June 30th, 2008
I’ve been blogging since 2001. For many years, I remained content to write in my little corner of the universe, rarely reaching out to other bloggers and vice versa. In fact, I never promoted my blog, included its link in comments, or spoke about it much at all. Part of my seclusion arose from the feeling that I could never be a part of what was going on in the blogosphere. It looked “closed” to me, and I didn’t want to invite myself to the party. I’m way too underconfident for that.
Then, something happened. I noticed more and more bloggers practicing a spirit of inclusiveness and sharing. Why, these bloggers were actually inviting people to the party, and suddenly? I wanted to be part of the community. No longer did I feel like the geeky kid hanging out by my locker ostracized by the popular kids. Now, that clique appeared irrelevant, and another group stood in its place — one that smiled at everyone and beckoned me from my locker.
So I started a new blog and joined the fun. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done. The friends I’ve made in the few months since the launch of San Diego Momma in January are supportive, nurturing and accepting. And I hope they feel the same about me.
But every now and then, I see vestiges of the way it used to be, and it saddens me. Most recently, I witnessed a top blogger snark on the blog of one of the “newer” bloggers — a blogger I read occasionally whose posts are delightful, witty and wise. The “A List” blogger launched her attack on the very public Twitter forum, accusing the delightful blogger of copying from a pastiche of other venerable bloggers. The snark did not go unnoticed — in fact, the delightful blogger read it firsthand. The aftermath proved divisive, with supporters on either side facing off in the comments section of both parties. In her own blog, the A lister defended her criticism as being a combination of freedom of speech and non-conformism. Reading this, I thought two things: one, the A lister’s own blog seemed derivative (as are most of ours, the thing making us all unique is our voice, not necessarily the content or the theme), and second, that her definition of non-conformism rang untrue.
I’ve encountered this type of thing before. Not the blogging meanness, but one supposedly “enlightened” person condescending to someone they consider “unenlightened.” I know a few people who grow irritated or intolerant of those they consider as lagging on the path of self-actualization, positioning themselves as so far up the road, that they cannot deign to look back with understanding or empathy at those behind them. To me, this is not enlightenment, this is judgment. Not so self-actualized.
So too with the non-conformist. In my opinion, a true non-conformist lives his or her life outside the box, and lets other people live as they will, too. Pointing out someone’s conformity is not non-conformist. It’s mean. And decidedly inside the box. If you’re so busy living your non-conformist life, why does it matter so much to you what others do? Seems as if the label of “non-conformist” is more important than actually being one.
The A lister is most definitely entitled to her opinion. She absolutely holds the right to share that opinion. But to broadcast it so publicly calls her motivation into question. I heard (from Dr. Phil, no less. How’s that for conformity?) that anger (and her snark certainly smacked of anger) comes from hurt or fear. I’m wondering if the mean comment came from fear. And if so, what is she so afraid of? Exclusivity, in MY opinion, is born from fear. Fear of not being the big fish in the pond, of not being top dog forever. Exclusivity is not guaranteed when other people are allowed in…and maybe that was the motivation.
I don’t know really. What I do know if that the community feeds us all. Poison that, and we all suffer. There’s all kinds of blogs out there of varying degrees of greatness, but please don’t make it personal. Just move on and read something else. There’s enough content out there. That’s the beauty of our community.