Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If You've Read One Canned Parenting Article, You've Read Them All

This one has been percolating for a while now...

How do you feel when you watch a birth on your typical sitcom or movie? Now think, do you respond to them differently now that you or your partner has given birth? I still begrudgingly laugh at all the right parts for the most part, but for me it is different now that I have given birth to two children and experienced one miscarriage. The familiar gags that are played for effect just don't do it for me anymore, because I just know now that there is so much more, and in fact I get a little pissed off at moments that they can't seem to muster up an original thought. The canned laughter sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

I feel the same way about parenting "journalism" now. More on why I choose to enclose that in quotation marks in a moment.

My tastes have been changing, and this presented a little problem for my original blog baby, Relevant Mom, because the passion I once felt seemed to have gone missing. This didn't seem right however, because I continued to read pretty voraciously, and share prolifically in my Twitter and personal Facebook streams, and spend time working on my other blogs and writing. But upon further reflection, I realized I am no less passionate about parenting and motherhood issues, it's just that after a fair amount of reading for the past few years, I started to get, well...bored. It was always the same familiar gags employed and designed I presume for maximum SEO effect. I also noticed that the stories catching my attention are not those that are typically featured in the marquee mainstream sources, but those being written about in a million tiny little blogs adorning the world wide web, like the prismatic beads of moisture revealed when the sun hits a spider's web just so after a rainstorm. I find the sheer variety of experience, and really insightful thought about a shared journey, inspiring and more importantly interesting.

It is for this reason that when I read recently yet another article dealing with the divide between people with children and those without that relied upon the well trodden snarky comments disguised as constructive "advice," that I literally wanted to phone up the reporter and tell them that it bordered on plagiarism because it has literally been written, exactly in that manner, countless times. A few parenting publications I have subscribed to need only be read for one full year, because like clockwork they start regurgitating the same stuff, interspersed with some pretty ad space.

This brings me to why I enclosed journalism earlier in quotation marks. If you can't be bothered to write something that even approaches the subject with any degree of investigative insightfulness, or journalistic authenticity, please do not write it at all. All writers (this one included) have fallen prey to cliche, or written so as to push those common cultural funny buttons, but if marquee publications that are struggling to find ways to justify to the modern reader why their content deserves to be duly compensated for, they need to step it up and stop writing predictable drivel, because there are a million more authentic voices out there just a Twitter stream away that are delivering it every single day for free.

What are your thoughts? Do the articles you read seem repetitive and canned to you? Does this help or hinder a parent?


Aphra said...

On a related note: This is a MUST read post on the subject of mommy blogging in my opinion.

Velveteen Mind Megan said...

When you read enough, everything begins to sound familiar. As a blog magazine editor, it doesn't take much to stand out in the crowd of vanilla for me. A fresh voice is just that: refreshing.

Aphra linked to a beautifully written post by a friend of mine that completely resonates with hundreds of readers. But one that I've read many times before by many other bloggers. The "damn the man, I write for me!" post. Or the "they're all becoming tainted but I'm still pure!" angle. I'm pretty sure I've written those myself. Yet what the author was saying was fresh to her readers, based on their comments. That's what matters.

I'll keep hunting for fresh if you will. Let's agree to lift them up when we find them.

Cindy Rowland said...

I feel the same way sometimes about feeding kids and the lastest and greatest scientific study telling us that we're all doing it wrong.
Apparently, people love this stuff. Or at least it gets their blood pumping. Whatever it is, it's gotten old for me. I think we only have ourselves to blame. We're the consumers.
I try to pay attention to a couple bloggers/authors I respect in my area of interest and pretty much ignore the rest.

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