I have not been aggravated in this particular way since I was a much younger man. This is probably a bad sign, and it may have something to do with the recent adjustment in my thyroid medication. (If it gives me the percentage of body fat I had when I was eighteen, however, I will happily learn to live with this heightened sense of indignation and urge to lash out.) Please accept my apologies in advance for the attack that follows.
When I was in my early teens, I latched on to the loutish, playful anger of punk rock, and let it guide my decisions about who and what to embrace, and who and what to dismiss or attack. Of course I had plenty of friends who didn't understand my obsession, and that was fine. I could even abide people mocking punk rock. But what I couldn't tolerate was posers trying to act or dress like punks to get attention or, much worse, musical acts adopting the punk rock ethos in an attempt to sell records.
Because the most important aspect of punk rock was to be "real." I railed against these frauds, and of course no one really cared. And that's what I'm doing now, because apparently I'm fifteen years old.
The object of my ire? A probably perfectly nice guy named Dan, who, through his blog Single Dad Laughing, is probably just trying to get famous and make a buck. His offense? Becoming way too popular, way too soon, in the milieu that many of us are floundering around in for whatever reason: to make contact with other parents, to try to establish ourselves as writers, to rake in swag from sponsors--whatever (see the interesting conversation in the blogosphere in the last few weeks about whether dadbloggers "suck"). Dan has managed, in three months of blogging (according to his own analysis) to attract the kind of traffic that would make the most famous mommybloggers spontaneously give birth to glittering herds of unicorns.
Or so it seems to me. Most people don't advertise how many "hits" they're getting. But Dan cheerfully boasts about the tens of thousands of people reading his blog, and how much his magical words have changed peoples' lives, and how he plans to change the world. I am not exaggerating at all. Check out his latest self-aggrandizing post. He has hundreds of comments on many of his posts, and on some of them, there are over a thousand--more than on any of the most wildly popular blogs I have read. I don't think there's any way to fake that: the guy is obviously a marketing genius if nothing else.
So why can't I just wish this fellow dadblogger well and admit that people dig what he's putting out there in his heartfelt, moralistic, Air Supply-ish prose? That he is inspiring people the way I and my fellow dadblogging proles could never do?
Because 1) he kind of sucks (sorry Dan); and 2) there's something really fishy about his operation. I elaborate below.
1) The suckiness. Whatever. There is no accounting for taste. It bugs me a bit when people fall for sentimental dreck. But I know a lot of people like that kind of stuff. I didn't care for Titanic. I thought the "poignant" Shamu narrative at Sea World was preposterous.
Just as, when I was in a punk band, I thought we were better than a lot of the other bands in our scene, I think I'm a better writer than some of my peers. Dan included. But that shit is subjective. And, as many experts point out, it doesn't really matter how good your writing is in the world of blogs (or novels, movies, TV, etc.) There's way more to it than that.
So, then, on to #2) The Fishiness.
I haven't read every word of this guy's blog, but here's the gist of it from my perusing maybe 40% of his posts:
He's a single dad, twice divorced, living in Salt Lake City. He is employed full time (but as of his last post, he quit his job so he could focus on changing the world through his blog, and he wants you--yes you!--to petition Ellen and Oprah to help him on his mission.) He loves his kid way more than you love yours. His own writing makes him cry. A lot. (Read the "about" section for a very glowing third person review of his "powerful" writing.) He loves M&Ms more than you love your kid. It seems like he has another kid from his first wife, but he doesn't really talk about that one. His blog is "So much more than a daddy blog," according to his banner.
Pretty busy life, right? But he finds time to post on his blog every single day, including photos, videos, CG comics, and tons of info about his stats that indicate a considerable amount of data analysis on his part. He often refers to the long hours he spends writing and re-writing his "powerful"--and long (I'm one to talk)--messages. Also, he has a full complement of ads running on his site, which would require quite a bit of time to manage, and is launching a store to sell his "Get Real" merchandise. And his most "powerful"
I, on the other hand, like most daddy bloggers (I suspect), barely manage to churn out two or three posts a week, and feel terribly guilty about the hours spent commenting on other blogs (although it's often time well spent for a variety of reasons) and dicking around on twitter and facebook to try to lure people to read our stuff. I think about trying to get it together and seeing if I could make a few bucks off of ad revenue, but I just can't find the time to even think about how to go about it. And I don't even have a job!
Every one of Dan's posts includes a paragraph or so imploring his readers to share his message through whatever social media channels they use. Most bloggers do that to some extent, but he is particularly shameless about it. I don't begrudge him that. I just find it amazing that it doesn't turn readers off. But again, I thought Titanic was schlocky.
Usually, when bloggers attack one another (something I have always found, and honestly still do find, childish), they don't link to their opponent's blog for fear that they will drive traffic to his site. I don't care. You should really check this out. The guy is either the most wonderful, sincere dad, who has tapped into the curative rhetoric that will heal our ailing family of humanity (in which case I'm a wretched curmudgeon); or he's a devious salesman who has figured out how to prey on bad taste and emotional vulnerability to sell some ads. It could well be a combination of both.
So why am I obsessing over this guy and spending valuable sleep-time ranting about him even though this type of thing seems so beneath my usual standards of good taste (ell oh ell)? And, for that matter, what's up with all of the self-directed questions?
I'm not quite sure. Mostly I can't help myself. It's not like if I don't expose him as a fraud (which I have now completely convinced myself he is), he is going to harm people. The worst that could happen is that he would get on Oprah and become the face of daddybloggers, and maybe get a reality show and a book deal, which wouldn't have any repercussions beyond making me grind my teeth down to nubs. Probably he will just get a little attention on the various 'spheres, and then fade away as the rest of us should be so lucky as to do.
On the other hand though, he might become the Billy Idol of daddybloggers, making the rest of us cringe as he performs his grotesque caricature of our medium for an adoring public.
Oh, yeah. Don't forget to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, your own blog, Net Flicks, Yelp, LinkedIn, Craigslist, AOL instant message, and print it out and staple it to all the utility poles in your neighborhood. I just know we can get everyone in the world to be more cynical and suspicious if we all join together.
Note to other dad bloggers who might normally give me encouraging comments: I will take your silence as an indication that you agree with me or don't give a shit about my paranoid ravings.