This is an open letter of apology to the mom bloggers I normally scorn for jumping on the traffic bandwagon after a terrible event makes national news.
In the later hours of last Friday, I saw a lot of people posting things on Facebook, trying to gather their blogger colleagues together to write about the tragedy and gun control and mental illness, and I had flashbacks to the very recent aftermath of the movie theater shooting in Colorado, when it seemed like every new post on Babble.com or Huffington Post Parents was about how to talk to your kids about the shooting, and every mom blogger – especially those with high traffic (at least it seemed to me) – was posting about how she felt about the shooting, and how she was going to act to make the world a better place. The same thing happened after Hurricane Sandy. “Look at me!” they all seemed to be saying. “Look at me and how generous and active I am! I am helping!”
And so when I anticipated the inevitable glut of posts about Newtown, CT I decided I had to shut the internet down because I knew that I could not stand my colleagues using this tragedy to get attention. I voiced my opinion in a closed Facebook discussion about this, and mine was in the minority, which I expected.
Since then, I have had several phone discussions with my kindred spirit friends, during which there was lots of crying and philosophizing and fist-shaking at God, wherever He is.
“People grieve in different ways,” is the phrase that keeps coming up. I want to believe that my colleagues have their hearts in the right places when they organize a “blog hop” about gun control, or pour out their hearts on their blogs. I actually do believe that most of them do. But I know that out there somewhere on the internet is that traffic whore who’s going to tailor her blog posts to the latest search terms and she’s going to milk it as hard as she can. And that for every one of her, there are journalists, reporters, dad bloggers, makeup bloggers, entertainment bloggers, rock stars, jugglers, and sword-swallowers who are trying to get in on some of that action, too.
So what am I doing here?
It took me two full days of balls-out crying, ugly cry, in public and everything, to come to this realization. In my anger over this meaningless topic, I divert my grief and rage. So what if every mom blogger I’ve ever known posts something and gets all the internet traffic? Who cares? Out of that battle cry there may come some good, even. Myself – I am not in any position to address that topic, or mental illness, or the culture of violence in our media, or the mass-shooters-are-always-white-privileged-men theory. I am simply destroyed, and I need a rest.
There was a time when I was like them. I wanted to use my blog as a platform to Raise Awareness! After Hurricane Katrina I gathered donations for a family in New Orleans whose little girls didn’t have any clothes to wear to school. After Hurricane Sandy I posted photos of my hometown, because I knew my blog had a wider audience than the photographer’s. I often write about Help a Mother Out here, and I energize you, my audience, to help me get diapers to diaperless babies.
This is also about my loss of faith. Yes, in the last year I have suffered great loss. I’ve grown mopey on this blog, and cynical, and fatalist. I lash out with bitterness. I saw that where once my mom blogger community was one of comfort and shared experience, it has diverged into coupons and recipes and columns and trips to Africa and Twitter parties and marketing companies and who’s making money and we’re all competing for the same eyeballs and I’ve had it with all of that. I am recommitting to noticing and acknowledging my fellow bloggers, both known and new to me, who do this because we love it, whether they are “internet famous” or not, or making money or not. Sometimes the cream rises, sometimes it stays in the dark refrigerator where nobody knows it’s there. It’s still cream.
I release my grudges. I return to loving you, and reading the blogs I’ve always loved. I can see past the attention-grabbers, and I can sense the sincerity of kindred spirits. I want to embrace you again, and ignore the rest, and throw off the pall of bitterness that causes me to miss well-intentioned, good-hearted, soulful writing.
Here is what I read this weekend. Click on it only if you can promise yourself that you can either avoid, or you need, a good ugly cry.
Thinking the Unthinkable – The Anarchist Soccer Mom
A Methodical Massacre: Horror and Heroics – The Hartford Courant
Victims’ Names – LA Times
A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope – The National Association of School Psychologists
On Guns and School Shootings – Work at Home Mom
A Note From Dawn – VDog and Little Man (Vdog is a blogger friend and colleague who lost a nephew in the shooting)
Five Things to Consider Before Talking To Your Kids About Today’s Tragedy – Rage Against the Minivan
Lastly, I quote Sharon Greenthal here, because it she who provoked my lashing out and my meditations on this topic. She is a writer I admire, and when I saw this sentence, I knew I was angry at the wrong thing.
…as a blogger I have the opportunity – responsibility – to share the information I’ve been able to gather about how to express your opinion, donate your time and money, or send your messages of sympathy and caring.
From The Sandy Hook Massacre and Gun Control, What You Can Do To Help: Empty House, Full Mind.