A big part of my old job was detecting – and exposing – bullshit. I was a sportswriter, so it’s not like I was holding elected officials accountable or uncovering government scandal or anything like that. I was covering games and calling out ball players, coaches, managers, front office types and agents for relatively meaningless bullshit like whether a player would be traded or signed or released. Even so, journalists are trained to seek bullshit like a bloodhound is trained to seek whatever the hell it is bloodhounds seek nowadays. Racoons? Wombats? I don’t know. Rabbits? Whatever.
So, that established, let me introduce one of my first Dad Blog influencers, Beta Dad, who recently posed the question: “Is it always okay to call bullshit on someone? Never? Sometimes?” This question was not asked in a vacuum. It goes back to this Beta Dad blog entry, which was one of the first things I stumbled across when I decided to start this blog and began two months of Dad Blog “research.” That entry led to this, which eventually led to this and a lot of biting comments from Beta Dad and others in the blogosphere. Suffice to say, Beta Dad has called out Dan Pearce of Single Dad Laughing more times than the average baseball writer gets sloppy drunk in a given week. Which is to say, more times than an outside observer might consider entirely healthy.
And that’s fine. One of the reasons I added Beta Dad to my Dad Bloggers Twitter list early on was the passion I sensed in his thought-provoking diatribe against SDL. My instinct is to side with the “little guy” on just about every issue, and Beta Dad seemed like the “little guy” in this blog-out. Not only that, he made compelling arguments about the apparent hypocrisy of SDL, who apparently went from nobody to Uber-blogger overnight for no apparent (legitimate) reason.
Because of Beta Dad’s initial entry, I checked out SDL to see what the fuss was about. My gut reaction? Eh. The writing wasn’t for me. The guy seemed full of himself, far more arrogant than empathetic. Actually, it seemed like this guy was full of something besides himself. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There was an air of inauthenticity, a sense of contrivance and desperation that reminded me of the really bad (but oddly effective) love notes I used to write in high school and college. It also kind of gave me the same feeling I had when a pitcher with a 7.54 ERA would say something like “I pitched well; I just made one mistake tonight” after walking five and getting ripped by the Yankees for seven runs in four innings. It was … It was …
It was bullshit.
OK. Maybe Beta Dad was as correct as he was emphatic. Dan Pearce – who allegedly fabricated or exaggerated blog entries, writes press releases about his “adventures,” and has purportedly posed as readers e-mailing other prominent parent bloggers in a perverted quest for attention and acceptance – was a bullshit artist of the highest order. I also saw a tweet he sent this week advertising some odd piece of weirdness, in which he offers to do something like leave a phone message for you or something. I don’t remember, but it wasn’t until I saw that tweet and checked out the link that I realized what’s wrong here. Dan thinks he’s famous. He thinks he’s a celebrity. And you know what?
He kind of is. At least in this insulated world of parent bloggers. I mean, I’ve only been blogging for about five months. I have exactly zero pull or voice or “Klout” in the world of parent blogs. But even with such miniscule experience and influence, I know who Dan Pearce is (or the public persona of SDL, anyway). It doesn’t really matter that I also know all the bad stuff people say and write, because I KNOW WHO HE IS. And I know who he is because of …
What does that mean? Would Beta Dad have been better served never calling out SDL’s bullshit? Would I (and, I suspect, a great many more newbie bloggers) ever have known about Dan’s blogging exploits – the admirable growth, the questionable tactics – without Beta Dad’s influence? In turn, would that have rendered Dan Pearce less potent? Maybe not. I mean, Single Dad Laughing is a force. He has his defenders, too, and some of them are pretty prominent in the mom blogosphere. I’m sure I would’ve come across SDL at some point, and I’m sure I would’ve reached the same conclusions I reached about his writing. I might not have become privy to the blatantly self-aggrandizing marketing tactics Dan seems to practice, but I’m not really all that interested in that, anyway. (Besides, it works for him. Who am I to judge? I surely don’t want to fall under the disapproving gaze of the mainstream parent blogosphere, as the principles in this piece of Dad Blog Drama did a few days ago on HuffPo.)
So, what did Beta Dad accomplish by calling bullshit on SDL? For one thing, he earned an admirer in me. I like his writing. I like the raw intensity of it and the humor. He’s worth listening to, worth reading, as are so many other dad and mom bloggers.
He also spurred (and continues to spur) what has been one of the dominant conversations in the parent blogosphere since I dipped in my toe in February. It goes beyond Dan Pearce, really. It’s about authenticity. It’s about why we do this. For some, it’s about money. For others, it’s about the creative urge. For still others, it’s about leaving a legacy for their kids through the stories we share. For most of us, I think, it’s about cutting through the bullshit and finding out what’s on the other side. To answer Beta Dad’s question, then: Call bullshit when you have to. Ignore it if it’s irrelevant. What’s bullshit to one blogger might just be compost for another.
(And yes, let me say here that if anyone involved in this blog drama actually reads this and asks — reasonably — who the hell I think I am to comment on it, all I can say is I’m a picker. I’m a grinner. I’m a lover. And I’m a sinner. I play my music in the sun. But I’m not a Steve Miller fan. Go figure.)