I went to BlogU. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in ever. I met some incredibly awesome people. And I got some homework.
The first night of the conference was a collective exhale. People came from every corner of everywhere to improve their blogging. It might seem like a small thing. An unimportant thing. With so many blogs and so many thoughts and so many witticisms being tossed into the cybersphere, it might seem inconsequential. I get it, I’ve made my jokes about it.
But for those people looking for their tribe, their voice, their purpose, the conference was a big deal. There are people behind every keyboard. There are hearts and brains in every one of them.
So on that first night of the conference, after travel and registration, after meeting long time friends for the first time IRL, after the first two sessions, after stuffing our emotions and our intellects full to overload with new stimuli, we all gathered in the gym of our shared temporary home for a pep rally.
A pep rally.
It was a time to unwind and decompress and use the two drink tickets we received at registration. I had some breed of beer in one hand and a pom-pom in the other (or is it “pom” ’cause I only had the one?). I also had a dopey grin on my face.
Whenever anyone walked on the stage I would scream “WOOOO” and wave the pom. Whenever someone made any noise that the mic picked up, I would scream “WOOOO” and wave the pom. Whenever too much time passed without me screaming “WOOOO” and waving the pom, I would scream “WOOOO” and wave the pom.
Then someone APPROACHED the mic and started speaking, I lost my mind with all the waving and screaming.
She told us she worked for Responsibility.org, a conglomerate of alcohol makers who want people to drink and think responsibly. She played this short video. Did you watch it? It’s over two minutes of finger-wagging shame directed at mommy bloggers for making jokes about alcohol. Played for mommy bloggers during a pep rally as they drank alcohol. Scolding adults who make adult jokes for other adults. If you didn’t watch it, the gist of the video is: “your kids read what you post online–so ease up on the mommy juice jokes, you lush.”
We watched it. We watched it as we drained our drinks. As we looked around at all the bloggers with “martini” and “wine” and “vodka” in the names of their blogs. With logos showing smiling moms pinching the stems of wine glasses with their mommy fingers. Just like that, these women became part of a problem. They were disaster-generators. Negligent at best. Monsters at worst. They were throwing children into the Hopeless Sea of Vodka only to turn a blind eye as those kids wash up on the shores of Unemployment and Debauchery.
After a quick round of the Shame Game where nobody wins, they challenged us with an assignment: go forth and spread the gospel of RESPONSIBILITY. Make a vow to not joke about alcohol for a month. Clean up your act using the #RefreshYourFunny brush. We were given a short list of mandatories.
- Write an original blog post about #RefreshYourFunny. CHECK
- Link to the video. CHECK
- Link to Responsibility.org. CHECK
- Include a disclaimer at the bottom of the post stating these opinions are all your own (it’s down there). CHECK
- Once all these criteria are met, you can submit your post for a chance to win $500.
Now if you look over my blog I don’t have anything to feel guilty about. Well, alcohol-wise, that is. I think the only beverage I’ve elevated here is coffee and coffee’s sexy-ass cousin, the PSL. Also, I understand that alcohol and assorted other addictions are devastating. Alcohol can and does destroy families every single day. But in this era of trigger warnings and feelings-as-fact, the silence is taking over. And I don’t even think Responsibility.org entertains the mirage of a dream of solving the issue of addiction. Because alcoholism goes way beyond alcohol. No, this is just a marketing campaign designed to tap into a vast network of bloggers and get them to send eyeballs over to responsibility.org for DIRT CHEAP. And lookee here, we’re talking about drinking (what they’re selling) as we also consider how we can be better parents.
What a strategic victory for them if they can enlist parents to tell parents about responsibility.org, and position them as the org that cares about children–maybe even more than all the lush mommies combined. Fantastic for them if the narrative people remember is “I like alcohol and my children and Responsibility.org likes those two things too!”
So yes to Responsibility, as long as she brings her friends Transparency and Authenticity (this is getting dirty). Because making things taboo doesn’t work (how’s your abstinence going, Bristol? How’s that war on drugs going, GUBERMENT?) Censorship doesn’t work. If you want us to #TalkEarly, then we need to actually talk. Let’s leave the silencing and sanitizing to Kim Jong Un. This #RepressYourFunny by deleting the memes and sugar-coating the stress and stifling our comedic outlets is misdirected.
I’ll talk to my kids. I’ll #TalkEarly and #TalkLate and #TalkAlways. The biggest failure any parent can suffer is to not maintain an open line of communication with your kids. I’ll demystify all sorts of things for my guys. I’ll tell them what I think of the world, our culture, and all the pitfalls ahead. And then I’ll trust them to make wise choices and learn from their mistakes when they don’t.
I’ll do my part. But I propose to Responsibility.org, instead of telling mommy bloggers to #RefreshYourFunny, maybe you need to #RefreshYourCampaign.
So here’s the disclaimer:
I’m submitting this piece for a writing contest sponsored by Responsibility.org. I’m not being compensated for the post, All opinions in this are 100% my own. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
P.S. I am submitting this post–otherwise all that ranting I did about authenticity and communication is just empty word vomit. I REALLLLY doubt I’m going to win. But that’s okay. If you read this far, then I kinda already did.