No, this photo of the beach is not remotely relevant, but it does make me feel calm.
The blogging community, and our readers, are often really torn on whether or not we should be covering "serious" topics. I've had the odd Twitter rant on the matter myself. Whenever something horrible happens in the world there's a harsh spotlight thrown, some say unfairly, on content creators who don't immediately react, speak out or cover the issue. A lot of this criticism is levelled at bloggers. In times of crisis we are called frivolous or callous for continuing to post pieces. We're labelled as selfish or uncaring for carrying on in the face of the world on fire.
The world is an increasingly dark and frightening place, and of course negative and challenging things require discussion. But should "social influencers" and content creators feel obligated to comment on current affairs?
The blogging industry has evolved a hell of a lot, even in the last couple of years. Gone are the days of the blogging landscape simply being people's online journals.
When I started blogging over half a decade ago it was just a diary, and now blogging is this massive industry. Unlike magazines and newspapers which are written and edited by a large number of people, blogs are typically written, edited, published and managed by a very small group, or more usually just by one person. While blogs are more like online magazines than ever before, they're still tightly tied to the identity of a single person who is held solely accountable for the output. So, when a blog comes under scrutiny it feels personal... because it is.
We tend to consume blogs in the same way as we do online magazines and news outlets, so it's easy to forget that while they are similar, they are not the same. News outlets have an obligation to report the news. Magazines only do so if it's relevant to their niche. But because blogs are still seen as an extension of an individual, some people expect them to reflect the entire spectrum of that individual's feelings. If they don't post about a news story that's breaking all of our hearts, they're accused of having no heart at all.
From social media to our own websites, we have the right to express ourselves as we see fit. Comparing news sites to blogs as if they're the same is disingenuous. It's not necessarily expected of home or fashion magazines to write about "serious issues" so we shouldn't expect the same of bloggers. It's great when bloggers work outside their usual genres to address current affairs but they don't have a duty to any more than anyone else. Just because we don't write posts about it doesn't mean we don't care. For all you know it's killing us inside. But so many bloggers live their lives so publicly, people forget that we have a private life. If it's not on our blog or social media channels, the perception is that it doesn't exist.
If you go to work the day after you heard a bad news story, you need to allow bloggers to do the same. So next time you see a blogger posting a sponsored post on the day of a natural disaster or national tragedy, remember that post could be the difference between them being able to eat that week or not. Bloggers shouldn't have to forfeit their paychecks or their creative vision because something horrible has happened in the world, any more than anyone else should.
Members of the public turn to fashion/style/home blogs as an escape from the big and scary world that just gets scarier. The bloggers do too, because we are consumers as well as creators. Even for those who want to talk about horrible world events, they know they run the risk of upsetting or alienating their audience who want to escape from bad news for a little while. It seems like bloggers can't win.
So, should bloggers feel responsible for covering current affairs? Absolutely not. We're already photographers, content managers and social media executives, we don't have to be news commentators too. If we feel compelled to talk about the news then of course, that's our prerogative. But don't criticise us for getting up and doing our jobs in the face of adversity, just like everybody else.