Okay, I hope I’m not opening a can of worms here.
A favorite blog I frequent (daily) has recently gone through a bit of a “thing” because the blogger took off about two and a half weeks without announcing that she was taking a break. (The name of the blog is irrelevant and if you know who I’m talking about, please keep it to yourself.) Some of her readers were concerned because she is a rather prolific blogger, often blogging multiple times a day. Some of her readers were offended and felt that she “owed” it to her readers to let them know that she was taking a break so they wouldn’t worry about her. They openly voiced their disdain for what they perceived to be a lack of communication and care about her readers in her little shoutbox (like my chatterbox).
I will admit the thought crossed my mind a few times that I hoped everything was okay, but figured if something really bad had happened she would hop on and ask for prayer. I thought she was probably on vacation or had a lot going on with her family. I never post ahead of time about vacations, going out of town, etc. so this makes sense to me. But apparently not everyone felt the same way and some hurtful things were said to the point where some people said they would no longer visit her blog. Right.
Another thing that happened recently that caught my attention fried my burger was when another favorite blogger of mine was scolded by an anonymous commenter that she was writing too much about her weight loss experience. Few things get me going like commenters, ESPECIALLY anonymous ones, complaining about what a blogger does on her own blog. I left a comment basically stating that if they didn’t like it, don’t come there. Good grief! It’s not like you paid a subscription for a homemaking magazine and now you are getting Weight Watchers! The blogger can write about whatever she wants to! She can write about her weight loss every day for the next ten years if she wants. IT’S HER BLOG FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! Now maybe she will do that and lose her readership, but it’s still her blog!
(Okay, Sallie, calm down.)
I have to admit that if I miss more than a couple of days of blogging, I feel a responsibility to come on here and post something and/or let people know that we’re fine. I don’t necessarily expect it from other bloggers, but I do expect it of myself. (Go figure.) I know that people know that we have a baby, a business, and – GASP! – a life away from the keyboard. But at the same time I feel impolite if I don’t pop on regularly. But I don’t expect it from others. Weird, I know.
Anyhoo, what are your thoughts on bloggers and their responsibilities to their readers?
I am of a similar mindset as you. There are a few of loyal friends that read my blog, that I feel obligated to let know if something is up or I will be off. However, I also have other avenues to contact them and let them know any pertinent info. As far as others, if it is someone I know and care about and they suddenly come up missing I will usually ask what is up, but then I usually have other avenues to contact them and not their blog.
I think the fuss people may make when a regular blogger takes a break or goes missing is a result of how personal and profound blogs can be to their readers. We readers start to feel like the bloggers we read are close friends who share with us via blogs. I think it’s one of these odd modern day-internet era dynamics that we are experiencing. I find myself saying to my husband or my real friends- “oh, did you see so and so’s blog- it’s so sweet, xyz happened, or oh, we need to pray for so and so.” When one of the bloggers I read regularly takes a break for posting, I find myself thinking “ugh, when will they post again?” and then I have to remind myself that I don’t even “know” them, they can post or not post at their own will!
Regarding the subjects bloggers post about- I enjoy reading blogs, because I like reading what the blogger has to say and how they say it. If the blogger starts posting about something I have no interest in I’ll usually wait around for awhile and see if it’s just a phase. Sometimes the tone or subject of the blog changes permanently and at that point I may lose interest.
Basically, I think bloggers write for themselves and I’m just given the privilege of reading their posts. It’s a privilege, not a right! 🙂
I agree with you, Sallie. It burns me when a commenter steps way out of line and chastises a blogger for not doing things their way or criticizes something the blogger posted that they disagree with in a mean way. Phooey! It’s a good reason to keep comments moderated.
I felt exactly the same way about that “blog incident” and I felt terrible for the wonderful young woman in question. I, too, was a little concerned because she is usually prolific but I also believed if something terrible had happened, we’d hear about it.
Now, if I were going to be away for awhile, I’d definitely tell people but only because regular readers know I’ve had rather severe health situations with diabetes and I wouldn’t want them to think I’ve gone to that big blog server in the sky. I believe whatever a person does with his or her blog is his/her right.
I’ve often taught my two kids that I learned long ago, just because you have an opinion does not mean you have to give it…especially when it will hurt someone else.
David (Sallie's husband)
Gee, I don’t know which is the funnier statement: Sallie’s “fried my burger”, or Brenda’s “that big blog server in the sky”. 🙂
If I try to analyze the reason for my own disappointment when there is an unusual gap in posting by a particular blogger, I think it is because blog reading really is “addictive” and so I feel let down when a blogger stops posting at the pace I was accustomed to (whether it be daily, twice weekly, or whatever has been their pattern). The more engaging or interesting I find a particular blog, the greater the let down. No, I do not feel the blogger has a responsibility to announce their intentions, but if they do it is appreciated. I agree with what Katie says about beginning to feel as if the bloggers we read are freinds, even though we don’t “know” them in person. This even applies to pet blogs as well as human blogs!
I totally agree with you that bloggers have a right to post or not post. I could understand being concerned about someone’s sudden stop, but to demand an explanation goes beyond the bounds of courtesy!
As far as notifying people of a pause, I personally notify my readers only half the time. If we are actually leaving our home, I do not tell people that. I think that it can be a security risk, especially if readers know where you live, to tell them that your house will be completely empty for a week! Most readers are totally normal people, but we don’t really know ALL our readers, so we can’t pretend they are safer than is reasonable to assume.
Also…I always wondered if notifying my readers of an upcoming absence seemed presumptive. Do they really care? Did I make it sound like I thought they couldn’t live without me? I wondered if some readers would actually think me arrogant for feeling they would wish to be notified in the first place!
This just proves you can’t please everyone. 🙂
I know exactly whose blog you’re referring to. In the past when sadness has hit her family, she did exactly what you said: popped on and asked for prayer. I feel terrible that she had snarky readers! That being said….*Andrea climbs on her soapbox*
I owe my readers NOTHING. If I take a break, it is just that: a BREAK. Honestly, most of my readers are friends and family, so they have my cell phone number and can easily reach myself or Aaron, my husband, if they are concerned.
Husband first, children second, home third…job fourth….blogging doesn’t even make it to the list. I’m too busy figuring out everything a new baby is going to need! 😉
*steps down off of her soapbox carefully as she’s getting bigger by the day*
Sallie, do you think that when you have time, you’d possibly be willing to post what you and other readers feel is necessary for a first baby. We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, but we want to be prepared, even though we know we’ll have at least two showers. I think that’s one blog entry I’d LOVE to see….what you did, and what other ladies suggest! 🙂
Rocks In My Dryer
This is a really interesting issue, one I’ve thought about a lot. I guess I kind of feel like if I’m going to “ask” people to come to my blog (which is, in essence, asking them to make an emotional investment in what’s going on in my little world), then it’s reasonable to expect that suddenly stopping to write, with no explanation, is a little unfair. Not that I necessarily “owe” them something, just that it’s common courtesy–kind of like “you’ve been kind enough to be interested in what I have to say, so I’ll be kind enough to let you know why you won’t be hearing from me.”
The very essence of the blogging experience is to put yourself out there and, presumably, draw readers in. The “it’s-my-blog-and-I-can-do-what-I-want” mentality (while certainly TRUE) seems a little discourteous to the readers who are–let’s face it–necessary to a “successful” blog’s existence.
That said, there is never, ever, EVER any cause for flaming or rude personal criticism. As a READER of blogs, I’d say that if you don’t like the way a blogger is running her blog, just stop reading it.
So my very long and rambly point, I suppose, is that I can see both sides of this coin.
Great question, Sallie.
You know, when I’m concerned that something bad may have happened to someone, I usually ASK them if they’re okay. I can’t remember getting angry with someone out of concern. Good grief.
Not that I’m surprised any more at the things people will say in comment sections, especially anonymously.
The NYT published an article on April 9th on this very subject
Visiting a blog is like visiting someone’s home and would people dare to be so rude person to person?
Lindsey @ enjoythejourney
I’m not surprised by these incidents because we live in a “me-first” society…even in the world of Christian church-going faith-filled women. We’ve come to think this world is about US, about ME…and when someone lets us down by not writing or informing us of their absence, we feel like the OWE IT TO US to give us an explanation. It is almost as if people feel like they have paid good money to read these blogs, sort of like some magazine subscription.
The reality is, in fact, it is the complete opposite.
This world isn’t about us. The world may tell us so, the flesh may tell us so, and even the church may inadvertantly tell us so. HOWEVER, it is not about US or ME.
For women, this can be a very hard lesson to learn.
Sallie, thank you for posing this question. It is good food for thought. We need to evaluate what we read blogs for in the first place. Is it entertainment, genuine friendship, to learn, or what?
I personally write my blog for my own selfish reasons (see, I told you it is a me-me world!) and if others happen to come along with me then great. I started it as a way to keep in touch with family and friends and talk about homeschooling. It has developed into a bigger thing and while I am THANKFUL for that on so many levels, I also miss the point sometimes and realize that I write for me, not everyone else.
Bless you today sweet sister! 🙂
My thoughts echo many of the other commenters’. It’s hard to think of a blogger “owing” the readers explanations — but that may be because I have only a handful of readers that I know of. 🙂 My blog stats say my posts are being clicked on but unless my posts are interactive memes like the Thursday Thirteen, I don’t get many comments, so I don’t know that I have many readers — most of those clicks may be spambots for all I know.
Even so, though, I think if I knew I wasn’t going to be blogging for a while, I’d say something. I’ve seen many bloggers say something like, “I”m taking a blogging break — will be back Wednesday” or something like that. No further explanation is needed. As Rocks In My Dryer said above, those who we do come to know as regular readers have shown some level of care and I feel it would only be polite to let them know I’m away from the computer for a while. I would never say I was going out of town — even though I try to be careful to keep anything about my location other than my state private, I’d still not want to broadcast the fact that I was going to be out of town.
As a reader, though, I don’t feel any blogger “owes” me anything. I don’t feel there is any right to get angry or irritated that a blogger hasn’t posted. I just figure they’re busy with life.
And it is hard to fathom any reader criticizing a blogger’s choice of topic. As Giovanna said, each blog is like that blogger’s home: we’d never go into someone’s home and dictate what should be talked about (at least I hope no one would!)
I don’t regularly comment on any of the blogs I read. Don’t really know why; I often enjoy, learn something and am sometimes even touched by reading. The “absent blogger” deal was one I found really interesting. First off, no, I don’t think anyone owes readers an explanation for absences, posts, sidebars or anything else. However, relationships (especially among women bloggers, it seems) are formed, so a quick note may be in good taste. What I can’t quite wrap my brain around was the post about the removal of the shout box. Adding a shout box does open the blog up more so than comments–it’s a risk taken when it’s put up. The post explaining the removal read more like a public chastisement of the people who wrote than anything else to me. I felt a simple “the shout box has been removed” would have sufficed. I was embarrassed and felt as though I’d been “slapped on the hand” and I’ve never left a message on a shout box!!! After reading the comments left on that post, I began to feel that maybe I was wrong. Many people viewed it as uplifting. It simply didn’t come across that way to me. If the writer was offended by the shout box comments, perhaps responding personally to those who offended her would have been a kinder way. But, again, it’s her blog!! Sorry this was so long.
So many good thoughts and perspectives! As always!
Brandy – I feel the same way about announcing that I will be taking a break. I’ve wondered if it sounds presumptive. But I don’t want people to worry about me and I know that I do have people who read here who would worry if they didn’t know what was going on! 🙂
Andrea – I did do a blog entry like that last spring and the ladies gave tons of helpful suggestions! I was planning on doing a follow-up with my thoughts about what was helpful, etc. so I’ll try to do that soon. The original post with a gazillion comments is here: http://aquietsimplelife.com/agracioushome/?p=501
As an aside… good grief! I blog a lot! I went to the My Pregnancy category to find that entry and couldn’t believe all the entries I had to scroll through to find it. I kept seeing entries and thinking “Oh, I want to re-read that one!” Just scrolling through brought back a lot of memories!
Giovanna – Thanks for the link! 🙂
I’ve been busy working on a new venture lately, and my blogging has become rather sporadic. I do try to let people know what is going on, but life doesn’t always allow that. I know I wouldn’t leave a rude comment if someone disappeared for a while, and I certainly wouldn’t want someone to leave me a rude comment. I think this is essentially about courtesy – from both blogger and reader.
The only reason I can see for “criticizing” a choice of topic is to lovingly encourage someone. For example, if a fellow blogger is constantly complaining about her neighbors, for example, I might privately try to contact her and mention lovingly that she might want to be a little more careful. However, I think it’s something that should be done privately and IN LOVE. And I personally have never done this – if a blog becomes negative then I generally stop reading it!
I got a comment on my blog the other day saying that I don’t sound Christian enough in my blog for their tastes. Sigh. I’m not used to these types of personal attacks!
I saw this drama playing out, and was struck by the lack of kindness/gentleness that many of the commenters seem to promote on their personal blogs.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:4
…and that goes for the typed word, too!! 😉
So how do I feel as a blogger? I do try to drop a note if I know I’ll be away for a bit, but my “online world” is a much lower priority than my husband, children, church, etc. and sometimes I simply don’t have the time to update.
Amazing situation! My family and I were just discussing this last weekend. Somewhere along the line our society has been creeping into this ‘me zone’. Whether it’s the blogger who makes a choice that is unpopular and others wind up becoming abusive and annoyed, or it’s someone at work who complains about another person’s success, and whines about their lack of success – it’s become ‘all about me’. I hate it! God hates it! It takes over your heart, mind and life. It keeps you from ‘rejoicing with those who rejoice’. Did anyone consider that maybe this blogger had an awesome opportunity to take a trip somewhere? Or, that she won a gzillion bucks and went off to ________ (insert your favorite vacation destination here)…no, it was all about THEM! Ok, I’m with Sallie, I’ll get off the soapbox! I think the ‘me zone’ has become my personal pet peeve these days.
Sorry to pop in in the middle of a conversation! I agree though, about blogging being great, but ultimately lower priority than church, family, life and sometimes I just get busy. I am not an every day blogger, although I usually check my blogging hotspots daily. I must confess that I have several CLOSE FRIENDS that I give grief to when they drop off the face of the planet, but only my closest friends! That being said, I did start reading someone’s blog a while back, and then it disappeared! No apparent warning or anything! Kind of concerning. She then returned to “invite only” readers. Selfishly, I wonder what happened, but would NEVER give her any sort of grief! (even if I could! Ha ha!) I am fully aware that her world in no way revolves around me! Contrary to my deep dark beliefs, everything is not about me! It is a blessing for me to get to see into your lives and blogs, not a right!
Have a nice blogging break, BTW!
I had mixed feelings too. I think the lady has a perfect right to do as she wants, but I can also understand that when a person “cultivates” a large readership on their blog it sort of mutates into something more than just a diary that other people can read. I think it becomes more like a discussion board or a website along the lines of Ladies Against Feminism etc – and that a certain amount of relationship is built up by the blogger and when that suddenly changes it can be disturbing. I don’t get the whole “pedestal” mentality some women have about other bloggers but there are blog junkies, aren’t there – who comment on every entry, fill the shout boxes etc – and to them I guess it seems like a “real relationship”. If I had a friend who invited me over to her house every day and shared so much of her life and normally told me she was off on holiday or out for the day and then I just rolled up and she wasn’t there I would be worried, a bit miffed etc. And I suppose that transfers over for some into the bloggy world.