On “bad bloggers” and “not runners”

As I was checking how my Weekly Workout Round-Up for last week post looked on email and on my phone, I was a little surprised to see a phrase that snuck into the post: “…but I’m a bad blogger…”  I caught my breath.  Crap.  How did that get in there?  I often see this phrase in other blogger’s posts – and it always bothers me.  Yet here it was, staring back at me, typed from my very own keyboard.

Why did I write this?  Why did I spend time and wordage to announce to you all that I’m a “bad” blogger?  What horrible, non-blogger, evict-me-from-the-club (which is as free-form and self-directed as any club could possibly be) thing did I do?  You might want to sit down.  Brace yourselves, because…I went for a run with friends, and didn’t take a picture.

Just stop for a minute, and let that sink in.  I didn’t take a picture.

[Oh, the horror!!]

[First world problems, anyone?]

But I am not alone.  Failure to Photograph (food, workouts, friends, clothes, etc.) seems to be a common reason to call oneself a “bad blogger”.  Other reasons include:

“Had guests visit, failed to post for three days, bad blogger.”
“Chose random, rambling post topic(s) = Bad blogger.”
“Devoted an entire post to cute photos of kiddos…bad blogger.”
“Didn’t Reply to every Comment. Bad blogger.”
“Wore sweatpants instead of cute outfit: bad blogger.”
“Doesn’t care about hits/clicks/visits/SEO/etc.  Bad blogger!”

I’d dig up specific examples, but honestly – they’re too numerous (and I’m tired).  If you’ve been hanging out in the blog world for awhile, then you know what I’m talking about.  In fact, Olive To Run provides a great summary of some in her post Confession: I am really not a good blogger, if you’re interested.  [Please note that I’m not criticizing Olive, by any means – I quite enjoy her blog and her thoughts.  And admittedly, she used “not good” rather than “bad”.  But I was struck by how someone who is so unapologetically herself, so “tell it like it is”, and whose blog is so clearly popular – could still proclaim that she’s “not a good blogger”.  I mean, if she’s not a good blogger, then what am I!?!]

So I paused for a moment and considered what I really, truly think would constitute a “bad” blogger (where “bad” means, you know, “not good”).  Yes, this is subjective, but I see no way around that.  I gave myself sixty seconds, and here is the list I generated:

A “bad blogger” is someone who….
1. Never posts (in which case he/she would hardly be a “blogger”, really, right?)
2. Writes false, malicious, or nasty things about people/places/things
3. Plagarizes
4. Provides positive reviews in exchange for free products/services
5. Embeds links to malicious or pay-per-click sites, camouflaged as useful, interesting sites

I re-read my list.  Yup, all of those things seem like they should qualify someone for “bad blogger” status.  But gosh, wouldn’t you know it – “Didn’t take a picture” just wasn’t on there. Nowhere.  Not anywhere on the list.  And I checked.  Twice.  [Call me Santa.]

This little chit-chat with myself was starting to feel like a conversation I have so often it makes me want to scream.  I’m going to use “X” here, but do note that “X” is almost always a female.

X: Well, I do jog.  But I’m not a real runner.
Me: Hm.  What do you mean?
X: Well, I’m not like you. I’m not a real runner.
Me: Well, do you run?
X: Well, kind of.  I jog.
Me: OK, I think random pace distinctions are stupid.  All joggers are runners, in my book.  How often do you run?
X: A few times a week, maybe 3?
Me: Ah.  And, how long/far?
X: Not long.  Just about thirty minutes or so.
Me: You run for about 30 minutes, three times per week?  Yup, it sounds to me like you’re a runner!  So stop selling yourself short, and own the description: runner.  Runner!

In some way/shape/form, most of us do this – likely, more than we realize.  Broadly speaking, women are especially good at it, as are Asians in general.  Under the guise of “modesty” or “not bragging”, we imply/suggest/joke/or outright state the we aren’t good, or aren’t good enough, or are actually downright bad.  Somehow, this has become a socially acceptable, amusing, and often admirable, habit.  But truth be told, I find nothing funny or attractive about it.  Instead, I find it annoying at best, and depressing at worst.

Of course, I’m not suggesting we all start bragging about everything we can do.  But maybe, just maybe, we should stop selling ourselves short and counting ourselves out of things that we are doing – and are doing well.

So I’m putting my foot down.  There shall be no more “bad” blogger, or pseudo-“bad” blogger talk from this space any more.  I’m a blogger.  I might even be a good blogger.  And if you find this blog’s content informative, interesting, and/or somewhat amusing, please do stick around.  And if you don’t? Well, you probably weren’t reading this post in the first place.  And that’s just fine.

So here’s my message for you today: Embrace who you are.  Be real, be honest, be active, and be genuine.  And please, whatever you do, don’t waste time and energy selling yourself short.

Let’s be warm and fuzzy for a moment.  Finish this sentence:
“I (meaning you) am an AWESOME blogger because _________.”

Any blogosphere pet peeves?  Come on, get ’em off your chest!

45 thoughts on “On “bad bloggers” and “not runners”

  1. Amy

    My biggest pet peeve with running blogs (and this is where the writer/professor in me comes out) is reading “I have ran.” I see this over and over and as much as I try, I cannot control myself and I need to correct it. Basic 5th grade grammar, people; it needs reinforced if you are blogging to an audience. Rant over.

    I an an awesome blogger just because I am awesome!

    Reply
  2. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    Ha ha ha. I’m laughing at Amy’s comment. Bad grammar is a huge pet peeve of mine too. I need to remember most bloggers are not writers and give them a break. Besides, I’m the one who used the wrong spelling of ‘dam’ in a race recap. Totally missed it until my sweet hubby pointed it out. Pointed it out while laughing hysterically. So much for sitting atop my high and mighty grammar throne! I am an awesome blogger because I LOVE blogging and pour my heart and soul into it. When you read my blog, you’re getting the REAL me. And, Holly, you’re an AWESOME blogger too!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Ooof. You guys are forcing me to up my game. I am trained in technical writing, but other kinds of writing…not so much. I spend a fair bit of time trying to keep my tenses straight in posts (I know this is a pet peeve trigger for some), but honestly…still struggle with it at times. Also, lay/lie sometimes come out wrong, despite the sticky note I keep posted above my desk reminding me of when to use each. But realizing just how many professional writers I have reading, reminds me that I’d better be paying extra careful attention to my writing…yikes.

      I think being “real” is probably the best thing a blogger can be – and the surest way to attract a loyal audience. Because really, you can only keep up a front for so long, right?

      Reply
  3. Misszippy

    Well then–I’m a bad blogger too! And I don’t care. I will never blog with other people’s standard in mind. I suck at taking pictures, know I could improve, but…don’t care. I think we all take it a bit too seriously when we start apologizing for “blogger fails.”

    So that’s my two cents worth! Thanks for a great post that bears lots of reading!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      *sigh* Whatever you say…. 🙂

      You are one of the people I keep in mind whenever I feel myself falling prey to “well ‘everyone’ else does, so…”. You are true to yourself, your coaching, and your writing – and have attracted a great following, just for being you. Thanks for sharing that with all of us – we’re lucky to have you!

      Reply
  4. Jean

    “I HAVE RAN” IS THE WORST!!! My mouth can hardly even form those words together; how people can possibly think that’s a “thing” is beyond me.

    I will say that although I agree with you on “I’m not a runner,” I think you may be misinterpreting the way in which most people actually use the “I’m a bad blogger” line. I’ve used it more than a few times, but I don’t ACTUALLY think I’m a bad blogger. For me, it’s almost always a comment on running blogs and what we as bloggers are “supposed” to do because all the biggies do it. Like, “I didn’t take 12 pictures of my dinner-BAD BLOGGER!” Or, “I only posted three times today-I’m the worst” I don’t think the majority of people actually feel badly about their blogging, unless I’ve got reading comprehension issues.

    Also, sometimes it’s okay to make fun of ourselves! I’m a very confident person but you’ll see me self-deprecating on the reg’ (okay, I know that self-deprecating isn’t a verb but I really wanted to use it there). I’m very up-front about what I’m good at but also not afraid to poke fun at my weaknesses. Now, there’s a fine line between self-deprecation and being too hard on yourself, but I always appreciate someone who can laugh at him/herself.

    Anyway, there’s my novel on the topic!

    Oh, almost forgot! I’m an awesome blogger because my pictures are cool? I go pretty places? I actually proofread before posting? All of the above!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Well Jeano, I’m going to disagree with you a little bit. Maybe YOU are saying “I’m a bad blogger” in a way that’s aimed at poking fun at the biggies, or yourself – but I think plenty of other people say it because they think they are expected to, or to get some sympathy (“OH, no you’re not!!!”), or as an apology, or for any of the reasons I’ve listed. You’re welcome to continue using it, in ANY sense you want – especially if you’re making fun – but I think the sentiment of my post applies to a lot of people.

      And you do have freakin’ awesome pictures. You must choose the places you live by the vistas they offer for blog-photography, right?

      Reply
      1. Jean

        I obviously plan my entire life around what will look best on the blog!! Anyone who doesn’t is most definitely a bad blogger.

        Okay, I do agree that people occasionally use the “bad blogger” line to elicit sympathy. But I didn’t mean that I think people are always joking when they say it. Sometimes they’re just pointing out that “this is what’s expected of me as a blogger because all the biggies do it.” I don’t get the sense that these people actually think less of themselves or their blogging skills, though.

        But hey, now that I’ve thought about it some more, maybe I do have reading comprehension issues! My brain’s so fried these days it wouldn’t surprise me.

        Reply
  5. Silas

    I am personally not comfortable with “runner” as a label, despite my now running twice a week. This is not meant to be funny or attractive (or depressing or annoying), it just doesn’t really fit with my self-image. Running is something I do, but not something that defines me. I’m no more a runner for running occasionally than I am a garbage man for taking the garbage out every week. It’s not because I don’t run, or want to downplay my ability to run (which has improved, but is still not really terribly impressive), but because I don’t see running as something that I do enough to label myself a runner. I suppose I could say that I am a runner, but not a Runner.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Personally, I think there’s a difference between your run/runner, and garbage/garbage man analogy. I guess maybe “cook” walks a fine line between the two: If I prepare dinner from fresh ingredients (not just heat up frozen dinners) most nights, am I a “cook”? Well…I suppose I would call myself a cook, in one sense of the word. I’m the cook in our household (most evenings). However, I could see that someone might say I’m not a cook because it’s not my profession. [But if that’s the qualifier, I’m not a runner, either.]

      At the end of the day, it’s up to – and you should stick with what you are comfortable using – provided you’ve carefully considered your choice and your reasons for making it. Personally, I’m of the “own it” school of thought (I run – I’m a runner), but you’re also entitled to your opinion. And I promise not to call you a runner. 🙂

      Reply
  6. outside time

    Yeah, I too am irritated at how normative “blogging” has become. It’s come to stand for a particular kind of internet-writing — very visual, very social, very “magazine-style.” There are lots of ways of writing on the internet. Races Like a Girl is one of my favorite running blogs, and she almost never posts photos, isn’t in her 20s, and posts only every 6 months or so.

    As far as blogging pet peeves, I simply can’t stand the phrase, “All opinions are my own.”

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Perhaps my blog reader is unique (I guess I don’t like reading so much of the same thing!), because I read some blogs that are very VERY informal, others that are written in a really snarky style, others that are indeed more “magazine-ish”, and still others that are more like a scientific journal article (technical reviews of devices, shoes, etc.). I like the variety, and it keeps things from getting boring (for me).

      But of course, all opinions here are my own. 😉

      Reply
  7. Karen@ La Chanson de Ma Vie

    I am also a Grammar Nazi. My biggest pet peeve is when people use “loose” in place of “lose”. I also hate when bloggers write a lot of how-to posts, whether it is recipes or running tips (I’ve seen too many “what to pack for a marathon” lists). Those are the quickest way to drive me away. I also hate profanity.

    Some of my favorite blogs are the ones where a blogger writes only when he/she has something to say, not just a bunch of fluffy filler posts. I’m cool with them only posting race reports once every six months if they’re really good.

    I am an awesome blogger because I proofread and put thought into creating all of my posts and photographs.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie@nowirun.com

      I have to work really hard at not being the grammar police. It works for me to remind myself that I’m not always perfect, and that in other areas of life I’d probably drive an expert crazy doing things the wrong way! 🙂

      Reply
    2. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hahaha! Karen, your proofreading is probably much appreciated, based on the responses I’ve received here. My readers, at least, seem to appreciate and value well-written and cleanly edited material!

      And you are reading my mind on the lists…I’ve sometimes considered writing several – but just don’t feel like I have much to add. Even after living in the tropics, how many new things could I say about “Running in the Heat”! [Although, believe it or not, I have had people request such things. Maybe one day, I’ll put together a post of link references for these topics. That might work!]

      Reply
        1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

          Hahaha – well, 50 degrees is COLD!!! (to them…)

          That being said, although I live in the tropics now, I spent 7 years living in upstate NY. Although I may not be up on the latest cold weather apparel, I have the general dressing aspects covered on both ends of the spectrum! [It’s only spring that gives me pause. Neither Upstate NY nor Singapore have “spring”….]

          Reply
  8. Kristen L

    I know that I have written those words before, but I also don’t like it. Luckily I don’t think it’s a big issue unless you make these sorts of comments often. And blogging shouldn’t turn into another way that we put ourselves down. Thanks for all your real, honest, and genuine posts. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Cecilia @ MommiesRun

    Great post, Holly! I think we live in a world where nobody wants to respect their self worth! I try to be a good blogger by just being myself. I’m kookie and random and that’s how my blogging has been lately! I like your list of things that make a bad blogger. And by the way, I think you’re a great blogger!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Thanks, Ceclia – although I didn’t write the post to fish for compliments. Promise.

      I think that being genuine is one of the BEST traits a blogger can have – being kookie and random on top of that is a bonus.

      And yes – somehow, society today seems to have evolved this strange combination of entitlement AND lack of self-respect/worth. You’d think those would be mutually exclusive, but…somehow they aren’t…?

      Reply
  10. Stephanie@nowirun.com

    I love this post, Holly! Thank you!
    Your list of what makes a blogger bad is different than mine, but contains similar traits. None of them include “didn’t take a picture.” There’s a blog I read regularly that never includes photos!
    I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now ~ and I am by NO MEANS good at this. But I do believe that people need to tell themselves a better story about what’s going on in their lives and what kind of person they are, etc.
    So!
    I’m an awesome blogger because I try to be myself and inspire others to make positive changes in their lives.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Thanks, Stephanie. I think you definitely succeed in being yourself – and introducing us a little bit to your family, work, life, etc. – we definitely get to see lots of different sides of you. And I think that sharing our own stories/journeys is a great way to (hopefully) motivate someone. Not every story will resonate with every person – but if one person resonates with your story, that’s one more “convert”, shall we say. I’m glad I have so many thoughtful, motivated folks to share the blogosphere with. Let’s keep making a difference! =)

      Reply
  11. Grace

    I’m allergic to bad grammar. I mean that quite literally – I see a dangling modifier and begin to itch. There’s some weird neural connection going on there.

    I’d rather think about what I DO like in a blog, and go from there! An appreciation of irony, for one. The ability to laugh at oneself, for another. Honesty (I realise a blog is curated identity, but really, no one believes it when a blogger doesn’t have a single bad run ever or is relentlessly upbeat all the time). A minimum of food photos except when the food is genuinely incredible (I live in Singapore, we have high standards for incredible food). Variety. A little bit intellectual (Fit and Feminist comes to mind). Et.c.

    Reply
  12. Reba- Not So Perfect Life

    Holly,

    I love this post. I hate having those “I’m a bad blogger” thoughts. My blog is a space for me to talk about my life, my recipes and my runs. If i don’t photograph something then thats ok. If you worry to much about capturing everything in a picture or post you wont actually enjoy living life.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Amen! I’ve gotten much better at remembering to take photos, but sometimes I’m so busy enjoying myself that I don’t want to be bothered – and/or I don’t want to interrupt a great moment by sticking a camera in everyone’s face! Sometimes, you’ve just gotta embrace the moment.

      Reply
  13. Meagan

    I am an awesome blogger because I managed to figure out how to actually start a blog! I initially started on WordPress, but I could not figure that website out for some reason. So I went to Blogger, which I found much more user friendly. It was quite a hurdle for me to actually figure out how to set the whole thing up, even with Blogger’s templates and how to’s.

    Hmmm pet peeve’s… when people don’t own their accomplishments. It’s kind of like your “not runner” pet peeve where someone is being modest or saying they’re not good enough. I don’t like (I was going to say hate, but it’s too strong) when I read a race report where the blogger is like “yea I PR’ed but it was NBD.” Ummm the fact that runners can spout off their PR’s down to the second, often for many different race distances, means it is a big deal. You don’t have to do a happy dance, but at least don’t act like it was nothing.

    Your post inspired my post, by the way 🙂 And by that I mean I shared my own thoughts on “bad bloggers.”

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Getting started is NO small feat. I dragged my feet for quite awhile before finally biting the bullet and getting things sorted out. And still, there’s plenty I want to learn/adapt/adjust/change – but it’s not the kind of challenge I really like, so I’m much less apt to take the time to figure it out. All by way of saying: YES. You’re totally right. Getting the blog-thing started is definitely an accomplishment!

      And I agree – “own your accomplishments” is a great summary/take-away from what I was trying to say.

      Reply
  14. Cori @ olivetorun

    Great insights, I appreciate what you said and your viewpoint- I was more or less poking fun at the things that people recommend are the things to “DO” to be a “GOOD BLOGGER” and how I don’t do them. I guess my message wasn’t as clear as I would have liked but my intention was to make people realize that there isn’t a particular framework or some prescribed way to create an “awesome blog”. Sure there are things that can and do work, but what works for one may not work for someone else.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective Holly!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hi Cori, thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts!

      I do recognize that this phrase can be used – and your post was written – tongue in cheek. And I also realize that sometimes people use this kind of thing as self-deprecating humor. And I suppose there’s a place for both.

      But ultimately, I guess I just don’t like hearing people talk about how much they aren’t measuring up to some random person/people’s idea(s) of what is “good” or “right”, period. Because as much as it might be done in humor/jest/comedy – I always get a sense that the author feels a grain of truth in what he/she is writing. Your post is several weeks old – but still, it stuck with me, and I kept thinking about it, coming back to it, examining the message(s) you were conveying – both in words and in implications. Perhaps this says more about me, and you are just an innocent bystander (blogger). But, humor me –

      So my question for you would be: What if you observed one of your students doing/saying something similar? Maybe a student who says “Well, I can’t run for Student Council Treasurer because I haven’t taken calculus/never organized a bake sale/don’t wear J. Crew/never was a candy-striper.”? Or what about, “Well, I got a part in the school musical, but I’m not a good cast member because I’m short/I get a little nervous on stage/I’ve never seen a show on Broadway.”? What do you think when you hear this conversation? Do these students believe what they are saying, or are they poking fun at the group they are trying to join/have joined? If they say it’s the latter, do their words not bother you at all, not even a little bit? [I know these aren’t perfect examples; I’m open to a better one, if you have it.]

      Regardless – thanks for a good discussion!

      Reply
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