REFRESH THIS

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.

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

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.

 

 

38 Comments

  1. You are the most amazing creature.

  2. This Mom is toasting you, with an alcoholic beverage. Responsibly of course.

    • jeffandjill

      07/04/2015 at 10:43 am

      Of course. As a good parent, I’ve wrapped my kids in non-popping bubble wrap and had them cryogenically frozen until all the bad things in the world go away.

  3. YOU WIN. Because I did read that far, and I loved every word. You, sir, rock.

    • jeffandjill

      07/04/2015 at 10:45 am

      Thank you. Next thing you know, coffee bean growers will come out with a campaign to tell parents to #SlowDown with all the caffeine they’re drinking RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR CHILDREN.

  4. Brilliant analysis, Mr Pom-waver. Like any kid in this society is thinking, “I’ve made it this far watching non-stop beer commercials during every sporting event, but Mom’s wine joke on her bkog pushed me over. I must have all the drinks NOW!”

    • jeffandjill

      07/04/2015 at 10:48 am

      With all the pom-waving I did, I’m sure I need to go to confession.

      And yeah, I think #RefreshYourFunny was conceived on a marketing firm’s whiteboard just to get people to do exactly what I did. They’re hoping just ONE post goes viral and shoots across the internet like a comet with a Responsibility.org tail. And I think it’s a great marketing tactic.

  5. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

    • jeffandjill

      07/04/2015 at 10:49 am

      Ha! You’re welcome. I’m waiting for your post. I saw your fb comment expressing your hesitation. The deadline is approaching and there are so few posts. I’m surprised.

  6. *waves pom poms spastically and yells WOOOOO!*

    That was awesome.

  7. Very tricky! I followed the link to the website and it was almost impossible to tell that Responsibility.org is comprised of alcohol vendors. Isn’t that just a little hypocritical? And then aiming that video at mothers because they know how easy it is to make us feel like we’re doing a bad job. And I’m pretty sure we all joke about drinking (and the consumption of coffee and bacon) way more than we actually do it. I hope that no one at BlogU was really upset by that shame attempt.

    Very nicely written, Jeff! You deserve to win that money.

    • jeffandjill

      07/05/2015 at 10:19 am

      “And I’m pretty sure we all joke about drinking (and the consumption of coffee and bacon) way more than we actually do it.”

      RIGHT! It’s exaggeration for the sake of comedy and coping. Raising kids is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. The stakes are high, the demands are constant, the stress is overwhelming. Parents need to laugh.

      And I don’t think too many bloggers took it to heart. I’ve only seen 4 #RefreshYourFunny posts: 2 that embraced the idea, 2 that opposed it (including mine). Most other bloggers I’ve talked to have said that they don’t care enough to rant against it. So I’m guessing that people are just going to dismiss the idea and stick to the funny without feeding the trolls.

  8. Now I’m all for drinking responsibly, especially PSLs, but I am rather shitty that bloggers were made to feel guilty about writing adult content – for adults – and *SHOCK, HORROR!* having a sense of humour about things. And I wasn’t even there! Good on you for showing solidarity with the girls and calling out the thought police on their hypocrisy… and all in a funny, well written post. Cheers!

    • BTW love your disclaimer – opinions are 100% your own alright 🙂

      • jeffandjill

        07/05/2015 at 10:28 am

        Thanks Michelle. The more I think about it, the more I realize that my reaction has more to do with the context of the presentation. If they had delivered the presentation during a session about “Responsible Blogging” or “Blogging for Social Change” then OK, it would make sense and I wouldn’t have felt blindsided. But then they wouldn’t have had every blogger’s attention.

  9. That is, without question, the most polite “fuck you” I’ve ever read. It makes me proud to know you.

    • jeffandjill

      07/05/2015 at 9:20 am

      Thanks, man. But now I’m wondering if I’ve failed at saying “Fuck you!” Or failed at being polite. Hahaha. You need to go to BlogU next year.

  10. So proud of you to stand up and say NO!
    Adults need to be adults, and kids get plenty of our time and energy, but Holy Hell, back off my adult time reading adult humor online and my glass of wine!
    Stand up for adulting, cause we’ve earned it, dammit!

    • jeffandjill

      07/05/2015 at 10:34 am

      Thank you. They should have spent a little more time fine-tuning their strategy. Though I’ll be damned if I know how they could have fixed it. I guess anything other than “Shut up about alcohol and smile and get back to mommying” would be an improvement.

      I need a drink.

      • So true!! I didn’t give it the deep thought you clearly did, but you’re right. What is the real point if this campaign? What are they getting out if it? Some sort of tax break? Are they fulfilling some gubment requirement we are unaware of? All I know is, in the moment, I felt unpleasantly guilty so I drank away my discomfort like a GODDAMN ADULT.

        • jeffandjill

          07/05/2015 at 8:16 pm

          It’s all image control. If they truly felt that alcohol was a devastating epidemic and must be stopped, then they’d close the distilleries. If they truly worried for the safety of children, then why wouldn’t they include a commitment to anti-violence or anti-sexualization? They just want a great image with great reach. It’s misdirected and needs work.

  11. Great post. Our reaction/approach to this may differ but I love the conversation. Cheers, LM

    • jeffandjill

      07/05/2015 at 9:48 pm

      Yeah I saw your post too. And of course you’re not wrong. That’s the wonderful thing about opinions. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you did!

  12. “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.”

    Outstanding. You already won, in my book. (No one reads my book, so I don’t really count. But for what it’s worth, it’s an outstanding post.) No one represses my funny!

    • jeffandjill

      07/06/2015 at 9:28 am

      Thank you. No one’s read my book either. Because I haven’t even written a book. And if I do write a book and no one else reads it that’s ok. As long as no one else writes it.

      Blog on.

  13. So…interesting take Jeff! We clearly got different things out of that. And that’s OK. I am impressed that some of you dug deeper and found out who is behind this organization (alcohol companies.) However, I don’t feel duped. For me, the means to the end is still justified. Even if an alcohol company is helping me spread a better message about alcohol, that’s fine. Most marketing companies have recognized the power of bloggers/social media/Moms talking to Moms about many things for a long time now. At the end of the day, I needed this message and so did my kids – messenger aside. But you did your job, which is to give your honest opinion. Only, I would have really liked for you to talk a little more about what you *are* talking to your kids about. You said that you do talk to them about this, and didn’t need a campaign to remind you to do that. But the point of blogging is that we inspire people to think about what they are or are not saying. Maybe some of your readers needed to be inspired to change their dialogue, and would have gotten that inspiration from you, even if you didn’t get it from Responsibility.org. Thanks for making me think about this differently!

    • jeffandjill

      07/06/2015 at 11:07 am

      There are so many things I could have written and so many directions this post could have gone in, but I decided to just focus on the irony of a #TalkEarly campaign asking people to basically talk less. For me the call to stop making jokes for adults about adult things is like putting a piece of tape over the check engine light and saying there’s nothing wrong with the car. I liked your post because you struck the balance. You’re not covering anything up, you’re showing your kids what a healthy relationship with alcohol looks like. You’re keeping the line of communication open. And that’s vital. I just bristled at the concept of stopping with the jokes. If they had just said “It’s okay to make jokes with adults as long as you make time to talk about it with the kids.” But don’t shame people for comedic coping. That was misdirected. And when marketing masks itself as a crusade for social good, I gag.

  14. Love it and, as you know, agree with you 100%. Or should that be “proof.” (Sad trombone.) Now I’m all self-conscious when I make jokes about alcohol. Am I doing it now as part of a sad one-woman don’t-tell-me-what’s-funny rebellion? Whatever. It is interesting to see the different takes we all have on this issue. Like you, though, I find the campaign cynical and manipulative, and I consider that my territory so how dare they!

    • jeffandjill

      07/06/2015 at 1:18 pm

      Love the sad trombone. And yeah, thanks for making it all weird, Responisbility.org. I hate coming off as a crank and also I don’t want bloggers who had a different view to think I’m judging them with my fist-shaking eyes. I’m not. I just have this thing where I don’t like manufactured indignation and exasperation.

  15. Jeff, this was PERFECT. Blog policing is not the answer. Attempting to drag grown ass writers to the principal’s office to tsk, tsk them for standing upon a proverbial box of Franzia with a keyboard in lieu of a megaphone isn’t going to change things. If someone thinks all the humor has been wrung out of the repurposed jizz towel now soaked in rosé or spilled ‘ritas, they don’t have to partake in the blogs whose brand and identity are made up of those things. (The booze, not the jizz towels.) Like others who have commented, I’m contrary as fuck. Tell me not to do something and I’ll do the opposite with no small amount of glee and my two favorite fingers in the air. Let bloggers decide who their audience is and how they want to present themselves instead of suggesting a rebranding or change of tone is in order. There is an audience for everything and that won’t go away just because someone decided they no longer find the joke funny.

    • jeffandjill

      07/06/2015 at 1:34 pm

      I’m in absolute fanboy mode here right now. It’s like my blog is appearing on The Hollywood Sigh!! It kinda makes me a celeb. And I was JUST reading your Sofia Vergara post. Which led me to your Joe Unicorn post. And that’s why I’ll never be busy at an 8.

      Yeah, it’s a chill wind when orgs encourage people to go back to the “good people don’t talk about those sorts of things” days.

  16. Yessssssss!Thank you for calling B.S. Kids are saying, “You’re not who you say you are, to me, and that angers me.” So the solution is hiding even more of who you are? I realize that the context there was booze-based humor, but there is a bigger message, I think. One that says be perfect for your kids or they will suffer. It’s a standard that’s not good for us (as parents) or our kids. Part of good parenting is about setting boundaries. My blog is my space, my daughter knows that it’s not meant for her eyes, and her internet use is closely supervised (she’s 7). Once she hits an age where unsupervised internet access is appropriate, I’ll feel lucky if the worst thing she’s exposed to is her mom cracking jokes about being a wino. Many grown-ups drink. It’s a fact of life. I’d way rather model controlled, responsible drinking (and open dialog about it) than hide my wine in a coffee cup and cross my fingers that she’ll do the right thing when she first encounters alcohol on her own.

    P.S. I’ve been lurking here for a while, and I love your blog. Also, I’m going to Blog U next year, come hell or high water. I’m so jealous of all of you. It sounds like it was a blast.

    • jeffandjill

      07/08/2015 at 10:03 am

      I agree 100% The video shows a focus group moderator talking with kids about what they think of their moms’ online behavior. What’s much more important is what the kids are saying to their moms. We don’t see that conversation. The kid sees a wine joke and says to their parent: Hey, what’s with this wine joke? Then the parent has an opportunity to say: It’s just a joke about feeling stressed and exhausted. Right there a conversation happens. If the mom has a drink in a mug and never jokes about or mentions alcohol, the kid will have nothing but mystery and peers for info.

      Thanks for being here! BlogU was an amazing experience that I hope to turn into an annual experience.

  17. Totally voting for you (as if you ever doubted it).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*