I am going to say some things in this post that are the opposite of sweet, cuddly, and adorable. For that reason, I want to start off with something nice: PANDA BEARS!! I waited in line for no less than 45 minutes to lay eyes on the incredible giant panda exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, and it was absolutely worth it. So, first things first: hungry pandas!
Whew, okay, that's done. Now on to the words and feelings that have been floating around in my brain since Session 1 of BlogHer: Mommy Bloggers. You know, people like me. And so many more women in the blogosphere. BlogHer was overrun with Mommy Bloggers--we practically owned the place. At every turn were women handing out business cards adorned with babies and pacifiers and their opinions on breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping. It felt, in many ways, pretty magical to be surrounded by so many women who spend their time writing about the things that matter in my life.
But I felt something else while I was there, too, something that made me uncomfortable with my place within that community. That something was the reputation of Mommy Bloggers. Over the course of the weekend, the following statements and opinions were said to and around me, sometimes in the form of questions, and other times as points of fact:
* Mommy Bloggers are not friendly.
* Mommy Bloggers are cliquey.
* Mommy Bloggers are not supportive.
* Mommy Bloggers think they're better than everyone else.
*Mommy Bloggers are judgemental.
And, Mommy Bloggers are mean.
There were times when these assumptions stung, times when I knew that my readers and the authors of the blogs I follow do not fit these stereotypes. But mostly I found myself stepping back from my immediate hurt feelings to think through why these stereotypes are out there.
If I'm being honest, I kind of get it. The absolute vast majority of my interactions with other attendees at BlogHer were overwhelmingly positive; I made great contacts, shared tons of laughs, and felt connected to something bigger than myself. But there were a few rare moments when I felt inadequate and small and like the girl at the wrong lunch table in middle school. And those moments always seemed to happen at times when I was interacting with some of the various Mommy Bloggers in attendance (not, by any means, ALL of the Mommy Bloggers I met!). Moments when the open invitation to sit down, give me your business card, tell me about your blog, was very clearly not on the table. You know, just my absolute worst social fears realized.
These few interactions did not overshadow the incredible (fabulous! life-changing!) time I had in San Diego, but they did make me less inclined to feel stung by the negativity I heard from other attendees about Mommy Bloggers. I kind of got it. The very few Mommy Bloggers who did not welcome networking opportunities with others of the 3600 conference attendees fit the description I heard in several of the panels I attended, but I know I am not one of them. I know the readers of my blog are not them. I know that (most) of the blogs I follow have not earned that reputation. And I suppose that should be enough.
But I want your thoughts. Do you think Mommy Bloggers are mean (or any of the other descriptors listed above)? How did/would you react if a blogger you follow gave you the brush-off? Why do you think these stereotypes exist, and why in the Mommy Blog genre?
I'm positively dying for your thoughts and feedback. I have found that my lowest moments (moments when I have been unkind or thoughtless or purposefully hurtful) are the moments when I am at my most insecure. Being mean, to me, is a defense mechanism, a way of heading off pain from others by putting up a tough barrier that makes me the bad guy. What do you think?
And, because you've listened to this rant for so long, here are some more PANDA BEARS!! to end on a positive & adorable note: