Friday, June 8, 2012

Nothing But The Truth: Can Bloggers Have Their Cake and Eat it Too?

I have been a member of any number of organizations over the years that have made me promise to behave myself in a manner befitting the dignity of the organization.  I'm sure you have, too: think back to those oaths you might have taken as an inductee to the National Honor Society, or in 4H, or in the Girl Scouts ... they probably said something about your actions out in the world representing the group as a whole, something about you being an ambassador, right?

But what about personal bloggers?  Especially the ones who are "big" enough to be public figures?

Recently, MckMama, a well-known mommy-blogger, found herself at the center of the social media spotlight during her bankruptcy hearings.  The story, as well as I can piece it together (I welcome corrections and additions), goes like this: MckMama was a fairly small-time blogger, until her unborn son Stellan's heart condition and her plea for prayers increased her traffic dramatically.  She won what is described by a number of sources as a lucrative advertising contract with Blog Her, and was able to secure other opportunities as a result of her readership.  A lot of what happens next is murky, but it *is* clear that she was living large--larger than her blog income would support, all the while painting a rosy picture of her domestic life, and claiming later in various blog posts that she and her husband were paying off their debts.  It's fairly certain that she was dispensing marriage advice while in an abusive relationship of her own.  And it turns out that MckMama also plagiarized some of her blog posts, resulting in the termination of her BlogHer advertising arrangement.  While there doesn't seem to be one single obvious reason for people's hatred of her, many people claim that she inappropriately used her blog to gain personal and financial support over the years, and some of those people used her blog to track unreported income and send it to the bankruptcy court judge.

I am not a judge, and I'm not about to pass judgement on MckMama's actions; I simply don't know enough about what has happened, and there isn't enough unbiased information online.  It's not clear whether the bankruptcy scandal will have any real impact.  She continues to write, to post what are (in my opinion) lovely pictures of her children (and other people's children).  But what is interesting, to me, is what this all suggests about our expectations of personal bloggers, and personal blogging.

Personal blogging offers the illusion of truth: when you blog about your life, readers begin to trust you, to believe that you are a truth-teller, even if you're not necessarily revealing all of the more sordid details of your experience.  So when they discover that you're not really the truth-teller they thought you were, or when they discover that you've omitted important details in your narrative, even if your dishonesty has nothing to do with the stories you told them (*though in this case, some people may have been conned out of money by the story, or at the very least emotionally manipulated), they may, understandably, feel betrayed.

The complication is that blogging is storytelling.  Like we would do with any narrative, we choose pieces of the story to tell that suit our purpose.  We don't film ourselves 24/7 (at least, most of us don't ... though I recall a few bizarre experiments in which people tried this).  Even the most "real" personal blogs are fictions, because of these choices.  And yet.

And yet, we hold bloggers accountable to certain standards, don't we?  To standards that we don't even use, perhaps, for celebrities, whose images are more obviously cultivated for public consumption?  Just like we expect the Girl Scouts to act a certain way even when they're not in uniform?

I'm not defending MckMama here.  But I'm interested to hear what you think.  Do personal bloggers take an unwritten oath to tell the truth?  Do you expect personal bloggers to be truthful even in situations that have nothing to do with their blogs, outside of their blogging personae?  How, if at all, do you think the size of a blogger's regular readership shapes our expectations of their actions?  What about the blogger's content (e.g. do you have different expectations of a food blogger, an ALI blogger, a mommy blogger, a wellness blogger, a DIY blogger, a political blogger, etc.)?  Does this expectation extend to photos (e.g. a food blogger's photos that he/she has manipulated using Photoshop)?

And: as a personal blogger, can you have your cake and eat it too?

(Optionally Gluten Free) Tarta de Naranja (Orange Cake)
This cake is the sort of cake you can have, and eat, too.  It was the last treat I made for my son's Spanish club meetings, and its flavor reminds me of a dessert my family loves at our favorite Basque restaurant.  Adapted from Savoring Spain and Portugal.

1 1/4 c. flour (you can use almond flour; just add a bit more baking powder)
1/2 t. baking powder
3 eggs, separated
1/2 c. plus 2 T unsalted butter
2/3 c. sugar
grated zest of one orange
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
orange sections (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter an 8 inch pan, cut a round of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan and place it on top of the butter, butter the parchment, then flour the entire pan.

In a small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

In a large bowl, using electric mixer set on high speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture, orange zest, and 1/4 c. of the orange juice.  Fold the beaten egg whites until just combined.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.  Then turn out onto the rack and let cool to lukewarm.  Transfer the cake to a platter.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 c. orange juice with confectioners' sugar until the sugar dissolves and pour evenly over the cake.  Garnish with orange sections if desired.
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  1. I haven't followed any of this scandal, but I think your questions are spot on.

    I do think that bloggers should tell the "truth" about whatever it is that they are claiming to be true. But I also understand, as you say, that (a) most blogging only involves a slice of life, (b) truth is subjective, (c) voice/performance has a lot to do with what we take to be true.

    I think that readers would have every right to be mad if it turned out that I hadn't actually had the miscarriages I claimed to have had, say. That's a BIG thing, particularly given the corner of the blogosphere I write in. Does it matter if I ate a turkey sandwich or roast beef for lunch? On a food blog it might. On my own? Probably not... but why lie about it? Interesting the way the perception of truth is *created* through detail, though...

    Love this post. and the cake looks yummy!

  2. This is such a fantastic post that I just directed all my readers here.

    These are such great questions and I think all bloggers should consider them carefully.

    The Mckmama controversy is both a cautionary tale and a nightmare scenario of what can happen when you blow up as a blogger and gain very attentive readers and followers.

    Thank you for writing this and putting it out there.

  3. I'm here because jjiraffe said to come read. And I'm glad she did.

    I was actually reading quite a bit about something like this a few weeks ago, about internet Munchausens in general along with specific cases. That was all just information; what I like about your post is that 'what do you think?' I'm looking forward to reading what people do think.

    But I'll start by saying that I think I'll be on the minority with my opinion. I don't expect any more from any kind of blogger than I do people I meet in real life, whether I'm meeting them today for the first time or I've known them for twenty years. I'll take everything said at face value until you give me a reason not to. I don't think blogging is that different from having a face to face conversation. Everything is the face that you choose to show the world, whether it's vocabulary or backstory or fashion or a made-up limp for sympathy. It's truth because it's made true by action, and that action can be only clicking 'publish' or putting on sixteen pounds of makeup every day.

    Thanks for a great post, and the food for thought.

  4. I expect that most people tell the truth. I've noticed though that there have been bloggers who have lied to benefit form usually involve children. Cause who doesn't want to help a child? I find it distasteful to say the least. I've been approached by some random group or another and I thought, oh, wow, maybe more readers and if I put in ads, maybe make some money to at least get hubby off my back for spending so much time computer. And then I remembered why I blog at all. Not to sustain a large following that I have to keep feeding more sentimental drama but just to share a tiny sliver of my pretty mundane in hopes of passing on some hope and encouragement. That's it. And a lot of days, I don't manage that.

  5. I just don't know what to say, honestly. I have never read this particular blogger, and I am completely out of loop on all of the dramaz. Reading through the MWOP site felt...creepy. A big part of me felt like it was all pitchforky and burning-at-the-stakey. It seemed like A LOT OF EFFORT was put into "clarifying" (shaming?) this particular blogger, and I felt all pinchy and uncomfortable reading through the inconsistencies and calling-outs.
    But then I wondered...if someone(s) putting A LOT OF EFFORT into that kind of calling-out, then perhaps it's because someone(s) was/were A LOT HURT by it all.

    I recently came to understand that I do indeed hold certain bloggers (specifically, those of the ALI world, those bloggers I've cultivated a certain sense of friendship with) to a higher standard. I think it's incredibly easy to do, given that we share pretty intimate intel with each other. It's incredibly easy, then, to feel hurt and dismayed when something falls short of your hopes and expectations and previously held understanding. I don't feel even HALF as invested in the big bloggers as I do in our small ALI corner of the blogosphere. I seldom comment in those spaces, I seldom feel a connection to those big bloggers.

    But here? Intimacy and trust and empathy undergird the ALI blogosphere experience. And I have to admit, I think we owe each other more here.

    I feel like I have a lot more to say in response to your questions, but my comment would be too huge. Anyway, this is a really thought-stirring post.

  6. I really like the way April put it, that blogging is like having a face-to-face conversation. You take it at face value unless given a reason not to.

    But when a blogger reaches some strata, she no longer has a typical (at least what we called typical before the Internet age) "relationship." She becomes a celebrity. The readers know of and about her but she knows of many of her readers only in passing. How can someone have a relationship with thousands of subscribers/readers?

    And this is where things can get tricky. What is owed to people who read you but whom you don't have an actual "relationship"?

    You've made me think.

  7. @gwinne: the sticky wicket, for me, is when we're talking about stuff that people lie about that they DON'T post on their blogs. E.g.: if you are a vegan blogger, and ate a turkey sandwich for lunch, but don't tell me that, do I have a right to be upset if I find out about that later?

    @Jjiraffe: I can't thank you enough! And yes: it's instructive to see how people are mining this woman's blog for details that they can use against her ... one has to be even more attentive than a casual appreciative reader!

    @awomanmyage: I suspect that this women started blogging for the same reasons many of us do. And that in her own mind, she *does* tell her readers the truth. Why should we expect her to be any less fallible than anyone we'd meet in life, though, I wonder? (And: I suspect you offer more hope and encouragement than you know, just by offering up your "sliver of life.")

    @aprilvak: I, too, (mostly) see bloggers as real, fallible people ... even the ones who share intimate details of their lives, and cultivate my trust. The internet Munchausen trend is worrisome, though. Yes, people can pretend to be something they're not in real life, too; your point is well-taken. But I wonder whether blogging (and social media in general) makes it a lot easier to garner widespread support for a cause ... and do real damage to people's financial and emotional investment in a cause ...

    @Trinity: I think you're right, that a lot of our expectations have to do with the degree of intimacy we develop with each other, based on the kind of information we put out there. Some people don't expect someone to lie about *anything* ... not even offline ... when they've told you about their cycles. And yet, we are just as fallible and imperfect as anyone you'd meet in person ... I'd love to hear the rest of what you have to say, too!

  8. I think that people really do expect a certain amount of truth from a blogger, especially if they claim they are providing that truth. I can't imagine how hurt I would be to realize that what I was reading on a blog wasn't true, or was only a partial truth. It gets hard, because when is omission of something not being truthful and when is it just not talking about that thing. I know of some bloggers in the IF community that are currently undergoing treatment but don't write much (or anything) about it and I always think that is strange and a bit disingenuous, because there seems to be an unwritten rule that we share those things with this community.

    Of course, I then remind myself that no one should be expected to share anything they don't feel like sharing and if I feel someone is being disingenuous there is a simple solution, just stop reading them.

    Blogs are a strange animal, especially since everyone treats them differently. Some people really are just writing for themselves and don't really write "to" their readership. Others are absolutely writing for the people who read. Do the women who write for themselves owe readers the same amount of honesty and full disclosure that someone who is obviously speaking to their reader? I honestly don't know. There are so many questions wrapped up in all this.

    Fabulous post. Thanks for getting me thinking about this stuff.

  9. To be honest, the whole thing makes me think that people have little enough to do with their time, and it's all "first world problems." Of course, people being conned out of their money is a bad thing, but it's happened in one way or another since time immemorial. It would be lovely to think that the blogging community is made up of lovely, honest, good people (like all of us here), but in truth, it's just like the outside world.

    I've noticed that some bloggers now have a "Blogging with Integrity" button that they're putting on their sites to show that they speak the whole truth and nothing but. I like the idea, but since it's honor-based, it's clearly open to just the same sort of abuse. I'm sort of reluctant to get myself one, though I can't exactly figure out why. Have you any thoughts on such things?

    For myself, I'm an inveterate truth-teller because I hate the thought of misunderstanding, miscommunication, misinterpretation, Miss Whatever Her Name Was (as my husband would say). But I do sometimes allow myself a touch of hyperbole in the blog, for dramatic effect. I generally assume other people are telling the truth, but I have a healthy amount of cynicism and mostly don't believe things till I see them for myself.

  10. Such a cool post.

    Here's a question though: I know plenty of girl scouts who don't behave according to the code. In fact, they recite the oath at the beginning of the meeting and then behave the opposite. It takes the question a step further: what do we do with people who don't uphold an oath for a social activity? Do we kick them out? Trust them to do better next time?

    And then you have blogging which doesn't contain an oath, but perhaps should. I think bloggers have a right to be furious if I lie to them. But I don't think bloggers have a right to know everything happening in my life. As you say, no one can record what they're doing 24/7, and often times, I don't talk about major events in my life because I don't feel they're my story to tell. And no one has the right to them.

    That said, I don't really understand the way sometimes people come after a certain person: such as starting a hate site about a blogger where they mock them and dissect all their posts. Who has the time for this? I am barely getting everything done as is.

  11. I hadn't heard of this case but it raises a lot of interesting questions. All memoir (and what is blogging but a form of memoir?) is filtered through the lens of individual experience. And "truth" can be relative in many ways. At the same time, I think that overtly lying or misleading or tweaking the facts is wrong in this setting. Very wrong. Lollipop G makes a very good point above - we have the right to keep private that which we want to keep private. I think so many of us walk that tightrope - revealing certain things, keeping other things to ourselves. But NOT abusing the truth, which falls into different territory.

  12. @Lollipop: You're absolutely right, of course ... this reminds me of your post about ChickieNob's experience with the people who didn't keep their promise. I think it depends ... sometimes we kick them out, if there are agreed-upon sanctions for violating the code ... but sometimes--in situations like this--we just sort of hope they come to their senses. I don't like that they represent me, though.

    The difficult thing about this case is that it not clear (to me, at least) WHERE she lied ... though it IS clear that she did. Some people claim she lied on her blog. Then again, is it her business to tell a story the way she wants to, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone? Or is that emotional manipulation hurtful, even if no one knows it's happening? (I'm thinking here of the Warrior Eli madness, too.) What is the line between poetic license and emotional manipulation?

    (Just the fact's ma'am. Er ... right. Unfortunately, they don't make for a very good blog.)

    I think the hate site piggybacks on the popularity of MckMama in the first place. Though THAT isn't such a great way to build a following ... !

    @(Not)Maud: first world, indeed. But here we are, at the top of Maslow's hierarchy. Not sure how I feel about a "Blogging With Integrity" button. What does that mean, really, anyway? What's the alternative, and would anyone admit to it? Maybe readers ought to be more skeptical ... and read not for truth but for the story?

    @Adele: exactly! Though ... what we decide NOT to share could potentially shape our credibility ... it's an interesting quandary for the reader, if (s)he is taking you at face value.

  13. I'm a little late to the conversation, but wanted to chime in, as this is an amazingly thought-provoking & well-written post!
    Do I expect honesty from bloggers who claim to be documenting their real lives? Yes. If someone tells me they are unemployed, or infertile, or vegan...I expect that they are. Do I expect complete disclosure? Absolutely not, I assume there is a LOT behind the scenes that is not being told, and that is perfectly within the blogger's right to keep certain things private. I'm sure bloggers I read have marital issues, job issues, health issues, family issues beyond the scope of what they blog about.Even if I personally disclose some of those things on my blog, I know everyone's level of comfort is different and I respect that. So in the case of most personal blogs, I see no justification for lying--write about what you want to share, and leave the rest to our imaginations. On the other hand, when you have a large following (& perhaps your financial livelihood) built around one aspect of your life (I'm envisioning a food blogger, for example), I can see the reason for wanting to conceal that the original facts may have changed (i.e. not vegan anymore, developed an eating disorder, diabetes, etc...). But that is different, to me, from lying INITIALLY just to build a following (i.e. you were never vegan to begin with, you don't even cook all those recipes you posted). I'm sure there are a million grey areas in there that I haven't even thought reason I don't tend to read "big" bloggers is because I do see more of a motivation for, at the least, stretching/bending the truth to keep up an image. I'm here for the nitty gritty...not the polished up version---where's the fun in that?

  14. What a great post and very interesting discussion going on here in the comment section!

    I used to follow McMama briefly when someone encouraged me to reach out to her when her son Stellan was so sick with a CHD, like my Molly had. But McMama never replied to any of my overtures to try to connect with and support her. So when saw Stellan was going to make it and was doing a lot better I gave up and moved on.

    Sad to hear about all of this and scary that our blogs could be used against us like that.

    As I have alluded to on blog, though I have not been specific. There were definitely "growing pains" when I came out about its existence to our extended family ad friends last year. Though it was always public, many people in our life were not aware of it, as they never had reason to come across it.

    Because the reason I began blogging was the reason(s) I continued, as time went on I forgot that I had over-shared about some of our loved ones and some of them had the opportunity to read what I wrote it came back to bite me.

    Even though I had good intentions, I should have known better or at least enough to go back and re-read (and edit) before inviting people in to my blogging world. I did eventually go back an edit things, but it doesn't remove the initial damage that was done.

    There is more to the story, but the bottom line is I didn't know what I was getting myself into, as I think more people who started blogging more recently do. In the early days it was somewhat uncharted territory and there weren't a lot of people giving advice about how to blog (like there is a plethora of now) and if some were, I wasn't paying attention and probably didn't care.

    I have learned so much about myself and others through my experience blogging and as with IRL, I have learned as much or more from my mistakes as my successes.

    I don't think I have ever lied on my blog. Conversing if I did anything wrong over the years it was probably sharing too much.

    Thanks for another well written and thought provoking post.

  15. @Kathy: Thanks for this comment, Kathy!

    I appreciate the inverse perspective ... that there is such thing as *too* much "truth." I wonder if what people know about blogging now will change the "feel" of blogging, from something that is open and forthcoming to a format of writing that is always self-aware of privacy issues ... if we'll see people begin to "shut down" a little bit? It would be an interesting--and for me, not altogether welcome--shift.

    @Ana:Ana, I like what you say about the "nitty gritty." Me, too.

    I guess where I get stuck is that if you're NOT choosing to disclose certain things (which is well within your right), and you're not an honest person in your dealings OUTSIDE of your blog, how can I be expected to build trust in you? What if you write a mommy blog, and in real life you're cheating on your partner? You've cultivated this image of family and home, and you don't write about your partner, but is the picture you're painting for us a sham? And does it matter? (Horribly analogy, but it's the best I've got right now.)

  16. I'd say it is a tough call to make regarding how much of your life you open up in a blog and that as a fairly new medium maybevwe haven't worked this all out, however every time you communicate you have to decide. And it is complex and depends upon context. If you are answering the question 'how are you' your answer will be different if it isthe checkout chick at your grocer, your best friend, your husband, or your doctor. I don't know this person's story, but I suspect she knew exactly when she was doing wrong.

  17. I haven't heard of this particular scandal, but I've followed a few memoir scandals over the years. I used to think that readers were overly literal--do they really expect that an author will tell the exact literal truth in every tiny detail? Don't they want the writing to be good? Don't they want the story to flow?--but my opinion has become more nuanced over time.

    Meanwhile, I don't think it's different when you're a blogger. Even if you aren't making money, you're entering into a kind of contract with your reader any time you claim to be putting forth something that is true.

    I don't know. I think, even with celebrities and reality TV, both of which we know are edited in nearly every possible way, we as the "readers," even when we're informed, allow the line between fiction and reality to blur in our minds. Or perhaps we can't avoid the blurring.

    I do think that there's a difference between a slightly fictionalized true account and an out-right lie. One is not harmful, one is. But it's a fine line.

    LOVE this blog, btw. I don't know why I didn't click over here earlier! CRAZY.

  18. I guess people perceive this as different than normal for 2 reasons - first, it's written down for everyone to view. Second, it's in a medium that extends far beyond our normal geographical limits. However, it's not really much different than things we experience in real life. As aprilvak said, you tend to believe what people tell you about themselves until you have a reason to think differently. So, if you know someone who presents a particular view, and then something happens to expose that as a lie, people tend to talk about it. Some people tend to obsess about it. Other people don't care because they didn't really believe it in the first place. I think that those who are personally hurt by whatever revelations come to light are the ones who pursue the subject until they feel the person has been sufficiently punished. They may not really have a reason to feel personally hurt, but they do just the same.

    So, do bloggers have to be truthful? They have to be as truthful as they are with anyone else, I suppose. But they may want to consider that within a circle of acquaintances there is a limited number of people who will be offended by your lies/omissions/half-truths. When you open it up to the internet, you open yourself up to more people who might be offended. In your circle of acquaintances, there may not be anyone who takes it personally. On the internet, there's sure to be a few people. In real life, you can recognize the people who are a little crazy. On the internet, it's more difficult. So, as with anything, you have to consider the consequences when you put your story out there. It's just that the internet has more obsessives, more fact checkers, more trolls than we are used to finding in our real lives.

  19. As usual, your post has really made me think. I think we owe it to each other to be as honest as we can be. But...memories are faulty and we have our own perceptions of what the 'truth' is, at least when it regards the personal narrative that is a blog. But still...outright lying about having miscarriages or just weird. It's creepy.

    When it comes to outright falsehood, it is definitely wrong to lie on a blog that you are getting money for. If you're being paid in someway to write a foodie blog, but you aren't cooking your own food, or aren't actually dining at the restaurants you're blogging about it's just not right.

  20. @areyoukiddingme: Thanks for clicking over!

    You've put an interesting spin on this for me ... that part of it is about the *reader*, rather than the blogger. That in "real life" (or at least when we're personally acquainted), we can be assured (sort of) that the reader is taking our nuanced story non-personally ... because we've "vetted" them ourselves. We can tell them something, and know how they're reading. But on the internet, that power disappears ... so we have to be careful about what we say because we have more literal or obsessive readers, not necessarily because we have any more responsibility to tell the "truth," whatever that is. But I wonder ... what if we're not sharing that information at all? What if that information is just part of our personal lives, and our readers find out about it later? Is it any of their business, if we decided *not* to share that information? Great point.

    @tasivfer: I suspect you're right; that she knew what she was hiding. But sometimes, is it really our readers' business to know what we don't share?

    @alexa: definitely ... reality and fiction have become a lot more muddy lately ... and so maybe our expectations as readers have changed, too ...

    @chickenpig: I guess what irks me is the more nuanced "lie." So you're a food blogger and you cook your own food, but you doctor the photos to look better than they are. Is that a lie? Or better ... you're a food blogger, making heaps of money from your food blogger cookbook and ads, and you tell the truth about your food blogger stuff, but in real life, you're cheating on your taxes. Does that make you a less credible blogger? And should your readers care?

  21. I'm finally getting a chance to comment on your excellent post. I do think to some extent, personal bloggers take an unwritten oath to tell the truth. After all, isn't that sort of the point of personal blogging? Truth is relative (unless you are a Platonist like I am and believe in a few Absolute Truths) and while you were never completely know someone's truth, what you do know or think you know forms the basis of the relationship.

    The MckMama controversy reminds me a bit of the outrage when it was discovered that James Frey's memoir was actually fiction and really raises interesting questions about identity formation on the Internet.

    I've met several bloggers in person recently, and it has been interesting to reconcile their real life personas to their bloggy ones.

  22. All writing is fiction. All narrators are unreliable.

    If you're looking for truth, I'm pretty sure that you're not going to find it on a blog.

  23. I followed a link to this site and I'm so glad I found this great post and dialogue. I don't know anything about this scandal but I find it really interesting because I used to be a huge reader of IF and post-IF parenting blogs. I had 10 - 15 bookmarked. A very good friend's child has an incurable illness and is deteriorating very rapidly. They setup a blog to chronicle that journey and to raise funds.
    Reading their blog and seeing the disconnect between the portrayal of their lives in there and the reality has largely put me off blogs. The basic facts are true i.e. their daughter is dying and they are devastated. And, there is no outright lying but the omissions are so grave that it turns my stomach. Every time I read a post and thing about all the other side drama that wasn't mentioned I shake my head. The readers would certainly have a different perspective if they knew the reality.
    What struck me is not the fact that they are lying. They don't lie. But, the reality is that blogging is so subjective that you can pick and choose what to disclose so as to manipulate the audience. The more popular their blog has become the more divorced it has become from reality.
    It's put me off blogs because I now wonder about the back story. I miss blogs and I read them once in a while now but I don't follow anyone and just stumble on things as I go along. I'm glad I found this entry today. Perhaps the point is that we should stop putting too much stock in it and just enjoy the story and the beautiful writing.
    In the case of my friend's blog, I decided recently to focus on the fact that the parents get so much support from the blog and the writing of the blog keeps the mom distracted from their crazy life and the huge tragedy that's unfolding before their eyes.

  24. cheeseheadforlifeandbeyondJuly 6, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I used to be a devout reader of MckMama's (know her from our high school days) until things stopped adding up. She was nothing like the girl I knew way back when. I felt so incredibly guilty reading things people would write about her claiming they knew the "truth." I never wanted to believe that she was a fraud. But then one of our IRL acquaintances from church pulled me aside at church one day and just laid it all out for me. I seriously went home and cried that day. I'm not going to badmouth her any more than I already have in this post, but I will say that now I couldn't bare to read her if I tried knowing her true character. It is my opinion that she is a dangerous presence to all who read her now. She is an emotional abuser of the worst kind, and I can understand why she's lost her husband and her once coveted blogging reputation. She's since moved back home to LaCrosse, Wisconsin (Sparta, Wisconsin actually) and attends church there. People talk. A lot. I always wonder if she realizes that of if she's just oblivious to it. I avoid her as much as I can now and just smile when I see her and the kids or her parents. It just all seems like one giant made up story and everyone's just dumbfounded by it all.

  25. I think a lot of the comments posted on mwop are nitpicky and not catching MckMama in a lie. To me, it is not lying if a blogger posts pictures or events that are not exactly in real time. On the other hand, I was genuinely concerned back when she and her husband were going on a long RV trip with an admittedly rocky relationship. Because of that, I distinctly remember that she talked about how amazing their relationship was going in the early days. And when she went on the second RV trip, she talked about how many fights they had in the first RV trip which meant that she was lying about it the first time around.

    I can understand her wanting to keep her finances private, but I think the problem is that she can't keep herself from posting about all the expensive things she buys. She likes the high life and she wants you to know it. But then she gets angry if someone says "Hey, didn't you just say you were filing for bankruptcy? But now you're buying all these expensive shoes, eating out, going on a road trip, and taking a beach vacation?" On the other hand, after listening to the audio of the hearing that was posted on mwop I no longer feel bad about being inwardly critical of her finances since it was very obvious on the tape that she was trying to lie about her finances to get the bankruptcy approved. Bankruptcy fraud effects us all.

  26. I think everyone is responsible for what they say. And if you say it you own it. If you put it out there, then it's no longer private. If you're making money off of your readers and living beyond your means while giving advice, then yes you need to own that. As a blogger I don't feel the need to share my finances. I'm also not sharing my purchases and then saying I'm poor. When you put it out there you are open to criticism. It is what it is.

    Really, when you think about it a blogger who makes money blogging is working for her readers. While we might not be directly handing her money if we are clicking on her affiliate links and purchasing stuff off her recommendations then she is getting a piece of the pie that we helped make. So yeah I think I have the right to know if she's being honest or flip flopping.

  27. @Monicas-I agree. I think if you put your story out for the world to read, you need to be prepared for scrutiny if things are not as you portray them. I was once a fan of MckMama, until I read a post where she was clearly lying. I had seen the criticism, but defended her. When I asked her why she wasn't honest in her post in a private email, she was rude and basically said she didn't appreciate me having the audacity to question her. The issue I see with her specifically is that she has always claimed to be 100% truthful, even when it has been proven otherwise. If she wanted her blog to be "loosely based on reality", she should disclose that. She has financially benefited from her dishonesty, and that is where I think most people have a problem. I think MWOP can be picky, but I also think the site has a point, and at times a purpose. People have been hurt, and I think there is much to be said for accountability. I am one who believes you do have a responsibility to be honest if that is what you claim to be. I expect that of IRL friends as well, and if I chose to lie to people in my life, I would expect disapproval and consequences.

  28. I think that if a blogger is being paid to promote a product there is an expectation of honesty from both the readers and the sponsor. If a blogger declares bankruptcy, whether or not they blog about it should be their business. But when a blogger is being compensated to offer financial advice, but in reality is foreclosing on multiple homes and not paying their credit card bills, that's dishonest.

    Take for example, MckMama's Svan chair. She blogged a picture of the chair, and then after days of being begged by her readers for more information, posted a sponsored link for them to purchase the chair. Should someone who was already thousands of dollars in default in credit card bills be suggesting people buy $250 baby chairs? Maybe that isn't a clear lie in black and white, but to me it falls in a grey area of dishonesty.


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