Remember Jonathan Taylor Tomas aka JTT? Devon Sawa? Brad Renfo? Larisa Oleynik? I used to read Tiger Beat and Teen Beat and obsessed with all these starlets back in the day. I even had centerfolds posted on my bedroom wall. Oh, the memories. All these trashy youth magazines published their agents’ mailing addresses and I remember sending fan mail every month. All I wanted from them was an autographed photo and of course, none of them wrote back. Fast forward a decade or so later, my oh my, the tables have turned, under different circumstances.
I know many a blogger, myself included, who sometimes feel like packing up and calling it a day because of the horrible, unreasonable demands by our audiences. The sense of entitlement coming from readers lately is very disturbing and disheartening. I’ve desensitized myself when it comes to personal attacks (another day at the office as they say) but when people attack my work or the way I work, that’s when it hits the most because I’ve dedicated most of my time towards it. Why are you so slow updating? How dare you not update in days? Why have you changed the way you blog? Why haven’t you replied to my emails? Why don’t you want to follow me on twitter? Why aren’t you replying to my tweets? Why won’t you accept my facebook request? Why is your content so different now than what it was three years ago? Why do you have ads? Why do you have lots of ads? Why can’t you post more pictures? Why can’t you post better pictures?
Click click click to continue.
All perfectly valid and legitimate questions which are welcome (if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen as they say) but what irks me is when someone signs them off with the golden phrase “you owe it to your fans” or other variations of it: “you owe your success to your readers”, “you are nothing without your readers”, “your readers made you famous”, so on and so forth.
Woah, woah, woah, easy there Debbie Downer!
Owe what exactly?
First off, I love my readers. I really do, hands-down. I’m very grateful. I also love my soon-to-be 100,000 twitter followers. I love interacting with them, both online and in real-life. It brings me so much joy talking to the people who read me. I’m curious who’s behind the other end of the computer screen, looking at my pictures, reading my blogs and tweets etc. I’ve opened up different avenues for my readers to contact me from the start. My contact information — email addresses, social media addresses, etc. are online. At one point, I even published my phone numbers and have encouraged people to call. Whenever I go out in public, I swear I always, ALWAYS get emails, tweets and messages how people saw me but they were shy to approach me. I reply to them saying they’re silly, I don’t bite, etc. When people DO approach me, I try my absolute best to be incredibly gracious, accommodating and nice.
While most of my interactions with my readers have been pleasant, I’ve also had my share of dealing with the cray crays. Case in point — I was at a bar in Paris a few weeks ago and this Italian woman came up and cornered me, grabbed my arm, clung to me like a leech, smudged her goth-like makeup on her cheeks to mine. She said she was a reader, she kept screaming “I love Bryanboy!” repeatedly to my embarassment. She peppered me with all these comments and questions (I must admit it was rather amusing to have someone intoxicated explain what fashion is…at 3AM). I had a very hard time politely expelling myself out of the situation.
Two seasons ago, some NYC-based photographer (and blogger) emailed me in the middle of Fashion Week, asking if I could take time out DURING the shows to take my photograph for some personal project of his, for nix. I didn’t see his email until after fashion week, when I randomly checked my spam folder. Because I wasn’t able to reply in time, he took my lack of response personal and I made it on his shit list since. He called me a jerk on twitter and blocked me before I tried to send him a reply.
Sometimes I feel like I made myself too accessible for my own good. I’m sure it would have been different if I had a wall protecting me from unwanted intruders and only made myself accessible to the people I want to be accessible to.
Readers have this sense of entitlement because they falsely believe they own or made a blogger. Visiting a blog whether once, twice or repeatedly over the years may have contributed to one’s perceived popularity, perhaps, but they don’t give anyone stake of ownership or right to control. Someone’s blog will continue to exist as long as a blogger chose to do so. A personal style blogger who becomes popular by religiously posting photos of herself online made her and her alone — her personal style generated her legions of followers. Take away her personal style and she won’t have readers. But will her blog continue to exist? Followers or no followers, if she’s passionate on what she does, then yes. Same with street-style bloggers. A street-style blogger who becomes popular by posting photos of other people online made him and him alone — he has the eye that’s why he built a following. Take away that eye and he’ll be another street style blogger.
As a blogger, you give one cookie to your readers, two cookies if they are special. But what about those who demand that you give the entire jar and the very few who ask that you give the baking tray, too? The belief that they are owed something based on their expectations is unreasonable and irritating. Those who don’t have the power to get what they want should never manipulate the blogger to get it their way because the blogger-reader relationship doesn’t work like that. My blog is my ship. I’m the captain and my readers are my passengers. Thank you for joining me aboard but nonetheless, the ship will still go on whether there are passengers or not. It’s my space, it’s my creative outlet and only I can steer the wheels to whichever direction I want. Want to go to another place outside my itinerary? Then pack your spring/summer 2011 Dior, your Karlie Kloss barbie doll and take the Royal Caribbean cruise line instead.
A reader emailed me a few weeks ago how I’ve become less of a bitch than what I was years ago. Guess what — I have seen the light and moved on. Why, pray tell, would anyone want to be a bitch? Bitch by all means if necessary but unwarranted bitching on the internet to get attention is a thing of the past, a very old trick. I don’t know about you but it’s embarrassing bitching about someone and then meeting them in person. There’s no pleasure in that. You may have received some sick and twisted pleasure reading through my bitching in the past but pleasure on my expense is no longer part of the menu. Life is so much peaceful and colourful championing the people, the things, the experiences and the situations you like rather than going through the headaches of paying attention to the ones you don’t. I don’t want people to only follow me because it’s entertaining to watch a trainwreck waiting to combust any time. I want people to follow me because I share my experiences and bits and pieces of my life and it inspires them.
Put yourself in the shoe of your favourite blogger and think what they’re life is like. The illusion that things are all fabulous and glamorous and fine makes it very easy to overlook the lack of time spent with loved ones, the non-stop traveling, the expenses, the endless tears on skype, the sleepless days and nights working on content, the pressures of trying to be relevant, the stress dealing with business obligations and such. Fascinating how you have some frustrated readers who complain about advertising or accusing you of being a sell-out when it’s the ads that sometimes give the bloggers resources to produce more material for the reader to feast on. Bloggers sacrifice so much and give away parts of their life because they are extremely passionate with their work yet the readers are all about take, take, take, take it their way away.
What makes every blogger unique is their identity. A blogger who caves in to each and every single one of their fans’ and readers’ desire and whim will end up having a questionable one. Is it your identity or is it your fans’? Is your blog still your voice? Do you only blog only to serve your fans’ demands? Are you a puppet?
Blogs are not “Choose Your Own Adventure” books where you get to choose what happens next.
I liken browsing blogs to watching television. It’s all entertainment to me.
If you don’t like the show or the artist, grab the remote control and flip through other channels.
If you really dislike someone’s blog or find it tiresome, go somewhere else! Time is very precious. Why waste your time going back to blogs you dislike or blogs that no longer give you what you want? Are you a masochist? Why go through the agony? Perhaps a trip to the shrink is long overdue. Being a bi-polar sadist and deliberately going back to a blog you don’t like for the sole purpose of ruffling a blogger’s feathers is waste of time.
There’s no such thing as the perfect blog. Blogs evolve and change the way bloggers do the same with their lives. Blog entries mirror the blogger’s present. The point of view that’s being presented reflects the point of view of the moment. There will always be a time when a moment is more (or less) interesting than others. It’s also a never-ending battle to remain relevant and in order to do so, one must move on from the old, one must always live and cherish the present, one must always look forward to (and if possible, create) the future.
With all of that being said, let’s talk about Elizabeth & James silk shorts!