Friday, March 16, 2007

Popularity Contest, Community Building or Something Else Entirely...

There's some great discussion going on in the KidLit blogger realm (thanks Fuse#8 for the link) that can be applied to all of blogger-dom. Monica Edinger of Educating Alice puts forth the argument that widgets like "Are you an A-List Celebrity Blogger" and blogger activities like Poetry Friday and (I'm adding this one) Thursday Thirteen help to create an environment of "exclusion and inclusion that I deal with daily in my fourth grade classroom." We try to teach kids to not create cliques and depend on popularity, but all the while we're jockeying for web exposure and placement thus creating a "do as we say, not as we do" situation. The discussion of this argument and counterarguments carries through the comments (be sure to read them), and also onto MotherReader's Blog.

, who recently wrote an article for Edge of the Forest about becoming a B-List Blogger, points out that even as we point out the unfairness of this inclusion/exclusion system we shouldn't raise people to believe that everyone will accept them automatically and sometimes we have to work for it. Friendships--online and off--like success don't come right away and require a lot of effort for the most part. Now whether that effort requires the child/blogger/person to change something intrinsic to themselves is another matter entirely.

I have my own thoughts on this phenomena and how it plays out through books, bloggers and life, but I need to go help buy a baby shower gift. I'll mull them over until I get back. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, or see what you contribute at these other sites.


lady t said...

It sounds to me like someone's being way too sensitive there-I took that "are you an A List Blogger" thing and it said I was a C-lister,which didn't bother me at all. The only reason that I didn't put the tag on my blog is that I'm techically challenged(I have trouble putting Amazon tags on,trust me).

As for a blog doing things like Poetry Friday,etc,what's wrong with having a weekly theme for the regular readers of the blog? On Robin Brande's blog,for example,we have a Tuesday Book club and it's mainly to talk about what everyone is reading currently(the only time a particular book was chosen was due to so many people talking about it-Time Traveler's Wife-that those who had already read it could speak freely without spoiling it for those who didn't.).

Many blogs like Robin's welcome newcomers even to weekly theme chats and if you don't feel comfortable at one place,just find one that suits your needs. Encouragement,not discouragement please:)

Becky said...

I'm making my way through the blogs today commenting on this issue because I think it is important. I read Monica's initial posting. I've read Mother Reader's response...and of course Fuse #8's...

Monica's initial statement that said: Is Poetry Friday that different (no offense folks —after all, I’ve joined in a few times) from a group deciding to wear blue tee-shirts on Fridays and some kids don’t because they haven’t any or weren’t informed to do so? Are shout-outs so different from my popular students mentioning their friends in their stories? Are those all important links so different than my kids dropping mentions of events outside of school? (”Oh, I forgot that everyone wasn’t invited to that birthday party.”) seemed a bit extreme to me.

There is a HUGE difference between a kid not being invited to a birthday party and a blogger reading a blog's post where other blogs are mentioned or linked to but theirs isn't. Huge. In a classroom setting everyone knows everyone. You see one another five days a week. There is a status or identity you carry around with you. Often this 'social status' wasn't something you had any control over. The other kids in the class defined how they saw you. How they treated you. You did have control over how you reacted. You could have the philosophy...who cares if they think that about me...I know who I am and what I'm worth...or you could accept their value judgement.

In the blogging community, no one automatically knows who you are. Your status isn't made for you--you make it yourself. You control your identity. You control your status. You control whether or not you participate in something. You control how interactive you are in the community. If you want to participate in Poetry Friday--do it. If you want to participate in a meme--do it. No one is going to stop you from participating. We're adults here. Do we really expect someone to start rounding up every single blogger in the kidlit community and emailing them saying please, please, please come and participate????

I think our childhood experiences can haunt us when we're adults. Without meaning to, we can slip back into our insecure selves and think the world is out to get us.

Becky said...

I forgot to mention this in my previous post...but thought I'd go ahead and mention it. Many blogs say things like "post a comment or email me if you want to be added to the blogroll" or "let me know if you're interested in participating in...." whatever it is... the opportunities are out there if you'll just be brave enough to take them.

Chris said...

I agree with the previous comments. I was left out a lot as a kid and I'm sure just about everyone has had that experience. It's painful and sometime effects us for years. BUT... nobody made me set up a blog. As I understand it a blog is a web log or public journal. If people want to read, whatever is on my mind (usually book related) then they can. Again, I don't make anyone do it.

The memes and widgets etc: I don't think it's exclusionist. If you like to write poetry, there's a meme for you and I'm sure the bloggers there will welcome you. The Memers (can I call them that?) want participants, that's the point of a meme. I like memes because they give me ideas to write about and sometimes spark discussions.

I've been on bulletin boards and forums before. Most are very welcoming. Some can be cliquish but I'm a big girl and I know where the off (or in this case "Start" "Log off") button is.

I added my "C-list" button to my blog in a tongue-in-cheek way, and I took the widget to be meant as tongue-in-cheek. I'm not going to lose sleep over being on the b-list. That's just silly.

I write for myself and welcome my book and non-book friends to my blog. It's a big world full of opinions and I just like to share mine and hear others.

Robin Brande said...

Lady T, I appreciate what you said about my blog. I also really agree with Becky and Chris. Blogs are out there for us to enjoy. They are not required reading.

The different weekly themes like Poetry Friday are a fun way to organize material and to encourage other people to join in. If you don't like poetry, then click to the next blog on your list. Whatever. Same with my Tuesday Book Club. It's there to give you a reason to keep track of what you're reading. If you haven't read something any particular week, then no one's going to come looking for you and tell you you're a bad person. And it's a no-snob zone: you read what you want to read. No one is going to say your taste in books stinks.

I've never viewed any blogger's "clubs" as exclusive. I lurk on lots of blogs rather than speak up because I don't have anything to add--yet. But I still enjoy reading them. And I appreciate when a blogger highlights other blogs he or she reads, because that's how I've discovered so many new ones that are now part of my daily reading.

I just don't get this issue at all. And it saddens me to think that any blogger out there would now feel like she has to clip her wings just because someone was feeling left out.

Like Mother Reader said in her post about this today, when you're the new kid you have to learn to get out there, be proactive, make your own new friends. People who hang back and expect others to come to them have either been born into the royal family or will be alone much of their lives.