They’ve been called “a cultural force to be reckoned with,” and the phenomenon of the mommy blogger continues to be controversial. Are mommy bloggers heartless capitalists turning their children’s lives into paychecks or do they share integral information for other new moms? According to Aimée Morrison, they are creators of narratives for and with “intimate publics.”
Morrison, who focuses her inquiry on smaller-scale mommy blogs, notes that “personal mommy blogs” deliberately foster both self-expression and community development. By keeping their audience deliberately small and foregoing sponsorship, says Morrison, such bloggers develop a public that walks a tightrope between vulnerability and helplessness.
When she surveyed over 250 small-scale mommy bloggers, Morrison found that many kept personal or identifying information close to the vest. At the same time, she notes, many came to blogging in order to vent their personal emotions about the complex journey of parenting. The result was tight-knit communities hailed by bloggers as true friends—relationships that grew in number, depth, and importance over time.
Morrison writes that these intimate connections (often with other bloggers) allow personal mommy bloggers to manage and participate in a community that operates largely under the radar. Many choose to limit their blog’s accessibility via Internet search and often the blogs are just as noteworthy for what they don’t say as what they do. For example, writes Morrison, personal mommy bloggers often caution one another not to include personal details or children’s names lest their blog attract unwanted attention.
But do mommy blogs hurt more than they help? Such blogs are “generally maintained as a distinct (domestic, intimate) space apart from participants’ offline roles, whether in the public sphere as employees or as mothers in public, and within the domestic sphere as spouses, members of extended families, and members of communities,” writes Morrison.
Though Morrison concedes that this doesn’t characterize all mommy blogs (and certainly many bloggers have turned their blogs into both workplace and family business complete with corporate sponsorships), she wonders whether there aren’t broader opportunities for mommy bloggers to translate their online personas into offline action on behalf of mothers.
Still, she concludes, the online spaces created by mommy bloggers are “havens for self-expression and community development”—sanctuaries that help women explore and reconcile with their many roles.