Thursday, August 4, 2011

You're What's Wrong with America: Mommy Bloggers!

For those of you who missed the show last night, I'm posting my monologue here. Of course in just reading it on the virtual page, you miss out on my intonation, my snide eyebrow raising, and my tromping around the stage. However, rest assured that if you want a private reading, this can be arranged if the Price is Right. Because, you know-- as I explain below-- now that I can't make a living as a writer anymore, I got lots o' time on my hands and am exploring all potential income avenues. 

Just as we must certainly lay much blame at the feet of Al Gore—who, in inventing the Internet blazed the trail for Facebook fuckups, online stalking, and that ever-deepening well of narcissism known as YouTube —I must myself shamefacedly take responsibility in large part for the advent of the evilest subcategory of all in Gore’s virtual hellhole: Mommy Bloggers.

Yes, it’s true—I was a blogging pioneer, helping swing wide the gates, allowing through a stampede of self-serving typists armed with cell phone cameras, instant uploading capabilities, and an insistence in believing that theirs are stories the world simply cannot live without. And, worse, that these stories must be told daily, hourly and sometimes at more frequent intervals still, so that we can know, for instance, that right now they are taking a dump at the Starbucks at the corner of 38th & Guadalupe, and, as a matter of fact, they’ve just uploaded a picture of said dump because, Hey, Doesn’t It look Just Like a Question Mark LOL LOL?!!

But while Al and I, ourselves, might fall under the label: You’re What’s Wrong With America, allow me the weak defense of suggesting that we did not understand at the outset what our actions would set into motion. Nonetheless, I would still like to apologize profusely for my unwitting contribution to this unstoppable deluge of constant navel-and-nipple-gazing. Perhaps if I explain how I came to help create the monster known as MOMMY BLOGGER you will find it in your hearts to forgive me.

A brief history is in order here. In 1995 I was invited by a company called Prodigy—bigger at the time than AOL! (Remember them?)—to email out a weekly update of my life. The word “blog” had yet to be coined. All I knew was that I was getting $500 a pop to detail my life as a doting mother, champion alcoholic, and aspiring slut. Great work if you can get it and all I had to do to keep the income flowing was observe and record my son’s adorable antics, throw back nightly six-packs on the front porch and report back, and bed down a parade of narcissists and sociopaths so that I could then trumpet their follies for all the world— or at least my dozens of subscribers— to take in. I happily exposed everything from what it’s like to get a tattoo to how a man’s choice to wear banana hammock underpants is a pretty good sign that he’s in love with himself. Yes, there were others like me out there, but not nearly so many as today.

But somewhere along the way, something changed. Let’s call this change and, dangerous tools that suddenly allowed everyone and their mother to become “published writers.” Just as French Bulldogs have become all the rage— causing the breed to be less of an exotic status symbol and more a commonplace sign of the evils of over-breeding— now what was once considered the excitement, luster, and charm of personal exposition has become equal parts passé and cliché.

How I loved writing about my darling child, my horrible boyfriends, my vitriolic divorces, my eventual quest for sobriety, my dogs. And how very much I hate reading about yours. You, you, you— fucking YOU! What the hell ever happened to Me, Me, Me, Me, ME? You fuckers with keyboards and time to kill have ruined my life. Yes, it was funny when I revealed that breastfeeding for two years left me with nipples the size of pancakes—I mean like at Denny’s, not Kerbey Lane. But no, I do not care about your clogged ducts, your baby’s failure to latch on, the sundry boob goo you must slather on the keep the chapping at bay.

Your bad ex-husband, the one banging his high school sweetheart, his younger co-worker, your married sister? I don’t want to hear about it. I cornered that market years ago. It’s over. Finished. You need to shut up now and let me get back to what was once a specialty profession and is now the playground of you rank amateurs creating drama for the sake of content, harboring zero respect at all for those of us who genuinely fucked up our lives not just to “have something to write about” but because… well because that’s just what we did.

Mind you, I am not begrudging you the right to tell your sad, sordid and/or wildly boring tales. Catharsis, per se, is not a bad thing. But your ceaseless quest for branding and exposure and platform building, your insistence on pumping out baby after baby, detailing every runny nose, every timeout, every skinned knee, every tooth cut, every anguishing moment of having to choose between homeschooling and private schools… all this in the name of trading keystrokes for ego strokes, and for selling out your kids’ childhoods in the name of pushing McClaren strollers and organic cotton onesies in your GoogleAds? You, too, like the French Bulldog people, are nothing but proof of the dangers of over-breeding.

And, no really, you can stop now.

And to all of you bloggers out there—mommy bloggers, daddy bloggers, citizen journalists, and the rest of you— cranking out virtual reams of ill-formed sentences because some company has convinced you to trade your work for “exposure” at their website? Here is what you and your giveaways have done to my now-failing business. Your obscenely abundant word supply has tipped the scale’s balance. When you provide, at absolutely no cost, the words Big Box America needs to wrap around their SEO terms in order to show up on the first page of Google search returns, you redefine free speech and give rise to a movement I’ll call WORDSWORTHLESSNESS. I can no longer make even the most meager living with my writing.

And so I have had to find other avenues to make my way, keep my roof, feed my belly. Now, in order to eat, I must unite couples in marriage, teach small children how to fashion evening gowns out of pillowcases, and connive to part full-grown adults from their hard earned money in exchange for the promise that I will share my deep well of macramé knowledge. And those just the fun parts of re-inventing Do the Hustle.

Oh you bloggers with your micro-niches, your uber-focused posts and tweets force-feeding us shit your dad says and tales of your attempts to recreate ancient baguette recipes? You have painted us all into a virtual corner, one where we dare not show range, but must instead strive daily to come up with the next gimmicky topic.

Now, the rare times I am asked to write—er, “create content”— for dough, here is how it does and doesn’t go. It does not go, “Yo, Spike, come up with a cool topic and wax deeply and thoughtfully upon it as we know your take on life will delight our readers!”

Oh no. Instead I get, “Yo Spike, find attached a document with a list of SEO terms. We actually don’t give a crap what you write about, or even if you write well. Just play it safe, keep it bland, and work those SEOs in as often as possible to drive traffic to our site so we can move units.”

And so has gone the one-two punch of my career destruction at your monkey-at-a-keyboard hands. There is but a sliver of a silver lining here, though, as time I once dedicated to writing I can now use for other things. Like wondering if I am too old to go back to waitressing. Or, better still, creating a little fantasy of my own that goes like this:

 Here I am, using Al Gore’s modern day Pandora’s box to track them down, all these imposters and interlopers, blogging away. I friend them on Facebook and track them on LinkedIn. I discover many things, most important of which being Day Job Locale. I spend a few minutes, a few hours, a day – googling buzzwords and key terms relevant to their office work, the one that pays their bills.

And then cheerfully, so cheerfully, I show up one day, unannounced. I slip into an empty carrel and get right to work. I send out a memo, company-wide. “It’s okay,” I begin, “You can all go home now. You’re job here is finished, we don’t need you anymore. For you see, I’ve come to work for free. Because I think it will be fun! I’m sure I can do it. And I’m just know the exposure will be grand. LOL. LOL. LOL.”

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