In C-Ville, Charlottesville, Virginia’s alt weekly, writer Marissa Hermanson takes a long look at the mom blogger phenomenon – its origins, its appeal (both for bloggers and readers), and its detractors. (Full disclosure: I’m quoted in the article). Especially interesting in Hermanson’s look at the snarkiness and critique mom bloggers often face:
The idea of women sharing their domestic activities, family matters, and social interests on the Internet may sound liberating and empowering, creating a domestic dialogue that never existed before. But the mommy blogging culture isn’t all sunshine and cinnamon toast. A whole world of snark has grown up around it that, in its worst moments, involves cases of Internet bullying and online voyeurism.
In particular, Hermanson looks at a Charlottesville blogger named Kath Younger whose food, nutrition and parenthood blog is so hated by some it has earned an entire parody blog mocking its alleged smugness.
Women like Younger, who have hugely popular lifestyle blogs incur many forms of judgment, often experiencing personal attacks in their blog’s comment sections or sent to their e-mail inboxes. The rise of mediated public forums like getoffmyinternets.com (GOMI) have raised the stakes dramatically, amplifying critique into a performance art of its own.
To me, this raises some really interesting questions about the nature of bloggers: are they private citizens, or public figures? If a blogger is simply an amateur, blogging to show off her baby to distant relatives and share her coconut cake recipes with friends, critiquing her seems nasty and personal, a form of outright bullying. But if a blogger, like, say The Pioneer Woman, is more of a Martha Stewart-esque businesswoman who simply uses a lifestyle blog as a tool in her business empire, it’s easier to see her as fair game along the line of any other public figure. But many bloggers fall into a gray area. They’re ordinary civilians, but they’re carefully showcasing their lives to meet a public goal: making blog ad revenue, promoting their writing, angling for a cookbook deal. Is it OK to critique or parody them in public forums?
Thoughts? Who has spent some guilty (or not guilty) time on GOMI?