There are certain popular blogs I no longer read. Year-round they may be a bit too happy for me, but over the holidays I can hardly bear the tales of their perfect lives.
Last night I stared incredulously at happy shiny pictures of perfect Christmases in stately homes.
I got offline and told my husband in a quavering voice, “You should see the pictures of the perfect Christmas trees. Heavily photoshopped, trees with glimmering makeup, but still…”
“Is that what the internet is for? So people can brag at Facebook?”
“I think it used to be about community. There used to be a lot of groups.”
“The less screen time, the better,” he said.
And perhaps blogs are changing. There used to be quite a few radical bloggers who were writing about subjects that were not attempted by mainstream press. Nowadays, many bloggers I admired have burned out or quit, and there is a new happy, happy tone, a pressure to conform, that is not authentic. Apparently nobody’s child is unemployed, nobody is in the hospital, all the siblings are on speaking terms, and nobody’s poverty-stricken uncle is washing his wife’s disposable diapers because he cannot afford to buy new ones.
No, bloggers are magic. They have no problems.
Or, you can say, they choose not to write about them. You feel indignant.
But where are the people who write the truth? An alternative to newspapers?
Book blogs, never entirely reliable, have grown less so. Thank you, thank you, publicists! for using me to promote your books, they scream. If they have integrity,they needn’t thank the publicists publicly. (It’s their job!) If they don’t have integrity, announcing that they are accepting gifts will not improve the reliability of their reviews.
Bloggers have also become Teflon on every subject. Christmas is more stressful for women than men, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, because women feel responsible for making the holidays. And the British Heart Foundation says that one in three people drink at least five days a week before Christmas,
Are my favorite bloggers drinking or stressed? They certainly don’t talk about it. For instance, I have long been a groupie of a very popular blogger whom I shall call Superwomanonamphetamines. She is perfect, if smug, and I suppose you ARE smug, if you’re perfect (and on amphetamines). I can’t QUITE like her, can you? because she reads, writes, weaves, decorates cakes, makes her own wine, built her own house, hikes, runs, skis, skates, climbs rocks, dances, wrestles alligators, travels, gardens, has a personal meth lab, and is a witch in a coven… Still, when I’m in the mood, I desperately want to be like her, except I don’t want to weave, wrestle alligators, be a witch, or take amphetamines etc.
I, on the other hand, am at the opposite extreme from Superwomanonamphetamines. I ride my bicycle, and complain about it endlessly. I have a lovely family, and complain about them endlessly. I tell everyone they should read John Brunner’s 1968 dystopian novel, Stand on Zanzibar, because it’s about the world today. And, yup, I write about the Christmas my cousin was in the mental hospital instead of about my perfect life. Which is p-e-r-f-f-f…
(Yes, I can satirize myself with the best of them.)
So I don’t know quite what I’m saying here, but I wish the blogs WERE better, and were an alternative to newspapers, but they are NOT and will never be until we write about things that actually matter.