La-la Land

Of late, I’ve ruminated about ladybloggers and how they represent themselves. I read a lot of blogs on a lot of different topics — more blogs than my blogroll suggests, trust me. Despite differences in the content they produce, many female bloggers adopt predictable traits for their online personae, giving their writings an eerily similar tone.

These gals are perky!* They use emoticons to visually convey their good cheer. If these bloggers grouse, it’s always in a good-natured, self-denying kind of way — honest-to-god complaining is anathema, it seems. These ladies give cutesy nicknames to their husbands or fiancées (many of these bloggers are hetero), who are at once sensitive and manly: who help with the cooking and are handy enough to fix the broken water heater — these gals are homeowners, too! — and who never kvetch about their ladies’ blogging (or anything else). Phew!

The main commonality among these blogs, really, is their avoidance of issues: anything distasteful, controversial, or unpleasant. In the latest New Yorker, Amanda Fortini examines this phenomenon in greater depth. Chronicling the success of the Pioneer Woman (and blowing her idyllic cover, if ever-so-slightly), Fortini writes, “There is no serious conflict, no controversy, no cynicism, no snark. Depending on your circumstances and your disposition, the relentless good cheer can seem either admirable or annoying.”

Admirable or annoying: that about sums it up.

As we Skyped last night, my sis described a recipe for Chia Seed Pudding she recently tried. “It was OK,” she said, “but it was kind of like Swiss Miss with the consistency of jello.”

“Hmm,” I countered. “That sounds…undesirable.” In true Garky style, I followed up with some snark about how most bloggers would declare the pudding a triumph, claiming that they couldn’t differentiate it from the real thing!

"Like hell I will!"

(Image source)

I, for one, call bullshit. Bullshit! Chia Seed Pudding, though healthy, doesn’t taste like chocolate pudding made with whole milk. Different products with different purposes, ja? Likewise, we all have our ups and downs: none of us likes to pay our credit card bills/go in early to work/clean up after our sig-oth has vommed in the trash can, BUT! We don’t have to pretend that our lives are free of stressors. We don’t have to pretend that our stressors are less stressful than they actually are. Because that is just FALSITY. Endstop.

I’ve lately wondered what draws me to these homogeneous blogs. Most of them have stellar photography (compensating, in some cases, for what the writing lacks), and I like to peep pretty pix. Some of them have solid recipes. But on the whole, I don’t read these blogs for their writing. I read them out of habit and as a way to pass the time.

Does that sound harsh? It isn’t meant to be: it’s meant to be honest. Blogs fill a different need than literary fiction, than traditionally published nonfiction. I don’t turn to blogs for news, nor do I consider them an accurate gauge of others’ lives. They’re a means of disseminating personae: deftly crafted, shining, and [almost] perfect. Hey, if we can’t achieve perfection in our actual lives, why not strive for it in our virtual ones?

Because it’s boring. I said it. I can’t suspend my disbelief so much as to believe that ladybloggerz never eat Cheetos or get into brawls with their mates — these scenarios would be statistically impossible. While blogs meet a different need than lit (or nonfiction), each of the three forms must have tension to be compelling. Without conflict, what have you got? Fluff. Marshmallow fluff, made with organic agave nectar instead of HFCS. It’s just as good as the real thing — I promise!

***

*And yeah, I realize that this statement could be taken to mean something else entirely. But you know what? These gals are perky.

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