Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An open letter to my fellow bloggers: Use your powers for good

... the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. --Jim Beggs

Monday was a day in which I read one too many articles criticizing people (black women) for things that just aren't that critical. Buoyed by the endorphin high following yoga and step aerobics, I typed out this letter. Apologies if it's over the top. Without further ado…

Dear other bloggers,

Hi there! [waves] How are ya'll doing? I just wanted to say hello… and a few other things. Respectfully, I totally get that your blog is personal to you. You probably started it because you love to write and had a few things to say. Good for you. Let me ask you this though… once you developed a bit of a following and you realized that people actually paid attention to what you had to say… did that give you any sense of responsibility? You know, as far as content and tone? Not getting all up in your business… just wondering.

It might just be me. After blogging for a little over six months, I've gotten a feel for a lot of my readers and so I often make a conscientious effort to temper my opinions and declarations in such a way as to not be over the top combative or condescending. Though I could if I wanted to, I chose not to use my words like heat-seeking missiles aimed at making the most visible explosion possible. But I've never been a "look at me, look at me" person. What some people may view as a fun, topical post, others may view as self-serving grab for attention.

People have the capacity to be both incredibly strong and incredibly fragile all at the same time. And for the young females out there… well, I think the sisterhood deserves support, positivity and constructive criticism from their chosen bloggers. Keyword: Constructive.

Because I don't care to further promote some of the off-the-chain posts (and yes there have been more than one) that prompted this letter, I'm going to use an analogy featuring the fruitilicious candy known as Skittles. You with me? Let's just say that I have a lot of readers who love Skittles. Skittles make them feel good about themselves. Maybe there was a Skittles void in their past and they are making up for it now. Maybe Skittles are crazy expensive as opposed to say – organic, natural carrot sticks but who am I to judge someone for loving their rainbow goodies? Being aware of this Skittles-dependency among my readership, would I then write a flaming post about the evils of Skittles? How much I hate Skittles and look down on anybody who enjoys them? Would I spend hours (and I do mean hours) going in across all level of social media about how Skittles are what's wrong with the world today and I would never be caught dead hugged up next to a Skittle-eater?

I can hear my folks in BougieLand now – girl, it's just Skittles. I KNOW but then folks start going IN about how they've never had Skittles because they are too secure about themselves to ever ever eat a Skittle. Organic carrot sticks are the only way to go and anyone who doesn't cosign is a fraud. The Hell? Aw yes, now there is an entire sociology behind Skittles and people have to start taking sides – Skittles vs. Carrot Sticks. To this I say, why? What good did it do to go THAT hard about Skittles KNOWING the tsunami of ill-will and flame throwing that it would kick off? You don't like Skittles, don't eat them.

Okay then, in conclusion fellow bloggers, this is the American Blogosphere. You have the right to say anything you want to. But does that mean you should? And can we not agree that it's not always WHAT you say but HOW you say it? A finishing thought from En Vogue:

Yours in blogging, OneChele

Bougienistas - Let's make a pact… if I ever get preachy – one of ya'll call me on it, okay? I mean just stop me in my tracks and say – Chele, get off your high horse, you're not that crucial. If I ever get so desperate for page hits and readers that I just decide to go tabloid blogger, please feel free to virtually slap the sh!t outta me. Clear? Good. Woo-sah, let me take a breath. Read anything in the blogosphere that got your blood boiling lately?

43 comments:

[fung'ke] [blak] [chik] said...

ok..hmmm...it's not so much that i've read anything lately that has peeved me..but it's what some ppl feel the need to do nowadays..in order to gain a following..i.e, give-a-aways..sure...it's ok to give away something that a corporation has given you, but i'll be damned if i go out and purchase something out of my own pocket....and if said give away garners you about 100+ comments..and your regular posts only yield you about 2 comments...then it seems as though...something is wrong...i think a lot of bloggers feel that the only way to garner a following is to give shit away....but it seems more so like bribing them to me...

Sarah said...

Of course, now, I'm curious what prompted this :-) I don't read many blogs, but if I do read something and feel my aggravation rising, I stop. This goes for the news as well. I've got work to do and a life to live and I don't need to get incensed because somebody somewhere is saying stuff that would be better left unsaid.

LC said...

This post is right on point!

Anna N said...

I think it's a numbers thing, pure and simple. I've seen the trend on several blogs - when the post makes sense it's pretty quiet in the comments section. I've done it myself, read a post, nodded my head or posted a quick approval and moved on. When the post is off the chain stupid? Comment section blows up and I find myself going back to the page just to see how the poster got roasted. It's like reality TV - you know it's making you stupid but you can't turn away. The bummer is that the same ole topics get re-hashed: hair issues (both weave and the "good hurr variety), who's a ho, light skinned chicks and how they rule the world, why you should "stay in your lane", etc. Really, there are sooo many other controversial topics to discuss. But that may require more than just talkin' out the side of our respective necks, lol.

JaymeC said...

Girl you better preach 'bout them "Skittles". I saw some of the buffoonery that no doubt sparked your ire. People forget that words are the most powerful weapons in the world and need to be used wisely.

Reecie said...

Great post and I feel you wholeheartedly. I have to step away from some sites with the condescending talk. I don't enjoy preachy and overy critical dialogue. Most of us read from work--it can be light, fun and at times thought provoking without being insulting. This is why I write about music. LOL

Reecie said...

exactly. lol

truthinrumors said...

I know the blogs are all in good fun.. but the whats wrong with black women/ things that black women do stuff is getting old. Like Anna says, its the same topics.

Skin color, hair, sex habits, dating habits... All equating to why black women don't have or deserve black men by their sides.

What kills me is that while I don't know these people personally, I often get the vibe that these are the same men who -in their real lives- pursue as close to non-black women as possible. I could be wrong.. The perspective, choice of words... says a lot.

I'll be honest and say that Very Smart Brothas is one of the only male written blogs I read without getting a little annoyed from time to time. Never condescending or judgmental. Even on the hot button topics, I don't feel like the writers or the audience's sentiments are a big ass finger point at us black women about what we're doing wrong. I've noticed that the tone of whats floating around out there is becoming increasingly negative. And its building something more than just "these are my dating woes/ issues with the opposite sex".

Its like the anti-women/ black women suck combo is spreading like a virus. Unless of course the dialogue is about good beats, smashes, big butts, or a mean head game. The blogs are like a microcosm of what our culture has become, so I'm never surprised. Just a little discouraged.

ASmith said...

I already know one blog post that set this letter in motion and I knew you would come through for me. ::jig::

I love all my black bloggers who can pull in the readers with good, witty and smart posts, but damn if we don't get stuck in ruts with our topics, ESPECIALLY as they relate to black women. ::shudder::

I am ALL ABOUT bloggers taking the little space they've claimed as their own on these here innawebs and using it as a platform to speak about all the ill in our society. I truly am. Not enough of us have places to let go and say what we think, but DAMMIT quit beating Richard (that's the dead horse, I named him, yes I did)!

And whatever happened to the personal tone? You know, the one that says "this is how I feel, this is a personal thing, in no way do I assume people who think differently are going to die and go to hell... In fact, please share with me your opposite views so that I may consider and re-consider my own..."

::SIGH::

Having preached that sermon, I'd also like to add, though, that this is quite an example of a larger consumerism problem. I keep hearing that we don't like it that rappers call women bitches and hos, but I see that we keep buying their albums.

I keep hearing that we're tired of the same ol' same ol' in the black blogosphere, but I keep seeing those same ol' same ol' posts getting the MOST hits on a blog's site. It's hard out here trying to come up with fresh posts that will draw readers and commenters -- hell -- it wasn't easy when I did the 25 Things to Never Apologize For and I had a topic for everyone of 'em! So I think some people fall back on the tried and true topics that are a) easy to write on and b) will still draw the fire and brimstone comments that keep a comment section rolling...

There's a game we play out here -- it's called "validation." My BFF and I always say "everyone wants to be chosen..."

ASmith said...

I've ben wondering about that give-away stuff, too.

The problem no one seems to consider is it doesn't mean ish if your post yesterday got 3 comments, the one today with the give-away gets 100 but then the one tomorrow gets 3 again... c'mon...

ASmith said...

"But that may require more than just talkin' out the side of our respective necks..."

Ding, ding, ding. Go for easy; I appreciate blogs where you can tell the author took some time and thought about it first...

No shade to blogs that go for the easy posts, I have plenty of those in my RSS feed, but I appreciate the well thought out ones, for sure.

Reecie said...

yeah VSB is a great site and I always enjoy the dialogue. its fun and the commenters are cool too. :-)

Man's World said...

Laughing at you naming the dead horse. Poor Richard has lived a hard life.
But in truth, this is why when I stumbled across Chele's blog I was happy, when she rants she rants for reason, when she is making a personal revelation, she states it as one and she keeps things positive.. except for some of her dating stories.. but she's speaking her truth. LOL

Mocha Dude Speaks said...

I would interject that I've also seen a bit of man-bashing out there but it does appear that delivering the smackdown to black females about why they aren't all they could be is prevalent and very unfortunate. I definitely take my few minutes from work to read blogs that are about improving and humor and interesting commentary.

Bailey Quincy said...

Love the video, hadn't seen it in a minute. And yes Chele, should you start preaching from a high and holy place we will drag you back to reality. And yes, I will scream if I read one more post about weaves, rappers or jump-offs.

Anna N said...

I also very much enjoy VSB - but I've been reading them long enough to know that at one time they were just smart, not very. They had 2 posts that got people riled up. One of them was a list of the color spectrum (complete with pics) and the next day (I think) was about the 1-10 cutie pie scale, also complete with pics. Only problem was that there was nothing darker than a paper bag above a 4. That ish lived on in the comments section for days and got some people so heated I never saw them comment again, lol!

tiffanyinhouston said...

I've just come to the conclusion that if you are under 30 and blog about relationships, I just can't take you seriously anymore. You ain't done shit and you ain't lived shit. Where I'm at right now..my peeps are getting married and divorced..and remarried. Some are trying to blend families, some have buried parents..some have buried children..I have friends with kids about to start college. And not all of my friends are Ivy this or that, or ballerific but they are decent folks trying to live productive lives. I swear some of these bloggers must live vicariously thru the words they type. Get some gotdamn battle scars then come talk to me.

Kiki said...

I don't mind when they share their experiences but giving life advice to grown folks when you are still wet behind the ears just doesn't set so well... but then again, I may not be their target audience.

OneChele said...

And by the way, those of you who missed her series on 25 things to Never Apologize for, need to check it out: http://blackdiamond2008.blogspot.com/search/label/25%20Things%20You%20Should%20Never%20Apologize%20For

derek love said...

Co-sign! I've quickly healed from any physical injury I ever sustained but the psychological wounds when someone just rips you apart with words - whoa. And sometimes people don't realize, if you keep tearing away at them, word by word, it causes enough small cracks to ruin the foundation. I think anytime you put words in the public, you have to beware of their impact on the listener. It's why I hate the Limbaughs and Becks and sometimes even the Olbermans of our time becuase the word (well intended or not) are out there forever to do continuous harm. The more people hear things, the more they believe them to be true.

Reecie said...

you know I feel all of this. I'm under 30 (28) but I dig it. most of the people I talk to in my real life about relationships are those IN them and at the places I'm headed. makes sense to me.

Beautifully Complex said...

One Chele, this post was so on point ! Very creative analogy too I might add. I regret that I managed to get sucked into the drama I suspect you may be speaking of. LOL ! Next time I will do my best to not be so easily provoked :)

Great blog ! Keep up the great work :)

OneChele said...

I almost went in myself then I remembered - oh, I have a platform from which to air my own grievances. :-) Thank you for your kind words!

Rob said...

My peeve in the blogosphere are the blatant self-promoters. I used to visit this one chick's blog - keeping it nameless but all of the posts and tweets were about how great she was and hot she was and how much good she was doing for the world. She live tweeted every event assuming we could not live without her witticisms. And she's been kicking in the same gags for over two years now. Nothing fresh, nothing new. Seriously? If I want that kind of blatant narcissism, I'll watch Tyra...

OneChele said...

Ouch - shots fired! Again, someone give me the high sign before I get stale and irritating... please and thank you.

true2me said...

Hey Chele,

You know I ranted yesterday about a certain blogger who ranted about a certain broad dislike. While I disagree with "putting down" someone or making them feel "less than" for their differences, whether trivial or of great imporance, I personally DO believe it is each bloggers right to be able to blog about whatever they want. So to answer your question, YES THEY SHOULD.

Not all of us are "pro Black, pro higher humanity, pro *fill in the blank*" positive posters. some of us get joy out of posting/reading what others deam inappropiate and ignorant. But that's what makes the blog world that much fun.

So even tho I ranted and disagreed, I still am grateful for the difference in opinion whether it hurts or helps.

Cause Chele, truth is, offending someone is INEVITABLE when you are posting your personal opinion on something. We as bloggers need to get used to that. Long as it isn't PERSONAL, no harm no foul.

Besides, it makes really good for discussion. If we were all "PC" , then what fun would we have

OneChele said...

More than anything I hated the way the topic was handled but I'll defend (to the death) the right to say it.

true2me said...

omg..yes..I know someone like that. All they tweet/blog about is THEMSELF. UGH ...I HATE IT!!!

true2me said...

ha, me and chele talk about that all the time. Men giving relationship advice when they still wearing a bib..eff outta here

true2me said...

I agree about the way it was handled. very SMUGLY in my opinion

true2me said...

Asmith....

I vowed to try not to ever make another relationship post..at least not for a while

and yes..they keep rewording the same topics over and over..and we keep feeding into them..ugh sickining

Purposeful said...

Thank you for this post. I decided a while ago, to make some changes in the blogs I decide to read. As you said, I have seen a certain blogger declare time and time again, that it was their blog and they could say what they wanted, to hell with whoever was offended. A lot of times these posts lead to an Us vs. Them mentality in the ensuing comments section. I think that there is usually the opportunity to learn something from other people’s opinions however, most of the time that is not the case with a select few of these blogs. As you said, just because you can say it doesn’t mean you should.

OneChele said...

"Unless of course the dialogue is about good beats, smashes, big butts, or a mean head game." <--- LMAO, this is sad but SO true...

citizen ojo said...

Well you don't have to worry about me posting about Skittles on my blog. They are okay but I'm more of an M&M's man. You might be asking for peace on the blogosphere but can we please keep Twitter Beef?

ASmith said...

You know, it's crazy because there are so many aspects to a relationship to talk about besides the various and sundry things we (apparently) do that prevent us from finding good black men and staying in relationships with them...

SO MANY...

And yet, those 2 things are the only ones we talk about, or at least what the posts always seem to come back to. OneChele did a whole week on relationships, and probably STILL has topics to touch on.

I see an element of what music artists deal with. Wanting to be fresh, but wanting to keep people interested. At some point, I think we have to decide if we value comments or content.

true2me said...

now now..sometimes your regular posts arent as intriguing as the others. or as popular. but it doesnt mean that something is "wrong" with your site/blog. Could be that sometimes you just push the right buttons to get the right topic started.

one post on my blog that had the most comments ever was "bitchassedness in men" or something like that. Got SO MANY RESPONSES. But it was a good topic IMO, not redundant or controversial. and I wasn't trying to be. I shared personal experiences I had and related them on paper

OneChele said...

Most definitely. I take offense to M & M's - I'm a Heath Bar girl all the way... bring it on ;-)

ASmith said...

I agree.

What I was trying to say (but not as clearly as I could've) is, if your blog, itself, doesn't have good content, having one giveaway won't change that. Drawing people in with a gimmick is great, but it's the content that will bring them back and if you didn't have that the day before the giveaway, you probably won't have it the day after.

I think all blogs experience that infrequent post that hits a nerve for whatever reason and draws the comments and then the posts after that go back to the norm -- but the one with the comments wasn't done as a gimmick, a la a giveaway of items you purchased for the sole purpose of drawing in people...

And I should say, as an aside, no shade to people who giveaway free stuff they get from companies, I was responding specifically to fungkeblakchik's reference to people who go buy things to giveaway just to pull in readers (but then don't have the content to keep them)...

Diana said...

Call them out! I missed the drama but I'll cosign on the premise.

Steve said...

You just keep doing you. Lead by example.

Jara said...

See this is what I get for avoiding drama at (almost all) costs. What'd I miss? *popping some popcorn*

Jara said...

*now eating my popcorn that I just popped* dammit, what did I miss?!

Btw, I have a personal blog (that's mostly positive and/or well-intentioned) and I have 51 true-blue readers (yet mostly random people comment. Still trying to figure that one out). I wouldn't trade any of them for the people I see flaming in the comments section on more popular blogs.

People claim not to appreciate negativity/drama, but they so do. The proof is in the blog stats.

Jara said...

Thank you, Anna, for admitting what so many readers don't - bullshiggitty gets co-signed when you give it your attention. Again. And again. And again. The best way to get attention whores to stop their negative behavior is to ignore it. But they never get ignored. So *shrug*.

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