Internet: I love you and I hate you.
The blogging world has been such an amazing blessing to me over the past 6 years. It still boggles my mind most days that people not only take the time to read my words, but they care about what I have to say. What started as an outlet to voice my sleep deprived new mom jumbled thoughts and rants has grown into SO much more. Having an outlet to share my opinions and hopefully help educate others in the world of health and fitness is priceless. But the opportunities that have come my way? Most days, I’m still baffled at how incredibly lucky I’ve been.
Over the last six years, I’ve been a VIP guest at Disney World. I got to go to San Diego for a photo & video shoot. I had the honor of attending the CrossFit games as media. I flew to Portland, OR once simply because an amazing shoe and apparel company wanted to sit down and hear my opinion. Little old me! I’ve raced up and down the East Coast and I’ve met amazing movers and shakers in the running industry, not to mention a handful of Olympians.
Never in a million years would I have thought that verbally spewing my thoughts onto the world wide web would have given me these amazing opportunities. Every day I wake up and say to myself, if this is it, if the whole internet crashes tomorrow, or the blogging industry as a whole becomes “old news”, I will be ending on a good note. I will forever be thankful for all of the opportunities and experiences that have come my way.
(Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Actually, I have so much to say, I’ll write regardless…and read it out loud to my cats if I have to.)
But the blogging world today in 2015 is NOT the blogging world it was when I registered for a blogspot.com back in 2009 (rest in peace, Run Faster, Mommy!). Today’s blogging world is ruthless. It seems people will do anything for page views and a paycheck. People with absolutely no credentials are giving out dangerous advice to tens of thousands of readers, if not more, and are considered “experts” in the industry, simply for their massive following. I guess that’s a pitfall of the internet as a whole, not just the blogging world. But in a sea of what feels like 8 billion fitness, health, and running bloggers, it gets harder and harder every day to stand out from the crowd. And I too fight daily trying to hold my standards high, while still trying to be seen.
Now, I am not one to shun those who take sponsored opportunities, for I am unabashedly among those ranks. Call it “selling out”, call it “shilling”, call it what you want, I call it funding the dream, THIS dream that is already coming true, and helping me work towards my goals. That said, I turn down twice as many opportunities than the ones I actually take, because I don’t feel they “fit” with my lifestyle and the theme I’ve got going on around here. When I do take an opportunity, I try to make it my own. And I put a lot of work into those reviews, hopefully earning the respect of the company paying me, and of course, the respect of my readers by providing a unique, thorough, solid review that goes well beyond the typical “OMG these shoes are so cute and wicked comfortable!” reviews that you often see these days.
But before I start to get snarky, let’s move on to the actual reason for this post…
This morning, while reading blog posts from other writers, I stumbled upon a review that was not only eerily similar to one I had written two days prior, it had certain parts of MY work lifted word for word. Scratch that, not just words or sentences, but whole paragraphs, with just a single word changed here or there, making it blatantly obvious that this author knew they were stealing. And these were not generic statements that could have easily been a strange coincidence, they were personal experiences and my poor attempt at cute humor. Word for word.
(I don’t want to post the links or give exact examples because I do not want to give the product involved a bad name or have them involved in anyway. Plus I am still waiting for others involved to take appropriate action.)
I must have read the post three times, while going from shock to completely shaking in anger. Sure, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so they say, but when someone else is getting paid for a post that I wrote, claiming it to be their own? That struck an upsetting nerve. But every author has had something stolen at one point or another, unfortunately plagiarism runs rampant on the internet. What made me sick to my stomach was that this wasn’t a “bot” or some random website that is comprised of republished work. No, this was a relatively popular blogger, with a paid opportunity from a VERY large and reputable PR group. A person whom I have personally supported and promoted in the past, hell just as recently as early this morning; a person in a small network of fellow fitness bloggers that strive to help build each other up.
Integrity. Let’s talk about it.
I am not perfect nor innocent of wrong doings in the blog world. I know for a fact that back in the early days, I shared photos on my blog without proper citations or permission. The truth is, I didn’t know any better back then. And I’ve done things I’m not proud of. In the past 3-4 years I’ve gone through a chaotic shit storm (excuse the sailor speak) in my personal life. I won’t rehash old news, but I will admit a massive backdraft that came with all of it that swirled around and consumed me. During that time, which lasted longer than I would have hoped, my blog had just started to coincidentally go from a “place to ramble” to something more professional. Yet the timing wasn’t right with the personal drama I was struggling through, and I did things I’m not proud of. I missed deadlines. Skipped posts I was obligated to write. Had to bail last minute on big opportunities. I let people down, there is no doubt about it. These things hindered my progress as a successful blogger, and rightfully so, putting me in a position now where I am busting my ass trying to regain trust and integrity. But regardless of my excuses (and that’s exactly what they are, valid or not, they are excuses) I truly have always, ALWAYS, had the best of intentions.
And I’ve always put nothing but my heart into what I post. My blog is mine…it’s me.
As my beautiful friend Rachelanne said this morning after I made this discovery “Your writing style is so unique. It’s like someone stealing a piece of you.” She couldn’t have said it better.
I really don’t have much of a conclusion to this post. I hope this author also had the best of intentions, and maybe came up against a deadline they were unprepared for, or something. I don’t know. It’s more drama than I had hoped to start the weekend with (or any day, for that matter) and frankly what I should be doing is going for a run before work, not lamenting about who wronged me. I guess, for the exact reasons I started this blog in the first place, I needed somewhere to vent.
Thank you everyone for ALL of your support. Especially those of you who have been there through the highs and lows. I could have never done any of this without an audience to ramble to…