In the past I may have got under people’s skin on occasion and it’s not so much because I like to annoy people (although that maybe part of it) but because I like to learn about the profession I am practicing. People would question why I’d highlight flaws in the profession I am part of but it isn’t really my profession. My studies started with a degree in business furthering to a diploma in tourism marketing among other things. My interests are in the travel industry and with little better to do I started blogging about my travels. Anyway, today I am going to gurn (again) about travel blogger networks which in the past I have highlighted how I avoid them like herpes. After my recent dive into ugly internet marketing (for one month) I thought… what harm could it do to ask for advice from my fellow travel bloggers. This plea for help comes after a rather scathing email from a travel blogger who was insulted by my use of the word ‘Food Porn’ on an eBook. I was of course baffled by this reaction to a seemingly everyday phrase so to better my understanding of it I took to the travel blogger help forums on Facebook to see if others found these words offensive. I join the group with the simple query “Is the term Food Porn offensive?” stating I may have been desensitized to the words having heard them so often. Note, this isn’t actually a phrase I’ve used before (bar hashtags) and it was more out of interest in researching marketing. That being said, I don’t highlight this in my query as I don’t see the need to defend my use of two simple words. What ensues was too exciting not to follow…
This simple yes or no question ended with 73 comments, very few helpful and most following a tirade of people’s hate for the term, and of course those people who would use it. Admittedly I go fishing a little saying “I am using it to target the less sophisticated” which receives a quick response “I find it offensive (yes the term food porn) and I suppose the use of it may be a great way to attract less sophisticated readers”. The tirade continues into pretentious snobbery slating the phrase as “attention seeking”, “tacky”, “classless”, “sloppy” etc. They were using proper word porn (snigger). As expected it turns to me, my own work and what my ‘photos look like’. I reluctantly post the link in question expecting it to be torn apart. Nope, the person asking then refuses to open it because it has the phrase ‘Food Porn’ on it then calls it attention seeking and unprofessional (I know, why did he ask?). Anyway, I throw some emotions into the mix becoming defensive then apologizing like a wounded animal committing to his downfall. Soon the haloed head of self-righteousness appears telling us all to go feed homeless people instead of arguing over ‘Food Porn’. This I would have commended if the rest of her comment didn’t direct an attack on me. So I found most of the dislike coming from middle aged woman and they were then backed by lots of likes and thumbs up from middle aged male admirers. It was a little embarrassing to be honest but in fairness it wasn’t all one sided. Others, generally younger lads, went against the arrogant and condescending tone. All in all it was an ugly state of affairs and one the profession should be ashamed of however it does appear the norm with online forums and internet trolls. I only expected a little more professionalism from so called travel blogger help forums.
My query comes after a major DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) highlighted his dislike in travel bloggers saying “I often feel like social media is a lot like a high school lunch table packed with cool kids. You really want to be at the table, but you don’t know how to get an invitation.” This is no doubt how I felt albeit I wasn’t hoping for an invite. I find it a whole lot more fun at the kiddie’s table of this profession and as the cliques enforce their own pretension and similar styles of writing I will write to a different audience. We all enjoy our own movies, music, literature… words and while top tiers of blogging may not agree with yours this doesn’t mean you should bend over to be accepted. While their blogs likely resonate with Eat, Pray Love my blog may be closer to Rum Diaries. I’m happy with that. In conclusion: I feel the term is not unprofessional but attacking and belittling others for their preference in words is unprofessional, tacky and classless. There was some great advice from marketers in the discussion but in honesty the entire affair was more hassle than help and to siphon through the travel blogger arrogance requires thick skin. Note, a positive from this came in the background where I receive a private message from one of the world’s biggest bloggers in food tourism saying he caught the post (obviously didn’t want to get involved) and had experienced a similar situation. He dropped the same term because Google started matching his site for sexual porn searches (and because of backlash from others). All in all it was another ugly experience in travel blogging and one to expect for wannabe bloggers.
To be fair the cliques in travel blogging do have a just reason for condescension. Many of these bloggers were brought together long before blogging was deemed profitable and at a time where bloggers blogged only for the passion of blogging. The pioneers of travel blogging I guess. Now, with easy monetization of travel blogs, it is hard to find the same passion as before and this is why incentives of new bloggers will be questioned. Add in the so-called ugly ‘click-bait’ phrases such as ‘Food Porn’ and you’re in for a hard time in the profession. There is no doubt a thin line between travel bloggers and online marketers today and the modern travel blogger must be apt at both to succeed in the profession. However the pure-bloods won’t likely accept this and anything that goes against their grain will be pounced upon. That being said every travel blogger is as welcome as the next and for me travel blogging is about independence in writing, sharing your own passions and interests and not following others.