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Does Moving On Up Have To Mean Losing Touch? Update On The Blurbodoocery Housing Situation & Some Open Ended Questions

Does Moving On Up Have To Mean Losing Touch? Update On The Blurbodoocery Housing Situation & Some Open Ended Questions

dooce moving

Well, the three-part update on Dooce’s housing situation is now complete, and it looks like the Armstrongs will indeed be moving, just as we suspected, even if HGTV is not (immediately) involved. I say immediately here because, at the end of the fourth post, Dooce made a reference to the “opportunities” that are offered by this new house, and that makes me wonder about things . . . even if the pictures she posted make it look like a lot of renovation has already been done on this particular house and I’m not sure how much HGTV is necessarily going to need to come in and do. First of all, congratulations to the Armstrongs on their home purchase because, schadenfreude aside, the process of a home purchase is a bitch and I don’t care who you are, it sucks. It’s nice to have it over with — we can all set aside our jealousy over the beautiful home for a moment and allow that it probably was a stressful time for the whole family, given that home buying under the best of circumstances always is. And at the very least, this explains why she was acting like getting bumped from CBS This Morning was such a big deal, because if I flew to New York in the middle of my house being closed and was relying on a hotel fax machine, and then found out that I was bumped, you bet your ass I would have made it seem like a big deal. Of course, I also would have said — you know, I know it seems like a stupid thing to complain about, but we are in the middle of buying a house, so that people would know why I was acting like a diva.

Anyway. Some thoughts.

A three part dénouement seems to have ruffled some feathers. I (yes, me! WTF?!) received some complaints via email about how Dooce set up last Thursday (July 1) as the day she would finally be able to reveal the big news she hadn’t been able to talk about for so long, and then she waited until late in the day to post. When she finally did post, it was only one part in the series. Then, she posted a second post in the series, before a holiday weekend. Finally, the last in the series was yesterday, where she revealed that they did get the house, albeit with some accompanying drama and all-cap letters, and this news was greeted with the lackluster reception of 163 comments. Personally, I’ve never had 163 comments on a post, but for Dooce, that’s nothing — her comments have been far fewer in number since she opened her Community site, since a lot of the conversation that used to take place in her comment section now takes place over there, but still 163 comments for such big news is not a huge reception. And people emailing ME, of all people, to complain about what they think are pageview tactics, is an odd twist, I have to say, because . . . uh, I don’t know. It just is.

Regarding pageview tactics. Listen, we all do it. My new glossary — I hope, I think! it’s good content, but I’d be lying if it’s not a pageview tactic. Even if my income is not based on pageviews anymore, it helps me to get more pageviews. It helps my site look more successful to advertisers. If you click on those glossary pages, it helps me. So, you try to balance out the pageview tactic with what is in it for the reader. Maybe this wasn’t worth 3 parts is what you’re saying . . . because the news was that they got the house, and that’s what you wanted to know, SPILL IT, ARMSTRONG. Point taken. But it does sound like a lot of stress, so maybe it wasn’t so much a pageview tactic as it was a desire to be able to have blogged everything that happened as it had happened, but it sounded forced because it was after the fact. This is the problem with blogging once you become BIG. Once you become BIG, and you cannot blog the same way you are used to doing things, things get tougher, and I’m thinking this might be one of her problems — because, yes, maybe it was a pageview tactic, but I am thinking it was more like she was wanting so badly to bitch to her audience about what happened during the time that it happened, and when she finally could bitch to them, it came out like she was just trying to get them to run up pageviews because it was three posts all in a row.

Which brings me to my next point . . . can you move on up without losing touch?

This is what I hear about Heather Armstrong and The Armstrongs lately: they are out of touch, they have lost touch with reality and/or her readership. They don’t know what regular people are like anymore. While I think it’s possible she has lost touch with her readership, I find it hard to believe that she’s lost touch with regular people. She still lives in a regular world, with regular people. They may have more money than they used to have, but they are not so famous outside of the internet that they cannot function like normal people. The problem is that she built a readership of people identifying with her when she was unemployed and living in her parents basement, and now she’s running an empire, and some of those people are still living in their parents’ basements. And now they resent her, because in their minds, they put her where she is.

So now what? Because she cannot really just leave them behind, right? Because they did, in a way, put her there. But on the other hand, why should she have to limit herself or feel beholden to that? Why shouldn’t she be able to enjoy what she has built? I don’t have any answers here. I am trying to figure out what I would do if I were in her place.

Glossary terms: Penelope Trunk, Dooce

Comments (45)

  1. Jenna
    Jul 7, 2010

    I think Dooce might have also broken it up into 3 parts because of how long the story is. Last post being over 1,500 words. Plus, writing it all out is a stress reliever and provides decent content over the holiday break. Chances are she probably much rather be spending time with family than blogging or packing up her house for that matter.

  2. Jul 7, 2010

    I don’t think that they have lost touch because of their status, but I do think that their status has tied Heather’s hands in a way that has affected her writing. I miss hearing day to day personal stories that most people can relate to. Nowadays it’s a lot more information about the operation of running a large company. It is almost like having a fashion designer take you to the sweat shop and show you how hard it is to make his designs, but never letting you attend a fashion show.

    I understand why it is the way that it is. Regardless, it’s really exciting to see the success through blogging. I guess this is my old fart’s perspective of watching a band perform their first gig at the local college one year and a couple of years later seeing one of their record’s go platinum. Even in that instance, there are former loyal listener’s who will shout “sell out” because of the success. It’s the nature of the beast.

  3. Ellia
    Jul 7, 2010

    I did think it was a pretty obvious tactic for pageviews.

    I am a little shocked at Heather’s lack of empathy for the former home owner. She doesn’t sound crazy, she sounds like she’s having a pretty rough time in life right now. But the woman dared to inconvenience the Armstrongs by being broke and divorced and leaving food out for a bobcat, so you know, she must be INSANO.

  4. Jul 7, 2010

    Pardon my abuse of the apostrophe. Not sure why I did that.

  5. Jul 7, 2010

    I think it’s easiest to explain this way… Dooce is less about Dooce and more about the “business of Dooce” which happens to contain various snippets of family life. She lost me with the whole washer scandal, but even beyond that she’s lost the relate-able quality that she once had. Take moving for example. She doesn’t just say to her readership that they are running out of space, she must talk of assistants and kitchen tables and not being able to take conference calls. The regular Joes and Janes not only can’t relate, but find the very presentation pretentious. It’s been a gripe all along. Anyone remember the $135 Etsy pillows?? As her star has risen her writing has gone from the humorous to the braggadocios. While she may honestly be the salt of the earth, her writing in the last year or so certainly doesn’t reflect it. There’s an argument to be made here that you can’t go back, but I think that her achilles heel is in the writing, and that she could go back to. But the question after that is, if you go back does it compromise your “voice”?

  6. Jul 7, 2010

    I do think that would have been a long post for her site, yes. I also think that she would have wanted to post it separately, had she been doing it in real time. That was why I was hesitant to just go along with the easy explanation that it was a pageview grab, which is what many people were saying. It might have been at the back of her mind that she could get pageviews that way, but I think it’s a little simplistic to think that was the only thing that was governing the three part series approach.

  7. Jul 7, 2010

    Hi Madge,

    See, here’s the thing I wonder about, though. We might not be able to relate to being invited to the White House or to HGTV parties or whatever, but there are tons of bloggers who start their blogs with lives that are already totally beyond most of us. Look at Ree Drummond’s live, for example — of course, she gets criticism for this as well, but her life is totally beyond most people, even before the blog. But she’s still wildly popular. There are many other examples. The Real Housewives franchise is built on letting us into people’s lives that most of us are not able to relate to on an experiential level (at least not in financial or socioeconomic terms), but they are wildly successful. So, presumably, Dooce should be able to cross over, but she has to figure out a way to continue blogging personally, but personally with the changes.

    I think that distinction is crucial. She has to be able to continue being authentic, but authentic in her new identity. Her readers will allow her to change, but they have to believe that they are getting HER, not some packaged version of her. That’s when they get mad. I’m still working out what I think about this, obviously.

  8. Jul 7, 2010

    I think that the former owner was probably totally broke, too. I hated the process of buying our house, so I understand being totally frustrated, and now I understand why she was pissed off about CBS this morning. But yeah, my guess is that that woman is not really crazy, but just divorce poor and crazy (because basically, divorce makes everyone crazy for a little while). A little bit unfair to characterize her that way, I would think. But then, I didn’t meet her. Maybe she had a tinfoil hat or something.

  9. Lisa
    Jul 7, 2010

    I admit that I thought pageview tactic when I saw the three parts, but I also have to acknowledge that the three parts made it easy to read. Let’s face it, we all have the attention span of gnats these days, if she’d written that whole story out in one post, we’d have crossed eyes and a headache by the end of it.

    I thought it was one of her posts that was easier to relate to, personally. I’d say anyone that has bought a house has dealt with some drama, it’s just a situation that naturally pits two groups of people against one another. I don’t know what she could do to make it closer to “reality.” If she brings things back to the basement days, she’s a fake because we all know she’s successful. But if she is honest and talks about her success, she’s causing resentment in the people that made her a success. It’s kind of a lose/lose situation, isn’t it?

  10. Jenna
    Jul 7, 2010

    Fair enough. I was just playing devil’s advocate. If I buy a house I’d do a series on it. Finding the right realtor, each house (pros and cons), negotiations, final closing, bumps along the way. And the room by room before and afters. Lots of content there…

  11. Jul 7, 2010

    The part about the hired help being too noisy was the part that really stuck in my craw. Even if that’s true, wouldn’t have it been in better taste to just say, “We need more space?”

    I don’t begrudge her having all that help at all. She needs it, she earned it, and more power to her. But it’s the tone deafness that I find a little frustrating…and even more so when there’s an “I know, first world problems” disclaimer. Because I live in the first world, but those aren’t my problems. My problems are how to earn a living while simultaneously caring for two small children, with NO hired help of any kind.

    I really, truly don’t mind that she has money. In fact, I read her in part because it’s nice to see a woman who has clearly built a successful business. It’s the occasional lack of tact in understanding which parts of her life are less relate-able that bugs me.

    And yeah, the lack of empathy for the clearly-desperate woman in the house bugged me too. Now THAT I can relate to.

  12. Jul 7, 2010

    Even if she DID have a tinfoil hat…are we making fun of mentally ill people in front of millions of people now? Because I would expect Dooce of all people to get why that would not be okay.

    Again…just tone deaf.

  13. Jul 7, 2010

    Nyt, I think the key to blogging, regardless of the niche, is the authenticity. People have to feel like they are getting something “real.” It doesn’t have to be the whole story, or every story, or the same story, because they will buy that the story changes over time. They will even buy that the blogger’s version of the story isn’t necessarily the right story, as long as they believe that the blogger believes it is the right one (I’m thinking of Penelope Trunk here). I think that Dooce can get away with changing her voice and her topic, and keeping her readership, but she has to trust them enough to continue to write about herself personally, the way she did in the beginning. She has to trust herself to try new things. Her story is not the same as it was before.

    People identified with the stuff that caused her angst before. People liked the stuff that got her upset. Are the only things that upset her now these incidents with the house buying and the customer service reps from Sephora? What is she talking about with her therapist? Because it seems like she has to get back to the really personal stuff, the stuff she’s not really sure she should put on the internet, if she wants to retain her audience, or grow it to a new level.

    I could be wrong, though. It could be that her audience is self-maintaining at its current level. I’m really not sure how many fans she has that will just stay there no matter what.

  14. Jul 7, 2010

    True, true. Either way, it’s low hanging fruit. Particularly for somebody who has herself been institutionalized.

  15. Jul 7, 2010

    But the thing is, PW (what little I’ve read of her anyway) isn’t complaining about her unlikely lifestyle. She sometimes marvels are her luck, and sometimes pokes fun at it…but I haven’t seen her do a lot of complaining about it (although admittedly I don’t read her very often).

    And the Real Housewives DO complain…but that’s why they’re sort of cast as villains. When you see Danielle talking about how hard it is to keep up with her 21-room mansion, you’re not supposed to really feel sorry for her. Bravo is holding her up for you to ridicule. That’s the whole point.

    Dooce seems to actually be saying, “OMG, can you believe how much this sucked?” Well, yes. I can believe that having a bunch of people in your house helping you would be noisy. I can believe that buying a really expensive house would be a hassle. I am not sympathetic…and, unlike the Real Housewives, I’m not really entertained either. I’m not sure what I’m intended to feel, actually.

  16. Jul 7, 2010

    This conundrum is bringing to mind that groaning break up phrase, “I just don’t know who you are anymore!”

    I don’t read enough of Pioneer Woman to have a valid opinion, but I do watch Real Housewives (is that bad to admit?). I think the draw to that show is seeing all sorts of personal leaking all over the place with reckless abandon. I know that a lot of it is staged, but the perception of the lack of staging is still enough to make it enjoyable. Maybe that is what is the key? Sometimes the posts that should be the easiest to relate to seem restricted with the fear of pissing off readership.

  17. Jul 7, 2010

    That’s true. The third person editors allow for a different take. Dooce is not likely to cast herself as a villain, so she might be able to keep an audience of people who read her precisely so that they can go elsewhere and cast her as a villain, I guess, but I don’t think that would work as well.

  18. Jul 7, 2010

    I think I missed the boat on Dooce. I know lots of people who follow her and I’ve tried but alas I don’t find her blog interesting. I don’t know whether it’s her writing style or the content, or maybe I just can’t relate to her at all. Every now and then someone will post a link to an entry and I’ll think about reading some of her other posts, but I don’t get very far. Still, it’s nice she got a new house.

  19. Carla Hinkle
    Jul 7, 2010

    She may be very famous, but only in a VERY LIMITED circle. I mean yes, for a blogger she is beyond-the-stratosphere famous, but I suspect day to day she lives a pretty regular life — it’s not like she’s getting mobbed at the grocery store or anything.

    She IS running an increasingly large, increasingly complex business, though. As a person with my own (very small) business, run out of my own (very small) house, surrounded by my 3 children, babysitter, once-weekly housecleaner, etc etc etc … I enjoy the business tidbits as much as the personal ones.

  20. Jul 7, 2010

    What Kerry says is valid — PW never complains about her unlikely lifestyle. So, while she might feature a tour of a five star hotel room, there’s no complaint about being there, we just get to see how beautiful it is, etc. It’s not going to invite any kind of critique except maybe some jealousy on the part of the readers.

    And umm, no, you don’t have to hide the fact you watch the Real Housewives, since I watch them. All of them, except the Atlanta one. I never got into that one.

    I really think she gets into trouble when she puts restraints on herself. I think sometimes they are necessary because of legal reasons — like if HGTV says she cannot write about something, then she can’t. That’s just a dead end. But some of these other things, I don’t know. I’m wondering how much wiggle room there is, because I’m thinking it’s cramping her style a bit.

  21. Jul 7, 2010

    I think it would have been much more well-received to say we need more space. Strangely, I think she painted herself into a corner by overstating the case. No need to describe why you need more space — you just had another baby.

  22. Jul 7, 2010

    That Penelope Trunk reference might be one for the glossary.

  23. Jul 7, 2010

    I’m completely naïve, so please take that into consideration while reading this, but I don’t feel that Heather is afraid of pissing off her readership. I mean, didn’t she tell some of it to “suck it” not too long ago?

  24. Jul 7, 2010

    Ahh! Thank you. I will add her.

  25. Jul 7, 2010

    Carmen – you have a point there! Maybe what is sticking to mind for me is that there is this constant undertone of writing under duress, always bringing attention to that fact that someone is going to be offended. It does affect the writing, not in a good way. At times, it seems a bit boastful.

  26. Richard H.
    Jul 7, 2010

    I have lots of thoughts about Dooce and part of me wants to let them all come out but the bottom line is this. I used to really enjoy her. I recently realized I no longer do. I doubt she cares. I think it is probably mostly me but also partly her. It is hard and sad. I think it is weird that I am emotional about it. I am just going to “suck it” and move on. The end.

  27. Jul 7, 2010

    Maybe Dooce is a bit tone deaf because she’s had to get a thicker skin as a blogger dealing with people who are not always nice, sometimes truly mean. But I also see that point that she could be losing touch. Blogging is a risky business.

  28. Jul 7, 2010

    I feel kind of sad about this now. Or, rather, the black piece of coal where my heart is supposed to be feels kind of trembly about this, which is strange, since it’s not my readership. I was thinking about it this morning, and I don’t know Heather at all, I just met her the one time last February, but my impression is that we have a few things in common — the tightly wound thing, the general misanthropy and control freakishness. The difference is, she spent her late twenties and early thirties building this blog and having this audience of people who starting adoring her and expecting things from her, and before she knew it, she had to deal with a group of PEOPLE who wanted things from her before she was necessarily equipped to know how to handle that, being a tightly wound person who doesn’t really, truth be told, like most people all that much.

    Now, I spent my late twenties almost dying from alcoholism and having to get sober. Which forced me to do a whole bunch of crap I never in a million years would have done otherwise, and forced me to deal with people in a whole new way, that I never would have done otherwise. So it’s really easy for me to look at this from the outside, and say, well Heather did XYZ wrong when she was dealing with so and so, because I have 20/20 hindsight.

    If I had been in her place, I wonder if I would have done the same thing. That makes me feel for her sometimes, even when I don’t like what she does. Even when I think she’s being unreasonable, I sometimes think that I might make that same mistake, so I do hate to see people totally give up on her.

  29. Jul 7, 2010

    Thanks for these thoughts Anna. It was starting to seem a little bit nit picky here about how Dooce is dealing with what must be a difficult business and personal challenge.

  30. LC
    Jul 7, 2010

    I still think Dooce is relatable in the sense that her struggles are genuine and it’s clear that she has a core audience who support her through any occasion. I don’t begrudge her success and I think she’s done amazing things to destigmatize PPD.

    I agree with Richard H. – I use to really enjoy her and I recently realized I no longer do. I don’t think her writing has changed or her dooceyness…I think I’ve changed in what I look for in a blogger.

  31. Mari
    Jul 7, 2010

    In my opinion, Heather broke the story into three parts because 1) it made the story less unwieldy, particularly given her writing style; 2) it created suspense and a good story arc; and 3) it ensured readers came back. I don’t think it was a ploy to get more page views (for the purpose of greater revenue), rather, I thought it was just good storytelling (i.e., the same reason why the season finale of your favorite television show leaves you hanging).

  32. Jul 7, 2010

    It’s usually a struggle for bloggers to decide when to write “the whole truth” and when to rein in the truth (or portions of it) in favor of posting something that might be better received by their audience if it’s tempered a bit. With Dooce, on the one hand I see people saying, “Tell us the truth. Tell us what you’re really thinking and feeling,” and then on the other hand is the crowd saying, “What you’re really thinking and feeling is pretentious and unrelatable and it turns me off.” Or…is it the same crowd asking for both things at once?

    I, for one, find it more authentic (in this particular case) to have heard all the details about her making business calls from the bathroom (because that’s the truth, and that’s her life, and that’s how she really thinks and feels about the situation) instead of having read just some vague reference to “We need more space” (which would surely then have inspired criticism from people pointing out that the Armstrongs have only been in their current house for a few years and that it looks like plenty of space and that people with more children and less money are living in 100 sq ft apartments and that they should be giving money to charity instead of spending it on pillows, etc.).

    Obviously you can’t please everyone, but I do think it’s interesting that in some ways we’re asking her to share her true, authentic self, BUT ONLY IF it doesn’t make her seem unrelatable. I imagine that would be pretty hard to do when your life has changed such that, to a large portion of your audience, you ARE unrelatable. What is she supposed to do to retain her credibility as a humble everywoman? Lie? As I’ve commented here before, my reaction to Dooce’s changes has been to adjust my expectations of her (rather than pine for the good old days of her archives). Now, if I want a relatable blogger, I go elsewhere; if I want to see how an Internet superstar deals with real estate drama, she’s my girl.

  33. Jul 7, 2010

    Interesting point. I don’t have a problem with her having money or the hired help at all. To me, those are class issues, and while she has moved up in class, that’s not really a big deal — there are lots of bloggers from all different class levels who blog about different things like this. There was a blogger who was advertising on Dooce at the same time as I was, in fact, two years ago, who had a husband in the oil business, and she was always showing her kids in pictures with their nanny. She had no problems . . . until she started talking about her husband making jokes about how great it would be for oil to be over $200 a barrel. Then she ran into trouble.

    For me, this is something else. The money situation may have changed, and I do think there are people in her audience who don’t like that, but maybe it’s her need to apologize and explain? Maybe she should take a more fuck you attitude about it or something? I don’t know.

    I maintain that there is some kind of authenticity thing missing here. I think it is because she is worried about something or feeling guilty about something, rather than being dishonest, I should say. I don’t think she should try to be an everywoman at all — I don’t think she ever WAS this, and she certainly can’t be now. But even if there are certain things she cannot write about (and this is true for all of us), she has GOT to find a way to make it feel like what she is giving her audience is genuine, because I honestly do think this is what her readership is picking up on.

    And BTW, it is an issue, it might not be a serious, horrible issue. But it IS an issue. When I started blogging, she had about 3million pageviews per month. When she got pregnant and after Marlo was born, she went up to 6 million. Now she’s back down to 3 million. Similarly, she was at 1.6 million followers on Twitter during Maytag, and now she has 1.5. Still huge, huge, readership and following, of course. But those are losses. I’m just saying.

    PW has grown in that time. 6 million pageviews to 20 million pageviews. Twitter has grown, though I don’t know exact numbers. Businesses have to expand or they die. This is all I’m saying.

  34. Jul 7, 2010

    You know, I was searching for hair cuts and remembered a favorite post of hers from 2003 titled, “A Year in the Life of Heather’s Hair.” (She’s had some great haircuts over the years, and more often than not, I bring a pic of one she had once to the stylist. Short hair cuts — good, realistic ones — are REALLLLY hard to find good pictures of.)

    Anyway, that was back when everyone thought she was totally charming, and I doubt she got much shit for that post. But in light of her fame, if she posted something so (seemingly) self-absorbed, people would rip her face off for it. I’m not sure that’s fair — no, I KNOW it’s not fair, because it’s nothing more than her economic status that’s changed, in that regard — and it sort of hit me that in a way, the woman can’t do anything right.

  35. Jul 8, 2010

    I’ve felt conflicted on whether or not to comment on this, because I like Dooce. I’ve always liked her… her sense of humor, her writing style, (YES, EVEN THE OVER USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS FOR EFFECT!), etc. When I first started reading her, I could really relate to her life.

    But, I can’t anymore.

    I do think that the stress she conveys throughout her posts and life are hyperbolic ways to be humorous, and not “whining.” In fact, I find it to be entertaining. I have never gotten the impression that Heather is whining or has delusions of grandeur. And yes, I know PW can seem more down to Earth, but I think she is completely boring and the incessant romanticism about “Marlboro Man” is more apropos for a Harlequin Romance novel, than an interesting blog. I know her popularity speaks more than my opinion, but I think she is barf-worthy.

    Back to Heather.

    Her life isn’t relatable TO ME anymore. For someone who spent 7 years as a real estate professional, who completely lost their ass from 2007- 2009, I cannot relate to someone who makes a fortune on a website, has moved into homes I can only dream about at this point in my life, now twice in five years, and who has the inconvenience of traveling all of the time to be on National Television. I’m not saying that it isn’t stressful, I’m sure it is…. But I’ve been real stressed out getting rid of rental properties on short sales to avoid foreclosures and getting behind in my taxes, so I have a hard time feeling empathy for Heather, when I find Bobcat lady more relatable.

    I’d rather here about Lance Armstrong and John’s clogs, to be honest.

    But, I think what is going on, is par for the course for someone who becomes a celebrity. She’s no longer a housewife with good taste in music and a wacky sense of humor. She’s a brand, a media conglomerate, per se. I still really like Heather and I will still stop in to read her, but I think she needs to find her niche again, beyond the celebrity….

  36. Jul 8, 2010

    I have to add, that I do agree with Joniker, that in many peoples’ eyes, Heather will never be able to do anything right, and I think that sucks. I also feel icky fr posting, because she has done a great job. Period. She has buit a blog that turned into a lucrative business and she’s been very honest about who she is, and she has taken some pretty nasty hits from some pretty nasty people.

    I really like Heather. I just think she’s experiencing some growing pains in her writing style.

  37. Jul 8, 2010

    Kerry, I don’t see Heather complaining about her lifestyle. I see her complaining about having too many people squished into a business that’s being carried out in her living space – and frankly, I don’t care if your house is 2,000 square feet or 10,000 square feet, when people who are not you or your kids are constantly nearby, it can make you nuts. Imagine having your in-laws over to visit every single day of the week — I don’t know about other people, but it would drive me off my rocker. I would be mortgaging my soul to build a guesthouse.

    The house-buying drama again I don’t see as her complaining about her lifestyle – she’s going through a house-buying process. Excruciating at best, add in hostile sellers, liens and lawyers and you have major drama, sweat, tears and insanity. I’ve gone through the same thing for a teeny-weensy little 1800 SF house, and it was every bit as nervewracking as Heather describes.

    I found the saga highly entertaining. I don’t leave comments on Heather’s posts not because I don’t like what she writes – frankly, having to sign in to comment is frustrating and I feel (although I could be wrong) that my little comment is just lost in the hundreds of others.

    I think Heather’s got a strong personality and strong opinions and that’s what makes people dislike her more than, say, Ree. As Anna can attest, having strong opinions and refusing to toe some imaginary line often draws the ire of people who for some odd reason prefer that we shut up and be quiet.

  38. Jul 8, 2010

    Katy, I don’t think you should feel icky for posting at all. My intention for posting a post like this is NOT to just bash on Heather or the Armstrongs. It is, as much as possible, to provide a constructive critique of what I see as a problem for her brand. I am not sure to what degree they are willing to hear that critique, but I do know that constructive critique is good for — if not necessary to — their brand’s health. If their most loyal readers are getting fed up, this is a big problem, in my mind.

    And I think that you’re right, she is having problems rediscovering her voice. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I think she has to be given room and license to do that. I think she has to *give herself* room and license to do that, and that is actually what I’m most concerned about happening, because I am not entirely sure she is comfortable with that. But this is not my intention to just talk about how Dooce sucks this and Dooce sucks that, not by a long shot.

    And yes, Jonna is right, after a certain level of success, she did get to a point where some people would not let her do anything without criticizing her. My husband and I were talking about this phenomenon in relationship to LeBron last night — there are people who are saying that LeBron is making this whole free agent thing about him with the ESPN special tonight, etc., but the thing is, it IS about him, he’s HUGE, he’s a billion dollar industry. Fuck it! You know? He’s not MAKING it about him, it just IS about him. But people won’t just accept that. To a lesser degree, the same thing is true about Dooce. She’s huge, she just is. Accept it.

  39. PCox
    Jul 8, 2010

    I will admit, initially I have felt the 3-parter was for page views, just like I felt the pics of the baby and the subsequent labor story were drawn out for page views. Maybe that makes me an ass, but it would seem to reason if page views help bring in income, more is good, yes? I can’t blame anyone for doing that, I suppose.
    Like so many have said, I used to enjoy reading Dooce. It just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. When I read about people laughing so hard they were crying, I shrug and think “it wasn’t THAT funny”. And I have a damn good sense of humor. She’s amusing, she’s made me chuckle, but not uncontrollable laughter. I just can’t find that connection any more in posts about assistants and lawyers and stuff like that. And believe me, it’s not jealously. I wouldn’t trade an ounce of my privacy and my family’s privacy for any of the money she’s raking in.
    But as for losing touch… I mean, obviously her writing style and topics are going to change. She can’t ignore what’s going on her life and not write about it. So naturally, her audience is going to change as well. It’s like when you listening to a musician in your younger years and the musician grows and changes and their music no longer resounds with you. It’s nobody’s “fault”…it’s just life.

  40. Jul 8, 2010

    I’m standing on the beach with you! I’ve looked at her site a few times and it’s always some pointless shit about her dog or some product. All the fuss seems to be about what a juggernaut her “brand” has become.

  41. Jul 8, 2010

    Re: Pageview tactics. Not related to Dooce at all.

    I think one of your non-life-altering tactics (the “beauty” angle) might have worked for me.

    My SIL took some nice pics of me holding my unbelievably adorable twin girls, and I used one of them for my blogger profile pic. I’m about as presentable as I am capable of being in this shot, and my kids are, of course, exquisite. My previous profile pic was me all dirty and disheveled because I thought it was funny.

    I wrote a little throwaway post with nothing particularly clever or interesting in it, and some really cute pictures. My traffic went up by leaps and bounds, most of it arrived at my site via my blogger profile, and a lot of the hits were first time visitors.

    Duh. It’s so elementary. I’m sure I am way more likely to check out–and return to–blogs with pictures of attractive women (and men, to a lesser extent.) Most of my readers are women, and (according to stereotype anyway), accessorizing with babies makes men about 80% more attractive. Why did it not occur to me that blogging is just like high school, college, and life?

  42. Jul 8, 2010

    Interesting point about how your understanding of people has changed due to your experience as an addict.

    You ask a lot of questions about other people and their motives, which perhaps I naively attribute to your wishing to *understand* them? Don’t get me wrong, I love your voice, I love what you do, especially when you ask the questions no one else will dare, when you take on the establishment, when you point out hypocrisy. But here is a conundrum for you, assuming you’re 12-step educated. At what point does this line of questioning involve taking another person’s inventory? Encouraging eveyrone else to take another person’s inventory? What usefulness is that to your personal path?

    I ask this because its a position I frequently find myself in. I see another person doing or saying something I find utterly unenlightened, review it in the context of CoDA and start finding fault with their approach…and then have to stop because I’m starting to worry more about the actions of other people than my own, and for me that’s a truly slippery slope.

    At what point are we dissection Blurbodoocery the megabphenom slash business and when are we simply stooping to pointing out Heather’s faults as a person? Other than allowing some people to feel some sort of superiority because THEY would NEVER do or say what Heather does in the same situation (which I call bullshit on — people know how they would LIKE to react in a given moment but they won’t truly know which side of them will come out when push comes to shove), what is the use of the exercise? To understand? To educate?

    Devil’s advocate, me.

  43. Jul 8, 2010

    Who is Tyrant? Is he an employee or her new word for her husband or something?

    This is what I get for neglecting my blog reading.

  44. Jul 8, 2010

    Tyrant is the new assistant. His name is also Jon, so she has to call her husband Armstrong and the assistant Tyrant.

  45. Sep 20, 2010

    I have been reading Dooce for years and the reasons why I do it are also changing. Before I just honestly loved her writing and empathised with her challenges in parenting. That was my life too. But since then she has ceased to become relatable to. I am not interested in relating to brands, but to people. If I met her as a person I am sure I would like her, I am just losing interest in her blog.

    But I am gaining a new kind of interest because it is so hopelessly, addictively trainwrecky for me. It is like processed foods. I gain nothing, but I cannot resist. Her lack of perspective and sense of entitlement apalls me (beginning with why on earth she could not use a laundromat or handwash the newborn clothes – my solution for when I had the baby and the machine was on the blink) nut yet I CANNOT LOOK AWAY.

    End result? I keep reading even though it’s bad for me. Probably it’s the fault of the conditioning I received in childhood from watching Dynasty.

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