If you are a blogger, chances are somebody dislikes you. Chances are somebody hates you. Chances are somebody out there is offended by your blog and maybe even who you are. Chances are you will hurt somebody without intending to. Maybe you are the type of blogger that blogs to push buttons and cause riotous discussions. Maybe you are the type of blogger that people look up to and admire. Maybe you have a talent that others love and connect to. Chances are that maybe blogging makes you happy and what others think doesn’t really matter.
The best thing about blogging is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a writer, in fact, some of my favorite blogs are written by non-writers. Everyone chooses the subject, tone, layout, or scheme and they are all individual works of art that people either like or they don’t. There are also blogs made up of more than one individual. Much like in real life, bloggers communicate, form friendships and enemies, they network, they find causes to support, they find niches they fit into, and if a blogger is lucky their blog feels like home to everyone who visits.
I have a daughter who is going into fifth grade, so the term cliques has started to become a discussion in our home. In our home we have had to define the difference between groups and cliques. This got me to thinking about the blogosphere. Is their such a thing as a “blogging clique” and is it a bad thing?
A clique is a group of “persons who interact with each other more regularly and intensely than others in the same setting”. Interacting with cliques is part of normative social development regardless of gender, ethnicity, or popularity. Although cliques are most commonly studied during adolescence and middle childhood, they exist in all age groups~ Wikipedia
I like this definition because it defines a very normal social behavior. People who want to get to know each other, whether in real life or in the online community, spend a lot of time doing things together. In the blogging community this would include things like sharing and promoting blogs, collaborating, and having public conversations. This could be limited to the blogosphere or end up crossing over into other social media platforms. So using this definition a clique is what my daughter calls a group.
A clique is a small group of people who spend time together and who are not friendly to other people : a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially : one held together by common interests, views, or purposes
I don’t like this definition BUT it is the definition that most people associate with the word clique. A group of “mean girls” who decide who can and who can’t be in their group. I think of the pink ladies /t-birds in Grease or the popular/nerds in Can’t Buy Me Love. It is natural to have a group of people you feel comfortable with that you share the same ideas and passions with. This term implies the clique in question is a bully. Some groups do bully but most do not.
Just for kicks let’s define bully:
According to dictionary.com a bully is a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people. ~ Dictionary.com
In my opinion, groups such as this; normally do not last long because societal pressure forces them to dissolve. Let’s take the KKK as the extreme example. They were a clique of men who had the same political and social ideals and who were violent bullies. Today it is our kids facing the bully mentality. When groups become us against them then they have crossed the line from being a group to being a group that bullies AKA a clique.
I love my blogging community. I started out just wanting to write, but I ended up creating a safe and comfortable home surrounded by a bunch of other homes, in a neighborhood community I enjoy. Do I ever feel left out of a block party down the street? Sure. Do I ever feel jealous when a group of bloggers have a collaborative “slumber party”? Sure. Is that bad? No. Should they be considered a clique because they hurt my feelings? No.
Take a blogging community I love, (name removed), for example. I am not a standing or listed member or contributor but I do support them and what they stand for and I enjoy posting and using their platform. Am I an INSIDER? No. Do I feel like and OUTSIDER? No. A group of woman and men came together to provide the backbone to a community they created for US. I feel the same about most community blogs. Do I believe they are cliques in the way that Merriam-Webster defines a click? Absolutely NOT.
For some bloggers though; group mentalities become a trigger. Not being included causes great pain and hurt. Maybe they had a childhood experience that made them feel inferior or insecure. Sometimes these feelings turn into anger and feelings of revenge. A person who feels rejected might lash out and begin blaming others for causing them to feel unworthy. They may believe any group to be a clique.
I am all too familiar with feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, and unworthiness. Freshly-Pressed, for instance, is a group I want to be a member of but it alludes me. When those around me are bestowed the honor I am extremely happy for them but not at first. At first, my heart races, I ask myself what they have that I don’t, I become jealous and angry. Well, it is something I would love, it would validate my efforts as a blogger, and it would make me feel like an elite blogging superhero. Do these feelings make me a bad person? No.
When all the hurt feelings die down I realize it is a promotional tool WP uses to share its community of blogs. It is a good marketing tool and it strives to help bloggers make connections. Just because we are not asked to be a part of something, does NOT mean it is bad, a bully, or a clique.
Most blogging communities are NOT, in my opinion, considered cliques. They are groups that have come together because they have a common belief. When people come together under a united voice great things can happen. Community blogs and collaborative friendly blogs take a LOT of work and are a work of labor that deserves respect.
Chances are if you feel left out you will consider the group a clique. My advice would be to examine why you feel left out. Did you ask to be part of the group, and if you did and where rejected, was there a good reason for the rejection? Many groups have a hard time if they get too big. If you can’t be part of the initial team you can probably participate by guest posting. Most likely, if you feel left out you aren’t really trying very hard to be included.
Once I stopped being afraid of being left out I started working on participating. For instance, I may not be Freshly Pressed but I still support those that are and I still look at the Freshly Pressed feeds to support those I enjoy. I have made some great friends because of Freshly Pressed. Sometimes, you just need to change your perspective.
To end I would like to highlight some of the awesome collaborative opportunities I have seen and I would like to encourage you to try to find places that make you feel welcome. The places that feel like home to me may not feel like home to someone else. The blogosphere is a universe where everyone is someone. So get out there and explore and if one planet feels hostile try another one until you find a place to call home.
Oh and remember you don’t have to be in a group to be a bully. I believe “mean girl” mentality is a very individual journey and sometimes those individuals make up a clique. Blogging cliques will kick you OUT of groups and most likely bad mouth others. They will publicly ridicule anyone who doesn’t see things their way. There is a difference between airing differing opinions and being hateful. These bloggers, I think, are a minority and for very good reason. Be the positive force you want to see in the world and go out and multiply, or something like that!
There are hundreds of opportunities to take advantage of and here are just a couple of my favorites that came to mind to help you on your journey. Don’t forget you can also visit my collaboration efforts and participate by writing poetry with me by clicking here.