Welcome To My Bed

Things About Lifestyle Blogs That Make Me Uncomfortable

Blogging has become ridiculously big business, and perhaps rightfully so.  We spend plenty of time online digging for images of what we aspire to be and nuggets of crowd-sourced wisdom.  But there is a certain breed of blog that smacks of privilege by its very existence: The Lifestyle Blog.  Lifestyle blogs package expensive living as "attainable" with DSLR photo shoots and Polyvore sets and mood boards and endless hemming and hawing about how best to decorate your exorbitantly over-priced studio apartment.  They are often run by models or model-looking "average" people with a taste for designer furnishings and shopping habits that necessitate keeps several off-site storage units as second and third closets for seldom-worn petticoats and out of date handbags.  This regularly updated army of webpages is a monument to conspicuous consumption that, though at times a welcome distraction from the death and destruction that is endlessly discussed on more serious-minded websites, has veered towards a "let them eat cake" mentality that makes me feel really gross.

Here's looking at you, internet.

Here's looking at you, internet.

I should preface this list by saying that as a rule, I try not to read lifestyle or fashion blogs, at least not those dedicated to clothes with an eye to the label name drop, or lifestyle for lifestyle's sake.  My time on the internet is best spent reading literary magazines or social criticism, not taking in the finer points of home decor or the latest in platform shoes.  But there are a few lifestyle stops I've read for years now because of eye candy photography and interesting copy that I am just now abandoning, and here's why.

Recycled Content

I've read the "blogger tips" post about how revisiting/re-posting content from your archive is a great way to keep from getting overwhelmed by your regular posting schedule or getting content you're proud of to readers who have joined your audience after the original post date, but if you find yourself defaulting to this trick of the trade more than once a month, I am going to delete you from my RSS feed.  Ever since blogging became a business ( firstly, WHY THE FUCK, and second, monetizing your boring idle thoughts makes me gag), plenty of creativity went out of the internet writing game.  When you're writing over a thousand words at least three times a week and trying to stay relevant, perhaps it becomes difficult.  Perhaps I am simply unforgiving.  But it really sticks in my craw when I notice a blog repackaging old material as some new revelation that will totally change your life.  It is just as bad as when Cosmopolitan runs their 800th permutation of the "Blow Your Man's Mind" article that acts like nobody knew blow jobs exist.

Link Round-Ups

If I am reading your blog, it means I have an internet connection.  If I have an internet connection, there is a good chance (at least nowadays) that I have a Facebook accoun, a Twitter handle, a Tumblr, or some combination of the three.  This doesn't even begin to cover k-holes like Pintrest.  If an article sparked your interest, that's great.  Post it to one of the aforementioned sites that are all about aggregating knowledge into some weird, internet-based knowledge oversoul.  It most likely does not belong on your blog, especially if it is just a dumb gif of a kitten scratching at a carboard turntable or the most recent music video from your favorite culturally irrelevant musician.  Why not, instead of a weekly link round-up, fill in the holes in your post schedule (you know, the one plagued by thrice monthly re-posts of old ideas, as discussed in figure 1) by writing responses to the articles you found so interesting?  The logic of this pet peeve follows the same template as my earlier observation: if you have nothing new to say, you should probably not be talking in the first place.

Gushing About Celebrities

If I wanted to hear about how much somebody loves or hates a certain famous someone, I would be reading a tabloid (or the fabulous weekly tabloid round-up, by the equally fabulous Molly Lambert at Grantland).  What grosses me out the most is that a certain blogger I used to think was pretty fly went on a rant several months back about how toxic tabloids and celebrity are to our self-image, but continues to go on strange tears about how much she loves hanging out with Betsey Johnson or publicizes Will.I.Am's bizarre, nonsensical business ventures alongside a glut of photobooth pictures she took with him at some exclusive event.  Betsey Johnson, I can condone.  She is a self-made lady who has made a multi-decade business out of her unique point of view, something a lot of bloggers would like to claim they are also doing.  But Will.I.Am?  The very existence of that man's career disgusts me.  Somebody uses a computer to make some vacant robot sounds and then slaps his face on the front of the single--boom, radio hit.  Lady, he doesn't need your blog shilling for him.  He already makes billions of dollars being boring without your weird I-stood-next-to-a-famous-person outburst helping him along.  Stick to writing about your actual life, not the "important" people you swill drinks with at sponsored parties.

I'll Tell You About My Fabulous Trip Later, Don't Worry!

Yes, you have a dedicated readership that is genuinely curious about where you have been, why you went, and what you did there.  But there are better ways of whetting an appetite than posting a single selfie and a brief blurb about how you just soooo jetlagged and promising to post later in the week.  If you know you're traveling but want to keep posting regularly, maybe you schedule content like anyone who has ever used basic blogging software?  Or you could simply forego posting until you have the energy to write something worth reading.  Even worse than the So-Tired-Travel-Post is the Sponsored-Advertisement-of-Hotel/Airline/Product-From-My-Trip post.  I don't care about your boutique accommodations or your upgrade to extra-super-luxury-first-class or your BRAND NEW Clarisonic.  Know why?  Because somebody paid you to tell me about it.  These posts are the same things as those "articles" in women's magazines featuring the Latest, Greatest New Product that say "paid advertisement" in gray, unobtrusive font the hope you won't notice at the top of the page.

Print Media is Dead, So Buy My Digital Book!

This is where my writerly cynicism really bubbles over and lights the whole goddamn stove on fire.  If you want to write about design or fashion or decorating or whatever else on the internet, go for it.  If you want to use your successful blog to leverage book proposal, be my guest.  There are internet writers I deeply respect who've done exactly this, and to great succes.  (Take a look at Orangette for an example of a blog that made that crossover with aplomb and class to spare.)  By the same token, there are plenty who decide to digitally publish, and that's cool too.  The market is diverse!  People read this shit on their phones now anyway!  More power to you with that Kindle Single!  That being said, no book you have written is worth upwards of $100 for 12 chapters of blog reiteration, and more if you buy the chapters singly.  If you have so much faith that you will make bank off what you have to offer your readership, write a book proposal and shop your ideas to possible editors.  You already have your internet celebrity making you at least semi-bankable.  Bypassing the publishing system is just aiding in killing the literature you claim sustained you as a wayward teenager.

It's possible I'm just easily offended by blatant pandering, money-grubbing and/or laziness when it comes to what I've been reading, but then again, I'm not the target audience of these blogs anyway.  To put it another way, the books that make it onto the best seller list are rarely the most timeless books of a given year.  The same seems to be true for blog content: the viral posts are hardly vital to the fabric of our culture.