Friday, 25 May 2012

Cut the crap

A few things have happened recently that have made me re-evaluate what I think about blogs and blogging. Some of them personal, some of them observed from afar, some of it prompted by Fashion Editor At Large's post on “blogger style” (excuse me while I choke on my own vomit) and more importantly Jen's excellent post with the ensuing comment debate.

I am a blogger and I read blogs so I guess that makes me biased, but here we go... As far as I can see, digital is the future, but that doesn't necessarily mean bloggers, or at least the current crop, are. There is no reason for those already involved in print publishing not to move online (in fact surely most have, right?). As technology gets both highly sophisticated and ever more ubiquitous I just can't see how mainstream magazines will survive. I'm not talking about today, or next year, but maybe in the next five to ten years I think the way we consume information will be revolutionised (further than the burgeoning internet has already taken us). In many ways this should democratise information and artistic content. Anybody with a talent can write an article or create an image to post online. You don't need to go to university to study some vocational course or have the relevant work experience. Eventually the cream should rise to the top, one might hope.

At the heart of it, I think this is what frightened some print journalists at the beginning – that essentially all their hard work studying to do what they do has become unnecessary. If you are truly intelligent and creative (and that's a big IF, IMO), you can do things you haven't studied before. That's why physicists can go straight into banking with no knowledge of economics (a pseudo science at the best of times), and history or classics graduates often end up writing about, I don't know, gardening or travel. My friend quit her masters in human rights law to become a music journalist. In a meritocratic society (ha!) it's not about how hard you've worked to get there, it's about who can do the job better. That's the theory anyway...

But at the moment some of the loudest voices I hear bigging themselves and blogging up are just talking crap. Bloggers are not as all-powerful as they claim to be. For a start, many of them seem to inflate their readership massively (as can be seen quite obviously by combining their Alexa and Google page rankings with numbers of comments etc). They want brands to take them as seriously as an editor from a major print/digital magazine when their influence is patently smaller. Of course some blogs have viewing figures that dwarf the circulation of mid-size magazine but those guys usually aren't the ones making a song and dance about it. I love coming across new bloggers on my internet wanderings with thousands of followers and hundreds of comments, but whose sites I only happen upon by chance because they choose not to pimp themselves out on other social media platforms. This might sound a bit rich coming from me, a confessed Twitter addict, but I genuinely love meeting new people online who share my interests. Believe me, I don't meet that many of them in my day job! I'm not on Twitter to become a celebrity; if I were I wouldn't post so many damned photos of my dinner or drunk and embarrassing personal stories on there.

I find the idea that bloggers are sooo influential as well kind of hard to swallow when I speak to most of my non-fashion friends. These are people who still like to look nice and buy clothes but most of them are not the slightest bit interested in what a blogger is wearing. They don't even look at blogs. When you hang out with fashion industry people your whole opinion of what's in, who's a celebrity and what people do on a day-to-day basis becomes skewed. You really do lose touch with reality. Now I, for one, love living in a cuckoo fantasy world but when making business decisions I think it might be a bit smarter to look at what real-world people are doing and not your closest associates. And maybe listen a little bit less to what the loud-mouths are saying about themselves. There's a thought.

I think maybe my message has got garbled a bit in this spontaneous rant but basically my point is this: stop talking bullshit about yourselves.  

Tomorrow normal service will resume with photos of me staring at the camera with my 'Queen of Hearts' face, as one kind reader has dubbed it.  But I've been feeling quite disillusioned recently so you can probably expect another diatribe at some point in the future.  I might even talk about something other than fashion if you're really unlucky.


P.S. Thanks, Jen, for inspiring me to blog my mind.  

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