Community and Cliques – My Thoughts and Feelings

Sex Blogging

When I first became a sex blogger I felt like I’d joined a real community. I had blogged previously in other genres and ended up walking away because of the rivalry, back-stabbing and bitchiness that seemed to be rife. I didn’t feel like the sex blogger community was like that, everyone seemed so welcoming and friendly. I was so happy to be a part of it, I felt like I’d found home. Sometimes I still feel like that.

My realisation started at an event I attended. I’d been really excited about going, about getting to meet people in person that I’d been talking to online for months. There were two or three people there who I had met in person before so I was hopeful that I would at least have someone to talk to. I was wrong. If it hadn’t been for two people who I hadn’t met before I would have been completely miserable. As it was I left the event feeling like I wanted to give up, and walk away from sex blogging. I was talked down by a few people, and I’m glad because I love what I do. I just wish we all had the same experience of the community because it is very clear to me we do not.

Community Divisions

There are divisions in the community, and in many cases they are to be expected. There is the divide between what people write on their sites; such as reviews, or erotica, or articles. You would think they’d all be the same but you can see a definite difference in the way they are perceived, and how they interact. I think that is just the difference in personality, and there are people who straddle those different worlds. There is also a UK/US division, which I feel is more down to culture and attitude than it is any real divide. There are many US sex bloggers who I look up to, the people who to me are at the top of the game.

I think it is important to also address the issue of friendships. People might say that there aren’t cliques, there are just groups who are friends. While I acknowledge that there are those types of groups, which is to be expected when people live nearer, and are able to meet up regularly. Or who chat to each other in places other than twitter, so they are able to form true friendships. I don’t feel those groups are cliques, they are just groups of friends who support each other. Sometimes I think this support could be given with more thought to others but I understand how it happens, it is also why for some bloggers it can feel like they are being “jumped on”. I’ve felt it myself. You make a throwaway comment and suddenly five people in a friendship group are yelling at you about how wrong you are, all they’re trying to do is get across a point they feel strongly about. However, if you’re on the receiving end it can feel like you’re being shouted down. But again I see no negative intention in that, so I don’t feel that is cliquiness.

DangerousLilly recently shared a post about ‘The Blog Squad”, and until I read that post I hadn’t realised that some people felt like it was a clique. For me the blog squad was just a group of bloggers who had met in person at an event, and it was a group I hoped one day to be part of. Yes, they were friends but they also did a lot for the community and to promote bloggers. In my eyes they were championing inclusivity, and sex positivity. I didn’t realise people thought they were cliquey.

Cliques

community

I think there is occasionally some cliquiness that occurs in the community. I have experienced it. I have joined in a conversation only for my answer to be ignored while someone else repeats what I said and is hailed for it. I’ve spoken up and been shouted down. Sometimes I deal with this better than others. There is a fear in the community, I’ve had more than one person DM me to ask if I think it’s okay to tweet xxx because it differs from most people’s opinion and they’re afraid they will get “jumped on”. When this happens I encourage them to tweet, and then watch ready to defend them if necessary. Maybe that makes me part of the problem. I think even when the intention isn’t to make people feel that way, the fact that is has happened multiple times means that feeling does exist. People do feel like there are cliques.  The poll above clearly shows they do.

What Next

Maybe instead of denying the experiences some people have that make them feel cliques exist within the community we could start being kinder to each other. Many of us have some form of anxiety and/or other mental health problems, and I think we are our own worst critics, so we have a natural inclination to assume the worst. I think we all need to start assuming the best of each other, and if we’re not sure we need to ask……quietly without fuss via a DM. If they don’t follow you and you can’t send a DM, just a quick tweet asking them to follow so you CAN follow them. Echo from EchoExplores talked about Blogger love in her recent post; how despite the fact that we have our differences we all want the same thing. And how we need to unite to educate the companies we work with, to help them improve and be more receptive to what we can offer.

With the state of the World at the moment I think we all need to be a little kinder, to ourselves and to each other. Now more than ever we need to come together and support each other within the community and outside it as well.

4 thoughts on “Community and Cliques – My Thoughts and Feelings

  1. I think ‘people do feel like they’re cliques’ is a really tricky one. Thanks for writing this post – I’ve been reading lots on it this evening, including Lilly’s post, because this has been running around in my head for a while and I can’t quite get a handle on it.

    Obviously I’m in a privileged position, because I got to go to Woodhull so I’ve met a lot of the US bloggers. And I’ve also been to Eroticon. So I have met many people. I rarely actually go to other things, but from those events I got to meet and bond with people. And I can honestly say I haven’t experienced a deliberate desire from anyone to exclude. While I realise it’s unlikely anyone would deliberately exclude me, I think the position I’m in would also probably mean I’d be privy to conversations where people said ‘oh exclude X, Y Z’ if those conversations ever happened, but they don’t.

    One of the things I try to do is support newer bloggers, but realistically I can’t do it for everyone. You’re one of the people I’ve been able to offer more support to, and I still feel like probably I didn’t do enough because you felt excluded at that event. There are others who I’ve been able to offer a bit of help to via email, but whose replies I am sitting on starred in my email folder because I get a lot of email. Then I reply to people 2 months late and think ‘yeah, I’m a fucking arsehole.’ Still more who I meet for 5 mins at Eroticon then kick myself because I didn’t get to spend more time with them. In my comment on Lilly’s post I said that at Woodhull I spent a day not eating because I was anxious that no one wanted to talk to me: at Eroticon one year I was so worried about people feeling like I didn’t want to speak to them that I failed to break off conversations even when I was desperate for the loo. This all sounds a bit ‘poor me’ but it isn’t meant to: I think I basically want to say that there is a lot we can do to make people feel included, but there is also *only so much* we can do. If there are specific things that we can do, I am all ears. I am gutted that this lovely community is somehow seen as one with a fence around it, or a sign saying ‘not you’, because holy shit there is more than enough exclusion in the world, and we should be paving the way.

    Thanks for writing this post – I’d like for our community to be a really inclusive one, and I’m sorry that you feel it isn’t always. I’m 100% with you on assuming the best, and I hope that we can both assume the best and continue to do our best in the future xxx

    • Thank you for commenting. 🙂

      We’ve discussed before my feelings about the cliquiness that occasionally pops up. I still see things happen online, and hear things about people that I don’t always feel comfy hearing. I know in any community there is going to be talk, and I expect the ‘gossip’ but sometimes it feels nastier than that.

      I’m pretty sure noone but you thinks you’re being an arsehole. We all get busy and don’t get chance to reply to things as quickly as we would like. People understand that. If it helps at all you are one of the people who has always helped me, and who I genuinely believe makes people feel welcome in the community (Lilly is on that list too).

      I’m definitely one of the people who need to start assuming the best, and if I’m unsure I need to start asking. Maybe I have to work out how to ask those questions without it being a confrontation, how to say to someone “That comment was out of order” without it causing an argument or making people feel a need to ‘pile on’. Sometimes we need multiple people to come to our defence but sometimes we just need to say our piece and hope the person we’re saying it to can hear us.

      I think we can work it out as a community. If we just remember to communicate with each other. xxx

      • Genuinely something I’ve also seen. Having read Lilly’s post and then yours, HGG, this certainly seems like the topic du jour.

        I’ve been in the sex blogger community for a very long time – much longer than a lot of the more well-known bloggers like Molly and even you, GOTN, and from the start I saw small “groups” emerging – I wouldn’t really call them cliques; more like friendship groups – me being who I am, I tended to only really stay in the places where I felt safe. When I started going to events, I felt like a bit of a nobody – or, at least, an unknown quantity.

        Like you, HGG, I was often nervous about whether to say anything because of the “jumping on” factor. I’m aware of some bloggers – one in particular – who are afraid to say anything, even in their own blogs, for fear of that. That’s a massive shame: especially in our own community, which is by nature relatively inclusive and accepting. (I remember once being at an event full of queer bisexual kinksters and being very nervous to mention the fact that I had one girlfriend – as it turned out, that wasn’t a problem, but my nervousness told me it might be!)

        Like GOTN, I’d consider myself in a privileged position (despite not being at Woodhull) because I’ve been to every Eroticon since it started, and Erotic Meet, which doesn’t happen any more but did have a lot of the same attendees (I genuinely didn’t really meet many new people at Eroticon 2012; I seemed to know almost everyone!). Having been on the fringes of the sex blog thing for a long time, I at least knew what the names meant. It’s the highlight of my year for many reasons, but the main reason I’ll go to ‘con is because of the people that make it.

        Had I not jumped in headfirst, I may well feel the same way you do, HGG, and that’s certainly been the case in many other communities of which I’ve been a part, when I’ve wanted to take issue with something someone’s said, but scared to tell them, even gently, for fear of repercussions. I’m sorry that you feel this way, but I understand, at least, where you’re coming from.

        There’s a lot that could be said that probably should be, and sometimes what our head says isn’t what our heart says. But one of the things that is good about our community – as cliquey as one may think it is – is that, when you feel your worst, there’s always going to be at least one other blogger who’ll listen to you. You don’t get that in every group.

        • Thanks.
          I’d like to clarify that I do tend to throw myself into events, as much as possible. And I agree about the supportive aspects of the community too. 🙂

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