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‘I love you blogs and tea’ by jenniferramos at Etsy

So this Liz Jones article in the Daily Mail is still bothering me. I know, I know, it shouldn’t. It’s the Daily Mail, mysogynistic, racist, homophobic rag for the aspirational lower classes. But after reading the article I then started reading the comments section. Big mistake. The Daily Mail comments section is like a black hole for all hope and optimism. If Liz Jones is a Dementor then the Daily Mail website is Azkaban. The commenters competing over who can vituperate the loudest. Their targets: mothers, Mumsnetters and bloggers. Now these three things happen to be major parts of my identity at the moment, so to see them systematically abused by people who have very little knowledge of any of them is a teeny bit soul destroying.

Now, most of you will know that my love Mumsnet is both strong and enduring. I can and have posted at length about the good that comes out of that website. I will not hear a bad word said against it. That’s not to say there are no bad words to say, I know all its faults. But like an errant family member, or a football team in a slump, I acknowledge and accept its faults but continue to love and support it anyway.

It’s easier to shake off the criticism levied against me as a mother. I have pushed a human being out of a hole in my body the size of egg cup. I have sucked snot out of the nose of stuffed up baby. I have paused during breastfeeding to vomit from the pain of a migraine, then resumed breastfeeding. I have in turn been vomited on and my first instinct is always to check my child is ok. I am bringing up two delightful children to become productive and charming members of society who will eventually be funding the pensions of the ignorant Daily Mail reading twats who loathe children so much. If you haven’t done at least one of those things then I am afraid you can fuck off and keep your women-hating thoughts to yourself.

But, and this is the crux of this post (yes, three paragraphs and we are not even at the crux yet – if the Internet is shortening people’s attention spans it’s not because of me), blogging is a harder hobby to defend. It is by nature an attention-seeking activity, and often rather ego centric. While undoubtably there are blogs out their with obvious objectives, trying to change the world, highlight discrimination and poor treatments, there is a rather large section of blogs which mainly detail people’s own lives and opinions, with the inherent assumption that other people should want to read about this. This set me thinking about why people blog, is it a pointless hobby? Do the benefits outweighs the negatives? And personally, should I continue to blog, labouring under the assumption that I am interesting enough that people will want to listen to what I have to say. I posted some questions on the Mumsnet Blog Network (where else?) and people have answered or blogged about it, so I should really answer them myself too. Here goes:

Why do you blog?
Well, it started out as a way to show off stuff I had made, but then I found I quite enjoyed the writing, and got complimented on it, which made me want to do it some more.
What do you get from it?
Well, attention and compliments, which I love. An outlet for creativity; I really enjoy the creation of my posts, thinking them through and trying to come to a resolution. I have also made lovely friends through my blog.
Is it trivial and is that ok sometimes?
Yes and yes. Look, people are always complaining that the news is so depressing. All these trivial parts of the blogosphere are are the bits that remind us that the world is still going on as usual. And things that seem trivial to other people may not be trivial to the people involved. This is especially true when it comes to having children. The crises I had over what to feed my children, how to get them to take a bottle, and have I damaged my baby by watching Sex and The City while breastfeeding, all seem trite now, but at the time they were huge, and they mattered. Just like it mattered when I was 14 and trying to decipher what it meant when Chris Davies borrowed my pen in English. One woman’s triviality is another women’s tragedy. But you know what blogs give us, they allow us insight into what other people are thinking; all those ephemeral thoughts and overblown worries that we have, other people have too. So yes, triviality is ok. Especially if it’s funny like this one.
Why should people be interested in what you write?
Well because I often have some well articulated thoughts among the diatribe. I think about the topic I am writing about and try to find new angles. I make stuff and often it’s nice, I like to give people ideas (that I have usually stolen from someone else). I’m occasionally funny, plus I also think I am mostly quite positive on my blog, which is funny as I am a pessimist in real life. But there is nothing like rereading what you’ve written to bore the pants of you, which means that it is probably boring other people. I want people to come back to my blog, and I know they won’t if it is full of whining, because I don’t want to read other people’s whining myself. That isn’t to say that all blogs must be positive, some aren’t for good reasons, but their mission is about sharing and empathising, and mine mission isn’t nearly so noble.
Do you care if they are not?
I’d be lying if I said no, but that’s less because I take it as a personal slight on my writing or me, but more a slight on what I am writing about. I’m not great when people don’t share my views and values, so I take that more personally than a lack of interest in me.
If you blog just for you why do it publically?
I don’t blog for me, or not in the way people usually mean. I get a lot from blogging, so I do it for me in that respect, but I wouldn’t get nearly as much from it if it was private.
What value do you think you are adding to the world by blogging?
Occasionally entertaining, and interesting to read. My blog is pretty ‘real’ compared to many craft blogs, so while I probably don’t inspire awe and aspiration, I might inspire a sense of “I could do that” which I much prefer. I think I am also making people more aware of feminist issues. And at least one person has said that they started blogging because of me, I really should ask her why.
Do you feel defensive about blogging?
I did, and still do a little. But writing this has helped me to see what I get out of blogging, plus I know other people like it because they tell me, so I am adding some value too. But there is still the niggly feeling that it is all a bit pointless and ego centric. That doesn’t make me want to stop, but it is making me stop and think about the value I am adding with each post. There is enough room out there on the Internet for everyone, so I’m wasting nothing but my own time. And as for the people belittling blogs for their mundanity and triviality from Twitter, chat forums, or the Daily Mail website, glass houses people, glass houses.

21 thoughts on “Why blog?

  1. Great post! You writing this is the best side effect of the awful Liz Jones and all those Daily Failers (I avoid Mail Online like the plague!). These questions are real food for thought for me as they chime with my own current blog angst.

  2. I think we need to stop feeling apologetic about blogging. Call me an egotist, but I’ve no doubt that nothing I have ever written has reached the depths of triviality and pointlessness that Liz Jones reaches regularly. Also a lot of the sneering from established journalists, comes from a place of defending their own territory: of course they don’t like the idea that people who haven’t gone through the training process and earned the stripes, get their ideas out there just like they do and get read. A lot of guff is talked about how the interweb democratises journalism but there is a grain of truth in it and the more insecure and entitled among the established journalists will feel threatened by that or slightly outraged that their rights are being intruded upon – the good ones just don’t care because they know they’ll be read anyway because they’re good, they’re known and they’ve got a following and mummy-bloggers make not the slightest impact on them.

    On a bit of a tangent, let’s not forget the historical context of women getting their voices out there: we are hyenas in petticoats, intruding on the rights of men. Which is why though Liz Jones whinges about mummy bloggers in her usual knowingly silly way, the real vitriol comes from men who resent the idea of women’s voices being out there at all, being heard and read and saying stuff that either makes them uncomfortable or that they are outraged to have to think about because stuff which mainstream male media has decided is marginal women’s stuff, should not be brought to their august attention, which is busying itself with much more important matters such as whether some rapey footballer or other will score more goals this season than he did last.

    They have a vested interest in shutting us up and ensuring that their discussion parameters remain undisturbed by authentic women’s voices; part of that process, is to make us doubt that what we have to say is valuable or useful or that we are even entitled to say it. We need to not listen to them and carry on writing and chip-chip-chipping away at their privilege. One of us makes no sodding difference it’s true; but thousands of us out there reading and talking to each other online, realising our experiences are part of a systemic societal experience not just individual events and reaching out to each other to compare, discuss and above all raise our voices about it, will eventually have an effect. They know that and that’s why they want to shut us up. Sod ’em. Keep writing!

  3. I hate the Daily Fail, and all that it stands for. Liz Jones is a nutter, and her articles make me want to punch myself in the face, just so I don’t have to look at her weasely little mug.
    I blog simply because I enjoy it, and I’ve met some superb people through it. I absolutely don’t feel the need to explain myself to some wizened old has-been, and nor should you. I love your blog, you are a marvellous writer and Liz Jones can just shove her opinions up her bum.
    PS Squeezing something THAT big out of somewhere THAT small is totally an achievement. Having done it twice, it never ceases to impress me that actually, us women are pretty ace.

  4. Hmm this is bothering me too, and I’ve written my own post about it. I haven’t read the DM comments, and certainly won’t- the MN thread was bad enough!

  5. To paraphrase Stephen Fry (badly) The Daily Mail is for those who can’t quite bring themselves to read a complicated broadsheet but are too embarrassed to read a tabloid, or thereabouts…..
    Anyway, I enjoyed your post immensely and laughed too, which is always more satisfying in my view!
    I started writing for me and am slightly embarrassed about that because I still have a nagging feeling that I’m really not as interesting/creative/thoughtful as I’d like to think. I’m enjoying it though and others seem to find it reasonably interesting too, so hey ho, I’ll carry on.
    Love your comment about the fairy’s too!

  6. I was asked to share a ‘story’ more publicly about a wee experiment going on in my home so I started a blog. The the minor detail of it going viral helped:)

    I never knew I could write until I started receiving some positive feedback…and I also love the compliments. Especially when wonderful blogging peeps throw a link out to my blog and call me funny!

    It began a new hobby/career for me! Yeah Blogging!!

    Your words about the daily mail commenters (and every other online news source) hits home..I had more haters in an hour than my whole life. It’s an underground world of people who have no life. What got me is that they all had the time to make toxic comments, but no time to read my actual blog and the facts?? WTF!!
    I’m not sure if you read my blog post in response to the negativity and haters, but if not check out my post titled “Make Your Actions Count” on the blog. Grrrrr!!!

    Again, THANK YOU for the shout out!

    1. Hey thanks for popping along and commenting! You should do what some of the bloggers I’ve been talking to and change the negative comments to requests for Viagra or fawning comments about yourself. Really winds them up!

      Love your blog, well done!

  7. Maybe the one good thing about the daily mail is that is led me to your blog today? Im about 10 posts in and totally adicted! Agree with everything you have said about it. Its femail articles are completely demoralising, encourage bad body image , negativity and just terrible vitriolic comments. I feel sorry for our daughters growing up nowadays seems a lot more challenging than its ever been.

    1. Oh my goodness, I had no idea my blog was in the Daily Mail article! They took all that info from a Radio interview I did. I would never speak to the Daily Mail! But I’m pleased you found my blog 🙂 Have neglected it lately but will be back in the new year.

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