Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Writing a Mildly Annoyed Letter to the New York Times.
I guess it could also have been titled Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy but that doesn't seem as enticingly condescending. Also, then it would have to go in the business section and not fashion + style and that would just mess up everything!
Author Jennifer Mendelsohn also writes a blog called Clever Title TK which I actually mentioned here in my post about 50 lesser known mom bloggers, which she references in the piece. And I like her. I bet you would too. She's funny and smart and is great on twitter, and I'd imagine we'd love each other in person. But I don't love this article. I'm kind of praying that her editor wrote the headline and not her.
In the piece, she describes a conference called Bloggy Boot Camp that I don't know much about:
The topics on that day’s agenda included search-engine optimization, building a “comment tribe” and how to create an effective media kit. There would be much talk of defining your “brand” and driving up page views.I know I wasn't there and all, but here I'm wondering - how is the agenda here any different than that at any tech conference anywhere, and why does that warrant a mention in the Times?
Oh wait..because moms were there.
And we're supposed to be home with our younguns suckling at our teats while we try in earnest to get our whites whiter, our pancakes fluffier, and our menfolk happier.
The best guess I have is that the conference was so marketing focused--and not content focused-- that it would inspire a journalist who values writing to jot down a quip like: Heed the speaker’s advice, and you, too, might get 28,549 views of your tutu-making tutorial! Even I've been known to eyeroll about bloggers who utilize the medium solely for freebies, or blogs that put SEO ahead of good writing. So if the point of the article was to illuminate that this particular conference wasn't emblematic of the best of the momblogosphere, maybe that's fair.
But I'm not sure that that's what comes across.
I can't imagine Jennifer was intending to slight the entire community of moms who blog, she being one. In fact, once you get past the first half of the article, there's actually some solid information in there, including a good quote from Amy Lupold Blair about blogging as valuable flex-time work, a hilarious analogy from Ciaran Blumenfeld (worth a read for that alone!) and some analysis from my author services rep at Cool Mom Picks, Pamela Parker of Federated Media. But I wish all that had been the focus of an article about my favorite blogging community that just made the front page of my favorite section of my favorite Sunday paper. I wish it had opened with the yearning of bloggers for the community to return to good writing, and the evidence that in the end, that's mostly what pays off, and not this SEO bullshit or obsession with stats.
However I'm afraid that in our ADD world, most readers won't get much past the opening snark, which continues to affirm all the negativity surrounding the word mommyblog. In other words, more silly mommies and their silly "expensive hobby."
See also: Comment #18 at Lisa Belkin's Motherlode Blog at the NYT about the article, from "Dee" who has it alllll figured out:
Nature abhors a vacuum, so these people fill up their lives with each other- telling each other how special their everyday thoughts and actions - and kids - are. And they are lonely at home with the kiddies...There is something pathetic about the clingy, needy plea for attention and affirmation. God help the teachers when the offspring of these bloggers get to school.(I always love those anonymous blog commenters who imply bloggers should get a life while uh, commenting anonymously on blogs.)
Who knows, maybe I'm being hypocritical. Maybe I don't mind us dissecting our own thang here, but seeing it in black and white in the Paper of Record is uncomfortable. It's possible. It's likely even.
For Dee, and the rest of you who missed the point (or didn't?) and are wondering what else mom blogging leads to besides conference boondoggles, needy pleas for attention, and raving reviews of self-cleaning ovens in exchange for free product, I'll tell you.
Raising money for and awareness of childhood diseases
Traveling to Rwanda on Microsoft's dime to gather photos of hope
Visiting the White House to discuss health care
Supporting parents who have lost children
Interviewing the President
Writing best-selling cookbooks
Partnering with charities
Supporting small businesses in a recession
Consulting for Steven Spielberg
Hosting our own TV series
Defining a movement
Running a business
Giving comedy pros a run for their money
Giving back to our communities
Putting our colons on display for the benefit of others
Helping inner-city kids
Standing up for social justice
Getting our groove back
Messing with Texas
Working for the man
Finding the silver lining
Holding virtual hands
Raising money for families in crisis
Reshaping the media
Supporting our families sometimes single-handedly
I'm sure there's more, but my children are naked, dirty, and cold and I need to give them their daily bread and water now.
EDITED TO ADD: I'd like to include the accompanying visual to the article, because it's been referenced several times in comments. It occupied nearly the entire above the fold section of the paper save for one column. It clearly depicts mothers neglecting their angry children in favor of blogging. But hey - at least they didn't show us wearing housedresses and aprons.