I’m not 100% sure where this post is going to lead me, or what the response will be. We all know the internet is just chock-full of snark, right? And that women can be (some would say by nature) catty and backbiting. There is a scandal a minute in the blogging community, and sometimes it seems that “mommy bloggers” have way too much free time. I don’t have kids, but I care for five children day in and day out, and if I can find five minutes to rub together it’s a miracle. But I have become aware of a situation that I feel moved to comment on, though with very few identifying details. It’s put a lot on my mind and on my heart, and I’m thinking a lot about idols and how they can sneak into our lives without us noticing.
I read a lot of blogs. Before you think I’m planted in front of the computer 22 hours a day, I have a blog reader on my phone, and I read quite fast. So there. Typically when I find a blog that I think I’m going to like (and I’m nearly always looking for suggestions!), I go to the very beginning and read through the archives. It is time consuming, but think of it like reading a novel. I’m not reading the latest James Mich.ner, I’m reading someone’s entertaining posts. No different, really.
Over a year ago, I clicked onto a blog that I just fell in love with. Several of my friends also read this blog. If you’re reading here and want details/addresses/whatnot, please email me and I’ll send those out. I’m not looking for a slander suit, so I’ll be keeping it strictly no-name around here today. The mommy blogger was witty, crunchy-granola, Christian, and fun. She had cute kids, and one was in crisis. I am actually embarrassed now when I realize just how awesome I thought she was. I read through the archives, I followed her posts daily, I prayed for her children and family in tears. I was a bit put off by the idea that when her child was supposed to be in serious danger she was Tweeting and blogging, including pictures. But I chalked it up to me being more private than some people (sure I am) and was thankful that she allowed us to support her family through prayer. I was amazed at the stories of people sending gift cards, money, iPhones, and many, many other gifts. I included the family in my prayer requests here on my blog, and encouraged you all to go and love on them as well. I don’t regret the prayers one bit. Let me make that perfectly clear.
Over the course of the year that I’ve been reading that blog, little red flags began to pop up. Stories that didn’t quite make sense, or details that seemed incongruent from one story to the next. The attitude of entitlement and perceived preferential treatment from God, and the obvious pandering designed to bring clicks. See, when you click on a blog that has ads, the blogger gets money. I’m not saying this is a bad thing — I used to have ads on my blog and I may again in the near future. It will never pay my mortgage, but people should get paid for their time and intellectual property. So my beef is not with the ads. But engineering your blog to increase the number of clicks and beginning to plant Google ad words and search terms is a bit….distasteful. Apparently there’s an art (that I obviously don’t grasp) to putting particular words in your blog to bump it up in Google searches. The more times you can include that term in your post, the higher on Google your blog will be, I think. I’m not 100% sure how all that works. But I started noticing a lot of product placement word-wise, a lot of sketchy terms that could bring clicks looking for less-than-admirable things, and a lot of other tactics to garner clicks. Like promising an update but not posting it, while posting yet another teaser. It’s like when the evening news tells you what’s “coming up next!”, but it doesn’t come up next for about 34 minutes. Annoying, and kind of rude.
In the past week, I stumbled (not literally) over a blog disparaging this woman. Let me take that back — it’s not disparaging if it’s true. Apparently I’m not the only person who was starting to be rubbed the wrong way. Apparently I’m not the only one to notice some things that seemed inappropriate. I just don’t have the time or Google-skills (like ninja skills, but more useful!) to find the dirt. But the users of this site certainly do. And what I read shocked and appalled me. I checked some things, I went back and re-read things, and I referred to my own BS meter.
And while I was falling swiftly out of love with this mommy this past week or so, she did a bunch of other stuff that literally turned my stomach. Like continually posting pictures of her childr.en uncloth.ed and including search terms that are practically tailor-made for pedophiles. And then doing it again when people tell you what has happened to other children in the same situation. Insinuating that God just loves you better, and saved your child because so many people prayed so hard but didn’t save other children for whatever reason. God does what He will, not what we want. Then some obvious lies started coming out on the blog that points out this mommy’s problems. And some information about shady business and personal dealings. I have been reading these blogs simultaneously this week to check what the mommy blogger says against what the people who would keep her accountable say. It’s actually become a strange mixture of very sad and very interesting.
So what’s my point? Click away, right? I’ve always felt that if I don’t like what someone blogs about or the manner in which they do it, I should just click away. No one is paying me to be there, and I shouldn’t be contributing click-money to someone that I don’t agree with. And as much as I would love to make big money off the drivel I put up on the Internet, I refuse to offer pictures of children that invite pedophiles, and I won’t pander to businesses or people that would allow me to lie and stoop to making things up. I will not sacrifice my soul for it. I will not sacrifice my ideals or my principles. Two verses of Scripture come to mind, and have been offered in regards to this matter by other people:
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)
I think that about sums it up for me as far as money is concerned.
My point is this: be very, very careful of the people you idolize. Be very wary of anyone who seems to have it all together, or says that God loves them more, or has to backtrack and backpedal due to making false claims. If you wouldn’t be friends with someone in real life because of their decisions and actions, why are you patronizing their blog and helping them to earn more money? Be careful whom you aspire to be like, and beware of envying someone else’s life. I know I was guilty. I would dearly love to have X number of kids running around my house (a big, beautiful house), to make what looks to be tens of thousands of dollars each month off my blog. I would dearly love to be creative and quirky and funky and so “bold” in my blogging. I would love to have concrete proof of God’s love and faithfulness in my everyday life in the form of a healed child. Or any child, for that matter. But at what cost?
But now you can be certain that I will guard my heart against these idols who walk among us, looking to take our minds and hearts from pure things. How much time have people spent reading this woman’s blog and feeling bad about their own life or parenting skills? Time that they could have spent actually playing with their children or talking to their spouse. I worry about this woman’s children, and how they will feel about their every moment being put up as blog fodder. Granted, we’ll blog about our children, but we won’t expose them willingly to pedophiles. And we won’t subject them to contrived and forced situations for blog purposes. I won’t lie to you and use my cute children as bait so that you’ll click and make me some money. I only wish this woman would shield her children a little more from the prying eyes and nosy people. And if she’s lying half as much as it looks like she is, and doing it while proclaiming the Lord’s name all over the internet, well…God save her.
If someone looks too good to be true, and purports to be better than you, walk away. Someday you may actually get a glimpse at the seamy underbelly of their situation, and the sound that idol makes as it falls down is deafening. And heartbreaking. Guard your heart, bloggity friends. I’ll definitely be a little more cautious from now on.
Tell me — have you idolized a blogger only to find out that they may be a big phony?