Blogging, its a funny old hobby.
When I started in 2006, before twitter was even around, when MySpace ruled the internet, it was just a place to write and air your views, whatever these were.
It was very much like an old school diary but online where, if you chose, people could get a window into your life. Of course, you could lock other's out and keep it private, but I never saw the point of that- surely it was just simpler to write it on Wordpad?
I used to enjoy blogging a lot, if there was something on my mind, or a problem or a thought I wanted to share, I switched on my net, got it down on the page and pressed post. I have, and still have had, lots of support at hard times and at good times too.
As with anything though, blogging has become something massive. As Emma Freud told us at her keynote at Britmums Live earlier on in the year, we are the "new media" and journo's are keeping an eye on us.
We can break stories quicker than traditional print media can- that's why most newspapers are now online too. My local newspapers are among a group owned by Trinity Mirror which are about to close their paper edition in favor of going digital instead.
The issue is, as time has gone on, blogging has ceased to be simply a case of writing down your thoughts and posting them. Now, there is (self imposed in most cases) pressure to get those stats up sky high, to enter and be nominated in a host of awards. To make every list. To get a higher Moz Rank and Domain Authority and to employ the services of designers to keep your blog looking fresh. In most cases, blogs have ceased to look like blogs. They look like ad filled sites akin to major retailers and magazines.
That's no bad thing, but it certainly hits at the self esteem if you allow it.
And sadly, more and more, it doesn't matter what you do, helping other bloggers, making links for other's via Facebook Communities and the like, nothing can please anyone.
Family Panel is fast approaching it's 5th birthday, and back at the start I used to offer guest post review slots if a product I was asked to try didn't suit my family. I used to do this on twitter as a "first shout gets it" thing, which worked well. Until it got to the point in 2012 where I stopped as I was sick of the sulking that happened if someone got in too late. I got trolled so many times afterwards I just thought, well sod it. I didn't need the grief!
It seems that, now, something as simple as posting, without being paid, review and ad opps can cause all out drama and grief for the poor soul who simply wants to help out others in between housework and jobs. And don't even consider mentioning something fun, or your whole reason for breathing will be brought into question until you wonder why you bother.
As women- and yes, it is us girls responsible- we fail to stand with each other. We would rather bemoan everything that goes on, and question anyone who does better than you do.
There will always be the one's everyone tags as being a bit of a cow, who further themselves by belittling everyone else publicly. But we do give them ammo when the very Facebook communities they slate and eyebrow raise and which can run happily and encourage blog help and support, turn into viper nests of resentment, anger, and feelings of "why do I bother?" from the admins.
It can be so different. Yes, its competitive, but a sense of healthy and friendly competition is actually good and can spur you on to do better yourself or to learn from others you admire. Support, not negativity for the sake of it.
It feels we are in danger of losing sight of the fact we can help each other out, we can look like a slick, happy community. We are also in danger of losing touch with some of our best and most helpful members forever as they become sick of the bitching and back biting and infighting.
Its also worth remembering that a number of SEO's and PRs are also bloggers and members of groups online too, so they see who is and isn't playing fair and behaving nicely.
We have reached an interesting cross roads with traditional blogging, where you either keep your blog as it is and write, or link up with vlogging and others forms of expression as well. It is hard for us old timers enough without having to referee yet another pointless and unnecessary spat.
Blogging can make you happy. It can do so much to improve your day from the usual boring round of chores and nappies and loneliness in some cases.
But, if you do need to rant, do it over the right things, and think before you bitch.