Internet Drama is so 2010s

After noting that honest doesn’t necessarily mean raw and negative in a comment section, I got asked by a blogger why I even look at her blog since “I obviously dislike” her.

This was a blogger who I have stopped reading multiple times in the past because of repetitive negative behavior that cycled over and over again which was super frustrating to read about.  But she’s on a blogroll and has a gift with post names so sometimes one has to click out of curiosity because of the name of the post.  (I also have this tempting-title problem with a doesn’t-realize-he’s-sexist political blogger.)

The weird thing about all this is the timing.  She has had mostly healthy posts the last several times I’d clicked!  She seems to have gotten a handle on the money stuff, a situation her readers warned her would happen that did happen finally got resolved, and she’s no longer complaining about her adult family members.  It’s probably been a couple years since I felt dirty for clicking.  And she was lamenting the loss of interesting raw honest posts since her life has been going pretty well.  Which… seems like a weird thing to lament.  I thought I’d made that point more politely than I did just now, but apparently it unintentionally touched a nerve.

I don’t know if this Chicago Tribune story is the one I was thinking of (whatever I was thinking of did talk about the rise and fall of Dooce and similar bloggers, including drunk mommy blogs and why they’re no longer “in”).  But the confessional “raw, honest” mommy-blog is not really a thing anymore.  It’s no longer cool to confess to day-drinking because your kids drive you crazy.  (To be clear, the blog I’m talking about in the first paragraph was never one of those– the drunk mommy blogs were just part of the same movement.)

The thing is, just because something is negative, that doesn’t mean it is honest.  And making something negative happen just to get points for being honest is worse! Long before the rise of the mommy blogs, we saw Sandra Tsing Loh pretty much making her professional persona about being a mess.  And when that happens, you cannot stop being a mess or you become irrelevant.  You, in fact, have to become more of a mess so you can have more “raw, honest, brave” performance art.  This is what the tail wags the dog MEANS.  And that’s why in our about statement, written more than 10 years ago, we have as a rule that this blog cannot become negative for the sake of being negative, despite its title.

These are also issues Hank Green touches on in his science fiction novels about fame and personas.  What is real, that sort of thing.

I’m glad that tongue-in-cheek (but not all *that* tongue-in-cheek) dysfunctional isn’t in right now.  People praised it as being an antidote to perfect facebook posts, but also… it was a pretty destructive movement.  Yes, some people enjoy schadenfreude, yes there will always be a group of people who love to praise “bravery” and “honesty” and absolutely adore when a lifestyle blogger has a “life isn’t 100% perfect” post.  And I’m not saying that everything shared has to be perfect and wonderful… but if life is being pretty good, why lament the lack of drama posts?  Why not just be happy that life is pretty good?  That can be honest too.  Healthy, even.

Have you noticed a decline in … “raw, honest, brave” performance art?  Do you wish there were more of those posts or is reality TV a good substitute?  Do you think that with Trump gone that less frightening drama will return and dramatic “honest” posts are just the internet’s way of healing?  Can you tell this post was written before Delta took over and the Supreme Court decided to let an insane anti-abortion law stand?  

Are posts that are “raw” and dramatic more honest than posts that are happy or emotionally even?: A deliberately controversial post

Not necessarily.

Just like the accusations that (some? all?) people are making up their happy perfect lives, there’s also no doubt bloggers who are either dramatizing or possibly even making up their own drama so that they have something to write about.  Some people who seem as if their lives are trainwrecks seem that way not because they necessarily have horrible things happening to them, but because, like the (possibly fictional) “perfect” bloggers, they want attention.  They love being thanked for their “honest” and “raw” posts.

So they talk about fighting with their horrible lazy awful partners.  They talk about their horrible children.  They talk about their problems with money that they have created by taking on too much debt.  Some (that you will occasionally read news stories about) go so far as to make up diseases and put up crowd-funding.

It is true that there are people stuck in horrible relationships, or whose children have real psychological problems.  There are people who, through no fault of their own have money problems.  There are people who have life-threatening and chronic diseases.  And some folks with real problems do blog about them.

However, the Venn diagram of having a real problem and blogging about drama is not an “honest” and “raw” single circle.  There’s overlap, but it is far from complete.

Drama posts can be just as fictional as “perfect” posts.  And just as likely, some “perfect” bloggers are not lying about things going well for them.  Honest writing and happy writing may be completely uncorrelated.

Your turn, Grumpeteers.