I’m known around the office as a blog reader. In fact, I was one of the first people to propose that we start this blog, UNC Exchanges. I’m also teased quite a bit for how much time I spend reading blogs. In actuality, it’s really how much time others perceive me to be online. Because using Flipboard app for iPhone and iPad makes blog reading easy, I don’t spend that much time. It brings a bunch of blogs to one spot and it’s like I get to create my own, curated “life and style” newspaper section.
However, I have found that blog reading occupies more and more of my media diet. And until recently, I had never really stopped to consider why that might be. Why am I drawn to reading blogs? What is it about this form of media that appeals to me and keeps me engaged? And why do I often choose it over watching TV and movies?
Last month we screened Miss Representation (http://www.missrepresentation.org/) for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. If you haven’t seen the film already, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now. They sometimes play it on OWN (www.oprah.com/own) so you might be able to catch it there. Or if not, seriously consider hosting a screening party with your friends, neighbors or prompting administrators to host one at your kid’s school. The film is amazing. It presents the ways that women are misrepresented in media and how these misrepresentations have led women to believe that they have little power or influence.
It also made me see my blog reading from a new lens. I realized that part of the reason I’m so attracted to blogs is that they are one of the few places where I see myself represented accurately in the media. Whether I’m reading a blog by another mother (I hate the term mommy blog! So derogatory!) or the blog of a fellow doctor or psychologist, I see parts of my life that are represented in print in ways that I don’t see in most newspapers, magazines, TV or movies. Most of the blogs I read are written by women and they discuss issues I face in my own life in an irreverent, authentic and engaging way. So until we have more traditional media that are written by women and respect women, my media time will be spent largely online.
It’s clear that advertisers are noticing this more and more and you do see more sidebar ads and “sponsored posts” in blogs. I’m also impressed that some writers are now able to make a living off of their blogs. But right now, I don’t see the same relentless push to make women feel worthless in an effort to sell them something like you see in TV programming and commercials (I’m looking at you, the Bachelor).
I hope that doesn’t change, but I do think the power of the Internet comes from its amazing ability to subvert the traditional media landscape. It also has the power to bring people together to make change. So if you haven’t done so already visit www.missrepresentation.org website, take the represent pledge, and find out ways that you can change the toxic media landscape. In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out on Fllipboard reading Mamapundit (www.mamapundit.com), the Bloggess (www.thebloggess.com), and Finslippy (www.finslippy.com).
By: Dr. Stephanie Zerwas