May 31, 2015

"Also, something of a contentious relationship can develop between bloggers and our readers."

"We’ve invited readers into our lives. But, it’s always been the case that we’re not showing them everything and when that becomes clearer at certain times, they get angry. A lot of readers wanted to know every single detail of my divorce and when I refused to satisfy that desire they got really angry. Just because I’ve made a living telling stories about myself, doesn’t mean I owe you my life... [W]hen I published 'Upward and Ahead,' I got this email from a woman who said, 'This is the hugest betrayal, we’ve invested our time in you when we could have been following other bloggers, you owe it to us to continue,' and then added, 'How dare you take your children away from us!' I just sat there with my mouth open. I’d like to point out that that’s not an isolated instance. I want to say I understand, I mean I got really mad when Breaking Bad ended, I was like, 'Fuck you guys for taking this out of my life,' but at the end of the day of course I realize that Breaking Bad is not mine."

From "Heather ‘Dooce’ Armstrong Talks Life After Mommy-Blogging."

30 comments:

Louis said...

This feels like an awkward silence.

Chris N said...

You do you, Althouse.

Ann Althouse said...

Dooce was giving readers the illusion that she was sharing her life (and her children's life) day by day. She had to make HER LIFE seem like a compelling little story every day. When family life wasn't happy, that could be a story, but only up to a point and it got wearisome. I can only try to imagine how it would feel to live the life and to know every day that this was supposed to be a story and that I have to deliver up the story and to be living that life with other people who knew this was what we were all doing together. That's a strange way to live! At what point do you feel like you can't describe what normal life is because your endless describing is making life strange? When you lose your husband in the process and when your kids are old enough to state opinions about it all, do you keep talking about how that feels or do you just feel so creepy and depleted that you can't go on?

Michael K said...

Blogging can get pretty personal. When Cathy Seipp was ill, a bunch of us went to a couple of parties that felt very much like farewell parties. I went to her funeral. Other than that, I only knew her from the blog.

YoungHegelian said...

Blogging --- it's like being pen-pals with all the nut-jobs in the world.

Dick Stanley said...

I always have been selective about what personal things to blog about. Gave my wife and son obviously fictitious names to maintain their privacy and seldom post really embarrassing things about them. I did blog about the wife's cancer, but again selectively, mainly hoping to help others with the disease. She's in remission now. If she had died, I'm not sure what I would have posted, other than the fact of it. Certainly nothing too personal. Blogs are only sort-of diaries. You have to be selective for your own mental health. Taking them too far in the interest of drama and/or growing an audience is a mistake, as Dooce found out.

pm317 said...

Don't you ever dare quit on us, Althouse! We have invested so much of our life with you.

Laslo Spatula said...

The editors chose a strange photo of her for the piece.

She is posed so that the left side of her face is in front of the wood of the window panes (rather than the openness of the glass).

This results in the shadow on the left of the vertical wood being obscured by her cheekbone and tip of her chin, but visible between them.

As such, her chin seem oddly protruding and pointy, and the sense that part of her face on the other side of her mouth has been scooped out.

Just thought I would mention that. Shows that I clicked through to the article.


I am Laslo.

Lem said...

"Stop looking thru the peephole!... I feel like I' been missing out on life."

Britney Spears

Birches said...

I have no love for the mommy blogger. It feels a little like Andrew Sullivan too. "Gosh, it's just too hard to write one post a day and get paid six figures to do it!" But I suppose I have less sympathy for the people that are mad at them for quitting too.

These bloggers monetized their blog and got into bed with sponsors, but didn't enjoy it as much after the fact. Too bad, so sad. I wonder if Instapundit is starting to feel the burnout? I've noticed Elizabeth Price Foley is frequently posting. I don't mind, but it is an interesting change.

Simon Kenton said...

Ms Althouse -

Foreshadowing?

William said...

I was unfamiliar with the term mommy blog. Apparently it has nothing to do with milfs on web cams. We all scratch different itches.....Perhaps creating a narrative of a happy marriage helped her to stay happily married. Or maybe it created a certain amount of resentment to the whole concept of churning out words in praise of happy marriages. We become who we pretend to be and then object to the stultifying role we are forced to play.

n.n said...

Vicarious living.

That said, keep your questions outside the house at all times.

robother said...

Arguably the first Modern (or even post-Modern) novel is Joyce's Ulysses, which pretends to write a day in the life of 2 Dubliners experienced as the stream of each consciousness. I suppose most bloggers at some point suffer the temptation to turn their everyday life events into subject matter for the blog, and to the extent they yield, readers are invited into the illusion of a personal relationship.
Freud and Marx were both onto something in sensing that alienation is the Modern problem: urban industrial and post industrial cities are filled with lonely people. The internet offers an illusion of intimacy that fills that void.

Ann Althouse said...

"Foreshadowing?"

No.

I don't write that kind of blog.

But I do sympathize with some of the stuff. If you write other than for the intrinsic value of writing, if it becomes an obligation (e.g., because you've sold advertising, especially if you're doing sponsored posts) or if you're putting something up to maintain traffic, then it's going to be rough. Dooce was making a lot of money doing what she was doing, and that had to affect her feelings about the writing. I'm not in that position. If I was tired and interested in stopping, I think it would be after a period of writing fewer posts. As it is, I've been writing 6 to 10 posts a day for a long time. I don't plan to do that, but I look back at the archive and see that.

Sebastian said...

"When family life wasn't happy, that could be a story, but only up to a point and it got wearisome. I can only try to imagine how it would feel to live the life and to know every day that this was supposed to be a story"

You can only try to imagine how it would feel to be Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Zeb Quinn said...

Never heard of her, but looking over her blog and trying to figure out what made it so successful, one thing I'd say is getting fired from her day job in 2002 for blogging might be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Seeing Red said...

Females have more mental health issues.

sydney said...

I did not realize mommy blogging was so lucrative, or so popular. I suppose it's the same audience that makes romance novels the most lucrative genre. It seems rather exploitive, though. First, serving up your family as material. Second, "integrating" product endorsement into it. What if your family really hates Brand XYZ, but Brand XYZ is paying you several thousand dollars to sing their praises? Not surprised the marriage ended. Sounds like the husband had to do a lot of behind the scenes business work for the blog, too. When you make your life your business, you no longer have a life.

CatherineM said...

Michael K - this post brought Cathy Seipp to my mind too. She had such a down to earth voice. I miss her and would love to find an archive of her work. However, I never felt that she or any blogger owed me anything.

Maya S said...

How much to blog about your kids, if you feel compelled to blog, is an interesting question. Where does it cross the line from drawing on your experiences, of which your kids are a huge part, as the basis for the ideas that make a good blog, and "using" your kids as fodder?

I keep my kids' photos and names private, but often relay anecdotes about them in my blog about living an ordinary life with creativity and humor. I assume (and hope) they will read these posts one day as a sort of affectionate scrapbook. But if I had nothing to blog about except my kids, I probably wouldn't blog. All mommy all the time is a shade too much mommy for my taste.

sydney said...

Zeb Quinn, did you figure out what made her blog popular? Her commenters say they love her writing and that the blog inspired some of them to take up writing or to study English literature. I can't say I share that sentiment. Too self involved for me, and not in an interesting way. Reading it, I felt the same way I used to feel when waiting for my kids at some event with other mothers. All of them talking endlessly about nothing.

Coupe said...

I think there are a few blogs I read where I feel that the blogger is providing way too much information. He's dead now, but I used to read Exile in Portales, and there was pretty much nothing he didn't reveal. He was an open book, but reading about the 3000 women he fell in love with over his life, was kind of like Penthouse Forum without the sex and no amputees. A real tragedy every week to go along with current events. You want to tell him to shut up, but then you come back for more the following week. Repeat...

Moose said...

It's funny - bloggers want to share but then have reservations regarding the intensity of the effect on their readers. Then you see articles like this. It's amusing if your not the blogger, of course...

Zeb Quinn said...

Sydney, she's a very good writer, I'd say. I can't say what exactly made the blog popular, but in the early days especially she seems to have gotten a lot of mileage out of having been fired from her job after blogging (not very nicely) about her workplace, even though she never identified where she worked and never named anybody's name. And she she got the mileage without claiming too much victimhood. But it attracted attention to the blog. I suppose whatever she has to offer after that struck a chord with people who like mommy-blogs.

Is there a point when people who mommy blog for 13 years have to move on to the next phase of their lives?

Paddy O said...

Sometimes commenters are all, "I like your writing, go out with me." Next thing you know, it's "marry me," and "Let me move in with you." The most persistent keep at it until they're like, "I'll plant a beautiful garden for you and do all your landscaping."

It's a blog for goodness sakes, there are boundaries!

Mountain Maven said...

It's part of the pathology of not having enough compelling relationships in ones' own life that one gets that attached to a stranger.

Jane the Actuary said...

It seems fairly obvious to me that mommy-blogging should be about as revealing as the standard Christmas letter -- cute stories, but nothing deeply private -- unless you have buy-in from your spouse and any children old enough to understand, and have a goal besides money-making, that is, if, for instance, your kid has ADHD or autism or some other issue where you think there's value in sharing your story.

But telling these personal stories just to get readers?

A while back, Penelope Trunk came up on this blog, and I took a look at her blog, and was surprised at how many very personal things she had added.

Carl Pham said...

Whoa, how long has that woman struggled with anorexia? One also suspects the more than occasional use of uppers.

tim in vermont said...

Why isn't she just happy at the validation for being a compelling writer the complaints represent? Oh, I know, because she needed a good whiny post on her mommy blog!

I don't think soap opera actors really mind when they are mistaken for their characters by fans and scolded for misdeeds, (maybe that doesn't happen anymore and is a think from 40 years ago, IDK)