Yesterday, I got back from a week of being in Portland and attending the second Vida Vegan Con. It was such a profoundly inspirational experience that I will need at least a week to process all of the events and conversations before I’m ready to talk about them, but there is one overwhelming impression which I wanted to share with you as soon as possible:
There are so. many. vegan. bloggers.
That is pretty much the biggest duh ever, right? I know! Except that when I first went vegan, there were only a handful. Really, I just counted in my mind, and there were fewer than five. (Kittee‘s PakuPaku was one of them!)
Now, a dozen or so years later, there are thousands, and I just spent several days with three hundred of the very best of them, and I can’t get over how different we all are from one another.
So when I heard in various classes or from a fellow speaker or attendee that she really hates when a blogger she follows engages in a certain activity (likegating, body shaming, inauthentic behavior, presenting yourself as an expert when you’re not, and extreme narcissism were all examples), I couldn’t help but wonder…so why are you still following that blogger?1 You have so many choices! Continuing to read the blog of someone who regularly drives you bonkers is like repeatedly wearing a pair of underwear which always gives you a wedgie. Throw the underwear out. Unfollow the bad blogger.
If you really like the person and hope that they knock it off, you could always come back in few months and check in to see if things have improved. If you hugely respect the person and they’re engaging in activity you find offensive, you could always leave a comment saying why you’re unfollowing. Maybe something along the lines of: “I don’t know if you realize this, but some people find those kinds of words triggering or hurtful, and I’m sad to see you use them. For my own health and sanity, I need to stop following you, but just wanted to reach out and talk to you about it first, because I don’t know if you’re aware of the impact you’re having.”
I decided at the conference that for every time I unfollow a blogger for bad behavior, I’m going to go look for a new vegan blog to follow. Maybe one of the conference attendees, or someone who participated in Vegan MoFo last year. I’m especially going to go out of my way to start reading fledgling blogs, and to give those people lots of comments and support so that they keep going. I’m committed to giving someone new a chance instead of hoping that this other person will miraculously change her ways.
Do I think unfollowing is going to make the offenders into better bloggers? No way. I do know that it will make me happier to only participate in that which inspires, challenges, provokes, and excites me.
1 I should say that I know that some people actively enjoy reading blogs they hate, but this is not about that.