I used to think I knew what blogging was about. Making a connection with your words. Credit for craft and community. Validation in the form of respect from your peers.
Last week I went to Mom 2.0 where I had lots of dreamy idealistic convos about authenticity, intention and conviction. A deal with Martha Stewart Living might help, but only if it was a reflection of our true clever selves. (I made a mental note to share my Passover Pinterest board.)
I had the privilege, and I do consider it a privilege, to speak with some of the bloggers that defined blogging for me. Kristen & Liz, Catherine, Tracey, Kristen H, and many more. Women who paint with their words. For them, I get the feeling, that it’s always been about the connection, and not the attention. Not that the attention is so awful. But the point is, the attention came after. Their intention to share, tell stories and communicate, came first.
My favorite message from the closing keynote came from bestselling author Jenny Lawson, who is not a fan of the limelight, and not afraid to pass big opportunities up if they are not completely on her terms and right for her. She ratified the notion that while the money might be nice… we don’t need a brand alliance or network deal to make us “real”. In fact, these opportunities can be the death of your intentions, if you let them.
Intention is super tricky for me. When you state your intention, it’s supposed to be all pure. There are rules. For instance: you can say you intend to live in a beautiful well organized home. You can’t say you intend to hustle enough this year to fork it over for your kids tuition and hopefully have enough left over for all that awesome but expensive stuff from The Container Store.
Something you never hear bloggers state as their intention:
“This year I’m looking for five minutes of fame! Not for any reason in particular. I just want a brand, any brand really, to make an example of me. It’s not about the money. I just won’t feel validated until I see my face in Times Square!”
Note: My teenaged daughter often says she wants to be famous for having a reality show like the Kardashians. While I am horrified, I applaud her frankness. I also
suspect hope she’s yanking my chain.
Immediately after Mom 2.0 I saw a Mom blogger who I respect and admire, posting a screen shot of her face on a billboard in Times Square. The image was there as a part of a promotion/campaign for Dove.
Ten minutes later she had about 40 likes and a similar number of comments on her Facebook wall.
The same day, another blogger whose writing I also love and business acumen I more than respect, also shared her picture in a magazine as part of a campaign for Chinet.
Whabam! Her Facebook stream got so bloated that it had to undo a button.
The comments (for both) went like this:
“You’re so awesome!”
“You so deserve this – more than anybody! ”
” Wow! I am so proud of you!”
1. These women are great writers. But not once have I seen that kind of comment velocity and messaging for one of their posts. Even the ones that made me cry.
2. Proud? Deserving? Jealous. Really? It’s an enviable word cloud of emotions, but for all the wrong reasons.
The comments, while lovely and encouraging, smacked of pithy insincerity. They remind me of the comments that my Kardashian loving daughter and her friends leave on each other’s walls when one of them gets a bad haircut. OMG! Awesome. YOLO! You go girl! Is this kind of gratuitous stroking the new polite?
Regardless, it’s got to be a nice feeling to find yourself on the receiving end of that kind of comment shower. I won’t lie. I like it when people tell me my hair looks awesome as much as the next woman. It’s validating, still, for any reason, to be told you are awesome. Addictively so. So… slave over a post for hours and no comments. Suck it. 100 comments for your tweet in Times Square? Win!
My question is how far will mom bloggers go for attention and comments?
This is what showed up in my stream today:
Mom Blogger Jamie Grumet made the cover of Time Magazine in a deliberately, calculatedly, provocative photograph breastfeeding her 3yr old. The media is having a feeding frenzy.
The headline: “Are you Mom Enough?”
Enough for what? To pose for a picture? To lend your image to a cause that seems clearly to be at least as much about selling news and views as it is about the topic?
Oh Jamie, I really want to support you. I understand how seductive the spotlight is.But I’m sad tonight. Sad that your left boob has it’s own twitter account and that Rush Limbaugh dummied up a version of the cover with your son sucking on Lady Liberty’s breast. I’m sad that this is your five minutes of fame and that it’s not about your thoughtful writing about adoption.
I was sick today and the news playing in a constant loop. I watched at least seven stories on the “Controversial Time Magazine Cover.” I noted how the media referred to Jamie. She was a “model” in most of the scripts , the fact that she was a mommy blogger mentioned in an afterthought. Model. Dummy. Pair of boobs attached to a three year. Cut to footage of ridiculous people making comments about milk & cookies.
On the mom blogger boards, once again I witnessed an unparalleled firestorm of the “You Go Girl” commentary and congrats and exclamations of pride. Look at that! One of “us” made the big time! The MomsLA group came up with a hashtag to support Jamie. Bless them.
There was also a fair amount of jealousy and anger that crept in from community members around the edges. It stemmed from confusion. Why did she do this? How does this really reflect on our community? How come she gets all the attention for being young, pretty, cute, skinny (insert adjective)? What was her intention?
I’ve met Jamie (and liked her, she’s super sweet) but I don’t know her well enough to even begin to accurately comment on her motivations for appearing in this photo. I wish I could say that it was a calculated move and that I knew she was a fierce breastfeeding advocate, a lactivist or attachment parenting expert who was a warrior for this cause.
I’d high five her for sure if that was/is the case. But if that was her “brand”, it wasn’t quite clear to me until today.
If lactivist wasn’t her brand yesterday, I sure as hell hope it will be her brand tomorrow. Because she has been made the face of this controversy, along with her 3 yr old son. The world will move along to the next willing “model” without her if she doesn’t use her words well. They probably will even if she does. Models are ultimately interchangeable.
To me, this doesn’t feel like a community win. It feels more like the opposite. Sure Jamie is going to be on the Today Show. Sure she might get a reality TV show or a book deal out of this. And some cash. Cash is good. I hope it’s a lot of cash, considering the long term commitment to being the public face of this magazine selling, boob bashing, “are you mom-enough?” challenging cause.
I’m just finding it hard to rally to what feels like a somewhat manufactured cause.
I do care about women’s rights and have no issues at all with attachment parenting and yet I just don’t care about this story. I cannot drum up the requisite outrage or vehemence for the “issue”. The controversy, for me, has been eclipsed by the fact that I feel like she, like so many attention craving bloggers, might have been taken advantage of here.
This is just my opinion, but Brand and Media “ops” like this and so many more are starting to feel like bad boyfriends. More and more bloggers are being motivated by the scraps of addictive fame that these pimps are peddling. This addiction to attention is dangerous. It runs the risk of undermining all the wonderful other things they do. And for what? 40 dubious comments about how pretty we are?
Five minutes of fame and fluffing is not enough!
I’m Mom enough to tell you. Hold out for more than a brand, more than a message, more than a sale. Sure you looked pretty in that picture, but it’s not the reason why your real friends love you.
The story immediately after the Time magazine cover was all about Janet Evans’ comeback. There was a brief history of her competitive career and a look at her training schedule and efforts to make a comeback. A mom of two, Janet shared that at this point whether she goes to the Olympics or not, it’s all icing. She adores what she is doing. She challenges herself daily to be better than the day before. She wants to be the best version of herself at 40.
No soap, no paper plates, no controversial magazine covers or billboard in Times Square. Just a mom doing her thing. Living authentically with passion and intention. More than enough.
I’m going to leave you with the last slide of the presentation I moderated last week, because frankly I need the dose of re-inspiration myself right now. Jenny is an inspiration. So real, always beautiful. She makes people believe, including slightly jaded ones like myself!