image by Collin Armstrong via unsplash
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.
I think you are right that bloggers may not change anyone’s mind, but by talking about it you also help make sure that those who do support your position do not become complacent. It’s good to have a dialog about it so we don’t accept this as the new normal and go on with our lives as if nothing has happened when we personally have a life of privilege.
You’re right – it’s more about showing an unwillingness to become complacent and accept this as the new normal, less about changing anyone’s mind. You make a great point and that’s why I appreciate bloggers that are sharing their opinion – it supports the opinion many of us have – that these are not normal times.
Thank you for writing this, I’m sure hitting publish was accompanied by some anxiety. These are NOT normal times, and it bothers me to no end when I hear a devastating headline and scroll through a timeline and see nothing but, as you said, flat-lay images of flowers and lattes! Blogs are in a lot of ways about solidarity, and as you so articulately expressed, you should connect with your audience on a deeper level (or these days, at least a HUMAN level!). Again, thanks for writing. For every follower a blogger loses from “political” posts, an existing follower finds solace and reaffirmation.
Hannah, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I think the last line is beautifully put and I wish all bloggers who are scared to say anything would take it to heart.
I too, struggle these days to post anything “fluffy” because it’s pretty or will get a lot of likes. We are living in a changed world, and I feel a responsibility to speak out, and always will. I’m fortunate that even though I’m technically “a brand” I’m still small enough and don’t make an income off my blog to not fear professional repercussions. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still post and write about “on brand” topics, but I will never not use my platform to speak out and fight injustice. If I lose followers or readers, so be it.
Your political posts, like all of your content, have been beautifully put together and compassionately written. I think a lot of us are probably thinking about this lately, and I feel the same way that you do. I can’t hide my beliefs, even if I don’t want to write about it a ton – if I lose people, so be it.
Thank you so much Jackie, that means a lot to me. Stay strong!
Of course bloggers don’t have a “responsibility” to speak out against Trump. You might be surprised to learn that some bloggers even voted for him! 60 million people voted for him, some of those people are bloggers and blog readers, and not all of them are racist, sexist, or terrible people. There are people out there who don’t think abortion is a constitutional right, who see the problems with illegal immigration in this country, who simply don’t want to pay more of their hard earned money in taxes. These people are tired of being vilified and that’s one of the reasons Trump won. Remember the day after the election when Democrats said wow we really messed up, we ignored half the country and were only in touch with the views of the liberal elite. That feeling lasted about a day, and now those people are back to bashing Trump and the people who voted for him. Maybe try to understand why he won and at least have a little respect for differing points of view. I really hope you read this and actually consider where I am coming from, rather than brushing me off as a hater or uneducated Trump voter. It might help you wrap your mind around how he could win. Personally, I have a master’s degree and spent most of my adult living in the liberal elite bubble of Washington DC, and I voted for trump for a few reasons, the main ones being that I am pro-life and I do not want my taxes to go up. Believe me, bloggers have many followers that share these views. So no, I don’t want to hear your political opinions. I follow you to look at pretty pictures of New York.
I don’t think you’re a hater or uneducated. I appreciate you sharing a different opinion, and I do understand that many people, and many bloggers, may have voted for Trump for the traditional Republican values that you brought up – pro-life, immigration, etc. I didn’t want to write a post bashing Trump or get into a debate on that – that ship has sailed and I respect that people make different choices for a variety of reasons. There’s so much ugliness and divisiveness out there, and I don’t want to add to that or fight with anyone on the Internet. I guess I was just thinking, even in a theoretical way, if someone IS disturbed by the events taking place, do they have a responsibility to speak out? Or maybe on the flip side, if people ARE happy with Trump and current policies, do THEY have a responsibility to speak out in defense of it? Considering that they have massive followings and reach a lot of eyes and ears. It goes back to that MLK Jr. quote – “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I feel like your take on the subject is no, stick to your lane – and I think many others share that view, and I respect it. Thanks for your comment.
Jackie, I really like the way you discussed the touchy topic this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this too, particularly as a DC resident. I’ve almost felt like it was “bad” that I hadn’t posted much more than an allusion to the “craziness” of 1/20. One thing I’ve realized though is that I prefer to have my political conversations and healthy debates with people close to me, rather than put them into words online. There’s no real reason for this–maybe because I’m not always outwardly passionate about things that I care about, which can be both good and bad–but I think a lot of it comes from a fear that I won’t articulate myself well and a not-so-healthy debate will ensue.
Simply put, I’m just so much more comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions in person because I take a lot of pride in truly wanting to hear “both sides.” That’s much easier to do in person, and people (I think) tend to be less hurtful. Does that make sense? It’s made me so happy that people do feel comfortable sharing their thoughts online and I really haven’t had the urge to unfollow anyone on either side over this. A lot of times people are uninformed or brash in their commentary, but they’re entitled to say what they want. If it drives me nuts, I skip over it and remember that we’re all flying on the same plane here and all love this country!
In re-reading this I feel like it sort of comes across like I’m taking the “ignorance is bliss” route and I haven’t taken the time to form my own opinions or stand up for what I believe in…rest assured that’s not the case 🙂 THANK YOU again for writing this post so thoughtfully!
Monica, that’s such a good point. I prefer to talk to my family about these issues, because they know me and are the closest to me and I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to come off. I don’t talk about them at work because I don’t want to get into debates, or be disappointed by someone I get along with because they have an opinion I don’t like. The fact is, and this relates to your point – I don’t always want to write about these issues, but I also don’t want to come off as accepting this as the “new normal” because I’m writing about my usual topics, and not about current events. I hope that makes sense. I don’t want to come off as uncaring or ignorant or like la di da, flatlays and flowers, while outside my window (figuratively), people are really suffering. But then, terrible things are always going on in the world, and bloggers and everyone goes about their business. It is tricky. You don’t sound like you’re taking the ignorance is bliss route – actually you articulated something that I personally feel but didn’t even realize, which is the preference for having these talks in person, rather than writing about them. And for talking about them with close friends or family, rather than strangers.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think it’s important that you do share what’s on your mind. Living in NYC, I am grateful that there are so many liberal minded people who share the same ideals and views as I do. However, it leaves me feeling like I’m in an echo chamber and not really hear what the other perspective is. Having a space like this, where people from all over, can enable respectful dialogue that otherwise would not take place. Also, with the gag orders on media, it is so important to have places where people can share truth and not alternative facts.
I agree Kay – as much as I like that I’m surrounded by people who are similarly grossed out by this current situation, it is a bit frustrating living in an echo chamber, as you put it – and knowing that the people on the other side are probably doing the same. It’s tough because it makes it so hard to see anyone coming together or changing their opinions.
First I love this post, and the elegant, eloquent way you phrased it, and have replied to comments on here. I agree – it’s about personal choice. And when a blogger (or anyone) has a platform – and feels strongly – and expresses it with openness and without hate and ignorance – then it can inspire others to take a stand and just open up a dialog. And isn’t that what blogging and communicating is about? Very brave post and I hope others continue to comment. And that you continue to post on this topic. I agree – these are NOT normal times.
I agree – I know I’ve been inspired by seeing other bloggers speak out and I think that ripple effect will continue to grow.
Your blog has always been something beautiful and comforting to come to, especially when NYC makes me frazzled and I grow disenchanted with the chaos and grime of city life! I’m a social worker so my views might be slightly different but I use every single available platform to champion social causes and bring to light social injustices. It’s 100% your choice for what you feature on your blog, but as a woman who took part in the March in NYC last weekend, I can’t begin to describe how full my heart felt when I saw million of people marching for the same causes. When I see a blog I follow or a random grandmother on FB go out of their way to put a note out that “hey this isn’t right”, I feel that same sort of kinship. It doesn’t have to become a theme but it’s uplifting to see people stand up. Great post!
I agree – when I see other bloggers speaking out, I feel a kinship with them, and I admire them for having the courage. Thanks for your comment!
I vote no! Keep those opinions to yourself. Not the place for it. This is part of my escape and I certainly don’t want to read it. That is precisely why I have given up TV. Yep , even HGTV ouch, hurts me more than anyone. I am sick of being “programed.”
However it is your Blog. I respect that .
I see your point in that blogs are supposed to somewhat of an escape – and I think many bloggers and readers alike feel the same way. I think this is a unique time and people are uniquely outraged, and that’s why more and more people are choosing to speak out.
Great post! It’s hard to look at flowers and lattes with all that is happening around us every day.
Yes, that’s what bothering me too. It just feels SO tone-deaf. Trying not to judge but it can be difficult.
Absolutely speak out! If people are tired of hearing about discrimination, persecution and hatred, well guess how tired the victims of what is happening are. We are at a crossroads in our county’s history, and I know the side pulling us towards isolation and fear is not going to take a rest.
Very well-said Kirsten. I said something similar to a person on Twitter over the weekend who complained about being sick of hearing about Trump, on the same day that dozens of people were stuck in airports because of his reckless executive order…talk about bad timing. Thank you for your comment.
Great post. I think in doses it could be helpful to post topics of concern that can foster a productive conversation. While I share all of the concerns you have discussed, I am always interested in hearing the other side. The divisiveness going on right now is heart-breaking and I think the only way to bring this country together is through finding common ground. Thank you so much for being brave enough to eloquently articulate your concerns… you are not alone <3
Thanks Cara…well put. I think in these comments a productive conversation is taking place, and I’m glad to have posted about it. I love posting pretty things and stuff, but I also love hearing from people on things that matter, and I think most people like to share their opinions too and have their voices heard. Thank you for your kind words!
Well sad Jackie. ?☮️
I meant said but sad works too
Ha! Indeed it does. Thanks Patti 🙂
I thought for 2 days after reading your post and the comments. I have never shied away from speaking my mind and always encourage others to do so. Yes, it has its cons, but I always feel choosing what is right is always better than choosing what is easy.
And yes, people will argue that there two sides of “right”, and I really tried to be patient and listen to their side, and Trump’s side. Here’s the thing: so far there hasn’t been any facts or actual beneficial attempt to better people’s lives. I am not talking about just us “whiny liberals living in coastal cities and sipping starbucks lattes”. I keep wondering what has he actually done to benefit even them that they are so elated? There were never any sound plans and there still isn’t any other than creating more division between “winners” and “losers”. Which makes me wonder who is actually winning.
Coming back to your post- blogging, even full time, is not like a regular corporation. The whole point is to connect with your readers personally – how many corporations do that? So I commend the ones who are speaking out, and I feel ashamed and sorry for the ones who just wants to look pretty and not talk about real stuff. We liberals will probably be dominated by the name-calling bullies, but I will go down in peace, knowing that at least I was on the right side of history.
I totally agree – I haven’t seen any benefits from his policies so far, but sadly I feel his supporters might beg to differ. I have a feeling those who voted for him are happy with what he’s done so far.
As far as what you said about blogging, I agree – it should be more personal than a corporation. Sadly I think some bloggers are so focused on their “brand” and keeping their content sanitized of potentially polarizing topics that they’re burying their heads in the sand, and using “well I’m a fashion/lifestyle blogger” as their excuse. Again, it’s not to me to say if that’s right or wrong, but those bloggers may be choosing the “brand” over the “personal.”
I think this is a fabulous post. I agree, we may not want to hear opinions from major brands like Pepsi, but that’s because we are buying into those brands because we like the products they produce. Bloggers, on the other hand, we follow specifically because we WANT to hear their opinions and feelings. When you follow a blogger it’s because you have found a personality you admire. Personality encompasses opinions, so I think it’s more than warranted for a blogger to share his or her thoughts on a topic (if he/she feels comfortable, that is). The important thing is that the opinions are expressed in a respectful tone, understanding that some readers may feel differently. That may even open up the lines of communication for a positive and meaningful discourse.
Thank you so much for your comment Tess. I agree that we follow bloggers who have personalities we like…and we follow them because we want to hear their opinions – but maybe some fear that actually their readers DON’T want to hear their opinions on these topics. Especially if the reader is of a different opinion. But as you said, the best way to go about is to be un-aggressive and to stay sensitive to the fact that others may have different opinions.
I feel it’s your blog and you should speak your mind as you see fit. I have more respect for someone who states their opinion rather than ignore what is going on in our country for fear of losing readers or sponsors. If a blog I read is covering something I don’t care to read about I just don’t read that post whether it’s political, fashion, travel or food related it doesn’t matter. While I agree that we all need some kind of escape in these crazy times it’s also important to stay engaged.
Thank you Kim. I also have tremendous respect for bloggers, both big and small, who are courageous enough to be speaking their mind in these strange times. You’re obviously a nice person for saying well, I’ll just skip that post if I don’t like the topic…sadly there are also trolls out there who attack bloggers who they don’t agree with, which definitely also makes people scared to say anything polarizing. But who wants them as readers anyway? I’m grateful that all of the commenters here have been respectful, whether they agree or disagree with me.
I’m very glad to see you speak out, acknowledging how many of us are so worried about the future of our country. I think it’s more awkward to blissfully avoid the subject that’s all over the news and in conversations with friends. So I thank you for standing up for what you believe in.
Good point – I wrote this because I was feeling awkward NOT saying anything, and just going about posting flowery things. It seems weird! And I appreciate that people are being supportive of me and of other bloggers who are speaking their mind and acknowledging the “elephant in the room.” Thanks for your kind comment.
You’ve struck such a lovely balance lately. I appreciated having a respite from politics and seeing your photos of the floral arrangement in the mirrored vase last week. But it was also nice to see you voice your concerns here.
Your brand is a well-rounded one, as I see it, and it’s never been limited to pretty stuff — you show us inside your apartment and around the city, but you also write about what’s on your bookshelf, classes you’ve taken, photography you’re working on, and artists you admire.
So thank you for this. And know that many of your readers will always appreciate your insights on a broad range of topics.
Well, that might be one of the nicest comments I’ve ever received. Thank you so much Elizabeth – I truly appreciate that.
I agree completely with Elizabeth in the above comment and could not have said it better. Its always about balance and that is perfectly exemplified in Jackie’s blog.
I always read your blog, but never comment, but now, I can’t keep quit. Im glad to heard your insights, thoughts and concerns. In certain way are mine’s too, Even when I don’t live in USA, but in this side of the border. Im a latina; mexican girl, and Im concern because any decision this administration takes, made an impact on both sides of the border, in two countries, yours and mine. There and this because we are neighbours. Yes, these are not normal times, but very worrying and disturbing ones. People getting out of their countries, children and woman dying because of war and hungry… Pretty much the history of the humanity. So when I found a little gem of beauty and relax I really appreciate it. And this is your blog to me: a bite of peace. Yes I felt guilty too for have the possibility to enjoy a bunch of flowers when others have no food… Again these are not normal times
So pretty much to think about indeed. Greetings from Mexico City.
I have stopped reading some of the blogs I used to enjoy because the blogger made some political comments that I found rude, ignorant and arrogant. One blogger whose work I used to enjoy commented that she wished she could block her content to everyone who didn’t agree with her. Needless to say, I haven’t read her work in a long time. As someone else said, your blog is an escape from all that is ugly in the world; we want to see your lovely apartment and photographs, not to hear what you think of certain political figures. And since your blog is also your business, your political opinions could end up costing you money. There are fare more appropriate forums to discuss politics, please keep your blog free from that.