Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are Bloggers Just Online Narcissists?

Narcissists. According to Psychology Today, they're "charming, exasperating, captivating—and sometimes downright ludicrous."

According to Ben Affleck, Narcissism is "the one quality that unites everybody in the film industry."

But has the self-obsessed, ego-centric ridiculousness usually reserved for performers, athletes and politicians now taken over the Web? These days, it  seems it doesn't take much more than tens of thousands of followers on YouTube to be called a "star."

Narcissists can even be found around the mom blogosphere (gasp!). I know, shocking. When I was in the TV world, incessantly talking about your kids was career suicide. Yet, women like Heather Armstrong (AKA Dooce) is said to see over five million hits a month, bringing in (an unconfirmed) cool two mil a year. She's blunt and funny and has no filter, sure. But two million bucks a year writing crap about her family and posting video of her kid saying "grandma"? It's no wonder there are so many others trying to push their way to the top.

And it's not just online. The cliques and clubs move to live events, in the form of blog conferences, screenings and other offline affairs -- often turning social networks like Twitter and Facebook more high school than usual.

But it's not entirely the bloggers' fault. Please, I'll admit that I often find myself simultaneously nauseated by the "mommy blogger" thing, yet strategizing how to grab that brass ring -- the one that allows me to do what I love and enjoy the flexibility I need to be the mother I want to be. While we're on it, I'd also like a unicorn and a personal assistant, please. There are many bloggers I know who remain true to themselves -- post after post -- blogging about what they feel passionate about and avoiding the temptation to write reviews on mops and diaper pails, in exchange for free product.

That is, until they're nominated.

A "best blog" nomination can turn a seemingly rational mother into a whore for attention, accolades and a 200 x 200 badge to call her own.

It's brilliant, really. What better way to drive traffic to your own site than to create a contest where readers vote for their favorite blogs? These sites assume that each nominated blogger will do so much self promotion that it will boost traffic with very little effort. And they're right. How do I know? Because I did the same thing as editor of a major studio's "mom" site a few years back.

It's not like the bloggers are fooled by this -- we know what's going on. Yet, the ego of our online narcissist takes over and we can't think of anything but winning. We send emails, post on Facebook, or enlist the help of blogger friends to make it happen. I want to win. Win. WIN. WIN!

You're probably assuming I'm now going to ask you to vote for me. "It will just take two clicks -- a few seconds out of your life and you're done." But you're wrong.

I am, however, going to tell you about my friend, Andrea. Unlike most of us, her blog Bedtimes Are for Suckers is completely unique, written in the voice of her newly 5-year-old daughter, Lily. That alone should earn her some votes.

Vote now. Vote often. Because if you don't, the preschoolers win. (VOTE)

PS: I guess this post is a lesson after all. One that proves that life's not always about me, something I am comforted and relieved by every time I remember it.


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