This post has been playing on my mind for a while now. I said nothing about the whole "sponsored post" issue because everything has been said, I have nothing to add to that. But even before that issue was brought up, there has been a bit of a change in the way people view bloggers.
"Blogger" has become a dirty word in some circles. It's something I used to be proud of, being able to write 'blogger' in my twitter bio. Now I see it there and know that certain people will see that and go "Oh she's one of THEM".
Since I started blogging in 2011, there has been a shift. When I started, there weren't as many as there are now. I followed Beaut.ie, Fluff and Fripperies, Cherry Sue, Lovely Girly Bits, Red Lemonader, Leanne Woodfull and a host of lifestyle blogs that are now defunct (and sadly missed, like White Rabbit NI and A Chick Named Hermia). Events were non-existent. Product samples weren't sent out frequently. Now, there are hundreds of bloggers who put time and effort into making their spaces informative and unique to them, regular events, and PR companies that work with many bloggers to get their brands out there.
But there's another type of blogger now - the ones who embrace the entire lifestyle. The "super bloggers", or digital influencers, who pump time and money into turning themselves into a brand. They vlog, they release makeup, they publish books, they hold event days, they spend a massive amount of time promoting themselves, they become brand ambassadors - they do it as a job. This has been happening in the US and the UK for years now, but it's a relatively new concept in Ireland.
I have massive respect for people who have the dedication to do that full time. I can only imagine that preparing and scheduling posts and social media content, constantly being "on", while holding down other jobs and having a life away from the internet must be so time consuming and draining. I can't understand the hate that people get for being paid to do that, it's a job. Maybe because it's a job that didn't really exist up to 5 years ago, it's so new that people don't understand the amount of work they put in and the amount of shit they put up with. Imagine trying to do your job and having a constant stream of people telling you you're doing it wrong, or you look like shit today.
If you believe a blogger or influencer is waffling about a product because they've been told to, then either don't buy the product, or go try it out for yourself and see what you think - simple as that. Don't sit bitching about the person.
And therein lies the reason behind this post. Because of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, bloggers are expected to share every minute detail of their lives. I joined Snapchat last year for the craic, because I'm a stay at home Mum and my husband works - I don't really see anyone during the day. I don't see it as an extension to my blog - my blog is a hobby, not a job. I fell in love with Snapchat - gradually I started getting more followers by word of mouth, and I'm now at the point where over 3,000 people watch and interact with me daily.
I've had conversations with people from all over the world, from Texas to New Zealand. I've had chats about slow cookers, slimming world, children, twins, shopping, books, bargains, beauty - I love the interaction and I love the fact that I always have somebody to talk to now.
But with that, comes a nasty side. A few months ago, I was told my house is a shithole, all I do it sit on my arse, I'm not a real blogger, and my kids are being dragged up. I get intrusive questions daily - a lecture on how to use a grill around children, 'show us your husband', why do I 'let' my kids get up so early, etc. Yesterday, someone disliked me so much that they felt the need to take to a forum and rip me to pieces over the way I'm raising my children. They said that my kids look ill because we never go anywhere or do anything, that they won't have any childhood memories of me because I always have my back to them while I'm facing a screen, that they run around all day on their own and I don't interact with them, that I'm selfish, narcissistic, that I'm on Snapchat all day every day and it's all about ME. That I share so much that I obviously don't do anything with them or I'd be sharing that too.
Of course it's all about me. It's my Snapchat channel. I'm myself on Snapchat - but I choose what to show you. I change nappies several times a day, I don't show that. I have showers and use the toilet, you don't see that. I have sex with my husband, you definitely don't hear me going on about that. Actually, you don't even see my husband, because he detests social media. I limit the amount of snaps of my boys (my eldest rarely appears because he doesn't want to) because people were screenshotting them, and also because I don't want them plastered all over social media. It's not their decision, they can't say "don't do that". I don't film activities because I don't sit playing with them while holding a phone. I don't film in their Nana's house every evening, or their baths, or their tantrums.
I choose what you see.
That doesn't mean I'm being deceptive - but this goes for the digital influencers and other bloggers too. They choose what you see. You don't see the girl with 50,000 followers crying herself to sleep at night because of a torrent of vile personal abuse on an instagram photo. You don't see the boy sitting alone in the dark replaying someone's insult about his voice over and over and over and over in his head until 3am. You don't see people washing dishes, or cleaning their homes, or arguing with their partners, or telling their children off.
But - we have public accounts, we should put up with it, right? I mean, just because you have a public account, that means you're bound to get hate and you need to ignore it. Rise above it. Don't give them a reaction.
Sorry, but No.
If I see someone out in public and think "that's a horrible coat" - can I just walk up to them and tell them their coat is shit because they have chosen to wear it in public? Can I walk up to someone in a shop and say "just thought I'd ask why your accent is so weird". Can I go up to someone on the street and say "you should get off your phone and pay attention to your baby", or walk up to someone in a chemist and say "are you paying tax?" Is that all okay to do? Is that where we are now?
Nothing makes me despair more than seeing parents being spiteful. You are responsible for a new generation, one that will grow up in a very social media-led world. You are responsible for shaping their behaviours, their attitudes. It scares me that there are parents who would put energy and time into berating and tearing down people because they don't agree with what they do or how they raise their kids. Go raise your own children perfectly, in that case, and leave mine to me. If you're concerned about the welfare of children in general, I'm sure Barnardos would love a fundraiser.
If you don't agree with the way someone promotes products, or the way they speak, or what they do,
Why are you punishing yourself by watching something you know will annoy you? I've unfollowed people who annoy me. I haven't sat behind a forum nickname and bitched about them.
There's an argument that "we need somewhere we can go to criticize bloggers". I disagree wholeheartedly. I just think that if you don't like something, don't watch it. I don't like a certain TV show, I don't watch it. I don't like certain magazines, I don't read them. I don't like some websites, I don't log on. I don't see myself logging on to Digital Spy anytime soon just to bitch about how much I don't like the soaps anymore or how a certain character wrecks my head.
I can't see the situation improving unless people realise that what they say has a very real effect on others. Until they realise that when they write a message, that a real person will be reading that. I'm not writing this for attention, or for validation - I had hundreds of supportive messages yesterday on Snapchat and Facebook, from people from all walks of life. I know I'm a good mother and a good person. I also know I'm not going to be universally liked - who is - but if I wreck your head, please don't watch me. You're only annoying yourself.
To quote EmilySkyeFit on Snapchat - imagine all the good you could do in the world if you put all that negative energy into something positive. You could make a real difference, you could be someone people look up to, instead of someone people block, unfollow, avoid.