Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Storytelling and “Doing Good”

Blogging story of the day:  Big-time blogger goes to third-world country, writes post about what she saw, and others criticize her for being a wealthy white woman doing “poverty tourism.”

But this blogger is “doing good!” say her defenders.

I’ve now read ten posts on this topic, all focusing on how wrong it was for others to mock a person doing so much good. In two days, the personal blogging community went from caring only about “monetizing their blog” to  the importance of “doing good.”

In my opinion, you are getting the argument wrong.   The “doing good” is a red herring.   It has nothing to do with anything.   I’m not friends with any of the parties involved, so there is no one I want to defend.

I’m just interested in storytelling.

I believe writers should be able to tell their stories without others mocking them.   A person has the freedom to go to a Third World country and write about his or her experience.

If I went on this trip, I might talk about my allergies, the smog, and how the cab driver ripped me off.  I might even HATE visiting this chaotic country, and reveal I spent the entire week in my hotel room drinking mojitos   And you know something? — you still don’t have any right to mock me.   It’s my story, even it’s about a weekend in a upscale hotel in a Third World country.    Not an editorial on how you should live your life.

Of course, a person also has the right to criticize.   But only the issue, not the story.  The story is above the issue.   That’s what make stories last longer than the issues.   Because stories not about “doing good” or being right or following any political or artistic agenda.

They are about life.    Write your own stories.

46 Comments

  1. Thank you Neil – I think you just summed up my entire problem with the whole kerfuffle and why I had no time, patience or interest in it. Who sets the agenda du jour for mom bloggers and who else do they manage, I wonder?

    Telling your story in a way that is authentic, while monetizing and doing good is a lot like performing in a Cirque du Soleil act. You must be very talented, artistic and a little twisty. Huzzah to those that can. Everyone else who would judge should shut up and focus on their own story.

  2. I love your take on it. Never thought of it this way. Must say I agree. Honestly Neil, I really love what you said.

  3. Interesting take on the whole brouhaha that went down (which I missed entirely, of course, because the internet only blows up when I’m not around. Harrumph.) and I have to admit that you make a very good point.

  4. I was waiting for you to weigh in. Well said. “write your own story” … Profoundly true and advice we should all heed.

  5. Hell hath no fury….. You tell ’em, Neil!

  6. Could you add a link to the original blogger and some of her critics? Yeesh, I’d like to see those people take the time to focus on someone other than themselves–without knowing any of the details, it sounds unbelievably petty to criticize this woman who was trying to do SOMETHING. Unless she was being an offensive Ugly American who was making the Third World women get botox treatments or watch “The Kardashians” on her satellite phone. I only know the mommyblogger community through you, but boy oh boy, it seems like a bunch of them HAVE ISSUES. On the other hand, I completely agree with what you say about the importance of story and good writing.

  7. Never mind, I just found it–I should have known you were talking about Dooce. Isn’t any attention someone who has a lot of readers gives to such things always a positive thing? I think so. And speaking of famous people who have millions of followers, I just heard that the L.A. Department of Transportation is so worried that people won’t find out about the closure of the 405 Freeway for three days in July that they’ve asked Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian to tweet about it because between the two of them they have 20 MILLION followers. Arrrrgh! The day I start relying on people like that for my news feeds is the day I throw all my support to Michelle Bachmann in the next election.

  8. This? Is perfect.

  9. yes
    yes
    yes

    so glad you shared these thoughts neil.

  10. It’s difficult to be criticized, or asked questions about what you’re doing. Especially when you’re trying to do something “good”. But it’s not reasonable to expect it never to happen, especially if you are a celebrity.

    I agree that the ad hominem attacks–from both sides–took our attention away from the “issue”. Which was a discussion about the pros and cons of the poverty tourism industry.

  11. Well said, Neil. I never understood why people spend so much time and energy tearing each other down. I’m all for critical analysis and discourse, but the meanness is just pointless.

  12. Yes! Exactly. I found “her” story compelling. I don’t follow her on Twitter, don’t subscribe to her blog. Used to. Just don’t anymore. I do check in from time to time. Interesting person. Great story. Beautifully told.

  13. I love this. You always put such a great perspective on things.

  14. You make some interesting points here but really I can not agree. I reserve the right to mock the bejezzuzzes out of almost everything. Humor keeps us human.
    I also reserve the right to critique the near exclusive hiring/inviting/canvasing of privileged affluent WHITE women by the sponsoring organizations to raise awareness of problems in third world countries like Bangledesh and Africa. IT IS RACIST and appallingly ignorant for the women and organizations to presume that doesn’t matter. Holy Hell, it matters. I CRINGE over the return posts that detail how a WHITE western woman from a representatively governed rich country had their LIFE changed by suddenly seeing REAL poor people. It is such a miss on what should be talked. None of these womens lives have changed practically in ANY way whatsoever upon thier returns. And neither have they changed ANYTHING for the poors they gawked at and left behind. This is not activism. It is missionary BS.
    See. You won’t like me when I’m not going for the laugh.

  15. Good on you, Neil. I tried to make kind of the same point in a different way – no one would have given her shit if she had written about her trip to look at cathedrals, which would be pretty trivial in comparison, but try to understand poor people from a different culture? How DARE she! Especially as a WHITE woman! Because we know that skin pigment has everything to do with compassion, intellect and understanding.

    • I’ve loved seeing all of your thoughtful comments about this SueBob, and now I can add Neil to the list too. Go, storytellers.

    • I’m assuming these comments were direct towards me, Sue Bob and Mom 101 and indeed you are missing my point completely. If you cannot even contemplate the difference between affluent white westerners traveling around to various third world countries to gawk at people mired in poverty due in l;arge part to the same western govt.s political policies and a tour of CATHEDRALS , what can I do to make you see the point? I’m NOT attacking Dooce, nor McMama nor Her Bad Mother PERSONALLY. I’m saying the there is an inherent racism involved in these oft times religious based missionary style “tours” being conducted by clueless white women who come back with tales of how it affected THEM. How their lives were changed , how they could NEVER DREAM of such poverty, because they have been so incredibly sheltered ?, self involved ? never watch any news programs ? what ? Why is one girls “dream of becoming a model , (not a realistic goal there ) the “only time I saw hope ” in someone’s eyes? That doesn’t sound paternalistic to you ? That doesn’t seem a bit dazzled by celebrity? Are you aware of how the money donated to these orgs. will be distributed? do you know what their mission statements are? Have you looked into the % of donations that go to “overhead”? Do you know who sits on the board of directors and if they are representative of a racial religious and ethnic diversity appropriate to the number of members ?
      Or, so we as Americans, just continue to be dazzled by celebrity for whatever reason, and go “YUP..sounds good. After all…a CELEBRITY endorses it. ” If I’m going to hear peoples stories about charity runs I want those facts and q&A’s included in the story. I have every right to raise these questions. They are VALID.
      I believe these women are hideously unprepared for these tours. For a woman of Dooce’s intelligence and articulation to be reduced to saying I can’t do anything…but tell your story..flabbergasted me. What really..there was no plan to help other than running a contest in a closed community to “pick a charity ” to donate unknown sources of money ? To “click” on a homepage setting to support (how much ,when, in what manner of material, economic help ) “her” charity?
      Saying things like we should support this ..becos someone tells these women that they can wait to marry..finish school , get jobs.. is laudable on the one hand and utterly unrealistic in terms of religion, culture and access on the other. The culture and religious mores of Bangladesh are important and valuable and sacred to those people. The problems in these countries are caused by our own economic policies and wars, in the main. Vote for candidates who support changing US foreign policy. Vote for people who support international organizations that help WITHIN the confines of the actual cultures. VOTE, send money, but most importantly research these organizations and issue instead of relying on the celebrity du jour.
      The issue of racism cannot be ignored. Racism is endemic to the US system and govt and white people BENEFIT from that every day. To ignore it ? That’s heartbreaking. To pretend that it isn’t is ignorant. I really would recommend that the Blogher bunch start branching out and reading blogs outside of that clique. There are many women of color blogging about these issues daily and if it makes you uncomfortable that you’re ignoring them, that’s kindof a good thing. “There is no progress without struggle” F. Douglas Sometimes that struggle needs to be with our own preconceptions and lack of education in issues such as these.
      I can say that reading the comments on Anna’s blog from the Conference list HOUMOR based Monday posts would reveal a bit more about what I speak of here from actual women of color who are blogging NOW. It may also open some eyes to how respectful of Dooce Anna was. One farcial line from a list gently mocking conference sessions such as How to go to Bangladesh with a Supermodel …hardly seems worth the really nasty accusations and threats made toward Anna when Dooce went off on her.
      Thank you Neil for allowing this conversation. I certainly don’t want to take over your comment section but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you allowing the conversation.
      Sue, I’m sure you have a negative attitude towards me due to feeling defensive about Dooce. You don’t need to, Dooce can take care of herself and I am NOT attacking her for going on this trip. Every other critisism I have of the situation is valid and has been an issue I’ve had for many many years. Even before the internet was invented by Dooce or Al Gore, I always confuse the two.
      My email is my handle at gmail.

      • Thanks for the comment, drhoctor2. You make some interesting political points about society, especially our clumsy and patronizing efforts to deal with poverty around the world, and the exclusion of women of color. But the issue surrounding this particular blogging incident are going all over the place, so let’s try to clarify things so we can all be on the same page —

        1) Your point about first world “charity” has been around a long time, and is a valid discussion. We have talked about Hollywood celebrities such as Oprah and Angelina Jolie going to Africa for years, so why not Dooce’s trip? After all, she is a “celebrity” in her own right. Is this a good way to create awareness or is it a waste of time and money? Another issue — we mock Hollywood celebrities online very day, so why not an internet celebrity?

        2) But let’s be honest. Most of us are not really talking about the trip to Bangladesh. Many of those who attacked Dooce on Twitter have been doing so for years, and used this trip as a new way to create controversy. I doubt many of them are worried about women of color. Anna is very intelligent, but she is not part of a political action committee out to save the world. She is running her blog as a business, looking to make profit. At first glance, it seems as if Heather Armstrong, with a million followers, is the Goliath in the situation, stamping out the innocent questioning of the little Davids. But some have been harassing her for so long, that it isn’t funny anymore. It is creating an atmosphere of hate. When it comes down to is, she is still a blogger like the rest of us, even if she is a “celebrity.” I’m all for questioning the hierarchy that exists online, and the snobbishness, and the cliques — I’ve done this many times myself — even made jokes about Heather’s popularity, but there is a way to do it without spreading hate.

        3) Does Dooce over-react to criticism? Perhaps. That is another issue. She certainly is popular, so she must be doing something right with her readers. Maybe she does need to learn to cool down a bit before saying things on Twitter, and accept the fact that with such a big following, there is more responsibility.

        3) My post has little to do with Dooce or the objections to poverty tourism, but writing. Even if you are rightfully upset by the “racism” of our policies, no one can dismiss a person’s authentic emotional feelings. Whatever the reasons for her going there, she WAS THERE. And now she is writing about her experience. Just because her experience doesn’t fit into your political point of view, doesn’t mean she didn’t honestly have the reaction that she wrote about in her post! Her trip may be a poor excuse for political action, or even change the world, but the trip affected one person, so she has the right to write about it, and if you don’t want to read about it, then don’t. If we start putting standards on what and what not a person can say online, insisting that all storytelling fit into a pattern of political correctness, it is a loss for all of us. People will be afraid of writing in fear of the mob. That is why I dismissed the importance of Dooce “doing good.” If she came back and said she hated the trip, more power to her for opening up her heart and telling us what she really thought.

        In some ways, the same can be said about criticizing popular notions, such as “poverty tourism.” People should not be afraid to speak their mind. However, that doesn’t mean that personal attacks on individuals is intelligently “speaking your mind” when it becomes hurtful on purpose.

        4) Rather than focusing on Dooce, I’d love to hear more about the good and bad points about missionary trips to third world countries? How have they done good? Are they more beneficial for the visitor than those visited? How have they been bad, such as destroying local culture? Are they too often used as PR tools for funding? What type of policies should we pushing the government to enact? What is the role of United Nations?

        I’m not sure why this one blogger, as popular as she is, has to take on the burdens of the world in her writing. Or why a “wealthy white woman” can’t be moved by poverty, and write about it honestly. She can only be true to herself.

        • I’ve been reading Dooce a very long time and tho her life and blogging style are not as in synch with that which I’m most interested in anymore I do catch up with her. She’s an excellent writer. She’s got an EXCELLENT head for business, a marvel, really. I can’t have more sympathy for the kinds of abusive hate mail and trolling she and other bloggers have/do deal with. It’s disgusting and awful and must be so hard to address. Reprehensible, really. I don’t support condone or participate in that .
          I’ve been reading Anna for a long time also. She is an excellent writer. She’s got an excellent head for business. The topics she writes about now are things that are in sync with my interests at this time so I do check her blog far more often.
          Those are my blog reading street creds in the interest of full disclosure.
          I do have some problems with Heather’s behaviors on Twitter with Anna. I have a problem with any commentators hurling insults, name calling and MEN (!!??) making vague and not so vague threats to Anna. I have problems with all the bloggers who jumped on the “Anna is a troll” bandwagon esp. when I know that this is not the issue they have with Anna. I do think Heather has a responsibility to prevent people from doing that on her behalf. Actively prevent it. ACTIVELY.
          I’m also very aware that I don’t know nor am I privy to any emails, dm’s or face to face convo’s between any of the “combatants”. I’m forming my opinions on what I read the involved people saying. When I see Jon write a post denigrating Anna by calling her a slaggy troll I’m outraged. Not all for Anna, but because I know that’s a slut shaming insult and thats always where privileged white men in this country go when having a difference of opinion with women, isn’t it? For Jon to strike so harshly at politicians in his home state who denigrate gay rights yet revert right to sexually shaming a women his wife is arguing with? Yeah, I’m willing to educate him to the fact that I am really offended by that behavior. Really offended. The stuff about making the calls on employment etc. Dude. Please. GAH.
          ( And by educate I mean mock that as hard as I can . Assuming you’ve read my tweets here.)
          I’m the very last person who will ever support demanding ppl write about anything other than a topic they freely chose. I reread my comment after reading yours and I can see that the quotes I used may be misinterpreted if looked at as targeting Dooces” motives.. I’m not. Those were to support my contention that these women have been inadequately prepared for these trips. Statements like that make them sound clueless and self absorbed. SEEM. Depending on who we are discussing I’m not saying they are. When I read Heather’s first essay what went thru my mind first was…”Man..she really should have had someone read that out loud to her and tweaked the hell out of a large portion of those statements .” For example…when she talks about the women waiting for her and goes on about how “vocal” they were..she SEEMS as if it was overwhelming that women in Bangladesh speak up ? are TOO loud? aren’t as passive as she thought they would be ? It’s a very common example of bigotry when racists smack talk communication styles, accents volume levels of other countries. And the flavor of that sort of thing seems to be there.
          I have a very difficult time with ppl who can’t believe how “poor ” poor is. That may be my impatience but come on…I’m expecting intelligent reporting here not omgs, people are poor !! (not dooce specific) However those “honest emotional reactions” underscore how unprepared they are for reality. What did they think living in the conditions that we all see/hear/ read would be like ? How am I supposed to get behind a celebrity endorsement when they are telling me they haven’t ever thought third world poverty thru? Why should *I* give a person any credibility when they admit they haven’t ever really considered the global repercussions of their OWN countries foreign policies ? How can I not be dismissive of motivation when all of these bloggers are making money off the blogs they are writing about these issues on ? They make it easy to dismiss them by seeming to be so incredulous about reality.
          As for the excellent points you make on celebrity charity roles and responsibilities..exactly. Precisely. Yes.
          I don’t trust celebrity endorsements. I wish charities didn’t feel a need to use them,. I most certainly am putting much of the onus of not seeking out people of color who HAVE knowledge of traditions, culture and religious values of the countries they are touring and including them ON the charities themselves. they need to be including representative ethnic/religious ppl not EXCLUDING Heather or any other Caucasian… lets see some appropriate diversity here. And we are NOT seeing that. We aren’t even seeing that in the Blogher rank and file. I am a bit stung that the white women involved in these campaigns are NOT speaking to that issue themselves. I would. I have. I will continue to do so. It’s important. Believe me when I say that the paternalistic …”lets SAVE these people from their savage selves” attitudes of fundamentalist/evangelical missionary charities gets NOTICED by the ppl they purport to wish to help. It’s patronizing and simplistic and bigoted. The missionary teams that virtually kidnapped “orphans” in Haiti are a very visible example of what I’m saying.
          I am bothered by the way Yahoo chose to use Heather’s following, clicking to change your homepage ? So that Yahoo can run ads and collect demographic and other info ? How is that charitable? I do not like the click this and like us and sign up here for Charity deals that seem to be becoming the preferred method for companies advertising on line. It is RIPE for corporate abuse and scamming. Ya know, when, say , Sally Struthers was doing infomercial type tv ads for a children sponsoring organization I KNEW she was not making a living from those same ads. That separation isn’t there when professional bloggers do the same types of things. And it needs to be clearly delineated. Because it does get that blogger page views and that does up their marketability with other advertisers. This is a sticky damn wicket here and freaking out over questions instead of just answering them helps not a bit.
          So solutions ? EDUCATE yourselves. Bloggers and supporters alike. ASK those questions. Why is the group I’m touring with so completely aligned along the white affluent correctly educated Christian standard? What are we actually going to DO for the people I’m spotlighting here. What is that charity’s agenda? What are they expecting from the campaign? WHERE does the money go? What are their political entanglements? Do that for yourselves. And vote. VOTE to change the way we treat the rest of the world.
          Thanks, Neil. Very much.

      • Your assumptions about me are interesting and say a lot. I don’t have a negative feeling about you because I am defensive about Dooce for 2 reasons – 1) No negative feelings – we just disagree. 2) Not defensive about Heather – my post was not so much about her as about a culture of putting down people who try to do good. As I have said before, Heather is an acquaintance whose work I admire. That is the extent of our relationship.

        My bias is toward seeing people as innocent and toward not spending much time questioning motives. I may be hopelessly naive. It just works better for me when I try to greet people as they are and not as I wish they were. Sometimes I fail miserably, of course. Heather went to Bangladesh and gave an honest, emotional response to what she experienced. I feel like an attack for that (or mocking) does more harm than good in that situation – your mileage may vary.

        As far as the profession of blogging, I make less than $500 per year and don’t expect to ever make much more, so I don’t have a lot of investment, except in time. My task, as I see it, is to be open, friendly and encouraging, and to have fun doing it. I’m just a simple slob who would like everyone to break bread together.

        • I’m missing the Heather got attacked tweets. Mockery , and reasonably mild mockery was made but she wasn’t, IMO, attacked. Questioning someone’s financial involvement in a charity campaign is a fair question, I feel. More than fair actually, I wouldn’t consider a contribution without that and other questions being answered to my satisfaction.
          My apologies if I have misinterpreted your blogging. I see your photo at Blogher and such and assume you run ads.
          I am the person who raised the question of the appropriateness of all white groups of “missionaries” going to third world countries in the comments on one of abdpbt entries, on twitter and elsewhere. I felt your statement “How DARE she! Especially as a WHITE woman! ” was directed at my commentary. That isn’t what I meant, not at all. I think my my point that these women are unprepared for the campaigns is underscored by the reactionary outcry over this. What is the big deal with announcing sponsorship, $ involvement etc? Yahoo isn’t JUST donating money, they’re soliciting home page sign up which translates to a profit for them. Will the moneythey donate = that profit ? No. So, yep, there’s a question or two to be answered on ROI and benefits to the sponsors. Asking a question doesn’t always imply that the person being asked is shady nor that the person asking is a troll.

  16. This is awesome. Since I learned about this stuff at a remove, it took me a while to learn what the fight was even about, and when I did, it still didn’t really make sense, exactly because of what you’ve written here. For some people, it seems to be impossible to just appreciate the words of others without voicing approval or disapproval… as if writers are all reality TV contestants who need votes to keep going.

    • Interesting comment about reality TV. Maybe that is how we are beginning to see each other — as characters on a show rather than real people.

      • Yes! Yes – again! I totally believe that’s exactly whats happening.

        I’m a nobody-blogger, not looking to get any, ah …. readership(?) as a result of posting my thoughts on this. (read: I’m freaked out by aggressive trolls, so you wont find me linking to my site.) Cowardly? Yup! but I like my sanity.

        Anyway, I’ve posted your take on this in the comments section attached to a few hatemonger posts because it is simple and clear and not fueled with anger or jealously. Thanks for this post, and your last comment. Breath of fresh air.

      • I do get that feeling. As if we are just “consumers” and other people’s lives are there for our consumption. And if people don’t like the life you are offering, they can boycott you by unfollowing! You have to remember your brand and your demographic and try to please your consumers!

        • Oh my gosh, yes. So smart, Kim. I don’t understand all this WE DEMAND ANSWERS, HEATHER! business at all. We are not shareholders in Dooce LLC and I don’t think she owes us anything except her stories. And if her stories aren’t for us…well then, move onto other stories that you prefer. Change the channel. Take up knitting.

          The rest of it is distracting, and it’s exhausting.

          • You are both overlooking the fact that Dooce and other “social good” bloggers ARE asking “us ” to consume their product. Campaigning to get us to buy that product. Speaking and blogging and soliciting advertisers for conferences that are all about branding and selling that product..their brand …their blogs. Stepping up and into charity campaigns to promote their social good brand. The ones they picked for themselves. The ones they worry and fret about keeping pure and individual and MARKETABLE.
            You’re both very involved in professional blogging and branding. I find it odd that you don’t seem to understand the sales aspect involved here and the responsibility to the costumers you all actively seek. It’s a business. Businesses are responsible to their consumers. That’s pretty basic.

            • Again, if you don’t like the message, change the channel. If you don’t want to buy the product (which I guess in this case is the “let’s think more about how we can be good global citizens” product), by all means…read other blogs. Follow other Twitter feeds. Take up with other “celebrities.” Or log off completely. There are some good books on the shelves these days. I’m reading Bossypants myself and I highly recommend it.

              I guess here’s where I come out: of all the problems that we (and I mean the general “we;” not you, specifically) can devote our energies to being furious about and leaving angry comments about all over the internet–I am still finding it hard to accept that a popular blogger using her influence to help less fortunate women in the world is up there in the top 10.

              • Out of every point I made your comment centers on the standard “if you don’t like it don’t read it ” cliche ? AND the “get off the net and read a book” cliche ? You forgot to tell me to get off my mom’s computer.
                All that is condescending, patronizing and disappointing to me. You wrote an entire blog post lauding Heather’s campaign and by association then dismissing Anna . Why would your critique be more valid than mine, esp. when I’m not playing to the personalities of the two ?

  17. well said. Write your own stories. (and I enjoy reading yours)

  18. Neil, I always appreciate your take and your brain. And your stories, of course. Clear insights are always lovely truths to read.

  19. I am so out of the loop, I know not even of what you speak, and I still want to give this post a big ‘ole thumbs up. Your experience is just your experience. You can write about it, and others can read it or not read it, agree or disagree, but no one should ever say you shouldn’t write your experience. Maybe they are just ticked because you had something more interesting to say than they did. Or maybe their toast was burnt that morning, who knows? Bunch of cranky netizens…

  20. Bravo, Neil. And bravo, Kim, for pointing out that blog writers, even “famous” ones, are still just writing their own thoughts on their own blogs. I shudder to think that someday I could write a post about a profound experience and have someone accuse me of only doing it for more blog traffic and ad money. It’s preposterous.

    Being a well known blogger, having an ad sponsor, being invited to spend her own money on a trip to see how women in Bangladesh live and what their needs are – none of those things make Heather responsible to anyone but Heather.

  21. Nicely put. And agreed.

  22. I’m getting ready to attend BlogHer for the first time and I have to say this whole situation made me blanch – I’m trying to think of another field besides blogging and politics in which personal attacks are carried out with such vigor and consistency. It kind of freaked me out, to be honest. I just want to write good stories and read other people’s good work.

    I recently had a post on Salon.com about my experience with a childhood bully and the commenters suggested that not only were my children to be pitied but that my sweet parents had engineered the whole thing. As writers we put ourselves out there (at least if we’re writing honestly, which is to say writing well) but it’s a brave new world of acrimonious reaction. I’m hoping not to get kneecapped at BlogHer for saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.

    Thanks, Neil, for a thought provoking post.

    • I think you’ll find the opposite, Nancy. Bloggers, and especially mom bloggers, are generally lovely in person. Most people who tend to antagonize writers online are more comfortable at home hiding behind their computers and their anonymity.

      Look forward to meeting you in San Diego.

    • I’m not as kind-hearted as Mom101, so I will tell you that there is a decent amount of jockeying for position and things like that going on at BlogHer, so it isn’t exactly like summer camp, but you know what — you get the same thing everywhere — even at churches and synagogues and summer camp. People are people, and that’s how it is. But there is a big difference between whispering to the person next to you, “How did SHE get to be a speaker this year?” and constantly attacking someone online. But BlogHer is a lot of fun and educational, even with the bits of gossip and envy, if you see it for what it is — everyone is a bit nervous. Remember, so many of us are writer-types who are best sitting at home rather than in a room filled with 2000 other people. So don’t worry about this type of meanness. 99% of everyone is supportive and friendly.

      Looking forward to meeting you.

      • It’s funny, I attend tech conferences all the time in service of my paid writing and I always come away with fistfuls of cards of people I want to keep in touch with, along with 2-3 cards that I throw out as soon as I get home – just have to remind myself that this is the same thing, only with better footwear.

  23. Neil, you are a brave man for jumping into this rumpus, and I support your position. Thank you for being so eloquent. More storytelling, please.

  24. I couldn’t agree more. But you know how it is, people just loooove the drama.

  25. Been meaning to tell you, this post is one of the best I’ve read recently, in general. Spot on critique, Neil. I think you spotlighted the elephant in the room.

  26. I really like your take, Neil. I’ve thought about this a lot (for better or for worse) and this resonated.

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