I was going to post about the wonky cross quilt today, but then I came across this article and felt the need to comment on it. Normally, I resist commenting on such things on the blog because I don't particularly want to court controversy, and let's face it, anytime someone expresses a strong opinion on a knitterly/crafty blog, people freak out. Being as it is craft-related, however, I'm just going to go for it and say this:
While I sympathize with some of the sentiments expressed in the article, I don't understand why so many commenters feel the need to ridicule the people behind the blogs and dismiss them as "losers" who are "not actually living life." I, too, look at some blogs and wish that I was as productive as some people or took photographs that are as beautiful as others or that I was as ambitious or accomplished as others, but I don't hate myself for not being any of those things. And I certainly don't resent or begrudge anyone else their talents or abilities. If anything, I admire and respect them. It seems that a lot of people don't "get it." These blogs don't exist for the purpose of making anyone feel bad about themselves or their lifestyle/choices. They exist because the people behind them want to celebrate beauty and share it with others. They exist to establish a sort of exchange and cultivate a community within that exchange. Since these people commenting over on Jezebel (a site that I normally enjoy, despite the occasional questionable article) don't understand what compels these folks to blog in this way, they dismiss the blogs and the people behind them in a pretty derisive and nasty fashion. You don't understand why someone chose to do something, so you call them names, make all sorts of assumptions about them, and reduce what they're doing to something not worth doing? What sense does that make? Someone made something pretty and that makes you feel badly about yourself? Why?
Perhaps this strikes too close to home for me. It reminds me of a difficult choice I had to make a couple of years ago. I had a friend who didn't understand why I chose to make softies. She thought it was silly, I guess, though she never came out and directly said so. She would occasionally read my blog, and when we would speak, she would say, "Oh, you're making so many things. Should I be doing that? Should I be making things?" The question shocked me because I didn't understand why she should feel that way, especially when she was so awesome and successful. She was getting her Masters in Language, working as a copy-editor, running the community garden, active in local politics, and about to embark on a trip to Italy and Germany. My response was, "If you feel like making stuff, do it. If you don't, then don't. Just do your thing. Do what makes you happy. Why compare yourself to anyone else?" She would then follow that up with, "Well, I am an intellectual, so making stuff is kinda beneath me. I have no desire to quilt, anyway." Eventually, she started really imposing her opinion of crafting onto me and couldn't accept that I felt differently about it. She felt it was a worthless endeavor, and that would have been fine had she been capable of realizing that her opinion was not law. It got to the point where I couldn't take talking with her anymore because she would project her insecurities onto me and end up making me feel like crap after every conversation. That's what a lot of the comments over on the article remind me of - they sound like they're written by people who cannot accept a divergent opinion or lifestyle if it's not what they would choose for themselves, and if something is not for them, then clearly, it must be wrong.
Here's the thing that I wish I could have said to my former friend that applies to these people as well: it is not all about you. The world doesn't revolve around you. The internet doesn't revolve around you. It's not all about your tastes and your preferences. It takes all types. Some people are going to think differently from you or do things differently. Deal with it. You feel passionately about your opinion/ your interests? Guess what? So does someone else with a different opinion and a different point of view. It doesn't mean that anyone is right or wrong. It just means that you are different. Celebrate those differences. We all have something to offer. While you may not have any interest in restoring furniture you found in the trash, you have a PhD or a law degree or both. Celebrate that! Revel in it because you are damn successful. Should others resent you and think themselves inferior to you for that?
If an innocuous blog about someone's breezy life makes you feel so awful, then don't read it, but to trash the blogger behind it or their endeavors just because you feel bad is simply ridiculous. We all have our insecurities; the way to get over them is to just say, "fuck it!" and be ourselves. The best way to shatter the mold is to realize that you can do your thing without conforming to a mold and to refuse to conform to it. Comparing yourself to everyone you meet does not help. Belittling others does not help. I don't go to skateboarding blogs and then complain that they make me feel inadequate because I can't ride. And I don't go to shelter blogs and call people liars or frauds because they were able to score some sweet deal on craigslist or lucked out and found some amazing piece of Scandinavian furniture in someone's trash when I never have that kind of luck. And I sure as shit don't go to The Sartorialist then hide in shame because my style doesn't hold a candle to the impeccably attired folks that grace his photos. Nor do I feel inferior when I read Rich's blog because he's so damn funny and witty and his cat Winston is a megastar. It is absurd (and selfish) to imagine that we should feel badly about ourselves just because someone else shines at something. No one is saying that you have to compete with anyone else, and if you really feel that way, then maybe you need to examine where this competitive impulse comes from and why it's there. Also, I'm all for the debate of crafting and blogging and Feminism, but the article didn't really so much discuss that. The comments allowed for much less as they were for the most part a gushing fountain of Haterade with only a handful of exceptions. I will say that some of the comments were spot-on about one thing: a lot of those pretty-pretty blogs are highly edited. The bloggers are extremely selective about their content and their photos, and they have every right to be. Aren't all blogs carefully edited? Besides, who's going to post a photo essay about the cat puke they had to deal with first thing in the morning? More importantly, who wants to see that? If people were interested in cat puke, dude, I'd have blog fodder every day.
On a highly personal note, you know what does make me feel worthless? Having the birth center tell me that because of my past history of depression I need clearance from a shrink before I can birth there. That makes me feel awful. Reading about someone's gardening choices doesn't fill me with self-loathing. Checking out someone's softies and thinking that they are the most adorable things I have ever seen doesn't make me feel like I've already failed as a mother. Looking at someone's blog filled with exquisitely photographed cupcakes and fancy recipes doesn't make me feel like less of a woman or like I'm failing at femininity. If anything, those pretty places take the edge off of coming home with that news and provide a welcome distraction from all sorts of ugly, painful feelings that come from someone actually telling me, or at the very least, strongly implying that for reasons beyond my control I am inadequate. And that's not to piss all over the author's feelings or those who feel the same way she does. It's only to point out that there are more substantial ways in which people are made to feel worthless, ways that pack a harder punch than pretty pictures on a stranger's blog or a supposedly sugar-coated version of femininity. Sometimes, it is really hard to say, "Fine, this is not for me," and move on unscathed.
Can I just say one last thing? I found it a little amusing that several of the blogs they linked to don't even feature photos by the blogger herself. All the photos that commenters were clutching their proverbial pearls over, disgustedly commenting on how much time these bloggers have on their hands and what decadent/spoiled/pampered & moneyed lifestyles they must lead to afford to take such pretty pictures? Just about all those photos were taken by professional photographers, i.e. people who shoot pretty pictures for a living, and were co-opted by those bloggers, which is one of my personal pet peeves. I generally avoid blogs that do that because it irks me so, but that's just me. I can appreciate the eye candy because we all need some eye candy, be it for creative inspiration or as a form of escape. I would rather have my eye candy straight from the photographer's blog, especially if that photoblogger's tone is welcoming and they seem like the kind of person you would want to hang out with. Again, this is just me, and I don't expect or need anyone else to agree with me in order to validate this sentiment. I just think it's worth putting it out there, though.