Exhibitionists, Voyeurs, and Not Understanding Mommy Bloggers

Forgive me, but I think I’m going to ruffle a few feathers with this one….

I went to an event last night for Boston-area bloggers, and something that one of the participants said really upset me. She was a mommy blogger (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who wrote about her life as a stay-at-home mom. I can certainly see the value of writing about your personal life and parenting challenges. It can be therapeutic, and strangers on the Internet may be more honest with their feedback than your real-life friends. But there is such a thing as telling too much. This woman expressed concern that she’d been receiving some hateful comments from anonymous commenters and was afraid of attracting stalkers.

But the thing is, it seemed as if, deep-down, this woman wanted to attract stalkers. She said she wrote about specific locations that she and her kids visited and posted photos of them. I was appalled. She was putting her safety and the safety of her children in jeopardy so that she could feel like a celebrity. Instead of being freaked out when people recognized her in public, she thought it was cool. She said she wanted to build her “brand.”

It didn’t seem as if this woman wanted to make money her blog; she just wanted attention. The word “brand” echoed in my head as I was filled with waves of sympathy for this woman’s children. I pictured her ignoring her children’s cries for attention as she sat in front of the computer and typed away in an effort to fulfill her own narcissistic desires.

Blog lady, if you’re reading this, I apologize for being the anti-Destiny’s Child here. Yes, I’m dissing you on the Internet. Maybe you should look into monetizing your blog to pay for some therapy sessions. It might be time to get to the root of your pathological need for attention.

On the other side of the coin, I was a little bit freaked out about hearing about how people use Twitter to interact. As an example, they talked about sending tweets during the playoffs to discuss the Red Sox. Are we losing the ability to socialize with our neighbors? Why not invite some people from down the street over to watch the game or head out to a local bar? Or—now here’s a radical thought—try talking to the people in your own household! We are reading about strangers’ lives online when we could be talking to the people who live right next door—or in our homes.

As I write this, I realize that I sometimes fall into this trap myself. A co-worker just came by to talk about plans for our office holiday party, and I could hardly tear myself away from this blog entry. And of course, I read the facebook status updates of people from my high school whom I can barely remember. The Internet can be an incredibly valuable tool, but I think it should be used as a means to an end. Use it to find local playgroups, running clubs, or volunteer opportunities. Don’t neglect your co-workers, neighbors, and family in favor of online “friends.” They could just be creepy voyeurs anyway. Why are they so interested in your life?

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