American Blogger: What Went Wrong?

the american blogger controversy feature

The American Blogger Controversy.The truth is that blogging in America includes more people and diversity than we can ever imagine or try to put into a defined box.

American Blogger.

What is an American Blogger? If you want a true definition of that you’ll have to clear up some space on your calendar and get cozy because there is not a short or speedy way to define it.  Sometimes we get inside our niche bubbles and think that it’s people just like us who all wear the same thing (besides yoga pants) and are all from the same race and sex.  Sometimes we might think it’s stay at home moms who blog from their sunny back porch while the breeze lightly wafts through their hair and their perfect kids lounge nearby on their hand woven plaid blankets.

The truth is that blogging in America includes more people and diversity than we can ever imagine or try to put into a defined box.

A trailer for a new film, American Blogger, has just been released that appears to only feature white, young, beautiful women. They’re being accused of being rich white hipsters that live in a perfect Pinterest world. The blogging community is up in arms either in support or defense of the film.

What went wrong? It’s all in the name followed by the shock that people whom are encouraged to share their real voice online did just that but in opposition.

Without a doubt, American Blogger was not the correct name for this documentary.  The name promised to be a documentary of the American blogging experience, and it was a shock to people who daily share their lives online.

We tell bloggers again and again to be careful to how you brand yourself. It’s also one of the biggest regrets of many bloggers. “I wish I would have picked a different name for my blog when I started but now I have XYZ amount of followers and it’s too late to change”.

The creator, Chris Wiegand, has said from the beginning that his documentary wasn’t a picture of all the bloggers in America, but rather the bloggers he encountered as he traveled America in a restored Airtstream trailer. The film was never meant to be a definition of bloggers in America.

Chris’ goal wasn’t to search out different bloggers that tell all sorts of tales and cover everything from race relations and politics to preschool activities to crockpot recipes. His goal was to simply visit his wife’s community of blog friends, interviewing them for the film.

You will never tell a story on the whole when you only reach out to one group. He was aware of this, and it wasn’t his intention, so why should it matter?

It matters because every blogger in America sees themselves as an American Blogger.

A film that wasn’t meant to include everyone had a name that implied it was a picture of everyone. The branding was wrong. If it had a different name that clearly defined the mission and goal of the documentary than would there be this huge uproar? Most likely not but that’s where we get to the second part.

The first part of the trailer starts asking bloggers the question, “What is a blogger”. There’s a ton of different answers from “um” to “we write about fashion” (We would probably have a similar answer if there was a camera in our face)  but here’s the real answer:

A blogger is someone that has accepted their ability to share their voice with the world on an online platform and ran with it.

In this world we give people a platform, applaud them for the things they write which we love, and then call “hater” when they voice an opinion that differs from ours.

There’s a ton of snark on Twitter and Facebook mocking the #AmericanBlogger hashtag. There are also a lot of great points and calls for diversity. There are women putting up makeup free pictures in messy houses with the hashtag #RealAmericanBlogger. Men are taking pictures of themselves in coffee shops or taking out the trash and hashtagging it #RealAmericanBlogger. 

There’s people simply bringing up the questions of what a real American blogger looks like. These are the people that are being blasted as jealous over not being included or as being haters for voicing a well thought out opinion.

When you call someone a hater or bully and blast them just for having an opinion that differs from yours, it makes you in the wrong, not them.

If we want blogging to truly change the world, as the end of the American Blogger trailer concludes that it might, then we have to learn how to deal with criticism. We have to learn how to hear it and let it shape us, or learn to ignore it and  keep on without changing.

If blogging is going to change the world than we have to accept that the things we hate and reject have just as much right to have a voice online as our own opinions do. Our strength is our diversity.

We do not all have to agree, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya. Every blogger needs to take note and how you brand your message matters. Every blogger needs to figure out that just because someone doesn’t agree, they aren’t just jealous haters.  And every blogger needs to know how to voice your criticism with respect.

Will American Blogger change the landscape for bloggers? Probably not.  It’s a small movie about a small subset of talented bloggers turned inward, talking about their own experiences.

Can American Bloggers change the world? Absolutely.  But it is only by turning outwards and sharing our diversity of voices, and then hearing their replies, that we will influence anyone.

Bobbie Byrd

Bobbie is a clumsy yet faithful wife and mother. When she's not burning dinner or cleaning up paint spill she runs Blog Elevated Conference and Community.