After the kids are in bed I sit down with a hot cup of chocolate hazelnut tea, turn on my computer, and “read my blogs.” That’s what I say, without fail, when my husband asks me what I’m doing. I don’t know why he still asks me, it’s always the same. I began reading A Little Pregnant in my first or second year of college. Julie’s amazingly intellectual, smarmy, and often sad compositions made me fall in love with both her and blogging in very short order. Then I began reading other blogs with an infertility theme. As I grew older and struggled with my own issues becoming (and staying) pregnant, I sought out those who could relate to my sorrow. I found an amazing group of women (and a few men) who were the most supportive sort I’ve ever encountered. Reading about their lives allowed me a connection, albeit only online, with another human being who could say (and mean), “I know how you feel.”
Years later, blogging has taken a different turn. It’s rare to find a genuinely kind individual amongst the judgment and hatred. Though I’m sure popular blogs those years ago were compensated financially through advertisement, bloggers now have a kind of slimy sheen to them. Gone are the days of genuine emotion, the human part of writing, the errors. It’s been replaced with sand-dry meanderings with not-so-subtle cues to look at my sidebar! Click the link!
I think the worst part of blogging is seeing the writing you once really enjoyed become dull and overly edited for “safety.” That rawness you felt so compelled to once flickers out and you’re left with writing as bland as a saltine cracker. This often happens after they receive some negative feedback. It’s unfortunate, really, that some people will try so hard to harm another with their viciousness. Hiding behind a computer screen, an identity only so strong as your IP address, someone can easily post some of the most awful things you’ve ever seen directed toward you without an ounce of regret. Granted, when you open your life to the public, so comes scrutiny. You have to develop a thick skin if you elect to write openly about yourself or your family. People will comment on your appearance (or worse, that of your kids), your grammar, your choices. Anything they can possibly grasp in their meaty claws and shred to pieces, they will, and they will enjoy watching you squirm in discomfort. But what do you give up when you edit your content so much that you appear to have the happiest family, the prettiest pictures, the most normal life? You give up the ability for your readers to relate to you in any meaningful way. Sure, we all go to the grocery store, but honestly no one wants to read about your choice of eggplant. We want a crisis! We want to feel what you did! We want to cry with you, rejoice in your happiness, anxiously tap our fingers while we wait for the next post.
This is more than just having an exciting life. You can have as little conflict as the Dalai Lama, but if you happen to be a wordsmith, anything can be an adventure.
That’s not the point I’m trying to make. I guess I’m getting a little off-topic here.
So these blogs to which I’m referring, they have this annoying little problem affectionately termed, “White Knights.” These are people in the comment section who will defend the blogger until thy death! There are cheesy coined phrases like, “You’re doing an awesome job!” “You’re a great mother!” “Forget the haters, it’s OBVIOUS you are the most amazing person in the world!” I counter those statements with this: How do you know? This person is always happy. Their Twitter is filled to the brim with as much irritating optimism as their blog, and the “crisis” situations about which they write are so utterly without any real sentiment it’s difficult to tell if they are even human.
It is not at all obvious to me that these people are good parents. I wonder if the WK’s realize that they all sound as if they’ve had a little too much of the Koolaid? Where is the emotion? Where is the skepticism? Where are the debates? “Like, really, who do they think they’re fooling?” as Juno so aptly put.
“Juno MacGuff: How do you know I’m so poisonous? What if these adoptive parents turn out to be, like, evil molesters?
Leah: Or, like, stage parents.
Bren: They could be utterly negligent. Maybe they’ll do a far shittier job of raising a kid than my dumbass step-daughter would. Have you considered that?”
To that end, although I try very hard to tell my readers even the goriest of my truths, I don’t think it’s obvious at all that I am a good mother. I hope I’m perceived by others as thus, because I really do love my children. But on a blog where all the content is written by me, filtered only through my version of events, and without any feedback by anyone else that knows me, it’s easy be biased. Please, readers, never say to me or anyone else that it’s “obvious” that I’m a good mother/cook/wife/person unless you know me personally. If you witness my frustration and exhaustion as a parent, my weariness as a wife with a husband who is terribly depressed, and if you see me drive past a homeless person with a sign on the side of the road asking for a few dollars so he can eat, only then can you make an accurate judgment.
Rule one of storytelling: put the protagonist in conflict. Your life doesn’t have to be terrible to be interesting (in fact, I hope it’s not). It just has to be honest.