Tuesday, July 28

This Post Brought To You By Liberty Mutual Insurance

Full disclosure! Full disclosure! Liberty Mutual did not pay me to write this post, photoshop those panties, nor do I have any policy with them.

And they don't do health insurance. I checked. I would not cooperate with them if they did.

But they had a booth at BlogHer about responsibility and blogging and asked us bloggers what we thought responsible blogging meant to us.

Some women bloggers were too shy to go on camera and express their opinion. That's another post for another day, suffice it to say I could dope slap the whole lot of them.

You can see all the participants here and my video here. I'm not linking because I don't say anything particularly germane to this post, plus I'm yelling over the din of the exhibit hall, yet into the microphone-turn your speakers down, you've been warned. My comments are edited but they were very transparent about that and the edits to my own comments were fair and for time, in my opinion.

Anyhow, it always gets me when someone asks me about an issue and I have no idea what they're talking about. The nice interviewer, Brad, asked me about proposed FTC regulations of blogs. I really had a Sarah Palin deer-in-the-headlights moment, but since I wasn't running for Vice-President, I said as gracefully as I could that I didn't know enough about that issue to comment. The end.

And of course it drove me crazy not knowing so I looked it up as soon as I could, and then I understood WHY I was out of the loop.

The FTC is proposing regulating blogs that take free products from advertisers and then blog about them, particularly if it appears to be a quid pro quo arrangement. The thought is that bloggers who do that are actually engaged in advertising rather than protected free speech. Blog-ola, they're calling it at NPR, and it's creating a freak-out among some bloggers, particularly a subset of women bloggers, who would have nothing to say and no audience if they didn't do daily giveaways/reviews.

One mommy blog is promoting a "PR blackout challenge" for one week, to give busy mom bloggers a break from their giveaways to get back to what they really came to blogging for...pictures of their child's new tooth. I wasn't surprised to see in their comment thread, a blogger state full-out that they did not blog about anything the week they forsook giveaways.

That's incredibly sad.

I took myself out to lunch yesterday after getting back from Chicago, and the waiter and I got into a conversation about where I'd been. He being a college student had much more of a theory-based framing to the issue, but it raised my eyebrows:

Feminism and Capitalism don't mix.

Marketing does not empower anyone but the owner of the product. That so many educated white women of a certain income with internet access and time to write (and most of them can spell and put a sentence together) don't get that is horribly sad.

And my sense is, all of this is about editing "don't tase me, bro" into "don't tax me, sis." If the blogger is soliciting products in exchange for promotional consideration, it's a BIZNESS. Another blogger at the PR blackout post said she wouldn't blog about her personal life much at her promo-giveaway blog because that would be mixing business and personal life. Wow. Just wow.

And having come out of a conference which was all about empowerment through harnessing internet marketing dollars with your blog-space, hearing the word "mom-preneur" to the point it didn't make me gag anymore, well...

No wonder I'd never heard of the FTC thing. No advertiser in their right mind would expose their product on purpose to this blog. I double-dog-dare you to send me swag, Estee Lauder:

(h/t Quaker Agitator for the NPR link.)


  1. Love your liberty mutual swag!

    I'll blog about new Honda Fits for a whole week and dare them to send me a new car!

  2. And here I've been writing and writing and when people told me to try to make money off of it, I was dismissive.

    Oh, well. Timing is everything. I can just say I was ahead of the curve. ;-D

  3. I'll be blunt - If one takes a comped product or service in exchange for ballyhooing it as a 'blogger'...They're not blogging, they're shilling.

    Certainly no skin off my game, but call it what it is.
    I don't get paid to do what I do - Indeed, who in their right mind would part with lucre for such trifles? - and don't begrudge those within the medium who do - 'Nice work if you can get it' - but being a stealth cheese hostess for some corporate entity doesn't earn a place at the table with those who are actually trying to make a difference in the world using the medium.

  4. you either blog or you promote and sell. these folks are so inured by the msm for profit 'news coverage' that they mistake blogging for profit. i don't blog for profit and i am nobody's bitch. i opened a for profit shop separate from my blog because i don't want to mix truth telling with shilling.

    and for the record, nobody really gives a rat's ass about a kid's tooth. not really. except family- and odds are- they already know via twitter.

    i am a bit cranky today. sorry.

  5. One mommy blog is promoting a "PR blackout challenge" for one week, to give busy mom bloggers a break from their giveaways to get back to what they really came to blogging for...pictures of their child's new tooth. I wasn't surprised to see in their comment thread, a blogger state full-out that they did not blog about anything the week they forsook giveaways.

    Why you bein' so mean to those mommybloggers, BG? Pictures of new child teeth kick fucking ass! In fact, I am going to register www.icanhaznewchildtooth.com right the fuck now, and I am going to totally OWN THE ENTIRE MOTHERFUCKING INTERNETZ!!!!!!!

  6. You know what? I have to say this because I really don't get what the big deal is about WHAT people blog about. I've shifted from blogging about politics because my focus changed. I read more blogs about life experiences, etc. My kids are grown so I'm not interested in reading the so-called Mommy blogs. But I don't see the point in deriding them either.

    One of the reasons why I shifted from political blogging is because I realized that I was spending enormous amounts of time reading what 82 different people thought about the exact same news story. And as funny and varied as those 82 personal takes on that news story were, I just wasn't that interested in reading them all anymore.

    But I have never once felt the need to deride political bloggers for what they write because what do I care? I read what interests me at any given time.

    Sorry, BG to unload here, but this kind of backbiting is as tiresome as 1,892 photoshopped pictures of Sarah Palin. Or stories of lost baby teeth.

  7. "Feminism and Capitalism don't mix." I sense a "bourgeois feminism" discussion coming in!

    But yeah, I don't really get the idea of shilling at a blog, or more importantly, wanting to shill at a blog. The internet tubes are vast and varied, so people can do as they wish. But I've always thought that it's weird that people pay for, say, a Budweiser t-shirt when Budweiser should be paying them for the advertising – and more to the point, why would you want to wear a Budweiser shirt? Promote a band you personally like, sure… Bill Maher can be an ass, but he wrote a decent piece recently about how some things in life and society shouldn't be for profit. Having a blog and using it to shill just seems like a real waste, like, oh, going to a cool museum and never looking at the art. Your post made me think of four stories:

    In Mrs. Dalloway, an arrogant doctor bends down to see who the artist is before deciding whether the painting he's looking at is good or not.

    In The Little Prince, adults think a house is beautiful only after you describe its price.

    In a sci-fi short story (whose name and author I'm forgetting), advertising permeates the entire world, even worse than in Minority Report, to the point that audio ads run in pillows as you sleep, and banner ads scroll across your bathroom mirror. The hero seeks refuge at an advertising-free house – the twist is that (unknown to him) it's considered a treatment center for abnormal freaks who don't like advertising.

    In a satirical sci-fi story by Alfred Bester, all the artists and creative types basically flee to another dimension, and the generals and corporate types ruling the world only realize they need them too late.

    Anyway, keep on with your Marxist Feminist Dialectic in the yard, BG.

  8. I did the same thing, Lisa. In fact, I only put up a Paypal button by popular demand and only when I needed to.

    Speaking of which, I've run into a bit of trouble lately. Actually, I'm in a lot of trouble and on the eve of my fiancee's arrival. Could someone please help me out? Any small amount would make a difference. TIA.

  9. I was thinking the same thing, Lisa, EXCEPT that I spent two solid days hearing that blogging about certain mommy topics was valuable BECAUSE it attracted advertisers, which is what empowers women bloggers. That is a lie.

  10. So does this mean we have to stop paying you to talk about how awesome we are? We can throw in a jar of Ragu and some Mary Kay lipgloss to sweeten the deal.

  11. By the way, even though I’ve personally thanked everyone who’d done so, I’d still like to thank everyone who helped me yesterday with my crisis. My fiancée and I deeply appreciate the kind and generous gestures (although we’re not so appreciative of John “Garbo” Aravosis banning me from ABlog). We’re not out of the woods yet but at least we won’t have to worry about paying the rent and going hungry for the immediate future.

  12. Anonymous11:45 AM

    "Marketing does not empower anyone but the owner of the product." That is one astute waiter.

    Every form of communications is a opportunity for a marketing person.

    It's the classic pact with the Devil. Just sell your soul and life will be good.

    I hate marketing people.


  13. It was only in the last month or so that I learned that mommy bloggers are doing so well and why. I was astonished. I'm blatantly trying to make a living at this and can't get swag to give away for the life of me, much less direct advertising offers for anything other than drugs and porn (which I ignore).

    You deserve the revenue more than I do, since all I'm doing is posting jokes and you are changing the world, but how in the world does one write about their kids' teeth and watch the bucks roll in?


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