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Support is support no matter where it comes from

standard December 16, 2009 15 responses

Yesterday a 2-year-old boy fell int a pool and drowned and, if that weren’t tragic enough, today insensitive people attacked the poor child’s mother, accusing her of faking her son’s death for attention.

The basis for their attack?

She tweeted that he had drowned.

That’s right. Her crime was that, as the paramedics were trying to revive her baby, she tweeted asking people to pray for her son.

Apparently some people, even heavy twitter users, cannot fathom that, faced with a personal tragedy, someone would hop online and share it with their followers.

It infuriated me that people would make the blanket assumption that the fact that she was even online meant that she wasn’t really grieving, was in fact faking.

Now I’m sorry, you might hate Twitter and Facebook and all that they stand for. That’s your prerogative. But you can’t ignore the fact that some people have a real network of friends online. People they turn to to share their joys and their frustrations. And yes, people they turn to for support in times of great tragedy.

Shocking as it may seem, for many people Twitter and Facebook offer a real support network, far beyond what most people can imagine. Being a mom is an isolating job. You can’t always go out and meet up with people to get the grown-up interaction you crave. You’re often at the mercy of tiny little irrational dictators. This is even more true for moms who live in rural areas. So we turn to the Internet and to social networks to vent or share our triumphs, we joke with a mom we’ve met here or there, and slowly real friendships develop. Because the mom on the other side of the computer is living a parallel life she understands that you might pop in and out of the conversation. And because she’s always there, it’s easy to talk to her and update her in snippets.

That’s why, when something happens and we need emotional support, we turn to our online friends. They’re there. They’re accessible. And they are amazing when it comes to the instant support that a terrible tragedy calls for. Tweeting out that something bad has happened – a car accident, an injury, anything – and getting a slew of supportive responses makes you feel less alone. It makes it less scary to pull your shoulders back and deal with the situation. Simply knowing that others, even people who have never met you in person, are thinking of you as you struggle makes it possible to go on.

Just because it’s virtual support doesn’t make it less real. The invisible hands holding you up are just as tangible as real hands. And that’s why mothers who have lost their child in the most tragic way imaginable might come tell their followers. Not because they don’t care. But because they need their friends.

It’s not just a mommy blog.

standard November 25, 2009 7 responses

I’ve never been one to bristle at being called a mommy blogger. In fact, I’ve always been quite proud of it. What’s there not to be proud of?

I’m a mommy and I’m proud of that.

I’m a blogger and I’m proud of that.

And I blog about being a mommy quite often. Therefore clearly I am a mommy blogger. And I’m proud of it.

Yet, today I took some mild offense when someone I was chatting with online asked me if I was “just” a mommy blogger. (And no, she did not say “just,” I inferred it. And yes, I know that she did not mean it pejoratively, she meant it in a good way. Because she is a good person who understands what mommy blogging entails. And I’m not just saying that because she reads my blog. Ahem.)

When I saw those words in my IM message box I bristled. I love my blog, but I do so much more than just blog. Or rather blogging is so much more than just the blog. There’s the social media component, the promotional component, the PR component, the research, the editing, the photography, and everything else that goes into it. It’s a full time job that few of us have 8 hours a day to dedicate to. We do it at night and in the minutes between everything else that takes up our energy and our attention. We pour our hearts and our souls into this little editing window. We share our hopes and our fears with the world. And we do it for a million different reasons – to hear ourselves think, to lend some meaning to our days, to reach out to friends, family, or people who might be sharing similar experiences.

A mommy who blogs about her kids and her family life is by definition a mommy blogger, but she’s never just a mommy blogger.

I just want to blog, not fight. Is that still an option?

standard May 6, 2009 7 responses

First there was the fear. The word on the street is that bloggers could be prosecuted for endorsing products without being crystal clear about their affiliation to the companies they are representing. Disclaimers started popping up on review sites and I naively thought that that would be the end of that.

Ha! Instead, the chatter about the need for transparency kicked open the door to the debate about fair compensation. People started ranting about the need to get paid to do reviews and giveaways. It’s nothing new. It’s all been said before, which doesn’t make any of it any less valid, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating either.

Reviews and giveaways aren’t easy to write well. It takes time to write a good, honest, balanced review. Time to test the product and time to write the review. I probably invest a good 3 or 4 hours in each review/giveaway that I post. I’m not kidding. The actual post might just take an hour to write, but the testing and promoting of the giveaway take time too. So does picking a winner and coordinating the prize distribution.

I’m not complaining. I’m not in it for the money or the “free” products (not really so free if you count the hours that go into promoting them). Money would be nice, but I didn’t start blogging to make mega bucks and I didn’t stop blogging when they didn’t start rolling in.

So, why am I blogging you ask?

I blog to share the daily stories and thoughts that bounce around my head.
I blog to improve my writing.
I blog to reach out to moms, dads, writers, and anyone else who might feel a sense of kinship with me.
I blog to feel connected to other bloggers around the world.
I write reviews to help small companies spread the word about their products.
I write reviews so I can share information about great, fun, or useful products that might be helpful to you.
And yes, I do it all to create a web presence for myself so that when my first novel comes out you’ll all already know my name.

If I hear about a cool product that you might find helpful I reach out to the PR team to see if I can help promote it. The key factor here is you, the reader, not me, the blogger. I’m not out there trolling for products I want, I’m out there searching for things you might like. And then I spent hours sharing the information with you.

If companies stopped using bloggers to promote their products I’d still be telling you about my latest finds. And if people stopped advertising on the net I’d still be blogging. I’m here for the writing and for the readers.

That might not make me a very popular person among the bloggers who are trying to set fair compensation standards throughout the blogosphere. But I have to say that I don’t really care. I don’t have the energy to fight that fight. I’m too busy working on my writing.

I would love to be able to ask for $500/month for ads. I would like to demand payment for each and every one of the posts I write. I would like for all bloggers to be able to get the same! I value my work and it would be nice to be compensated for it. But I don’t get nearly enough traffic to be able to stake those claims on the money. So I feel like it’s not really my fight.

I’m sitting this one out and focusing on the writing instead of the perks. If the fair wages fight is eventually won, then great. If it isn’t, I’ll still be here after the dust settles and people have moved on to more lucrative ventures.

Part of the Borg and Damn Proud of It.

standard March 17, 2009 5 responses

It would appear that the wonderful Peter Shankman of the infamous HARO (Help a Reporter Out) ruffled a few mommy feathers at South by Southwest yesterday by likening the mommy blogger community to The Borg Collective.

That people got their panties in a bunch over his rather funny, and if may say so, pretty accurate description of the mommy bloggers is a true testimony to the lack of understanding of sci-fi TV and of the major problem that consistently weakens the community.

People! Being compared to The Borg is a good thing. Yes, fine, so they were the “bad guys.” But anyone who’s spent even five minutes watching the show knows that they were awe inspiring in their power and ability. Just like the mommy blogging community is awes inspiring in it’s power and ability.

Or at least we would be if we could get over ourselves and stop getting all bent out of shape every time someone calls us a name we think might maybe have some pejorative connotation to it.

You know what? People call you names when they’re jealous, when they’re intimidated by you. And really, those names only hurt when you feel there’s a hint of truth to them. The only mommy bloggers who are offended to be called mommy bloggers are the ones who aspire to be more and are frustrated with what they do. The only people who are going to be offended by the comparison to The Borg are those who secretly fear that their voice won’t be heard, or maybe those who fear that they don’t have a voice of their own.

I’m a mommy blogger and I’m proud of it. I write about my life and my kids and I’m fine with that. I’m part of a huge community of mommy bloggers and I’m equally proud of that. We have our individual voices and our communal voice, and yes, we are a force to be reckoned with!

Maybe today we should have patted ourselves on the back and hosted a round of high fives instead of getting pissy about being called a name. One of the most influential men in the media sphere warned companies to take notice of us. It was public recognition of the power of our words. That’s huge! That means we’ve made it, that means we’re finally as important as we’ve always wanted to be. Nicely done ladies!

Now, can’t we please stop quibbling about the terminology and rejoice over the sentiment? Please?