I’ve been staring at my screen for 17 minutes now, thinking of a way to say what I’m about to say without sounding as excessively obnoxious as I think this is going to sound. But, since there is no non-obnoxious way to say “I’m one of the founders of an extremely popular blog which has managed to cultivate an large female fanbase, and this is a bit of a problem” I’m just going to come out and say it.
Hi. My name is Damon Young. I’m one of the founders of VerySmartBrothas.com — a blog where (co-founder) Panama Jackson and I muse daily about what ever else happens to catch our fancy. We’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate a pretty large fanbase, and, according to Google, the God of Analytics, 64% of our readers are women.
At face value, this probably doesn’t seem like much of a problem. In fact, it’s not really a problem per se — cue the world’s smallest violin for the guy lamenting about his popular blog and fanbase of well-read Black women — but it does create a bit of a paradox. You see, although we discuss myriad topics on our blog, it began with a dating/relationship/sex-centric bent. We’ve evolved since our start four years ago — maybe only 30% to 40% of our content now deals with dating and relationships — but it’s still a very large part of what we do.
I am also single, and, well, this is where the paradox comes in.
Along with the “Wait. You’re single. How the hell is a single man supposed to tell me anything about relationships” pushback — which is expected (and understandable) — there’s another bi-product of the “Single man writing a popular blog” thing that’s even more disorienting, unnerving, and just plain freakin’ weird. Considering the fact that the particular demographic I’m most attracted to and interested in dating — 25 to 34 years old, African-American, urban, educated, witty, slightly geeky, etc — compromises the largest percentage of our audience, there’s a fair chance that women I happen to meet now will “know” me before they know me.
This directly impacts my relationship/dating life in two ways:
1. You know how people in relationships (and by “people in relationships” I mean “women’) occasionally bring up stuff that happened months, even years ago to reinforce arguments? Usually when this happens, the man’s go to response is to say some variant of “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Who can remember what they said eight months ago anyway? Where’s my Wheaties, woman?”
Well, since I have roughly 200,000 words worth of statements, theories, and opinions archived (and dated) on my website, anyone wishing to pull the “You didn’t say that eight months ago” card on me has evidence! Hard evidence. There’s no better way to end an argument than to say “Um, you DID say that on June 11th, 2011. It was the third line in the fourth paragraph from the top. You even thought it was so clever that you tweeted it. I took a screen capture.”
Having a widely-read blog makes me a bit more, for lack of a better term, “accountable” than I might be otherwise. Also, with as tenuous as any popular blog’s status is, I remain cognizant of the fact that one negative tweet or status message from a woman who maybe didn’t have the best dating experience with me has the potential to bring everything down. I guess this isn’t a bad thing — having something keeping you in check is more of a net positive than negative — but a brotha would still like a little wiggle room every now and then.
2. My ex-girlfriend was an avid reader of my blog. As were her friends. As were her parents. As were her friends’ parents. Basically, in order to keep my off-line life in order, everything written online had to be run through a “Will I piss off anyone I care about?” filter before I hit publish. Again, I think I need to stress that I realize exactly how silly I may seem to be writing any more angst-ridden words about the fact that people actually read my blog — where’s that damn violin — but when nearly everyone in your sphere of influence reads your daily thoughts about dating and relationships (including the person you’re currently dating/in a relationship with), it can make your words a tad stale and inauthentic. In essence, scrubbing your words of the type of color that made them popular in the first place.
Of course, things could be worse. Dating while operating a popular blog is better than, well, not dating while writing a blog no one aside from your mom and your cat reads. I guess, to quote Marlo Stansfield, this is one of those “good problems.” Still, I want it all. I want to be able to do what I want on and off line without any overlap or personally accountability. But, since I can’t have it all, can I at least have the world’s smallest violin play one song for me?