On Not Playing The Game. (About Blogging)

I have so many posts drafted. And when I go to publish them I imagine the backlash I might receive and I decide it’s not worth it. Because at some point during the last two years, I changed.

It occurred to me recently that I’m a part of a blogging group I know next to nothing about. Meaning, I am a mom and I am a blogger. I sit alongside members of this group (sometimes) but rarely chime in. I’m a spectator. And I don’t have the ambition (or knowhow) to enter the mainstream. Not that I’d make it anyway! When it comes to sinking or swimming and the Internet, I usually tread water.

Toby Joe has told me time and time again, “You gotta play the game if you want to get ahead! You gotta play the game if you want to get noticed!” And I always shake my head at that, actually it frustrates me to no end. And he knows this. He’s not trying to upset me. He says it to remind me that playing the game just ain’t my thing. It’s always the same conversation, one that ends with me asking him, “What’s the fucking point?”

I’ve never played the game. l probably never will play the game. I will continue to sit on the sidelines. Sometimes I’ll cheer people on. Sometimes I’ll boo and hiss at people. But I’ll always do so silently.

I’ve never been very good at playing the game.

And I don’t write much about heated topics anymore, even topics I feel very strongly about. I’m not sure why (or when) that stopped. I just hate the idea of anonymous hate mail, anonymous comments, or Tweets from Below. But I am even more freaked out by the chorus of commenters who write things like, “Wow. Just. Wow. You are AWESOME! I totally agree! I love you!”

Doesn’t that make people feel uncomfortable? It does me. It makes me cringe as a spectator. Comments like that tend to freak me out more so than ones spewing hate.

So, I just avoid heated topics altogether.

But I always have an opinion. Always.

Last week I wrote a relatively scathing post about Babble’s “Top 50 BEST OF” lists and lists in general. I gave up midway through that post because I worried that I might offend someone. And I’m pretty sure I would have been accused of being a jealous twat and I don’t have the energy to fight back even though that’s not the case.

But ultimately? I just couldn’t shake the voice in the back of my head asking, “What’s the fucking point, Michele?”

And I didn’t have an answer to that. So I hit save and walked away.

Yesterday I wrote a post about the whole Amazon/pedophile book fiasco. I didn’t partake in the shitstorm that engulfed Twitter because I didn’t want to draw attention to a book that, up until yesterday, had sold one copy and is clearly the work of a very, very sick man. But the news spread like wildfire. People called for a boycott. People were outraged.

Good news for all those opposed? The book was removed by Amazon last night.

Bad news for all those opposed? The backlash helped it go from the 158,221st best-selling Kindle e-books all the way up to #65.

(Please note: I’m not discussing how I feel about the book or Amazon having listed it. I’m also not suggesting others should have ignored it. I’m not saying anything. See? That’s my point. When it comes to the Internet? I RARELY MAKE ONE.)

There are just so many half-written posts. They’re piling up. And instead of publishing any of them, I just give up and write about my cat, baking, or something silly that happened while spending time with my son. All of this probably makes me seem pretty damn boring. Hell, I bore myself on here anymore.

So, yeah. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I suck at playing the game. I don’t see that changing. And quite honestly, I’m not even sure I know how to play.

But here’s my hunch regarding the rules:

Playing the game means linking to other blogs a lot, blogs at the heart of it all; it means knowing what one’s peers are discussing at all times. Playing the game means finding out about the hot topic straight away and writing about said topic immediately. Playing the game often includes heated debate. (It also means having a strong backbone something of which I do not.) Playing the game sometimes means being a decent writer, but more often than not has nothing to do with actual talent and more to do with who’s on one’s team. Playing the game means feeling passionate about one side of an issue (or pretending to feel passionate about one side of an issue) and I often see many sides. (Unless we’re talking vaccinations, animal rights, littering, or guns. Now, you unvaccinated, littering, gun carriers who torture animals? YOU DESERVE TO DIE.)

Playing the game means going to conferences. Playing the game means NOT finding out about something days after it happens. Playing the game means NOT getting annoyed by those on your team.

I suck at playing the game.

I’m admittedly a bit emotional these days and I gotta be frank with you: I don’t know how much of what I’m feeling is legitimate Michele stuff and how much of it is hormonally induced reactionary stuff. So I feel crippled when it comes to making any changes.

I do know I’m not a very good blogger (anymore) and I have no idea how to change that or if I should. I’m even losing sight of my own voice while reading everyone else’s. And Twitter seems to be making it worse. You give people 140 characters and they use all 140 repeatedly and often. And then sometimes they re-tweet the same sentiment from others. Before you know it, you’re reading 140 characters a dozen times from a dozen different people and in a dozen different ways, but all of which are saying the same thing.

So, yeah. I feel a little lost out here, online. And I’m realizing I always have, which is probably why this blog is facing its 10-year anniversary and not many folks know about it. (Not that I’m complaining! I assure you. Making my family laugh has been worth it. And those who have reached out to me regarding their miscarriages or infertility have made the entire decade I’ve been blogging worthwhile. I mean that completely. Your loss is something I will always care about. That’s why I started this blog 10 years ago: I was hoping to make people feel less alone.)

But overall? I find myself wondering how and why everyone seems to care so damn much about seemingly pointless shit. And then I just get frustrated at myself that I don’t care enough. I don’t care enough to write about Babble’s lists. I don’t care enough to write about baby slings, attachment parenting or breastfeeding in public. I don’t care enough to write about who harassed who and how they went about admitting it. I don’t care enough to give some attention whore even more attention because she wrote an article about hating fat people in exchange for some ad revenue.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I’m terrible at playing the game, and I’m frustrated by it too. And I think it’s safe to say that I’m too much of a pussy to actually say (or do) anything about it.


  1. “You are AWESOME! I totally agree! I love you!”



  2. Ha!

    If this were Facebook, I’d like that comment.

    Wait, can you like comments on Facebook?


  3. You can like comments ob fb. But then you feel all icky inside.


  4. One of the things I have always loved about your blog is that it is not one of the bandwagon/issue re-hashing types. I like coming here and reading what you have to say about the real things that are happening in your world, the happiness and the pain and all of the mess that is a life lived. You are refreshing and those others are plastic imitations of each other with their lives carefully staged and edited to reveal only the most perfect of pictures. I used to read a lot of blogs but now I read fewer. It had begun to feel a lot like junior high and each blog was just a rehash of the same thing.

    Just one reader’s opinion. Write what you feel like writing, if it does not make you happy then don’t do it. And don’t play that game.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Loose String. It does help me sort all this shit out in my head, I have to admit. So thank you.

      I think this is partly due to hormones—this post. I just feel like screaming at people a little too often lately. hehe I don’t! But it’s there.


  5. I too like reading about your every day life. That’s what I love about blogs; it feels like a window into someone’s life. You get to see just a portion of it, and sometimes there’s nothing exciting going on, but it’s still interesting. It’s like driving around at night, and how you can see in some people’s windows because their lights are on and the shades are open. Usually it’s an empty room, or a TV reflected. But sometimes there’s a family laughing, or a person walking around.

    I feel like, in this analogy, people who “play the game” are always standing at the window, shouting out at you. Sometimes I like to just see them going about their life normally, you know?

    Anyway, I think there are enough blogs out there that cover pretty much every aspect of the “major issues,” that it is not a bad thing if you don’t want to join in. I usually don’t join in because I don’t have anything new to offer. And in that case, like you said, “what’s the point?”


  6. I also think that playing the game these days is also so much about monetizing your blog. And you and I are like, now, grandmothers of blogging, because we started our blogs – we had REASONS to start our blogs – so far ahead of that trend that I don’t know about you, but it completely baffles me. Not so much the ad running, but the sponsored content, strikes me as so not the point of blogging. It’s definitely not why I started reading some of the bloggers I still read who now run these sponsored posts, and while I think the power to do so is really cool, even when bloggers seek to maintain that integrity and trust capital that they all talk about, it’s actually just not content I’m interested in reading. I get really cringe-y about the soft sell, especially when I can see it coming, so eventually, I stop reading blogs I actually otherwise like, because they’re no longer really doing what drew me to them and instead, capitalizing upon that to do something else.

    That said, I’m a big chicken for saying that here on your blog I’ve never said anything like that on MY blog. Mostly because I don’t want to piss off my blog-friends who have chosen to write sponsored content. HEH.


  7. Krissa: I am most definitely a coward because I don’t speak my mind about this stuff nearly enough, if ever. Instead, I beat around the bush and bitch about it to friends directly or to my husband. But I am annoyed often enough. I have to admit. Sometimes I just want to scream about certain things. But, again. I come back to “What’s the fucking point, Michele?”

    I wish I could stop being a coward. What am I afraid of? Being tossed out? Unfollowed? Attacked?

    Yeah, actually.


  8. “I feel like, in this analogy, people who “play the game” are always standing at the window, shouting out at you. Sometimes I like to just see them going about their life normally, you know?”

    Becky: a wonderful analogy.


  9. Becky’s comment got me thinking about why I like to READ blogs. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, WHY do I give a shit what you think?

    And I think it comes down to the way friendships grow in face-to-face life. I have a few cherished life-long friends, but I couldn’t tell you when we became friends, or specifically why we became friends…it just sort of happened. But I know it happened over little things like a shared joke during class, a love of the same TV show, singing along to the same obscure band, etc. I never made a life-long friend in an instant.

    It was the same way with reading your blog. I can’t remember how I found you or what the first post I read was. But obviously, something you wrote struck a chord with me, and I came back, and now I’ve been reading for a few years now. No, we’re not “friends” in the traditional sense, but like Becky said, blogs give us glimpses into other people’s lives, and over time, you start to feel like you have a bit of a connection.

    Maybe some of your feelings stem from the fact that we all get to see bit of your life, but most of us are basically unknowns to you. I imagine it’s hard to keep talking to a black curtain.

    And I’ve just realized that my comment is both rambling and totally off point. Sorry for that, it’s just my stream of consciousness. Feel free to pat me on my head and walk on!


    1. I like stream of consciousness. And I like the dialogue as to why people read blogs. I’ve been asking myself something similar, not why I read them but why I no longer read them. And it’s for some of the very reasons Krissa mentions above. I get so tired of hearing the same thing and then questioning whether or not bloggers are writing for themselves or if someone is paying them to do so. (NOT that there’s anything wrong with being paid, it’s just not what I’m really interested in.) Also: these keyboard crusades where bloggers are out to “change the world” get so tiring. I think I crave simplicity and not having to overthink so much, or work so hard at feeling passionate about something that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter. You know? Or maybe it’s that I don’t believe change is being made all that much out here.

      I sound so cynical. I don’t mean to. I’m just doing a lot of thinking lately.

      And now I’m rambling. heh

      Needless to say, I need to find some new-to-me Web sites written by people who aren’t monetizing the hell out of it. :]


  10. I found your blog 4 years ago, when I first started my own little mommy blog (now abandoned in favor of food blog). The reason I’ve kept coming back to your site is your honesty. That’s the voice that draws me back to read more.


  11. I like that you don’t have a focus. It’s always a surprise. That to me keeps it fresh. I love Becky’s analogy about peeking in people’s windows. That’s exactly why I read blogs (that’s also why I started running in a rich neighbourhood, for the peeking, but that’s neither here nor there).
    If you have something to get off your chest, then do it. Are you writing for yourself or for your audience? If you’re writing for yourself, does it matter if you piss people off? Like you said, you don’t want the ass kissing comments either (I stopped reading the comments from a certain short haired blogger for that reason).

    And can I just say, every time I see a curly slide I think of you. So absurd, so funny, so human.


  12. Your blog helped me tremendously when I was a first time new mom and your honest voice has continued to assist me. I really appreciate your writing and sharing.


  13. I know why I read you….

    I like the stories of your family. I like the stories of Murray. I like the way you write. I like looking at bits of your world through your eyes.

    For me, blog reading depends first on quality of writing, and secondly on content. And bandwagons aren’t my thing, so when someone becomes a regular bandwagon writer, I’m not there anymore.

    I’m more interested in the snippets of your life…even though I don’t know you irl, nor you me.

    That’s all. As Becky said, it’s just the enjoyment of peeking in your window.


  14. Where do I even start…

    I think this one particular post has really hit it home for me because I’m feel very much the same way about “the game” and this whole blogging phenomena. I used to ask myself why the hell I even have one, but thankfully realized that I’m doing it for me -for my creative, leisurely, and emotional outlet. Not necessarily for an audience, although input is always appreciated. I damned well am not doing it for fame or fortune and have zero ambitions for any of that, so the pressure of the game is alleviated.

    About having an opinion, especially about heated topics? I tend to stay away because the internet can be an unforgiving, hurtful place when things are taken the wrong way. Not to mention get all sorts of the wrong attention, whether media or whatever, if it strikes the wrong chord. The thing is though, I have lots of opinions on any one topic and usually can’t stick decisively to one side. So unless it affects me very personally, I don’t care to talk about certain things either.

    Also -last note, I promise- I think people appreciate someone who’s honest about their life and true to themselves more than someone who just rehashes what’s circulating the blogosphere or whatever.

    This was one really long, long way of saying “I completely agree.”

    And you know what? From what I’ve gotten to know about you through your blog, you really are awesome. :)


  15. What Amira said.

    I’ve been reading for a very long time but don’t comment often but I will say this for myself:

    Please keep writing for you and not “the man!” It’s refreshing to come over here and read something that’s real and not so corporate or sponsored. I love a glimpse into someone else’s life that is much different than mine but with our kids and pets as the common bond. You keep your reality at the forefront of your writing and I appreciate it so very much.
    I guess this is my sly way of saying OMG I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU DO! :)


  16. I’d tell you that you’re awesome and that you think like I do, but that would freak you out. I commend your honesty, as I also don’t give much attention to current event debates. I also don’t really care who breastfeeds in public. It’s not about being cowardly in my opinion, it’s about not caring enough to endure the moot debate back and forth.

    I think a writer who doesn’t have a handful (or ten handfuls) of unpublished posts doesn’t know how to edit. Is it possible that I just believe this because I am also unbackboned? Absolutely.

    Thank you as always.


  17. I came across your blog 3 1/2 years ago when I was pregnant. I liked reading it because you had just had your baby boy and because your writing is so real and honest I felt it gave me a glimpse of what motherhood to a little boy would be like on a day to day basis. Also, I am so busy at work that I look forward to taking a break and reading what you have to say about silly things like your cat and so on, it’s lightheartedly refreshing. When you’ve delt with more difficult topics it helped me have a perspective and know how to relate to a dear friend who was going through the same heartache. Every other blog I’ve tried to read I never really follow because of all the monetizing. Don’t beat yourself up you write really well and as long as you enjoy it keep at it.


  18. I honestly can’t recall exactly when I started reading, though I think it was probably during my first pregnancy in 2008, but I do know that I’ve stuck around because I really enjoy hearing about your life. I’ve gotten some great recipe ideas from you, Murray is hilariously adorable, and all the little mundane details of life are far from boring to me. I rarely comment, but I’m a regular reader. I’m also due with my second in the beginning of April, so I can totally relate to the hormonal ups and downs, I mostly feel like I’m walking around in a fog these days.
    I’d really miss your posts if you stopped, so I selfishly hope you don’t ;P


  19. I love your blog. I read it quite often but have probably only commented once. I like that you don’t always get into the hot topics and that you aren’t constantly writing about the next big thing and I can tell you aren’t being paid to write about something. Your blog, it seems to me, is just about your life and it always comes from the heart. And I have to say – it has made me feel much less alone – so if that is why you started the blog you have succeeded. I am 13 weeks pregnant and recently read your series on the birth of Emory. It was amazing – all the little details you shared made me feel like I understood where you were coming from and helped me know what being a mom will be like. It was a beautiful story. I noticed that even back then you were trying to stay away from “making a point” or taking one side of an issue but I think that is part of what makes your writing so relatable. I hope you keep posting even if it seems mundane to you – because I really enjoy reading your blog. But really forget what everyone else thinks – do it if it makes you happy and if not, who needs it?


  20. Honestly? Hearing from you fine folks makes me happy. The emails and comments I’ve received are what keeps me going.

    And this ultimately has nothing to do with the blog, I’m just now realizing. It has more to do with twitter.

    Long story, but I blame twitter. I think I need to pull back a bit from there. Without going into too much, it’s kind of annoying!

    But that’ll be a post for another day.

    Thanks for reaching out, you awesome fuckers. ;)


  21. Dammit. You’re awesome. I hate all the monetizing hooha, hashtags, PR, free stuff and my newest hate-on… live tweet “conferences” ARRRRGH.

    I’m gonna go bake some beans. #awesome!


  22. Been reading your blog for a few years. No need to play any game – I wouldn’t return if it wasn’t interesting!


  23. I agree with you.

    I used to blog “naked” and now I tweet naked. I only read 4 blogs on a regular basis, on twitter I follow only people I’ve “known” for years and my twitter feed is private and that’s the way I like it I don’t want to be popular or famous or receive recognition. For me, the benefit is the feeling or connection and inspiration, and the aha moments when I learn from people who are different from me.

    I don’t give a flying fuck about internet drama and frankly I never even hear about it at all since I’ve stopped reading mommy blogs. I’m not a parent so I feel like I have the luxury of thinking I am capable of running my life without the bullshit clique-y commentary that seems to prevail among online parents.

    I don’t watch much tv and I don’t follow the network news and I couldn’t care less what celebrities and bloggers think is important.

    I bumped into you years ago on the internet and after hearing your online “voice” for years, I still like you. I like that when I read you, I never wonder if you’re spinning it. And I like most cats. Especially Murray.


  24. That probably came out a tiny bit harsher than I meant it to because of a discussion I had this morning about how influential/invasive internet culture has become.

    Also, I don’t think of you as a mommy blogger. :)


  25. Not at all, Sheryl! I knew/know what you meant. I have always appreciated your direct approach. No need to explain at all.


  26. Molly (aka KidKate) November 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Hmmm, I have always considered you a successful blogger. I stopped reading most blogs a long time ago (was wasting too much time online) and kept reading only yours and two or three others.

    Also, I sort of hate reading about those “issues of the day.” Yuck. It’s boring, frankly, and I’ve got my own opinions. Mostly I want to relate on a personal level–how is your pregnancy going? How do you cope with three-year-old tantrums? Where will you live next? Etc.

    Finally, I think your Tweets are very amusing. I don’t have an account and sort of don’t get the point of it but you actually write very funny Tweets. You should keep it up!

    I gave up on blogging b/c I was really, really bad at it and lacked any ambition in that department but you shouldn’t! Besides, I think you have the perfect number of readers. Enough for interesting discussion/feedback/etc but not so many that people are too intimidated to comment and that you become an empire and change the nature of your blog.

    Congrats on your new holiday lollipops, by the way. They look gorgeous!


  27. You are too smart for games. :)


  28. Reading that post was like reading my own thoughts. I’m not a mom, I’m just a girl who has a blog nearing it’s 10 year anniversary, and I too am completely baffled by the game.

    Blogging has changed so much in the past decade and I’ve been doing it the same way pretty much the whole time, so I feel a little bit like I’ve been left in the dust. It’s taken years, but I’m finally kind of okay sitting over here in my dusty corner. Reading things like this helps remind me it’s okay that I don’t want to participate in the game.

    Thank you for writing about your son, your cats, and baking. I’d much rather read about all of those things than the “hot topic” of the day.


  29. Hooooo am I with you on all of the above. Krissa too. I like the stories. What happened to the stories? They’ve gotten awfully airbrushed, even the sad ones.


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