Temerity Jane
06. 04. 2011

Oh my god, oh my god, I can’t deal with another day of whining about the decline of the “blogging community” without asking: who the hell do you honestly think you’re talking about?

Seriously. Who is “the community?” Who comprises “the community?”

I know you can’t possibly think you’re talking about all bloggers, everywhere.

Not even all mom bloggers (which, let’s be honest, is where the “community! community!” stomping seems to come from). Because you can’t POSSIBLY think you’re in a position to lump all mom bloggers – let alone all blogs – as part of some unified community.

So who are you talking about? People who are attempting to make money/a career from their blog or in social media? That’s a pretty – no, EXTREMELY – small portion of bloggers, when you think about it – which you haven’t.

Or maybe bloggers who attend the same conferences and events that you do – again, very small group.

Or maybe bloggers you associate with on the regular. But you can’t mean them, because then you’d be lecturing to your friends, when it isn’t your friends who are the problem, it’s the other people.

So, who all is this “community?” You’ve got to have some kind of defined group in mind when you start worrying about the decline of “the community,” or else, what are you even talking about?

What I find hard to imagine is a way in which “community” can be defined such that it makes sense for a person – ANY person, because it has been SO many different people at different points in time – to climb up onto their soapbox and lecture about how “the community” needs to behave in order to prevent the INEVITABLE AND VERY CLEARLY IMPENDING destruction of “the community.”

I mean, before I can accept anyone as a voice for “the community” and an authority on “WHAT WE ALL NEED TO DO TO STOP THIS,” I need to know who that person thinks they’re talking to.

My “community,” I think, is built around my own specific site, and it would be ridiculous for me to ever think otherwise, because what the hell do I even have in common with any larger group?

So this here is my community, and you’re reading this, so you’re probably part of it, and you already know – I pretty much rule this shit with an iron fist. I’ve got no shame about it – this is my place and it’s my way or up yours.

And I’m a member of other communities, the central hub of which would be a certain blog or blogger, and I participate, but certainly wouldn’t think to speak for THOSE communities, because I’m not the boss of them, but I enjoy horsing around in and with them because they suit me.

And then, of course, there are more loosely formed communities of like-minded, like-humored or just liked people I hang about with on Twitter or what have you – I think you’d refer to those people as my friends and I certainly wouldn’t think to stand up and lecture them about how we all need to behave as a group, because, uh, come on.

I can speak for me and govern my own behavior. I can wave my little e-scepter around and tell people on this site – part of this community for which I write all the words and pay all the hosting – what shit is going to fly and what shit isn’t and change the rules by the day, IF I felt like it, which I usually don’t. I can control my own behavior – after all, I’m an adult who can decide these things – when I participate in other communities, and the heads of THOSE communities and other members can welcome me in or kind of shoulder me out, in a weird Internet Darwinism where the non-fitter-inners are eventually excluded by mutual, “eh, it isn’t working out” kind of decision. On a similar note, as an adult, I can also turn away from behavior I don’t care for, weed it out of my OWN community, or not participate in communities that engage in behavior I don’t like.

Behavior I don’t like – not behavior “the group” has decided is an unliked behavior because WHAT FUCKING GROUP?

But do you know how many blogs I read? A LOT. Too many for me to draw any kind of unifying “community” between them as a whole, and certainly too many for me to elect myself The Boss of Appropriate Conduct and try to “fix” what is wrong with a whole bunch of things that don’t really have anything in common to begin with.

And I read a LOT of them – and I bet you do, too – and that’s not even CLOSE to all of them! I mean, I realize the big trend right now is to whine about how blogging has changed and all of that, but surely people realize that their experience is not the universal experience? ESPECIALLY with something as diverse as blogging? There are 4 jillion blogs out there – you don’t read even a notable fraction of them, if you’re being honest with yourself, so how can anyone at all speak with any authority about “community” and how the behavior of some is ruining the experience of others?

What community! Who are you talking about!

If something is going on that is ruining “the community,” I think that to solve it, first you need to decide what exactly it is that you consider to be “the community.” Then, think about why you feel you’re in a position to govern the behavior of “the community.” Is it because you pay for or write the site the community is focused around? Is it because you feel like everyone needs to ensure that your experience is as molded to your own personal needs and expectations as possible? Is it because you have some kind of god complex? Is it because traffic was low this month and you needed to stir something up?

Is it because you haven’t realized the world is changing around you and you’re completely out of touch with what “community,” as it relates to blogging, actually is and your own authority within it?

Look, just get back to me when you’ve decided WHO the community is and WHY you think that you need to lead the charge to fix it.

Until then, I don’t think anyone really has any place to speak for or about “the community.”

57 responses to “But you’re wreeecking the commuuuuuuuunittyyy!”

  1. Diane says:

    E-SCEPTER.

    And, yes. I just want to make a t-shirt or a banner ad or a button or something that says THE INTERNET IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR NEEDS.

    At the same time, I hope the drama never stops, because it is entertaining as hell.

    TJ Reply:

    HIGH FIVE on that last line.

  2. Becky says:

    By far, my favorite line of the day:

    “…it’s my way or up yours.”

    YES. I want that on a shirt.

  3. Dawn says:

    I really don’t get what all the fuss is about; I follow the blogs and read the postings of those bloggers whom I find interesting and funny and thought provoking and have never once felt the need to lament any change. Just keep the content comin’ y’all (not from Texas but oh well). You keep ruling with an iron fist there TJ!

  4. Meg says:

    I don’t think that any of the blogs I read relate to each other in any semblance of way. I love this entry, it’s accurate to the extreme.

  5. Stacey says:

    Yes! All of this. Thought provoking and on the money.

  6. Wendy says:

    Yes, yes, YES!

    I bet a million dollars that the “save the community” bloggers don’t spend a whole lot of time reading the blogs of the people (like me) who make up the mass of the “mommy blogger” community. I have about 75 readers a day, I’ve made some buddies blogging but most of my life happens off the internet, I’ve never made a red cent from my blog but I keep writing because I like it. I am not being destroyed. I don’t have hate sites. I’m just fine as are, I suspect, the VAST majority of people in this alleged community that the self-appointed leaders are dying to protect.

    Wendy Reply:

    Oh, and this is just my snarky side coming out, I suspect that some people actually really like being the targets of controvery/”hate” because it gives them the incredible chance to talk about themselves and to enjoy the sympathetic tongue bathes of their friends and readers who will jump into the comments, eager to talk about how “brave” they are for talking about it.

    And their page views go up and up and up.

    (I’m kind of cynical)

    TJ Reply:

    This is DEFINITELY true for some people. For example, right now, I am watching one person call another person a troll. Now, I think of a troll as an anonymous person who shows up only to stir shit. In this case, the person is NOT anonymous and is guilty of nothing more than disagreeing. But slapping on the label of “troll” or “hate” allows a person to play the victim when it otherwise would be a ridiculous stance to take.

    However, there is also a particular blogger who I read from time to time (no issues with her at all) and I have literally FALLEN across hate and criticism of her on message boards – even COMPLETELY UNRELATED message boards. I mean, out of NOWHERE. And not one time, not EVER, have I seen this woman tweet or blog about being hated or trolled or anything like that.

  7. TUWABVB says:

    Thought I couldn’t possibly love you more than I did after the dogs eating watermelon, but I do – thank you for saying this! We wouldn’t stand for such generalizations outside of the Internet, why do it withing the blogging “community?” I’m not self-centered enough to think that I know and/or read everyone that has an impact on blogging, so please, don’t tell me how I can and cannot behave. It’s maddening – and you said it so well.

    TJ Reply:

    In general, I find the idea of adults trying to tell other adults that they are not capable of managing their own behavior to their own standards to be ridiculous.

  8. shriek house says:

    Oh TJ. Just get on board already and COMMUNITIZE.

    TJ Reply:

    I am pretty sure that all my Internet problems and peeves could be totally solved if I would just get! on! board!

  9. Jean Smith says:

    I got tired of reading the word ‘community’.

    Jett Reply:

    Coincidentally, there are those of us who tire of hearing it.

  10. Lynnette says:

    But… wait! I must not be part of the “community” that is peeved about the “loss of community”! Here I am, incensed by proxy, when I don’t really know what you’re talking about. I feel like I need to start exploring more popular blogs just to be in on the conversation about the dilution of the community. Then, I can say with authority that all these other bloggers are ruining my experience. Meta.

    TJ Reply:

    I would like to just once see one of these “the community is ruined” people point to me, or to you, or to anyone specific and say, “Well, YOU’RE not part of the community.”

  11. Capn John says:

    “Won’t somebody please think of the community?!”

  12. TJ, I love you best when you are in a righteous froth.

    Yes. Yes!

    I mean, maybe their own, personal internet community changed and fine, they can complain. But isn’t it interesting that the ones who complain the loudest about their changing community are the ones who, uh, changed it?

    jonniker Reply:

    And are the ones making it awful by constantly talking about it. Which is funny, because I talk about brands and branding and all that crap and how CREEPY some of it is, but I also keep that separate from my community, which is of MY FRIENDS and readers.

    TJ Reply:

    I’m not AS bothered by change or comments on change as I am by the notion held by those complaining the loudest – that the change has not only been UNIVERSAL, but universally BAD. The idea that this “community” they have in their minds does not exist and they do NOT speak for everyone – in fact, seem largely IGNORANT that there even IS an everyone outside of their small group – is completely foreign.

  13. Vronak says:

    wha…??

    TJ Reply:

    Well, I feel the post is quite clear, so don’t really know how to respond to this except to say that not all posts are intended for a universal audience, I suppose.

  14. Swistle says:

    It sounds so ELDERLY to me whenever I hear it—and I am out of the loop on the most recently outbreak of this particular topic, so I hope I don’t say anything that sounds like I’m going for anyone in particular, but for me all such complaining goes in that WHOLE CATEGORY of “Things used to be better before YOU PEOPLE came and ruined everything!,” when it’s pretty clear that they weren’t better, or that the ways in which they WERE better for the speaker were ways in which they SUCKED for a lot of other people—like when someone will complain about how you used to be able to get a maid for practically nothing. Wellllllll, yes, betcha that was GREAT! for EVERYONE! Or when people complain about rising prices, without taking into account rising wages. Or when people complain that a certain kind of music used to be good before other people started liking it too. Or when a recent A-list celebrity complains about the A-list only after being dropped to C-list. Or when people complain about decreasing quality, without taking into account decreasing prices. Or ANYTHING where someone complains about a change that (1) has not been shown to have taken place and/or (2) has not been shown to have been for the worse and/or (3) has not been shown to have been uncompensated/balanced in its changiness.

    I’ve lost my place. Elderly-person complaining, is my point. Is what it sounds like to me. Which is not to say that all elderly people complain like that, CERTAINLY NOT. Only that when I have heard “nostalgia complaining,” it seems to increase proportionately with the age of the people doing it.

    TJ Reply:

    The whole “not been shown” and “not worse,” etc, are exactly what I’m talking about, along with “NOT UNIVERSAL.”

    Example: over and over lately, I see “Twitter has ruined blogging” and “no one comments any more,” both spoken with authority, as though they MUST be the universal experience, because they are THAT person’s experience.

    It’s frustrating. Because neither of those things are true, yet it’s people speak with SUCH AUTHORITY about what “the community” is experiencing.

    Swistle Reply:

    I was thinking this afternoon that I think it’s also a combination of “disillusionment” and “lack of self-awareness about that being normal.” Like, people build something up too high in their minds; then, when it later inevitably disappoints, they say their original elevated opinion was RIGHT, it’s just that then the thing changed—rather than realizing that they were wrong to begin with.

    TJ Reply:

    I have SO MANY TIMES on this blog tried to address the idea of people really seeming to be kind of AFRAID of normalcy or at least not willing to admit to it, and I find your theory to be QUITE SOUND.

  15. Carla Hinkle says:

    I can’t read the “but they’re ruining the COMMUNITY” stuff without mentally adding “now get off my lawn!” Old people complaining, indeed.

    TJ Reply:

    “I don’t like the way things have changed [for me, because it hasn’t occurred to me that other people may not be having the same experience]!”

  16. kakaty says:

    I love you, TJ.

    (And now in my head I picture you, laying under the hut waving your e-scepter around and comanding the dogs to do your bidding)

    TJ Reply:

    Maybe if I had an ACTUAL scepter, they’d listen.

  17. lak says:

    Errr … what?

    TJ Reply:

    Not all posts are intended for all readers, I suppose.

  18. Veronica says:

    You’ve got no idea how perfect this is for me right now. Really. I’m going to get myself in trouble for sharing it, I’m sure – but it’s perfect.

    TJ Reply:

    Well, if you do get in trouble, I suppose I can share the trouble, but only some of it, as I’m trying to watch my blood pressure and the Internet gets me SO RILED UP.

    Veronica Reply:

    If I share my chocolate and we laugh about it at the same time, surely that will keep your blood pressure down? No wait, chocolate raises blood pressure. Sorry.

    I’m still in awe of how perfect this post is for some stuff I’m seeing right now – and I’m pretty sure I saw it on different blogs than you.

  19. Personally I’m offended by you bashing the Community. I love the Community. Mostly the episodes Joel McHale is in. My God, that man is funny. Leave Joel McHale alone.

    PS. I don’t have a scepter but I do have a scimitar you can borrow. Never hurts to have a second set of prints on a scimitar.

    TJ Reply:

    I don’t watch the Community, but I do have these melamine plates from Target, which I wrote about here one time, and then someone told me that the same plates were ON Community, so it is very possible I am biting the hand that feeds me here, or at least the hand that feeds the face it’s associated with off the same plates as me.

    And while I would normally take you up on your scimitar offer, we’re expecting a baby in like, 15 minutes (ok, 3 weeks) and I made my husband clean out the guest room and put all the swords away and promise not to buy more, so I’d be a pretty big hypocrite if I brought anything in the sword family into the house.

    Jenny, Bloggess Reply:

    Too late. Already in the mail. Tell him it’s a special tool to help you cut the cord.

    Zoot Reply:

    I was going to come here and comment on the wisdom of this post by TJ…but instead I feel the need to now say: “I HEART ABED.”

    The end.

    (Oh, and AMEN! to the actual post TJ wrote. BAH.)

  20. cagey says:

    I don’t see us as much as a community. Rather, I think we are a gaggle…a flock ….a herd….a pod. Community? Nope. Oh sure, we all rush together to support a select few, but the vast majority are left to our own devices when we are in need.

    TJ Reply:

    And people, I think, are deliberately ignorant about how VAST the vast majority – outside the select few – really is.

  21. Lora says:

    community or no, I’m happy your in mine. Now if I could only get you to move into my neighborhood for reals…

    TJ Reply:

    Is it less than 100 degrees there? I might could be convinced.

  22. cagey says:

    Oh, and I am not saying *I* needed anything or that *my* needs weren’t met, I am just saying that the “community” at large seems to serve the express purpose of a very few. Not sure if that makes sense.

  23. I’m pretty sure the community doesn’t agree with this post.

    I’m going to go to my local community center and complain to the 84 year old ladies who are having their free lunch there and escaping the heat.

  24. Maria says:

    I haven’t had Twitter open at all today and I can GUESS what this is about and take a good guess at EVERY SINGLE PERSON INVOLVED. If that isn’t enough to make people step back and acknowledge how laughable the drama is, I dunno what is.

    You’re funny. <3

    TJ Reply:

    It’s more about a conglomeration of recent events and trends I’ve seen in some blogs. I only followed one teeny tiny Twitter drama today!

    Veronica Reply:

    I swear you’re hoarding the twitter drama for yourself. I always miss it, which is a shame, because a good laugh comes in handy.

  25. palinode says:

    Hi Jane. I’m the community. I’m so happy you wrote about me! I’ve been the community ever since I saved a beautiful blogger from a shipwreck. I was just a lighthouse keeper with a Tumblr back then. One night a storm blew up, and a boat foundered on the treacherous rocks of the bay. I swam out, pulled a woman from the wreckage, and brought her to my lighthouse. She smiled, kissed my cheek and whispered, “Once I was the blogging community. And now I pass the title on to you. This is my gift – and my curse”.

    And then she died.

    Wait, I said I saved her life, didn’t I? I should clarify: I saved her from the shipwreck, but not from falling out of a window. That happened a few weeks later. I don’t know, I read about that in the papers? Damn, this story is so out of my control.

  26. drhoctor2 says:

    Nicely done.

  27. Aunt Becky says:

    Somehow I missed the drama and I feel left out. I love Community but not communal bathrooms because they smell like pee.

  28. Jana A says:

    This is freaking brilliant.

  29. […] blog the same way with the same ideas and have the same life goals is completely ludicrous (covered HERE particularly well by TJ).  Everyone either laughs or is appropriately horrified when Donald Trump […]

  30. the grumbles says:

    I evidently missed out on all this drama which makes me feel even LESS like a part of the community that may or may not exist. I’m ok with that because it sounds like a really annoying place.

  31. jay says:

    Please can I be a part of your community? I would like a different community. Or perhaps I will build my own community?

    Wait…that’s it. I will have my OWN community and then I’m pretty sure everyone else can just piss off with their own communities and community preaching. Right?

    Ok now I want my prize for figuring this out.