Media is not real. Period.

god save the queenOur series on blogging confessions has really struck a chord (a nerve?) with readers. I am the first person to shy away from drama and controversy, but like I said in my previous post, I get really edgy when people start judging other people. I couldn’t skim past a racist comment when I lived in a racist-leaning city, and I can’t really skim past it when people start getting all Judgy McJudgerson on my blogging peeps.

Here’s the thing. Media is not real. Period.

Media is a series of carefully constructed words and images put together to elicit a desired result.

Youtube videos are not real. Commercials are not real. Reality TV is not real. News broadcasts ARE NOT real. Everything has a spin, an angle. Show me a piece of media that is completely real and tells the whole store about something.

You can’t. Because it’s an impossibility.

I can understand the desire to believe that your favorite blogger is keepin’ it completely real on her blog. But, the truth is that she’s not. Because that’s not possible. Anytime you tell a story or take a photo, you are leaving SOMETHING out. You always have to crop some part of the room out, or leave some detail out. You can share TMI details, and make your readers feel like they know the whole story, but no matter what, they are only seeing part of the infinite number of details available to tell. That’s what makes a particular blog compelling — the details the blogger decides to share.

Media is not real. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Like Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “Everything is true… from a certain point of view.”

Our blogger confessions may have been shocking, but sometimes real life is. Don’t let the fact that someone once fudged a result jade you against the whole blogosphere forever and ever amen. Like I mentioned in my previous article, there is a low barrier of entry to blogging. Nobody is a certified blogger. Nobody has it all figured out. There is no license to hold a giveaway on your blog. There is only you, your own personal integrity, and the FTC.

Bad bloggers weed themselves out. Because we are all such connoisseurs of media, it is pretty easy to tell when a blogger is pulling one over on you.

But please, have grace on us. We are all learning how to be good bloggers. Sometimes it just takes a few crappy choices to learn how to be a good one.

image: caaoss, licensed via flickr/creative commons

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15 Responses to “Media is not real. Period.”

  1. People are just upset that you’re bursting the imaginary bubble that other people have perfect houses, decor, and lives. And blogs.

    We don’t, although I’ve made that very clear to my readers lol! Ignorance can be bliss, but it’s still ignorance. Come on. You have to know that other people aren’t perfect.

    Keep up the blogger confession series, I for one LOVE IT!

  2. Anke says:

    GASP! Are you really saying that the media don’t show nothing but the TRUTH?! How SHOCKING *wince*
    Honestly, I know several people who really believe that reality tv, for example, is a totally genuine documentation. I then tell them that “gullible” is not a real word and they won’t find it in the dictionary. Yes, they grab the book and look if that’s true… 😉

  3. Nat says:

    I’m not judging (I didn’t comment on the original post), I’m just disappointed. I’m not upset that the bloggers I read may not be living in perfect beautiful homes (in fact, I like the craft fail posts). I’m just disappointed as a blogger myself that other folks are gaining readers by not actually doing the projects. That’s really the only confession that bothered me. I put a lot of time into my projects and I don’t post anything that’s not truthful to my readers.

    Yeah, media isn’t real, but I prefer to hold myself to a higher standard and it sucks and is discouraging when I feel I’m the only one standing on the high road.

    • J. Hill says:

      Nat, you probably didn’t mean it like it sounded, but we should be careful to place ourselves on the “high road” and insinuate others are on the “low road.”

      If a blogger creates an entire project completely out of her imagination, puts together all the elements in a pleasing way, photographs it, writes about it, promotes it and shares it with the world for free, does it really make her deceitful just because she skipped a gluing step or a painting step? She created the project, she provided accurate directions, the process is repeatable, and others benefit from it. That seems like quite a bit a work for someone on a low road.

      Again, I don’t think you really meant that with your comment. But it is this idea of deciding what is right for your own blog and then assuming it must also be right for everyone else’s blog that can cause problems.

      • Nat says:

        Nope, not trying to be mean at all, I’m just disappointed that I take the time to be honest about my projects and others aren’t. I’ve created projects and not finished them and haven’t posted them on my blog. If I do create something and it’s not finished and post about it, I note that. I also try to note where I screwed up in my project so people don’t make my same mistakes.

        In the end, I suppose it comes down to what you think is right and your own judgment (as it always should). For me, I’ve unfollowed blogs that do things I don’t agree with and will continue doing so. I really appreciate differing viewpoints that make me think here, but I’m still going to stick with what I believe is right.

      • MelanieO says:

        It is deceitful IF she claims she did all the steps. It is deceitful to say you did something that you didn’t. Doing a lot of work doesn’t equal honesty, it’s just doing a lot work. They are 2 separate concepts. I guess you’re saying good/bad is a grey area. But honesty/deceit isn’t.

  4. Great post, Heather.
    As a blogger… there are many ‘behind the scenes’ things we do to get the job done. We are not perfect. The fact that people admitted those confessions anonymously only tells us that the authors know what they did was not 100% ‘right’. Some stories were funny. Some were sad and some were a little uncomfortable to hear… but I can’t say I’m shocked by any of them. Yes, I sound jaded, but as you mentioned in the first response post, these things happen in every industry.
    The good news is that we humans have pretty good BS radar. Pictures can be edited to look lovelier, but I think at the end of the day, we all know that life is NOT perfect. We know that not everyone or every story is perfect all the time. Sometimes we want to hear about the imperfections and failures… or sometimes we just want to see a beautiful project for inspiration.
    But let’s face it, whether we are inspired by perfection or if we enjoy hearing about the challenges in someone’s life… we WANT to be entertained. We WANT to be inspired. That’s why we watch movies, read magazines, etc. And…it is important to remember that every story and medium is EDITED. (Be it a newspaper or your Uncle Charlie’s stories of his youth or your neighbor’s posts on Facebook.)
    I’m proud to read bloggers and their story… and how THEY edit their story and want to share it. Like you said, it’s the details that they choose to share and HOW they share it that matter. And if they falter and don’t always want to tell us, we may never know. I can only hope that they learn from their mistakes and strive to continue blogging with grace and integrity.

  5. Thanks for posting this articulate article Heather. You are always spot-on in the crafty blogosphere.

    Personally, I’m not the world’s neatest/most proficiently technical crafter, but I think I have a lot of wonderful ideas that others would like to see and try. I don’t think there is anything wrong with me doing the project, photographing it beautifully, and making a couple of small Photoshop tweaks (just as you would do with a blemish or wrinkle on a portrait). I want to present my project in the best light possible so others will be inspired to make it. I’m just providing the idea and creativity to make that idea come to life.

  6. Amanda says:

    We all know media is ‘enhanced’ to appeal to the greatest audience and that’s great, they are pretty open and honest about it.

    I think what is disappointing in your confessions post is that not a single ‘big’ blogger has to my knowledge ever said in their blog that the posts maybe be enhanced with photoshop, statements about sponsored posts could be false, basically anything could be ‘enhanced’ to make them appeal to a greater audience. Also, how are we to know that these ‘confessions’ have only happened once, for all we know those bloggers who some people put up on a pedestal could be faking it everyday, personally I’d much rather they were honest.

    If for whatever reason a blogger can’t finish a project on time or to a certain standard, just admit it, faking it to appear like your wonder woman is pathetic, we all have days when we can’t get our ‘to do’ list done, its no big deal. We want to see the fails, we want to know if something didn’t go as planned.

    I think the confessions post was inevitably going to get peoples backs up, the confessions came across as ‘Opps, my bad’ when really most of them are pretty low.

    If people didn’t want to get judged or don’t like the response, they shouldn’t have admitted anything, and editing out the comments you don’t like or didn’t agree with, just another example of media being edited!

  7. P. says:

    Please note that the word “media” is the plural of “medium” and should be used with the plural forms of verbs. “Media Aren’t Real” is the correct way to state your title.

  8. Donna says:

    I just want to point out that this was the best placed quote of Obi Van ever! Now, seriously, I understand your point and I absolutely agree. We live in the world that we live in.

  9. Carrie says:

    Spot on. As Shannon (Madigan Made) said, some confessions were funny and some were a bit uncomfortable, but they were real. I was actually looking forward to round 2, to see what else others would confess! I suppose in a blogosphere that trots out a parade of perfect tablescapes, amazing projects, and gorgeous homes it helps to know that it’s not always 100% that way all the time.

    My favorite quote is “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we are comparing our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” That beautiful blogger would never photograph herself without makeup. That perfect family might of had a huge fight last night. But these usually aren’t the things we choose to share.

    We all edit ourselves. I always try to find the best angle to photograph a project, the best light, the most compelling background. Most of those confessions took it a step (or three) beyond that, but still, it does help to know how others manage to “do it all.” The answer is, like me, they usually don’t.

  10. MelanieO says:

    I’m not sure people are trying to be judgmental here – just a bit shocked. I think many people (especially non-bloggers & smaller bloggers) expect blogging to be more real than the “fake” media we are used to. Some are coming to terms with the fact that some bloggers are just as “fake” as the media. I also feel a distinction should be made here.

    “Photoshopping” by cropping and correcting for color is not really fake. Technically, the way a camera sees something is not always how human eyes see it, so correcting the picture is just that – correcting. There is nothing unethical about making your picture look nice. Even if it means editing out the light switch. EXCEPT if you are changing the look of your project so it’s not what it seems. (making it look like you sewed or glued something on that you didn’t, for example) I have seen plenty of bloggers take beautiful photos of quilts, for example, that avoid the edges because they haven’t put the binding on yet. And I’ve always seen them admit to that.

    Also, pictures of beautiful interiors. Doesn’t everyone clean up for company? Why would we think the blogger’s room always looks like that? It’s not not unethical in the least.

    To me, it comes down to this: Are you lying? Saying you don’t know how much something costs when you do? A lie. Saying you finished a project when you didn’t? A lie.

    I don’t think those bloggers are bad people. They got caught up in something and made a mistake. We should be mad, though. It shouldn’t be something we “expect” from bloggers. Why? For one, it makes the playing field uneven. We shouldn’t be competing with Martha, we should be more real. As craft bloggers we all should do what is “real”, as in not lying about our projects. Think about it. The blogger who can’t finish one project per week is competing for an audience with the blogger who possibly fakes making 2 projects per week. Unrealistic expectations. And there is money involved – usually. My guess is that the bloggers who feel the need to lie about their projects are trying to keep up a certain amount of traffic to please sponsors. So now their making money on false content.

    Anyway, that’s my more than 2 cents. I don’t think these bloggers are bad people (unless they’re making habits of providing false content), but I do think readers and other bloggers have a right to tell them they don’t think the behavior is acceptable. I hope we can all learn a lesson and move on.

  11. Madge says:

    I guess I have to go read the post that leads to this one. People who offer free projects and free videos and free ideas do not owe anything more than that. The idea that somehow on top of all of the free stuff we give away we have to show every glue splodge or meticulously articulate every single step is silly. I show the seams and admit that I am not perfect, but just as Alexa says, I also clean things up in Photoshop when they’re not perfectly perfect.

    I am sharing ideas and techniques which hopefully help get folks interested in my work and then perhaps if they like what they see they might buy a book or take a class with me. The projects aren’t really the point, the ideas are, they’re just the pretty pictures that bring the audience to the blog where I keep it real.

    I think people are just generally up in each other’s cornflakes too much these days. I have enough to do to worry about my own life without running around worrying about what other people do or don’t do. Harumph.

    It’s your thang, do whatcha wanna do.


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