The New York Times Sunday Magazine did a feature on Heather from Dooce. If you don’t blog, don’t read the blogs of people you don’t know, or maybe live in a remote French hermitage without Internet access but are somehow receiving this information via rogue satellite beaming into the fillings of your teeth: Heather from Dooce is a BIG FREAKING DEAL.
Heather from Dooce (well, actually just Dooce, because she is the site) is an example of what happened to a few people who started blogging early and well, because she now enjoys Internet magic: fame, of a sort, and a living. Unfortunately, she’s also an example of a lot of people’s misconceptions about blogging, namely that it will bring you fame, of a sort, and a living.
Let me explain the difference.
The other day, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw a link from Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka. Aunt Becky is a mommy blogger in the ways that she is a mom and her blog has “mommy” in the title, but mostly she uses curse words and is good at the Internet. In addition to writing nearly every day, Aunt Becky friends the shit out of people online, comments on their blogs, involves them in her posts, and generally does what every person at a job should be doing – she networks. And because of this, she has fame, of a sort, but not really a living. She’s said before that the ads on her site pay for hosting fees and not much else. She’s well-known in some circles and rightly so, but she’s no Dooce.
Another one of Aunt Becky’s sites is Mushroom Printing. From what I can tell – and I’ve never posted there for reasons that will become evident in a moment – the stuff at Mushroom Printing is a lot like what I write here. It’s a place for people to complain. It’s a place to rant. It’s a place to talk about people, things, and situations that need a Mushroom Print (ie, they need to get slapped in the forehead with a dick).
The link Aunt Becky posted on Twitter went to a post on Mushroom Printing. It’s since been removed so I can’t link it here, but it was titled “Mommy Bloggers Are Evil.” The link was posted with a disclaimer that the author’s views were not shared by Aunt Becky, which makes sense because Aunt Becky is a mom. But because Aunt Becky has kids and I do not, I figured something in the post might interest me, so I read it.
Holy balls. What a load of garbage. Instead of taking on some of the funny, stupid, boring aspects of mommy bloggers, like the women who name their children after porn stars or Connecticut estates, or the ones who take the sex tips in Cosmo seriously, or the ones who define their lives strictly through their children and their gluten-free corndog diets, the author of “Mommy Bloggers Are Evil” was…just a bad writer. She said that she’s attempted to join the mommy blogger world because she was looking for community. And some blogs out there, she said, like Dooce, seemed pretty good, so she’d just do something like those. What she found, however, was a catty group of whiny ass bitches who tore one another down, exploited their childrens’ illnesses, and were generally no help in allowing this person to reach Dooce-level Internet magic.
Well, why don’t you go home and cry about it, SADDLEBAGS? I found myself commenting not in defense of mommy bloggers, per se, but in defense of all reasonable people on the Internet. I could give a shit about mommy bloggers. Seriously. Unless they’re witty and sharp and say “fuck” a lot, I don’t really have much use for someone who wants a big fancy party just because her vagina works. But I don’t have much use for anyone who wants a big fancy party just because at all. If you can’t be interesting beyond a basic biological function, if you can’t make me care a small bit about your life, if you can’t write, for fuck’s sake, then why are you here? And why are you taking it out on a subset of Internet users, as if they’re the ones holding you back instead of your appalling lack of talent and delusions of grandeur?
YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE DOOCE. No one is going to be Dooce. That Internet magic has come and gone, and some gorgeous former Mormon who looks good with a pixie haircut got it first. Fuck the rest of us, you know?
And that’s fine. I didn’t start writing on the Internet to be famous. I just did it because I had thoughts and a physiological inability to keep them to myself. Along the way, I learned how to write better, to write for more people, and how to keep some things – not many, but some – to myself. I also learned how to keep myself entertained, which, if you’re not going to be famous (and you’re not, and neither am I), is pretty much all you’ve got.
Once you understand that you won’t get rich and famous by blogging, you can focus on writing. If you’re one of those people who whines “but I don’t know what I’d write about,” then don’t. I’ve seen those blogs. They’re fucking dull. And don’t write once every couple of weeks and call what you’ve got a blog. Who the fuck wants to check in only so you can occasionally throw them a bone? Be interesting, for chrissakes. Write well. Don’t be one of those assholes I see online and scoff because I’m better than they are.
And people? I’m not even that good. I don’t get paid to review products and I don’t get invited to conferences. Every now and then the local “alternative” media remembers I exist but for the most part, I lurk the Internet in obscurity. I never expected Dooce-level Internet magic. Shit, I never even expected Shit My Dad Says-level Internet magic, and I’m pretty sure that’s fake.
My level of Internet magic is people who find me from out of nowhere and comment on something, or send me an e-mail. They’re people who started reading in the very beginning and now live inside my phone and on my Facebook. In a world where it’s no longer creepy to make friends with people you meet online, I’m semi-popular, or at least not a complete social leper! And even the people who haven’t become friends, I know you’re there. Stalkers, I commend your tenacity. Brits, you are charming even when you don’t say a word. Twitter people, you make me laugh every day. Weird people who approach me in bars…okay, I’m sorry, but you’re really fucking scary and I kind of wish you’d stay anonymous.