, and nipping your verbosity problem in the bud once and for all. Make sure everything you write about has something to do with your overall point. And for God’s sakes, make sure your blog post makes at least one ounce of sense.

Otherwise, you’re just another pimply captain of the football team, or mean girl wandering the halls of high school. You may be popular, but in the end your blog is nothing but garbage.

#2 Lying versus Honesty

I think that when I wrote that post last year, I was terribly idealistic as to the nature of the blog community. I suggested that your blog may not be that popular because you are dishonest. I really believed that truth prevailed in the world of the blogosphere – as if it is not merely a microcosm of the world at large, where the only people who truly prevail are those whose words uttered are rarely truth.

In high school, everyone creates themselves and others through a series of lies. That’s how the gossip train starts as well. In real life, we’re all supposed to transcend beyond all this lying bullshit and to achieve our successes off honesty.

How infrequently that happens – in life, as well as the blogosphere.

I know a lot of big gun bloggers that lie through their teeth, so much so that there is probably little truth to anything they say. It’s one thing to be anonymous or to change characteristics of people for safety and fairness and such. It’s another thing to fake celebrity endorsements. To claim site statistics that the public record on Alexa shows are clearly false. To say you write for all these different sites, when in fact those sites wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot poll.

To call yourself a writer.

Not to get too uppity about this, but there is actually a criteria for calling yourself a writer. Any old blogger is not a writer. For one, a writer of fiction and Fox News has the liberty to lie. The rest do not. For two, a writer writes good content with attention to rules of writing – as mentioned in point #1. (And to those you unaware, yes: there are rules of writing.) Without some attention to these things, some honesty and brevity, a blogger cannot call him or herself a writer any more than I can call myself the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa.

Well they can, but it would be a lie.

#3 Gossip and Exclusion

What I’ve learned more than anything over the last six months since writing “Are Bloggers Becoming Mean Girls?” is that the blogosphere (at least the parenting blog blogosphere) is loaded with gossip and exclusion. Really great blogs are excluded all the time – and I can’t really put my finger on why. There is a lot of “you pat my back, I’ll then turn that back on you and pretend we don’t know each other” as well. I see it all the time, and is another thing I spoke to the contrary six months ago.

And the gossip is worse than high school. In high school the gossip hurt – don’t get me wrong, it did. People said I stuffed my bra when my boobs grew overnight. That hurt, but it went away eventually. I got over it. One time a friend of mine was dating another friend and a gossip train started that she was cheating on him. That caused some drama in our circle of friends; yet, perhaps more mature than some of the adults I know in the blogging community, as a group we talked about it and it all worked out.

Not in the blog community, though. Here the gossip runs rampant. There is no end to it. There are no resolutions. So and so is doing this to screw everyone else. This writer is stealing content. That writer is not giving us proper credit. God it’s awful, and everywhere – email, Twitter, and the ever-ominous Facebook updates that are meant to be vague, but cause such a ruckus you start to wonder what the point is of any of this.

Courtesy of FriendFace Town ... for more of their satire on all the weirdness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friendface-Town/484841884903320

Courtesy of FriendFace Town … for more of their satire on all the weirdness on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friendface-Town/484841884903320

Here’s the thing about blogging: it’s a double-edged sword. Everyone can do it. But then again, everyone (with a computer and an opinion) can do it. There is a lot of bad stuff out there. There is a lot of good stuff out there too. There are popular blogs, sure; but there are no cool people. As a fellow blogger, or just a reader who likes information other than what the mass media puts out there, take a step back from your old-favorites and take a look around. Falling for the bad content and the lies, and narrowing yourself to a small group for no reason other than you don’t know any better, makes you nothing more than a bleating sheep. For every bit of crap you fall for, day in and day out, there is a world of awesome out there, just waiting to be discovered.

The Top 5 Bloggie Blog Blunders

Lately I’ve been thinking about why my blog (life) is so devoid of readers (people that like me). I researched a little about “why people don’t read my blog” (“why people don’t want to be my friend”) and even bitched about it in a previous post. In this quest to make my blog more successful, this last few weeks I looked at other blogs that seem to be terribly successful so that maybe I could see what I’m doing wrong that they are doing right.

So far, I have yet to find much wrong with my page. In fact, I’m starting to think my site is too nice. I don’t boozehound (I mean, not really…) and post pictures of baby shit enough, so it would seem. Maybe that’s my problem.

Nonetheless, I found a lot of blogs that are extremely popular, and there is no reason in my mind why they should be. Obviously I won’t name them by name. Some of them I think are run by really nice people; chances are if you are reading this you are not one of them. But I did learn a few things from these horrors of the Internet:

Bloggie Blog Blunder #1: The Wedding/Baby/Marathon Blog

I’m not one to disparage people for wanting to share the tales of their major life events. But people that start a blog for the sole purpose of documenting either: (a) their engagement and wedding, (b) the pregnancy and birth of their baby, or (c) the marathon they decided to run, are – in one word – annoying.

For one, once their wedding is over or the kid has popped out, the blogging comes to a halt either immediately or shortly thereafter and becomes just another website out there that is taking up space and slowing down the Internet.

For two, why the fuck do complete strangers want to know about this shit?

Today I saw this wedding blog-type thing for these two unbelievably hipsterish morons that basically documented in blog-format the timeline of their douchey, hipster relationship; and then at the end of this 9 mile webpage (which apparently served as a wedding website or wedding announcement or whatever hipster crap you want to call it), people had the option to enter their wedding invitation RSVP at the end. So basically, it was a private event made public. For the duration of their blogging at least, blogs of this type are fine, but should be kept private. Most sites that host blogs give you the option of privating the page; and this gives the world much less nonsense to weed through when looking for something good.

Even more insulting are the number of temporary wedding/baby/marathon blogs that have been Freshly Pressed. Really WordPress? Freshly Pressed should be reserved for veterans.

Bloggie Blog Blunder #2: The Credit Stealers

Maybe it’s in the form of photographs that are stolen from someone else’s website. (I can’t tell you how many amateur pornography sites have hit up my website to copy and use a picture I have of a donkey’s dick…although I don’t want credit for that really.) Or possibly it is an idea that one blogger blogged about that then 7,000 other bloggers decided to take and make their own. The point is that if it originated somewhere else, just add in a little sentence or phrase or even just a word that they get the credit.

This has happened to me quite a few times. Now, I know I can be insightful and witty and shit (once or twice a year), but stealing my ideas without giving credit where credit is due is just atrocious. I’m also not saying that I am the only one with X, Y, or Z ideas, but if a blog is posted with something pretty random and then the same day the same random topic is posted on a bunch of other sites, that just happen to follow the original blog – well, come on now.

While seeking out blogs to compare my own to this last week or so, I saw one in particular that seemed to be pretty bad with the plagarism, whilst terribly protective of her own shit. She’s a mom blogger and even has a trademark symbol behind everything she believes she owns patent to (including her terminology for her overindulgent pig-hogging). For someone that is so protective, you’d think she wouldn’t be stealing other people’s stuff without at least saying where she got it.

Bloggie Blog Blunder #3: The Opportunist Commenter

These people really piss me off. I’m talking fire shooting out my ass, I am just that mad. Here is a great example from one of my posts in the last few days:

Douchesausage left a comment awaiting moderation: Nice post. Follow my blog please IAmADickFaceAssHat.wordpress.com

Fuck you, Douchesausage. I refuse to follow these types of people, especially when few of them actually have followed me. It’s one thing to say “hey, this reminds me of a post I wrote a while ago …” but to make it clear you didn’t even read my post… Well that, sir, makes you a wart on the foot of the Blogosphere.

Bloggie Blog Blunder #4: The Rambler

And then I was on TopMommyBlogs.com. I’m a registered blog on there, trying to solicit votes all the time (see #5). Today I clicked through some of the blogs with higher votes and – while most of them were awesome – a few of them were full of ramblers.

You know who I’m talking about: the people that post 16,000 words about the snausages and eggs they had for breakfast. The people that start a blog off about how their kid is officially potty trained, but before we learn that little Joey tinkled in the toilet, we also read that the dog had a bowel movement resembling the state of New York this morning, the mom-blogger is only 15 pounds away from her pre-baby weight, and that little Joey had a rash on his hoo-hoo a few nights ago which the doctor said would go away with some cream. We also heard about the trip to the pharmacy to get the cream before actually learning that little Joey finally tinkled.

Fucking kill me, right? Stick to topic, people!

Bloggie Blog Blunder #5: Not Paying It Forward

You always support another blogger (or person). You click on their links. You vote for their blog. You share their stuff when they ask you to. And then they can’t even do the simplest thing for you in return – even when you ask.

I think this happens in regular life too. Today I posted on my Facebook, asking my friends if they could vote for me on TopMommyBlogs.com. All it required them to do was click my website and then click the TopMommyBlogs picture or link. I prefaced it with something only mildly snarky, mainly because it was true:

It wasn’t nasty, was it? I was just being honest and possibly (definitely) trying to coax (guilt) them into doing it. I mean, I do vote for a lot of bands, attend a lot of Facebook events for Adorable Dog Contests, and just generally act supportive of my friends on Facebook. I mean, that is the friendly thing to do, right?

I got 8 votes of my 365 friends. I’ll be remembering this next time they want me to vote daily for their kid in the Gap Baby Cute Kid contest.

So what are the lessons we have learned? A good blogger commits to a blog for the long haul. A good blogger cuts to the chase and pays it forward – every time. A good blogger gives credit where credit is due. And a good blogger does not ever – never ever – posts a “Nice post, follow me…” comment. Otherwise you are a douchesausage. And your blog resembles that thing in the shape of the state of New York from little Joey’s dog this morning.