Lately as I scroll through my blog reader and see some bloggers addressing the crazy and mind-boggling things happening in the US currently, and others going about their regular blog topics and not addressing it at all, this question has been on my mind a lot. Many bloggers have gigantic audiences and reach thousands, even millions of people. So, do they have a responsibility to speak out against the current administration?
Even I, a blogger with a relatively small audience, am wrestling with it. I feel guilty and weird writing about flowers and coffee tables while simultaneously spending much of my time reading about the attack on women’s health/reproductive rights, and refugees attempting to escape war and murder being refused access to our country. But also, I’m not a political expert or writer, so a part of me has just been feeling like, ok, I have nothing helpful to say about the news, and yet I feel guilty writing writing about flowers, so I just shouldn’t blog.
The president just closed our border to refugees. A refugee is “a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” That goes against everything our country is supposed to be about. The president reinstated the global gag rule – this will harm vulnerable women the world over. I’m disgusted, I’m saddened, and what’s happening is awful, scary, and depressing. Does anyone need or want to hear that? I don’t know.
A lot of bloggers are saying ‘well we won’t talk about that. That’s not what this space is about.’ And while I get that, it also feels like such a cop-out. I think people are just scared of losing readers and thus, losing income, which is a judgmental thing to think, but there it is. But, on the other hand, a professional blogger is a brand – a business – similar to a corporation. Would I expect, say, Pepsi Co, Barnes and Noble, or even a smaller brand to be tweeting and speaking out against Trump? Not really, no. Clearly the difference is that with bloggers, there’s a face to their brand, and it feels much more personal, whereas other corporations are faceless, nameless entities – but at the core, once a blog becomes a “brand,” it is similar, in ways, to a corporation.
The thing is, when you’re a professional blogger, your space is no longer purely “your own.” It partially belongs to the readers, because without them, you wouldn’t be able to be a professional blogger. As I said in response to a reader in the comments on this post, I can pretty much write whatever I want because this blog isn’t my full-time job – whereas a professional blogger kind of can’t, to a certain extent – they need to also write what’s going to bring them traffic/money, and they need to not alienate people. Also, do any of you want to hear a blogger’s thoughts on current events? Or do you want them to “stick to their lane?” I like hearing what bloggers think about this stuff, or I guess more accurately, I like at least knowing where they stand. I think Julia hit the perfect tone with this post.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I guess it comes down to personal choice. I can’t help but also think, when a blogger writes about their opinion on all of this and expresses outrage, does it ever change anyone’s mind? I kind of doubt it – I could be wrong, but part of me thinks all it does is cause their readers with dissenting opinions to unfollow them. And obviously, I would never think fashion and lifestyle bloggers, under normal circumstances, would have a responsibility to speak out on political issues. But these are not normal times.
I don’t have all the answers, and I am not a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination, so I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.