Wednesday, December 30, 2009

my thoughts on the award backlash.

There seems to be a lot of hubbub (ooh, fun word!) regarding the Bootlegger Award nominees over at 20sb. I was actually thinking a lot about my own place in the blogging community recently, and the two thoughts (strangely) kind of go together.

Complaints are coming in from those who feel like the nominees are not diverse enough, that it's the same group of people up for all of them. Although I can understand the frustration to a point, the nominations were submitted by the 20sb members. Obviously no system is perfect, but there should really be no reason to complain. The nominees were picked because their blogs are fantastic and they are active in the community. I read somewhere earlier, on Twitter, that only about 100 people nominated others. There are definitely not 100 people in this accused "clique" that I keep hearing about. No way. So it's foolish to go around saying that they were all nominated by each other and that's the only way they're getting recognition. These are the people who are good at blogging and the ones that are active in the community, active enough to take the time and nominate other bloggers.

I'm tired of people throwing around the terms "popularity contest" and "clique." These terms have become derogatory in certain ways that hurt the people at whom they're directed. If you want to get to know these seemingly unreachable people, then you need to take the effort to do so. They're not monsters; they won't bite. Simply creating a blog, joining 20sb, and adding people on Twitter isn't going to make you best friends with everyone instantly. Yes, the majority of people will be welcoming, but it's not all up to the established members of the group to get to know new people without the new people trying at all. It takes two people to develop a friendship.

This is where I've recently been pondering my own participation in the blogosphere. I've been blogging publicly for two years, and am usually shocked when I hear that some of my favorite, more established bloggers have been around as long as I have or only a few months more. I think, well wow, shouldn't I have tons of followers and a bunch of online besties? But then I realize the reasons why I don't.

I tend to not be as active as I think I am in the blogging community. While I make the effort to post, I rarely comment or reply to anything on Twitter (mostly because I'm paranoid and try too hard to think of the perfect thing to say, and if I can't, I just avoid commenting or replying. BUT THAT'S A WHOLE SEPARATE STORY. Seriously). What I've noticed is by posting my own updates to both my blog and Twitter, and by reading (but not responding to) others' blogs and tweets, I trick myself into thinking I'm active. Blogging and tweeting are so personal, so just by reading them every day I feel as though I know the people who are posting. And in my mind, if I know them, then obviously they must know me, right? Wrong.

That's something I'm hoping to work on this upcoming year. It's my blogging resolution, something I never thought I'd make a resolution about. And I feel this is where many newcomers to online communities, like 20sb, get a little lost. They feel that by reading and following people, they're getting to know them so well, and that those people must also be getting to know them. Then when they realize that there are existing friendships outside of the blogging and tweeting realm, it hurts because it's sometimes difficult to remember that there's more to it that just blogs and tweets. And when people get hurt, some people get defensive or angry, and in turn decide to say things to hurt other people as well. And then there's drama and disagreement and confrontation and ohmygoshIamsonotokaywithallthisdrama. Ahem.

Like I said in response to Rachel's post, it's less of a situation of a popular crowd and more of a new-kid-at-school thing, if we want to keep using high school social structures as an example (which I hate). When you're new to a school, you can't necessarily make close friends instantly because people don't know you yet. It's the same with an online community - you can't expect instant friendship from people who have yet to get to know you.

So basically, it's about taking your time and putting yourself out there. E-mail one of your favorite bloggers about a post you liked, or that you related to on a really close level. Respond to that tweet about a movie or television show that you absolutely love. Promote your blog in a non-spammy way and try to find more people who'll relate to you and read your blog because of it. I've done some of this, and although I've been blogging publicly for two years, even I've still got a ways to go.

I just hate seeing drama. We have enough real-life shit to deal with, so why create all this angst over some silly online awards? Seriously people, go take all that energy you're putting into getting mad or jealous at someone and make it positive and send it to Brandy.