Last week, someone in our community lost her home in a fire. She tweeted about it, and the community rallied (not least because of this dear woman), and although there’s no real happy ending when someone loses so much, it seemed, at least, that one could keep faith with humanity as caring and good. But then – almost immediately – and inevitably – the criticisms came. Why was she was tweeting? Why should someone so irresponsible be supported by the community? Why should the community support anyone they don’t know? What is this ‘community’ thing that everyone is talking about, anyway, because, seriously, how could anyone think that the Internet has communities? There is, after all, no there there.
I’m not going to speak to the question of community support – I have about eleventeen thousand words to say about that, that I’ll save for another time – but I can speak – have spoken to – the question of why we tweet in those moments that seem to defy tweeting – why, indeed, tweeting during those moments tells us something about the very nature of tweeting, and of social sharing generally. Those words, repurposed, are below.
When I received the call telling me that my father had died, I cried. I cried loud, I cried hard, I fell to the ground and clutched at my aching chest and I wailed. And then, curled up on the floor, phone in hand, I tweeted.
The post that follows is a revised version of a post that I wrote last year. I had been considering writing a new piece about the term ‘mommy blogger’ and to what extent I see that as part of my identity, not least because Kyle and I have been having conversations – partly in jest, partly not – about him becoming a dad blogger when we complete our move to New York and he becomes, for the most part, a stay at home dad, and those conversations raised the question: why ‘dad blogger’ and not ‘daddy blogger’? And why not ‘parent blogger,’ or some other neutral term?
I haven’t sorted out my thoughts on the daddy-blogger question – stay tuned – but reflecting on that question brought me back to this post, which still stands as a pretty accurate statement of my feelings on the term ‘mommy blogger.’
Dear Internet: I am not a mommy blogger.
Yeah, I know. There’s a baby in my header. There are lots of pictures of my children here, including that one, right there, on the upper left-hand side of this post. (Aren’t they cute? I let them call me Mommy.) But still. I am not a mommy blogger.
A few years ago, I was interviewed by the Globe & Mail about ‘mommy blogging’ and the ethical issues – you know, the usual: child exploitation, child neglect, Jon & Kate Plus 8 Syndrome – that it raises. I was mildly defensive about it, but mostly amused, because, seriously, wasn’t it obvious that most mom bloggers blogged out of love? Wasn’t it obvious that the average mom blogger paid closer attention to her children that she might otherwise – after all, how else would she have all those stories, if she wasn’t fascinated by her kids, and by her own experience of motherhood?
These points of obviousness, however, are not obvious to everyone. Obviously. As the commenters to the original story pointed out, it seemed obvious to them that I was neglectful and exploitative. Was I not blogging instead of spending time with them (well, her; Jasper was at that point still a fetus)? Was I not profiting from telling stories about her? Wasn’t obvious that I was, as a blogging mom, a bad mom? I still get these questions. I don’t think that a week goes by that I don’t get these questions, or questions like them. Hell, just this week I got a lovely email demanding why I thought anyone cared about my struggle to figure out the how and why of telling personal stories, because, after all, I should have stopped telling those stupid, exploitative stories years ago. So the questions are fresh in my mind: can a blogging mom be a good mom? What is mommy blogging good for, anyway? These are stupid questions, of course. I know that.
They are, however, questions for which I once wrote an answer: