I Don't Need Swag. I Don't Need Brag. And I Don't Need This.

"To the person who's been trashing me behind my back I'd like to say Fuck You for not having the sack to contact me back. Way to be a man."
I was about to publish that tweet yesterday at 4:37 PM Central Standard Time. But I refrained. Anyone who knows me or who graciously follows my drivel, also knows that it's rare for me to be this openly confrontational; so whatever it is that's provoked my anger, it must be serious. It is. So what stopped me?
I wish that I could say it was myself, that I opted to take the high road by my own volition. But no. Instead I was distracted by a Twitter conversation with a long-time blogger friend, and then an even bigger email conversation with several other bloggers right after that. What we talked about ended up being directly related to what was pissing me off.

     Since early August, I've been feeling some animosity being directed my way. At first I blew it off as paranoia; however, the negativity continued to grow to a point beyond suspicion. So I did what I thought best by going right to the source. I emailed and DM'd the person. I retweeted their posts, and tried "friending" them on networks all with the hopes of making contact and clearing up the misunderstanding. To date, no response.

     That's fine. I can't get upset if that's someone's choice. It's a different story, though, when I find out the person has been trashing me behind my back and worse, blocking opportunities that I've been working the past 18 months to obtain. These people exist. That's life. Still, the sting from the damage done to me personally isn't soothed any by the simple truths of what we can and can't control. 

    I guess the real frustration for me is the major roadblock it's thrown up. Understand that over the past six months, I've been growing increasingly interested in the power of social media and it's ability to instigate change on such mass levels. To be more specific, I'm looking at it through the lens of it's potential in reshaping the stereotypical perception of fathers. A lot of people are. They're enthusiastic and with good cause. 

     There are TONS of books, blogs, and more dealing with the influence of social media, but the concept really hit me after reading David Meerman Scott's book The New Rules of Marketing and PR when he told of how bloggers essentially brought down journalistic icon, Dan Rather, and how bloggers carry more credibility than what's written in the Wall Street Journal. The idea of this, for lack of a better word, sounded empowering.

     With that in mind, I've been dedicating a lot of my energy toward another project, while working to learn from and meet some of the experts in this niche. One of my other main goals is to obtain a position with a brand, agency or firm where I can help foster relationships between companies who are sincere and dads who represent fatherhood today. Finally, I know what I want to be when I grow up.

     Unfortunately, however, the current road to this has been blocked by someone--ironically, a "dad blogger"--who has something against me. That or he's just really arrogant. Either way, it's pissing me off.

     During the aforementioned conversations that held me back from sending that Tweet, my friends and I discussed these circumstances and some interesting questions were brought up: Since dad bloggers are the new shiny toy, are some of them jockeying for a spot near what they perceive to be the top? Furthermore, are some of the dad bloggers who've made names for themselves prior to the whole "Year of the Daddy Blogger" craze, now feeling threatened by the mass infusion of new dad-filled URL's?

     Had you asked me this a year ago, I would've said no way. Now, I'm not so sure. Think about it for a moment. Transmitting our thoughts world-wide from behind a keyboard and screen affords us the opportunity to be whoever we tell people we are. Many of us dads interact with one another all day via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and if asked, we'd all generally agree that each of the others are a great bunch. But I wonder sometimes if we'd feel the same working at the same company in the same location. 

     Bob in accounting might be the greatly respected MegaSuperWow Dad to us online, but if we shared a cubicle with him, what would we think of him as a dad watching him stumble half drunk into work each morning and then listening to him flirt with Britney the blonde young secretary so fond of short plaid skirts? Sometimes I think we dads are deemed good fathers simply by virtue of having a blog, much in the same way people trust Catholic priests based on the sanctity of their heavenly vocation. 

     The sad fact, however, is that this is a false premise. I for one am a lousy, fucking father at times. Just in the past few weeks, as my stress level has shot through the roof, I've been unjustifiably short with my stepdaughters and hardly even spoken to my boys, yet go through all of my past blog posts and tell me where that shows. I doesn't. My point being that if we are naive enough to think dads out there aren't bad mouthing one another to make themselves look better or because they feel threatened then we're denying our human fallibility. 

     Don't get me wrong; I'm not talking about us expressing differing opinions on a topic, like say, daddy blogging itself RE: the big discussion a few weeks ago. Why we blog isn't my issue here; who the real person behind the blog is. And you know what, there are guys out their acting desperate and insecure.
     A while back, someone sent me a published list of the Top X Daddy Bloggers. Yeah, I was on the list, and flattered to be among a lot of great, great dads who I know personally. But it was just a list--not even a ranking. A simple list of favorites made by someone sharing which dads he enjoyed reading. The thing that stuck out, though, and I wasn't the first to notice this, was that the majority of the ensuing comments went something to the effect of, "Hey, next time you should have my dad blog on there." You'd have thought by the tone of the comments some of these guys were trying to get added to the final boarding manifest to Heaven right before Armageddon. 

     We dads might not fight over a bunch of freebies at a blogging conference but we'll beat the shit out of one another to get on an arbitrary list. We don't want swag; we want brag. I actually felt bad for the community-minded guy gracious enough to put the thing together, because I wondered how many dads unfollowed him after they didn't get onto (dramatic music please)..."The List." We're competitive. I get that. I've been left off of more lists than on, and yeah, it was a disappointing. But I'm not going to scream, "Hey, you forgot me!" Nothing is given, everything is earned, and how it's earned is a matter of character. 

     So where am I going with all of this? Is this some self-serving diatribe meant to make me feel better while at the same time giving me license to say whatever I think in the most brutal way possible? I'm not going to answer that. People will think what they want, which is obviously what sparked this rant. But if you're offended then maybe there's a reason.

     I will say, though, that my intentions have always been true, and my interaction with others in the dad community has always been sincere. Possessing no real control over the situation, the most anyone can ever do is hope that who they are as a whole person overshadows what, in this case, amounts to silliness. 

     In the meantime, I've got some decisions of my own to think about, one of them being if it's even best for me and my family to keep "daddy blogging" at all. That's not some dramatic daddy diva ploy. Of late, I've had to ask myself why am I even doing this? I don't need swag. I don't need brag. I don't need to subjugate myself to the pettiness of others, and I don't need to be on lists as a measure of my identity. What I need is to take care of my family, and having a fellow dad blogger impeding this isn't helping; so maybe I just need to move on. 

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