Reactions: Lifestyle Blogging and Real Life

Recently, I read an article on BitchMagazine.com titled Better Homes & Bloggers, which discussed the authenticity of popular lifestyle bloggers in the blogosphere. The article discussed how these bloggers share their lives in carefully curated fashion - showing often PG-versions of the bloggers by the bloggers' decision. They are showing only a small part of their lives in documentation, things relevant to their brand.

The author of the article also discusses how many of the more popular lifestyle bloggers are white and middle to upper middle class women. Often they are stay-at-home wives with working husbands. I can say that I have noticed this phenomenon in many different blogging realms, including healthy living bloggers. This isn't to say that blogging isn't hard work. Many of the women who have popular lifestyle, healthy living, or food blogs are earning a good income from their writing, and the time spent on their posts can equal that of a full-time job. This is especially true when you consider how much time can be spent coming up with new blog content, photographing, writing, and editing posts. That doesn't even consider time spent promoting posts via Twitter and Facebook, and responding to reader comments and emails. 

Of course, the main point of the article was really discussing, at least in my opinion, what is absent from so many of these blogs, my own included. That would be the hard stuff. The struggles. I've noticed that many bloggers are criticised for not discussing the realities and hardships of their lives, and continuing to portray their lives as carefully curated perfection, as it were. I know I am guilty of this, because it is hard to talk about when things are hard. A friend of mine keeps a private blog and I admire her candor in discussing when things are good and when they are bad - her triumphs and struggles, but I struggle to discuss my own, especially when it comes to dealing with things like depression and anxiety (of which I'll write more on later this week).

I will be the first to admit that a lot of it has to do with portraying an ideal. When you look at magazines regarding popular homemaking and house keeping, they portray homes that are airy and bright, full of positivity - like "Martha Stewart Living" and "Real Simple." These are showing an ideal and many of the more popular lifestyle blogs also portray that ideal, in soft focus, instragrammed pictures. I know that my world isn't always bright and airy. My house is old. You might say vintage. My furniture is mismatched, but not in a shabby chic way. We have a lot of IKEA, some from Target, some vintage (I quite like my buffet), but it's not shabby chic. More like "new homeowner," and I am okay with that.

Of course, not all popular lifestyle blogs are portraying an ideal. The ones that come to my mind's forefront that don't are dooce and The Bloggess. These women have incredibly popular blogs full of followers, commenters, and fans, and are both successful published authors. They got their not by portraying an ideal, but by being realistic in their depictions of their lives, their struggles, and yes, their dealings with depression, and anxiety. Their lives aren't always pretty and vintage, but they are very real and relatable, which can only increase their likeability and popularity. 

My blog here, admittedly, falls closer to the first than second camp. It's hard to maintain any anonymity on the internet, and while I do work a full-time job, I also devote a lot of my free time to both blogging and to my photography business. Good and happy things are a lot easier to write about than struggles, bad news, or things that are more morose. Certainly if I wrote about my struggles with anxiety or depression, or days that The Boy and I are arguing about silly things it would be more relatable, but it's also a lot harder for me to write about. There's a level of exposure writing about struggles implies - opening up for more criticism, suggestions for how to handle the good and bad days, but mostly the criticism and the thought that not everyone will like you.

Of course, I am the first to admit I know not everyone is going to like me, and I need to write in a way that is authentic to who I am and who I want my blog to portray. Will I write about my struggles? Yes, but it will be limited - my struggles are very personal, private, and while relatable, they also make me more vulnerable in a way that I prefer to be only with loved ones and close friends. My writing will always reflect who I am, but I do want to maintain some privacy about certain issues and not always air my dirty laundry, especially on the internet.

All of this is to say that any blog is going to present a carefully curated image of life. I wouldn't say I curate my life on my blog, but I do pick and choose what I talk about. I will not say that it is the reader's responsibility to know that a blogger is depicting just part of life, but that it is the author's responsibility to point out that what they are writing is just a small portion of a much bigger life. I mean, if you really think about it, there are 168 hours each week. No writer can document every minute of their waking hours, and if they did, who would want to read it? There is a fine line between sharing enough to keep things interesting, and oversharing. It is my hope to keep things interesting, without becoming boring.