Opinion | Dooce and other mom blogs deserve credit for shaping the internet

 Opinion |  Dooce and other mom blogs deserve credit for shaping the internet

Several Internet giants have fallen in recent months. BuzzFeed News closed. Vice is doomed to bankruptcy. It looks bleak for FiveThirtyEight. And with the recent release of Ben Smiths Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral, there has been a resurgence of Gawker Media chatter, which fell apart in 2016. (I worked for Jezebel, which was under the umbrella of Gawker Media, from 2007 to 2008.)

As Smith argued in a Times Opinion guest essay drawing from his book, it feels like we’re at the end of a digital media era where Gawker and BuzzFeed were in the ascendant and chasing page views was everything. But I think there is one sweep of popular media from the last two decades that is in danger of being overlooked when we recount this period in online history: publications called mommy blogs, an often dismissive term that many of their writers hated but still used as shorthand.

With the sad passing of Heather Armstrong, who started the Dooce website, was often affectionately called Dooce and was known for her radical candor about motherhood and mental health, it’s a time to remember how revolutionary this type of confessional was when it was new, and how influential it was. It’s also a time to remember that Armstrong and his colleagues, including Momastery’s Glennon Doyle, Cup of Jo’s Joanna Goddard and The Pioneer Woman’s Ree Drummond, have left a lasting imprint on our culture and run successful businesses, some of the which ones survived. new arrivals managed by men.

Assessing Armstrong’s legacy for The Times on Thursday, Lisa Belkin, who profiled her for The Times in 2011, explains that Dooce was part of a brief but golden age when women spoke up on the internet, proving that which is now assumed but which was then a brand. – new: that a woman who writes about her about her life from her kitchen could be living her life. At his peak, Dooce had millions of devoted readers, and Armstrong had contracts with Verizon and HGTV, and appeared on Oprah. (For the record, Armstrong took the term mom blogger to be a digital box.)

When Armstrong decided to post ads on her blog in 2004, she became one of the first to monetize a personal brand on the Internet, Taylor Lorenz wrote for the Washington Post. And for a while, she made a living online: According to Belkins reports, her website alone was making $30,000 to $50,000 a month.

Being the face of the brand, mining his own experiences for his writing, and dealing with cruel backlash from trolls ultimately proved to be detrimental to Armstrong’s mental health. In 2019, he told Vox’s Chavie Lieber: Hate was very, very scary and very, very hard to live with, adding: It gets inside your head and eats away at your brain.

Armstrong had not posted regularly this year. After a long struggle with depression, she passed away on Tuesday. Her partner said her cause was suicide.

I hope she is remembered for her writing, which journalist Lyz Lenz has perfectly described as a lot of raw meat, vulgar and transcendentally real.

I also hope that Armstrong and his contemporaries are not left out of the story of how online media as we know it was constructed. And that we finally stop thinking about women reporting on home life as less than if I had to snap every time someone told me motherhood is a niche topic, I’d stay tipsy. So I want to make sure these women are given the same swashbuckling credentials as Gawker’s Nick Denton and BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti.

After all, Drummond, a homeschool mom of four who started a blog out of her rural Oklahoma home in 2006, has a media empire. She has a solid website, a television show, pots and a glossy print magazine, at a time when those are an endangered species. A fragmented and successful News Substack run by a big personality probably has more in common, business-wise, with the mom blogs of yore than with the venture-backed news sites that continue to run aground. Let’s acknowledge this and stop thinking of women who write from the heart as something silly and small. It’s extraordinary and has changed so many lives.

If you are contemplating suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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