One of the first pieces of advice I received when I began to write this dad blog was to “find your tribe.” I thought the guy was being condescending. I thought I was being blown off.
It sounded a little to me like, “Look, pal. You’re new. We’ve been here. We know each other. We don’t know you. We don’t need you. Beat it.”
That wasn’t what he was saying, of course. He wasn’t being condescending at all. He was telling me the truth. What he was saying was that the blogosphere is a big place, with room enough for everyone and their motives. Somewhere out there in that vast virtual echo chamber of parent bloggers there was sure to be a group of people who shared my interests and wanted to connect.
A community of my peers.
I think I might have found that community a little less than a month ago, when Oren Miller of a Blogger and a Father started a dad bloggers group on Facebook. He called it “Dad Bloggers,” and as the first week of 2013 drew to a close, the group’s membership approached 100. I asked to join the closed group a week into it, after seeing it mentioned on Twitter.
Not until a few weeks later did I even stop to think about why I asked to join. I thought of myself as a dad blogger without a tribe. I didn’t even know I needed that community.
It’s my understanding that they study group dynamics pretty extensively at the finest universities in the land. Apparently, I’m not the first person to wonder what compels people to join groups of all kinds. Yet, to my knowledge, there has never been a scientific study conducted with the goal of deciphering the motives of several dozen men from all over the world (well, the U.S., Canada and the UK so far) who decide to join a Facebook group for dad bloggers.
So, I conducted a very unscientific study by asking in a post on the group’s site: Why did you decide to join this dad blogging group? I received many thoughtful, thought-provoking responses. Some made me wonder about my own motives. One even made me wonder whether the group is for me, after all. Overall, though, what I read from my fellow dad bloggers reinforced what I felt about the burgeoning group. That it is a good thing, an inclusive thing, a “tribe” that welcomes all, regardless of purpose, regardless of audience, regardless of personal or professional motive. That seems right to me.
I’ll excerpt some of the on-the-record responses in a moment. First, I also asked Oren why he started the group, and here’s his response:
A couple of months ago, I joined a group of bloggers. They do group-giveaways, but they also do almost-daily threads like “Leave a Twitter link if you want a RT, and in return you have to RT 5 tweets others leave in the comments.” The same deal works for FB shares, reciprocal commenting, voting on Picket Fence, whatever that is, and a bunch of other things. The problem is that 99% of them (over a thousand members) are women, and 99% write review/giveaway-only blogs, so while I appreciated what they were doing, I couldn’t really participate, because I think Twitter is being damaged enough by automatic Triberr sharing, and I don’t want to be just another person spamming his followers.
But I thought something like that would actually be great for a group of dad-bloggers. We can retweet and share on Facebook stuff we actually read and like, and we can help each other grow. And I thought this group could be a great leveler too, since every time I saw a mention of the new Babble 50 Best Dad Blogs, I got upset because some blogs will never get there, and we can’t let Babble tell us what’s good. (Not that blogs there didn’t deserve to be there. See? Avoided another conflict.)
So I thought a Facebook group of blogging dads would be able to help bloggers, and would help raise the profile of dad-blogging in general, and since I believe institutional attitude toward a group is determined by perception of that group, I thought that if we can raise the profile of blogging dads in general, it would help raise the profile of fatherhood in this country (and in Canada, I suppose, wherever that is).
And then, being me, I waited for a month for someone to read my mind and start a group. When no one else did, I figured maybe it were up to me after all.
And that’s just half the story, because the group as it is now works much better than I thought it would. I didn’t think people would use it to talk about conferences and about the philosophy of writing, and share others’ posts on their blogs… So thanks again to everyone here for making it work. Hopefully we’ll have 100 members soon!
Oren was kidding about Canada, by the way. And I’m pretty sure we’ll reach triple digits sometime this weekend, if not soon after.
Where it goes from there, who knows?
Here are excerpts of the responses I received from my fellow bloggers. Some of them are edited for length. All of them were greatly appreciated, and each helped shed light on why this Facebook group has taken off.
Creed Anthony of The Captain’s Log … Tales from the Poop Deck: “What makes this group different is that we are all writers. So there is the combined challenge of baring your soul and the technical aspects if it. I am still a newbie. I don’t know much about marketing myself or even if I am marketable. I’m here to learn. And someone said there were cookies.”
Aaron Gouveia of the Daddy Files: Aaron said “intense political discussions” leading up to the election cost him a few followers. “But now that the election is over, I wanted to make a concerted effort to get back to basics, start writing more about my life and family, and reconnecting with like-minded dads and writers. So when this group popped up, it was perfect timing. And it’s been exactly what I hoped it would be.”
Bill Peebles of ihopeiwinatoaster: “After the tragedy in Connecticut, I had nearly decided to give up blogging. I wrote a post and seriously decided that I could no longer celebrate the life of my twins as I had been doing for nearly a year. I somehow stumbled upon this page and my faith in what I was doing was rekindled; my faith in what others were doing was re-established. Mostly, I joined to see what others were doing and, in so doing, felt validated in my presence on the blogroll.”
Chad Miller of ChadMillerblog.com: “I decided to join this Dad bloggers group because I understand the importance of locking arms and unifying with like-minded men to spread a message of being intentional active participants in the leadership of our families.”
Chris Gould of Blog of Manly: “I have a passion for helping husbands and fathers, and this year I have found blogging to be an outlet I really enjoy, so linking up with a group of like-minded dads was a no-brainer.”
Mitchell Brown of Thoughtful Pop: Mitchell said he had spent the past six months re-evaluating his approach to blogging and social media, wondering where it all fell on his list of priorities. “Then, as I was withdrawing from Facebook, this group appeared and rekindled a belief that social media can be valuable to me through an understanding that my blog has value to me, despite it being so small and not something through which I make any money. Simply, what I write on Thoughtful Pop is important to me and the connections I have made are also important to me. So, this group is a wonderful opportunity to share more and to connect more. I have already learned so much being here and feel invigorated to see where we all can take this. End of the day, this group has shown me value in these efforts that I thought wasn’t entirely there anymore.”
James Rohl of Stay at Home Dad PDX: “I joined this group to reconnect with the blogging community and because a number of people I respect either started it or were here already.”
Ricky Shetty of Daddy Blogger: “Why I joined this group: 1. To meet fellow dad bloggers & network; 2. To market my blog & build my audience; 3. To become a better father through the wisdom of other daddies.”
Brent Almond of Designer Daddy: “Same as what Ricky said. Plus, I was considering closing up shop as well, due to financial/parental pressures. But part of my renewed energy to keep at it was this group.”
Neal Call of Raised by my Daughter: Neal said he was initially ambivalent about joining, because he wasn’t so sure about doing blog giveaways and such. He said that he joined up initially because Oren made him feel welcome, and that his ambivalence quickly faded. “I think it’s pretty cool to be able to interface with other dad bloggers in a setting that’s removed from the sort of cliquishness that so often occurs on individual blogs or even prominent parenting web sites, no matter how much I may enjoy those individual blogs or sites. This group, in a remarkably short time, seems to demonstrate an impressive inclusiveness for dad bloggers of all types, who have all sorts of intentions and goals. That may partly be simply because it’s fresh and new, and everyone’s sort of exploring how they want to interact on it. I appreciate learning from those who are making efforts to blog professionally, and I identify with those who merely do it as a labor of love to their children. I hope that neither one of these paradigms ever pushes the other out.”
James Zahn of The Rock Father: “While I’ve associated with a few fellow dad bloggers over the past two years, I’ve been kind of a rogue force out there and thought it would be fun to mingle with more folks that were also in the ‘dad blogging’ realm. I’ve featured other blogs on The Rock Father from time to time (either in featured posts or blogroll), and I do enjoy highlighting some things such as that 25-blog-cross-post. Like Ricky, I’m always looking for ways to build my audience and brand, and I like showing support for those whose writings I enjoy. Like many of you will surely agree, there’s also not a lot of time to actually seek out and read other Dad Blogs, so finding a lot of great content in one place (like this group) makes it easier to find writers that you dig. As with any online community, I expect that we’ll see some folks lose their enthusiasm and just ‘disappear’ after awhile, and there will no doubt be ups-and-downs. Friendships and partnerships will form, as will cliques and rivalries as the group falls into place and finds writers/blogs/sites that the like… and the ones they don’t. As Bill noted above, post-Sandy Hook there’s been a lot of re-evaluating in the blogosphere, as the event effected us all in different ways. While I don’t think it’s changed HOW I blog, I did take a couple of days before doing my own post as I couldn’t just return to ‘business as usual.’ Thus far, I like a lot of what I’m seeing from this group.”
Olly Du Cruz of Parenting Challenge: “As a UK blogger, I was concerned about being a bit of an ‘outsider’ in this group. But to be honest you trans-Atlantic blokes have got it nailed. The group is full of people passionate about fatherhood and aren’t afraid to say it. You have greater blogging experience and expertise than most people in the UK who blog about any topic. And you’ve formed a warm, welcoming community that is already becoming a valuable place to offer support and advice for like-minded blokes everywhere. Great stuff!”
Daniel Waldman of Evolve Communications: “I had both a personal and professional interest. Personal: I’m a dad who owns his own business and I’m always looking for insight/shared experiences from other dads. Professional: I’m a PR guy and networking with bloggers to cover our clients is a central part of what we do.”
Daniel T Monk Pelfrey of PostPostModernDad: “I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.”
Vincent Daly of Cute Monster Dad: “Being a stay a home Dad was a difficult transition to make initially. I felt cut off from the world I once knew, independence and all seemingly gone forever. My site came to fruition more as a means of escape as well as a creative outlet. Over time, I’ve evolved as a father and so too has my site. The opportunity to network with other Dads has helped immensely and I suspect will continue to do so. We’re all writing a new playbook for fatherhood. Interesting times indeed.”