Are Bigger Bloggers Obligated to Help Smaller Bloggers?
I have this rather bad habit of playing devil's advocate for the sake of discussion.
And I am going to stick on my Jezebel horns and do a little bit of that today.
I had a post syndicated on BlogHer about jealousy and blogging that sparked some AMAZING response and discussion. It took an interesting turn when this comment popped up:
"I think those who have made it past the tipping point could do a lot to help people who are still on the starting line. I know many do, and I know it may feel as if "No matter how much I do, it will never be enough for you people!" ('cause that's how I feel about my children, frankly. LOL)
Still, I think it would be GRAND if there was some sort of more robust practice where someone who has achieved a level of notoriety adopted me. Er, I mean, adopted a blogger who hasn't yet. I don't mean something false - I mean, keeping one's finger on the pulse of the blogosphere and sponsoring in fresh talent from a person one really ADMIRES." -- justlinda
It sparked an interesting discussion about what, if anything, bloggers all owe each other. What expectations are out there and why.
I think everyone should help others. It's just my way and my nature. I love helping people online. I dig it. It is awesome. Rad. Super Groovy. Ridonculously funners n' stuff. I especially love helping newer or smaller bloggers that would like to grow, because I remember all the kindnesses and help that other people have given to me along the way.
I would be nothing without them, and I like to think that in my own way I am honoring them and their kind hearts when I help others. I confess that I drop the ball all the time and don't help as much as I probably could, but I try really hard to be someone that is approachable, friendly, genuine and helpful in helping everyone in this community get a toe hold or a leg up in our online world.
I have had so much sun and love from the Internet world that I want to give it back wrapped up in shiny bows and Puffy! Pink!! Hearts!!!
The minute I get a WHIFF of unreasonable/unearned expectations from someone, my knickers get all riled up in a twist. It makes me a very decidedly UNHAPPY AND FORMERLY PUFFY! PINK!! HEART!!! (I do NOT mind people asking me for help, etc. You all know there is a difference, right? Right.)
I found myself arguing and feeling that people should be allowed to help or NOT HELP as much or little as they want to.
So, I put the question out on Twitter.
The responses poured in and ranged from "Oh, NO! No one is OBLIGATED to do ANYTHING! But ... wouldn't it be so super zen if everyone did?! Then we could all hold hands in a meadow and buy the world a (Diet) Coke and teach it how to blog sing!)" to the other end of the spectrum, "Oh, HELL NO! FUCK that shit!" (Or whatever.)
I love how differently everyone expresses themselves on the Internet.
Maria pretty much nailed it on the head when she tweeted:
Word, word, WORD.
I think most would agree. In fact, in all the discussion, no one actually copped to having any expectation or obligation of larger bloggers, or of anyone online, to help boost their blogging career.
"I don't think anyone feels they owe other bloggers somehow. I think the culture of the blogosphere in general works more the other way -- people who make it big don't help others get there because they feel they need to stay on top and don't want more competitors. Sure, perhaps they work with a little insular group of blogger friends in micro-communities, but beyond that, I don't see any culture of obligation.
I also think the blogosphere in general is much different than the BlogHer community, which tends to be far more supportive and nurturing. As women, we're still at a social disadvantage online whether we're willing to admit it or not, so helping boost each other up is just an act of kindness. Calling that an obligation contradicts the concept of community."-- Sarah Granger
I can see what she is saying (As the lovely Sweetney correctly pointed out, "THE INTERNET IS NOT BLOGHER!") and I agree ... sort of.
And yet I have to disagree that no one expects it, because I KNOW that mindset is out there.
I have not only observed it, I have first-hand experience that there definitely are people out there who absolutely have expectations like that. They expect me to help them, often for no other reason than I exist, and I have achieved something. To quote Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see it."
And when I see it, it sucks.
My observation is that even if you don't THINK you expect something of a blogger (individually or as a whole), it really might just be there lurking somewhere, just wrapped up differently. If there is no expectation, then why is there this feeling of, "Well it WOULD be NICE if they actually reached out and helped people." Where does that thought/idea even come from if there is ZERO thought of expectation and obligation, you know?
Here is food for thought: If there really is no obligation, then why do people get irked, annoyed or any other negative emotion when they perceive bigger bloggers as not helping out the little guy? Is it just that they consider it ungrateful? Not putting out good Karma? Being a selfish asshat?
And what constitutes "help" anyway?
Because I see larger bloggers helping smaller bloggers all the time. It just may not be by them writing, "Go read this person! They are the next big thing"! and linking to them on their main page. (And honestly, if someone is unsatisfied with anything other than that, then they are not interested in the benefit of the blogger's experience, relationship, wisdom, etc. They are only interested in the fame or traffic. And that is just icky to me. Luckily ... I do not think this is a common attitude.) I know few people who would have the time/energy or ability to wade through and find someone to formally mentor a blogger, good idea as it is. However, I do think that many bloggers are VERY generous with their time and resources, most just do it quietly and behind the scenes.
So ... what do you think?
Do you think we all owe each other something as part of a community? Do you think that the feeling of expectation and obligation actually exists or is it bunk?
Do you think that there is an added obligation for those bloggers that have "made it" as far as traffic, reputation and status to help those that are smaller in the community?