We've all seen the term "mommy blogger" or "mom blogger," and it's almost impossible for new parents to perform an internet search, for anything baby related, without stumbling across a mom blogger's website. The booming baby business relies heavily on mom bloggers for product marketing and "word of mouth" advertising, but how much stock should the average person put in mom bloggers' advice and product recommendations?
While I began blogging for work years ago, and maintained a personal blog for a while, it wasn't until I became a mother that I decided to blog publicly. Spending my 20s and early 30s forging a career, my life was turned upside-down when I decided to stay at home to raise my son. With a little more sleep under my belt, I became restless, worried about my resumé gap, and was in desperate need for a creative outlet. The solution to my situation, I felt, was to begin blogging publicly. Why not share my experiences with other new moms, and crowdsource parenting ideas by developing a community?
When we decided to start a family, I made the decision to cloth diaper any future children we might have. In an effort to learn as much as possible, I found myself surfing the Internet, sifting through blogs that provided all the information I could possibly want (and more) about cloth diapering. I became enmeshed in the cloth diapering world, and was introduced to natural parenting as an extension of the community. Mom bloggers helped me shape my parenting ideas before my son was born, and were wonderful resources in those early new parent months. This was a community I wanted to be a part of, and blogging publicly was a way for me to contribute to the discussion.
My first year of blogging was marked by trial and error, and the skill set I developed was more than I could have ever imagined. My experiences networking with other bloggers have been overwhelmingly positive, and I've forged many wonderful relationships as a result. However, the more entrenched I became in the blogging community, the more I "saw"; there is a side of mommy blogging that isn't positive, and that makes me cringe each time I witness a negative interaction.
While the nature of blogging assuredly means that personal viewpoints will be shared, I get increasingly concerned when I see shaming and judgmental behavior run rampant on blog Facebook pages. I worry when mom bloggers, with large followings often built through hosting giveaways for baby items (it's how I began building my blog following), use their platform and influence to spread misinformation (or a skewed agenda), or "gang up" on people with the gumption to share their differing opinions publicly. While I never participated in any "Mean Girl" activity during my formative years (I was the target, if anything), I find myself witnessing this behavior with many mommy bloggers, and step away from my laptop with a bad taste in my mouth.
I've seen virtual altercations and shaming occur over a variety of parenting of topics: how one washes his/her baby's cloth diapers, vaccination, circumcision, breast v. bottle feeding, co-sleeping, baby sleep issues, and many more. I've been the target myself, being vocal about our success with sleep training, my opinion that sick babies should be kept home, and even where training potties should be placed in one's home. I blog to share my experiences, what has worked for me and what hasn't; it is not my place to judge how others parent, or weigh in on other parents' child-rearing decisions. Mom bloggers share their opinions (it's the very nature of the activity), but more and more I see "abuses of power." Truth be told, I've "unfollowed" many blogs as a result.
Another "dark side" of mommy blogging includes those who are review and giveaway bloggers. Many, of these women are in it for free products and quick payouts. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to try new products, or earning money while staying at home to raise children, the way in which many of these bloggers conduct themselves and their blogs is often less than honorable. I am wary of mommy bloggers who do nothing than churn out perfunctory reviews of "great products," regurgitating product information companies post on their websites and assuring their followers that every product they promote is "great." These types of mom bloggers are often the most competitive in blogging groups, shaming, judging, and ganging up on bloggers who deign to share a differing opinion, and intimidating new bloggers looking for connection and information. Mean girl syndrome at its ugliest.
I rebranded my blog last summer for several reasons: 1) I felt that being a mom was only one aspect of who I was and what I had to say, 2) I felt that I was limiting myself by being branded as a "mommy blogger," and 3) I did not want to be lumped into a blog niche that possessed large numbers of women who engaged in the negative behaviors previously mentioned. Rebranding was one of the best decisions I made, and it coincided with a conscious change in my blogging and writing goals.
Blogging publicly provides people with a platform to convey information to a wide audience, and I never take that kind of influence lightly. My readers share differing opinions, and I welcome those opinions, especially when conveyed in a respectful manner. I can guarantee you'll never see me shaming, judging, or fostering "Mommy Wars" in/on any of my public forums (or personally, for that matter). I urge other bloggers to be mindful of the influence they have, as a result of their blogging platform, and for readers to question the authority of myriad of mommy bloggers out there.
What are your thoughts on mommy bloggers? Have you witnessed any of the behaviors I've mentioned? Do you trust most mom bloggers' product recommendations and experiences?